Interview with Windy & Carl
Windy & Carl do drone oriented guitar music & they also run a famous record store called Stormy Records
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?
Windy – Music just happens when it happens - we are together all day all the time because we live together & run the shop (Stormy Records) together, & so music just happens. Sometimes we try to set aside specific time for writing, but often things just materialize.... & we do sing songs about cooking & every day we sing about our dogs. Just goofy stuff that no one else ever gets to hear.
Carl – We are almost always in a music mode. We’ll even sing songs together about our dogs or bad neighbors or just about anything we are doing. Having a record shop, which we both also run, also has us singing about customers, both good & bad.
QRD – How has your music changed by having someone you’re romantically involved with working with you?
Windy – When things are good, they are great; but if we disagree on how a song should go, or try some constructive criticism, then the fur flies. I have only just recently begun working on music with anyone other than Carl, & so far I like that we have no preconceived notions of what to expect. I have been doing drones with Warren Defever’s wife Hitoko, & I love working with her. It’s really easy to just make sound & be relaxed.
Carl – I don’t know if it changed at all - we have been writing & recording with each other since 1993. We both like a lot of the same music, but there is also a great deal each of us listens to that the other can’t stand.
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?
Windy – We have no set practice time or anything... & everything is personal. We do our best to be professional on stage & in front of others, but our friends know it is all personal, & they often times tease us for acting like spoiled 5 year olds.
Carl – “Band Practice” is an extremely loose term for us! Practicing usually only happens when we have a date to play, & then it is more like a cram session than anything. It can be very difficult to be professional - we both are very set in a particular way we like to work & there have been many times that we have argued about the smallest details. Sometimes it is hard for each of us to convince the other that it’s not personal, just work; but we take our work seriously & we both want to have things our own way sometimes.
QRD – Do you think working musically together increases the strength of your relationship?
Windy – Sometimes.
Carl – In some ways it does (the completion of projects, rewarding live shows), but it also can put a strain on our relationship. Music is a very personal thing to both of us & we are both very hard-headed about some of the ways we like to go about the process.
QRD – Do you think the music ever suffers because of your relationship?
Windy – Sometimes. These 2 questions are so similar - there are times that both things happen at once - we will have an amazing live performance that is really intense & charged & we’ll feel super connected & high from it, & then 10 minutes later be fighting like cats & dogs over something stupid - & so we will have an extreme high & then a real low all at once, so we’re elated & suffering all at once. I can’t really suggest to others that they do music with someone they love - it can be really draining.
Carl – The good & bad of a relationship is all very influential on our writing & creating. Sometimes really good things result from difficult times. Although if we are not getting along for any kind of a lengthy period of time, we tend not to work on any music.
QRD – Being in a romantic couple, do you try to curb lyrical content to or away from things in your relationship?
Windy – I write often about dreams, so then I get these weird hard to figure out lyrics about the bizarre stuff that happens in dreams. I don’t ever want people in my head, so I try to be obscure about any words I do write, that way if I do write personal stuff, no one else knows.
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?
Windy – We’ve been together for 18 years. More than 1/2 of my life. My parents are both gone now, but only my mom supported us musically. Dad always wanted me to be with someone who could fix my car. Carl’s parents think we are somewhat irresponsible for living this life - & pick on us equally for that. They also think the shop is not a real job.
Carl – My family still to this day asks when I am going to have a “real job” instead of recording music & running a record shop. Windy’s family is much more accepting of what we are doing, unfortunately mine is still confused about it all.
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?
Windy – We started dating in 1989 & started doing music later - first with a batch of friends & then as just us. I think we could have one without the other. I did not used to feel that way, but now I can see there may be better health in a little more separation in our lives. I don’t imagine us not ever doing music together again, but I can see us taking breaks to work with other people, which is not something I could see even 2 years ago. But in the course of 18 years, things do change, & now I think it is possible.
Carl – The relationship started in 1989, we started playing music together in late 1992 / early 1993. I think it would be way easier to have the relationship without the music. It would be very difficult to have it the other way, mainly because of how hard-headed we can both be. If the relationship ever ended, it would depend on how it ended to determine if we could continue on musically. I have no intention of finding this out though.
QRD – How do things work with band members besides the two of you to get the same level of connectivity while playing your music?
Windy – There is just us, so I don’t know.
Carl – There are only 2 of us, maybe this is why we have the connection we seem to have with our music.
QRD – Do you find music related gifts to be romantic or more like giving someone an appliance?
Windy – Oh yes, the tax question. Do we give each other expensive pedals & amps or buy them for the “band” & then use the receipts on the taxes.... Well, I love to get new pedals, & Carl did just get me 3 new wonderful pedals/instruments that Warren & Hitoko made for me. & I love them (the pedals)!! They are getting me to make new music, which is a great thing. So I’m really happy about that, but I know they were not as much money as the Roland Space Echo pedal we want, & so that will be a band expenditure. Picks & strings & nice small things are always welcome gifts.
Carl – At first I thought it was romantic, but now unless it’s something really special it does kind of seem like an appliance or something. We have recently made an agreement that we would not buy each other pedals or effects as a gift this year!
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?”
Windy – No.... I don’t want kids. But I would like health insurance. We have emergency insurance so that if one of us becomes ill we will not lose the business. & we upped the medical coverage through our car insurance so that if we are in a car accident more of our medical bills will be covered. I worry about aging & having no insurance - bodies definitely fall apart as they age....
Carl – Ah, it is just hard enough to maintain a career in music, let alone trying to support a family at this point. Taking care of ourselves & each other is still a challenge sometimes.
QRD – Do you ever switch off instruments to give each other ideas?
Windy – We both use everything pretty much, but Carl does not sing. I think that is the only thing we do not share.
Carl – We both play guitar, bass guitar, keyboard (rarely). Windy has been experimenting with electric thumb pianos recently. So we do both play around with a lot of things, but not really to give each other ideas, mainly for new ones for ourselves.
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?
Windy – I agree that is what happens, but not often. Part of why I play music is to get to that place where the music is spiritual, & it happens rarely. Especially if we play more than a few shows a year. We would rather play a few fulfilling shows a year than a whole lot of shows, & we do not have many good opportunities to play anyhow. Playing a show that feels dismal just makes everything bad, & playing a show that feels great is a great thing, unless we fight about something soon afterwards, which does happen. There are also times when we are obligated to play a show, but we are not getting along well; & then we simply play because we have to, & there is no joy in that.
Carl – Absolutely, yes we do strive for that onstage spiritual connection. We don’t perform live as often as we once did, but it is that “magical” feeling that is the most rewarding. I do also believe this energy is transferred into our personal relationship. Luckily, when a performance doesn’t quite give us this feeling, it does not have any negative effects on us. It makes me want that connection even that much more during the next performance.
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?
Windy – In the beginning I wrote some words, & Carl wrote the music. He taught me how to play the songs, & then after a while I started writing music & words. But it seems straight away that I got tagged with being the girl who sang, & all the writing credits (& especially guitar credits) went to Carl. That is really annoying to me, & so yes, sometimes I would like more recognition as being a part of the creative process & not just the girl who sings.
Carl – If that ever happens, I don’t have any problems with that. It might happen to Windy soon - she has her own “solo” record coming out, but I never really think about those things. I don’t have any plans to do my own record, just trying to keep a steady pace with our music together is hard enough to do. If anything, a lot of people assume that I play everything & all Windy does is songs, which could not be further from the truth. Especially on our last few albums, there are a good deal of songs that I don’t play very much on.
QRD – Do you feel a need to have separate projects where you just work on your own?
Windy – Now, yes. Before, no. I have a solo record coming out in April - & it is pretty different from a w&c record - it is gritty & lo-fi & moody, not pretty & relaxing. & I really like it. I am nervous about doing something on my own, but it was time to learn how to stand on my own 2 feet.
Carl – Maybe. I have considered trying to write & record a more “poppy” kind of a record. Windy says I should, but it is difficult to find the extra time right now. I don’t really feel I have a “need” to do this, but it’s something I have been thinking about.
QRD – Musicians often run into fans with crushes, is there a secret to recognizing when something is getting inappropriate instead of being band promoting?
Windy – when someone refuses to recognize your partner - there is trouble. I will not elaborate, but a few people have not accepted that we are married & have sent letters that show how lonely tunes they are. It’s uncomfortable. I don’t know how to avoid it completely, especially as sometimes you can tell these people right in the beginning that they are off base & they will not hear you at all.
Carl – I don’t THINK we have had any kind of a problem like this. We tend to keep to ourselves mostly. There are some very interesting people/fans out there, but nothing really out of the ordinary. Plus, I think that most everyone who listens to our music knows that we are a couple, which might keep these things from happening.
QRD – Any advice for other musician couples?
Carl – Being patient with one another is really important. Try not to take things too serious. Try not to take criticism personally - this can be hard sometimes, but it is really important to be able to keep some kind of separation between making music & having a personal relationship & not allowing problems to spill over into the other.