Memory Tapes is the most recent project of New Jersey based multi-instrumentalist Dayve Hawk as the current incarnation of his unusually broad aesthetics offerings. While he’s dabbled in a number of genres and tags, one constant theme throughout his media coverage is his lack of communication with the outside world. Not that he’s unresponsive, but Hawk has admitted to not owning a phone or a TV, which, for a project with so many electronics swirling around, appears to be a paradox.
But paradox is the name of the game for Hawk. He seems to enjoy a certain level of opposition, not aggressive opposition, but more in romanticizing a certain inability to connect to the normal ebb and flow around him. He sings about the nighttime world a lot, he writes cheery pop tunes with sad lyrics. His relationships don’t crash and burn in blazing flames, but they also aren’t going all that well either. He doesn’t care for live sets, and at first light he got wrangled in as a chillwave artist–which seems uncomfortable now.
With his sophomore LP as Memory Tapes, Piano Player, recently released on Carpark, Dayve Hawk is enjoying the wake of a record that was named a ‘must have summer soundtrack’, and most definitely revamped his visibility. The effort has even opened doors for a new constituency of fans, turning a more melodic leaf in comparison to his debut Seek Magic.
Hawk was nice enough to answer a few questions in anticipation of his upcoming show with us, so check it out below!
You’ve worked under the moniker Memory Cassette and weird tapes, so the combination of the two names equals Memory Tapes–has that caused a lot of confusion for you? Are there really distinct lines in the sand between the names or do you feel its just an irritating matter of semantics at this point?
Well, I really don’t use weird tapes or Memory Cassette anymore. That was the whole point of Memory Tapes, to consolidate my output. There were differences though: weird tapes was instrumental, sample based music and Memory Cassette was songs I had recorded as a teenager. Memory Tapes is all new stuff, no samples or old demos.
You’ve been playing more live shows lately than you have in the past–with all that extra practice, is there a specific muscle you’ve really learned how to flex live? What part of your performance are you most comfortable with when you play for an audience?
Live shows are still pretty tough for me psychologically. I think I prefer playing guitar in that context because that’s when I feel most distracted from the situation I’m in. I know some people get weirded out that I’m not up there with a stack of synths, but to a certain extent the synth thing has lost it’s allure for me. It’s refreshing to step away from the electronics for a second.
After putting out such an electronically minded album Seek Magic, you follow it up with an instrumental title Piano Player. Do you write mostly on keys since that seems to be the backbone on this record? With which of your instruments do you feel the most connected?
It’s probably a fair split between piano and guitar for me as far as writing goes. I definitely feel the most connected to my guitars though. That’s the instrument I’ve played the longest and it just feels the most natural for me. Even though I make a lot of electronic and keyboard based music, more of it starts out on the guitar than I think people would expect.
From the cover art of Piano Player to the videos for singles “Yes I Know” and “Today is Our Life” the visuals are in shades of gray–something your cover artist Kazuki Takamatsu is especially known for. There’s nothing monochrome about your music, what attracts you to those colors?
I like that classic/timeless aspect of monochrome…it leaves a certain element up to the listener. This record was also about contradiction so I thought it was an appropriate way to present it.
You’ve cited a lot of different ways that doo-wop has affected this album from the melodies to the content, and you channel that filtered AM radio spookiness really well. Do you have a specific experience of hearing a song in a certain way, like late night driving or something, that really fuels that eerie aesthetic?
My father worked on electronics, particularly radios, when I was growing up. My first stereo was actually an old car radio wired up to some spare speakers so I think I’ve always viewed the radio as being a little more interesting than most kids my age. I really didn’t grow up with MTV and all the visual cues with music, it was more listening to the radio in the dark when I couldn’t sleep and that just fed into my aesthetic for sound over time.
Cool, thanks Dayve!
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