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QRD #36 - Valentine's Special
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Valentine's Interview with Abiku
February 2008

Here’s what Wire had to say about Abiku, “like crude electro-punk with alternately tottery or throat-ripped vocals and a decent balance between grunting guitars and tittering keys and a constant throb in the background.”

QRD – How do you turn music mode on & off in your relationship with each other?  Or do you find yourself pretty constantly collaborating on music even if it’s songs about cooking?

Jane & Josh – I think the band sorta operates in most parts of our lives.  We do most of it ourselves, so even if we’re not doing music we are probably doing something for the band; whether one of is working on booking, or Jane is making costumes, or if we are just talking about what to do next.  There is a fairly good chance that if we are talking & there aren’t others about, we will end up mentioning something about or for the band.

QRD – How has your music changed by having someone you’re romantically involved with working with you?

Josh – I’m not sure that it has really changed the way I write.  There were some songs early on that I sorta had these rhythms in mind cause I could see Jane dance to them, but outside of that its really like any other collaborative relationship.  We needed to learn how to communicate what we were trying to do & what we wanted.

QRD – How do you keep things professional rather than getting personal in the band?  Like not letting being upset that someone’s not doing their house chores spill into band practice?

Jane & Josh – We are sort of sloppy musicians.  If stuff isn’t going well outside the practice space, we usually won’t end up in it until the conflict is resolved, or will get as far as setting up & then will need a time out.  I think the time out is still an awesome idea.  You go to separate spots & can hopefully come at things differently when you come back.  I think there were a lot of problems early on if practice or a show didn’t go well.  We would still be sleeping next to one another but it would be super tense.  It took a lot of effort to just be able to hear the other but I think trying to learn how to just listen without always responding can go a long way to working things out while trying to not react to the situation or problem.

QRD – Do you think working musically together increases the strength of your relationship?

Jane & Josh – I think working together musically has made us learn how to communicate better to a point that I think the relationship grew in stronger ways it wouldn’t have without.  I think that having a constructive thing like a song to work on made us have to sit & figure out how to say something so the other understood it, so by the time the relationship had gotten really serious, we had already had all these tough talks about what to do with the band or about songs.

QRD – Do you think the music ever suffers because of your relationship?

Jane & Josh – No, I think if anything we are both inclined to work more than be romantic.  There are definitely times we have to just take off band junk to do fun things.

QRD – Being in a romantic couple, do you try to curb lyrical content to or away from things in your relationship?

Jane & Josh – No, lyrics are open for whatever.  We don’t really go over a lot about content.  Sometimes we’ll discuss what they are about but most of the time we have little tasks that we are left to & the other will just leave them be unless they have an idea.

QRD – Which came first the musical collaboration or the relationship & do you feel that at this point that you could have one without the other?

Jane & Josh – We have known each other about 10 years now, & being a couple about 6 of those years & a band about 5 I think we get closer to a point of the band not being as big a focus in our lives & I think the relationship could take it, although it would be an awkward sort of change.  We fulfill a lot of roles for each other with the band, & if it wasn’t the focus, we would need to do other things more.  If the relationship would end I don’t think the band could take it.  We could probably still write; but it would be really hard to tour, so I don’t know that we could stay together as touring is such a big part of the drive.

QRD – How do things work with band members besides the two of you to get the same level of connectivity while playing your music?

Jane & Josh – We’re a two piece, so it doesn’t come up all the time; but when we collaborate with someone else, they seem to jump in fine —mostly because we’re pretty easy going about what anyone else wants to contribute.  When there’re just two of you who are working on something together all the time, you can’t micro-mangage too much when someone else joins in.

QRD – Do you find music related gifts to be romantic or more like giving someone an appliance?

Jane & Josh – I think we try to stick to the idea that you should only get a gift that you wouldn’t want yourself.  There have been a few times we have bought each other equipment & its always gone well, as it’s usually something we have been talking about wanting & has always been a surprise.  So, it’s been good although we are the sort of people that like to cook, & if we got a new appliance we would be really happy, so I’m not sure if that colors it at all.

QRD – The musician life style has an inherent lack of financial security & healthcare.  Do you find yourself thinking, “How can we start a family & continue our musical careers?”

Jane & Josh – Well, we aren’t real keen on children.  We have 2 cats that seem demanding enough.  Money does play a big factor in things, though we are constantly doing budgets.  I think there is always a lot of talk about how to keep the ship floating.  It can be hard to juggle rent, food, tour, equipment, & then still have money for reasonable things like clothes or a night out.  It’s probably one of our top discussion topics.  I don’t know that there is an answer, we haven’t given up yet; you just keep going & hopefully it will work out.

QRD – Do you ever switch off instruments to give each other ideas?

Jane & Josh – We both play a bunch of different instruments, so there isn’t anything really set in the writing process.  We try to just keep it open to any idea the other has that we are comfortable with.

QRD – A lot of people say they feel most spiritually connected to another person is when they’re on stage & the set is working.  Is this what you find & how does this energy flow into your romantic relationship?

Jane & Josh – There are moments on stage where you will see us smile at each other or play back to back & these are just the happiest moments I think I ever had.  Things feel right & I can’t imagine being on stage with anyone else or wanting to do anything.  There are certainly private moments it mirrors, though I think we come close to letting it all out on stage so that it’s similar to holding each other when no one is there.  I think we had good chemistry coming into this, but had poor stage legs & as we learned to grow comfortable with each other it translated to the stage, & vice versa, so that you are pretty even keel in both positions.  We are best friends; we prefer to spend our time with one another.  I like it when people are there dancing with us but there are plenty of times we dance alone in our basement.  It really gives the same feeling for us.

QRD – Some couples start to get seen as a unit with one member as dominant.  Do you ever want to get one of you more recognition?

Jane & Josh – No I don’t think either of us is dominant.  There are some things one does the other doesn’t, but it really balances out.

QRD – Do you feel a need to have separate projects where you just work on your own?

Jane & Josh – Both being really creative people we are both always working on different things, some of which are band related like a flyer or costume, stuff like that; but we both have a lot of outside interests that we pursue in personal time.  I don’t know that it’s a need to do it alone as much as its something done alone.  We both tend to create a bit alone & then bring it to the table to complete together.

QRD – Musicians often run into fans with crushes, is there a secret to recognizing when something is getting inappropriate instead of being band promoting?

Jane & Josh – I could be wrong, but I can’t really think of an instance where one of us has been hanging out with someone & they have gotten the wrong idea.  We mainly tour DIY type venues like houses & galleries & a lot of it at this point are people we are very close with; so each town is reuniting with a bunch of close friends, so I don’t know if that somehow shields us from stuff like that.  Or maybe we aren’t approachable so if anyone did fancy us, we are within a circle already & that makes it awkward.

QRD – Any advice for other musician couples?

Jane & Josh – A band is both a job & a relationship & in all relationship listening is one of the biggest parts to growing & being healthy.  It’s hard to do, but trying to keep your head & step back from things when they get tense will go a long way to keep the both of you happy & making things stronger.  This will sound a bit cold, but keep separate finances & try not to let each other slide.  You are involved in a business, treat it like that.  Again, a business is a relationship, set boundaries in it; this will help a lot with helping things grow both on the band & the romantic side.

Abiku on MySpace