Interview with My Glass Beside Yours
My Glass Beside Yours was an ambient string drone project of Brian John Mitchell (Remora) & Katherine Styons Harris most active from 1993-1996 & from 1998-2001. Maybe one day it will exist again, but chances are slim. They also worked together doing noise rock under the name The Undermasks.
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?
Brian – It doesn’t turn off. I sing songs about cooking & it annoys most people, though occasionally a legitimate song comes from this.
QRD – How has your music changed by having someone you're romantically involved with working with you?
Brian – Well, becoming romantically involved pretty much ended the musical collaborations as the music was an excuse to spend time together. I wouldn’t have admitted it at most times, but the music was just about getting her to want to date me. If I was a better musician it would’ve worked out better.
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?
Brian – This was a big problem. We were trying to practice for a show & we’d spend about 15 minutes practicing & then start making out. The household chores thing came in too, Katherine always wanted me to clean or make dinner over recording music.
QRD – Do you think working musically together increases the strength of your relationship?
Brian – Not in our case. I think it could’ve, but we have pretty different approaches to music/art. I’m an idea person & she’s an execution person. I like things raw & energetic & she wants them very precise. I could’ve learned a lot from her.
QRD – Do you think the music ever suffers because of your relationship?
Brian – Certainly there would’ve been more music if we had never gone out.
QRD – Being in a romantic couple, do you try to curb lyrical content to or away from things in your relationship?
Brian – No love songs when we worked together, though I have written tons for her. I just write what I have to. I don’t pursue anything & I probably should actually work at music sometime.
QRD – A lot of families kind of look down on musicians as immature, do you find that going out with another musician has eased relationships with your parents or in-laws?
Brian – My parents could care less about that because they look at music as slightly more mature than video games, which seems to be what other people are into. With her family, it was definitely a problem. I make a few thousand dollars a year off music & work really hard at it; but, because of her past boyfriends, they thought I watched television while she supported me. What are you going to do? Some people make up their minds & the truth is unimportant.
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?
Brian – We’d known each other six years before doing music together & I’d always had a crush on her. We worked together for several years before dating. I don’t think we could work together or even talk to each other out of the constraints of a romantic relationship now & we rarely work on music anymore. The last thing we did was an Undermasks song for the Silber Halloween Comp & it might be the last thing we ever do together.
QRD – How do things work with band members besides the two of you to get the same level of connectivity while playing your music?
Brian – When we did the Undermasks as a four piece for a band practice, things just didn’t work at all. I’d worked with everyone before in another project, but together it did not gel. Honestly I think part of it was me being worried the other guys were thinking about doing it with Katherine, or at least that that’s what I was thinking about instead of the music.
QRD – Do you find music related gifts to be romantic or more like giving someone an appliance?
Brian – Well, it’s always romantic to give someone something they want/need that they wouldn’t get themselves & indicates that you know them. That said, the Nanoverb didn’t go over as well as a pair of antique silver earrings.
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?”
Brian – All the time. Unfortunately I think the lack of commitment to the musician life because of this doubt will keep me from ever making it as a musician who doesn’t need a day job.
QRD – Do you ever switch off instruments to give each other ideas?
Brian – We used to. She’d play autoharp sometimes. She’d rework my bass parts. I’d handle her effect settings for the viola. So it was pretty collaborative.
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?
Brian – I felt that way, but Katherine was always too nervous about performing in front of people. I would say, “We did great!” & she’d say she couldn’t hear things well (we’d practice without effects & amplification) & couldn’t tell when to change parts because she couldn’t see/hear my chord changes.
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?
Brian – Everyone saw My Glass Beside Yours as “a side project of Remora.” It is worth noting that it pre-dates me even playing guitar. I sang & Katherine played viola & that was it originally. So, she deserves more credit without a doubt.
QRD – Do you feel a need to have separate projects where you just work on your own?
Brian – Yes. Katherine just isn’t into a lot of what I do, but I think if she got more involved with my music, it would improve greatly. She could make things be more palatable to the masses.
QRD – Musicians often run into fans with crushes, is there a secret to recognizing when something is getting inappropriate instead of being band promoting?
Brian – I am dumb about this. I can’t tell when a girl is flirting with me. But then I assume any man talking to her is trying to get her to have sex with him. Unfortunately this goes outside of the band scenario.
QRD – Any advice for other musician couples?
Brian – Try to treat each other with respect. Record everything you can. Keep it a secret from the in-laws. In a way being in a band together is a permanent link to a person, one time during a break-up in 2002 I heard one of our songs on the college radio station & that messed with my head for a couple days. Once the music is out there, you cannot pretend the person never existed; or can you?
Other QRD interviews with Brian John Mitchell: