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Charles Spearin [rank: 2997]

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"Charles Spearin is a Canadian musician. He is a founding member of Do Make Say Think. Along with Kevin Drew, he formed KC Accidental. He also contributes to Broken Social Scene and Valley of the Giants. He is easily recognized on stage by his trademark moustache."

[reproduced or excerpted from the Wikipedia article "Charles Spearin" and its use is thus licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License]


Bandega Interview with Charles Spearin (March 2009)

Hearing sound for the first time.

Q: How have your shows changed over the years? Has your perspective on performing live changed?
A: Live shows for both Do Make Say Think and Broken Social Scene have gradually moved from being primarily improv-based to more and more rehearsed presentations of songs and compositions. When we started we were mostly exploring sounds and discovering how we worked best as a group. Once we had come up with the timbres and songs we felt at home with it was just a matter of fine tuning until we developed the kind show we have now. It's hard to remember what my perspective actually was years ago. I think it all comes down to courage. Back then it was the courage to get up in front of an audience without knowing what we were going to play. Now it's the courage to stand behind our ideas and allow ourselves to be identified with them. Time and fashion have a way of dissolving perceptions of quality and the more perspective I have the more distrustful I am of meaningless music now matter how fun it may be. But that doesn't mean all music has to be serious. It just has to be imaginative.

Q: Describe the most memorable live show you've played.
A: I've had a lot of memorable shows. My first show ever - 'the Dead Lemmings' at Lee's Palace - in 1990, Do Make Say Think at the Bloor Cinema in 1998, Broken Social Scene playing Lollapalooza for the first time in 2006, but right now my most memorable live show was last week: The first Happiness Project show, which will no doubt be a vivid memory for a long time. It was the first time I've played a show under my own name and my friends, my family and everyone in my neighbourhood was there. It's a fairly esoteric project and dependent on a lot of technical and musical precision and there was so much potential for things to go wrong but they never did. I don't remember being so nervous since the day I got married.

Q: What venue do you consider to be your "home", where you feel most comfortable, with the crowd and the place itself?
A: I don't really have one particular venue like that. Not to say that I'm homeless. I like a lot of different places for a lot of different reasons and feel quite at home a lot of the time but since I've started traveling so much the notion of home has more to do with a feeling of being welcomed then a feeling of familiarity.

Q: Describe the most enjoyable show you've ever experienced as a fan.
A: I'd need to be a better storyteller to really do it justice but there was a band that a group of us stumbled across while wandering around Amsterdam on a night off. They were called Nellow Nellow and the club was called Mellow Mellow (I'm sure that's not right but it's as close as my memory can take me) and they were from Mozambique. The drummer was sick so the girl from behind the bar stepped in and.... Fuck me. It was amazing. If I could describe it properly you would think I was stoned out of my skull but I wasn't. The singer looked like a cool strand of spaghetti and the band sounded like Tony Allen at his best. Absolutely transcendent. Other than that I'd have to say Godspeed! You Black Emperor. When they were at their peak, they were the most humbling band on the planet.

Q: With The Happiness Project, you said "I wanted to see if I could blur the line between speaking and singing and write music based on these accidental melodies". In these interviews with people in your neighborhood, you had the opportunity to speak with a previously-deaf woman who apparently had undergone a cochlear implant. How did this particular interview, and subsequent song, differ or distinguish itself from the others? Did her dramatic transformation affect your resulting music?
A: Vanessa is a good friend and simply meeting her made me think about sound in a new way. I love talking with her. She cannot hear the difference between bluegrass and heavy metal. Shortly after she got her implant she walked around Central Park with her husband looking for what she thought was music but turned out to be the sound of the traffic! The sound of her dog lapping out of his water dish was mesmerizing to her. She is my neighbour (or was until she moved to L.A.) but in addition to talking about happiness I asked her to describe her experience of hearing sound for the first time and when I listened back I was amazed at how musical her voice was. She speaks rhythmically and switches keys to emphasize particular sentences. And she learned to speak without ever knowing what music sounded like! She learned by feeling the vibrations in her neck! So I tried to write music that allowed room for reflection at the beginning and then later allowed the power of her words to sink in.

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