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The Midnight Hollow Comes Into Their Own

The Midnight Hollow originated as the solo project of San Francisco-based Spencer Draeger. After a few Craigslist rehearsals, chance bar encounters, and a move to New York, The Midnight Hollow became a New York trio and added drummer Andrew Segreti and bassist Matthew Leibowitz to its ranks.

We chatted with the band about evolving from a solo act to a three-piece, what inspires their unique sound, and the new music the future may have in store. Be sure to catch them with  BIG BAND and Colatura @ Zone One at Elsewhere Friday March 30th!

With The Midnight Hollow beginning as a solo project then blossoming into a trio, how has collaboration enhanced your creative process? 

Collaboration through playing live has changed everything for me as songwriter. Playing amongst Matt and Andrew really changed how I interpreted writing music. Most of my writing still goes down independently in a studio when I can just listen back and experiment but as a trio I’m more in touch with how it will sound live. When I think about it a song’s never really finished. In The Midnight Hollow, we change parts around every show and never play anything twice. Recordings are just one take or one version. I often don’t listen to recordings once they come out to the public because I’ve moved on to live takes on it. Some of the tracks that I recorded by myself had a studio length of 4 min but extended out to 12 min as a trio live. Nothing is sacred and we like the freedom to extend and revise things. Collaboration is everything for a live show and there’s nothing more disappointing than seeing a band live and seeing robots doing as they’re told. Whether it’s backing tracks or the hired gun dude in it for his 100 bucks at the end of the night. Regardless of how somethings written, when we hit the stage we are 3 people just sharing the the same voice. 

You’ve received praise for your intricate blend of genres, ranging from pop to rock to psychedelia. Do you have any influences that serve as a foundation for your diverse sound?

I’ve always struggled putting TMH in a nice adjective. Psych-Tronica was a new one I heard someone call it recently. I think a lot of times if I dont want to tune a guitar I’ll turn a knob on the synth and people think it’s a different vibe. It is real discipline to stick a genre or sound and maybe it could be disingenuous as a songwriter. These are interesting times. I get bored doing the same thing and when you start playing everything in a set it’s more fun switching instruments and adding different dynamics. Maybe Pink Floyd, Bowie, or Radiohead would be good bands to reference for this question you just can’t pigeonhole them to anything. Constantly reinventing is a necessity for us.

As a band based in Brooklyn, how has the borough inspired your music?

think just living on top of each other and having to be around so many different walks of life is inspiring. I like to write about more society as a whole than myself and here there’s so much to take in through out the day.  I have good and bad days here like anyone else and sometimes I feel like Brooklyn is the worst place to start a band. We all know so many have left because it’s more a real estate capitol than artistic haven. It’s expensive and sometimes being in Brooklyn makes me jaded. At times I feel like people rely on gimmicks or shock value to be heard amongst so many other artists. There’s just so much going on and as humans we all love the drama of it all so I get it. In a way that’s what inspired our song “Forward.” The other side is no matter the age or tax bracket there are people moving here to do what they love and be around others that feel the same. I walk down Meserole street where we practice and I feel like I’m in Peter Pan’s lost boys club where we refuse to grow into the assimilation of adulthood. I love seeing people that continue making music into their 40s and 50s sometimes with people half their age. That keeps me going everyday and I have never felt that anywhere else. You should never grow out of something you love to sustain. I never will. It can be hard but I would rather be in the center of the world of cultures and people than somewhere easy. There’s no satisfaction playing on easy.

The surreal music video for “Forward” perfectly compliments your psychedelic songs. How important are visuals in crafting your music’s electrifying and hypnotizing atmosphere?

Andrew Segreti (The Midnight Hollow drummer) and Evan Dileo created this so I don’t have much I can add. Andrew is really talented in the visual side of things and has been focusing more of his time in that world. Evan Dileo also may be making videos on some of my other future projects too. As far as visuals, overall I just like feeling stoned when I am making music. With Forward we just said fuck it to any narrative and felt that because we are all just emotional people responding to sensation, making a video of colors and shapes complimenting the rhythm and vibe of the song would bring home a great vid. I’m just really focused on the music side and try to create atmosphere in the soundscapes I think it’s all relative. I was watching a video the other day about how some guy linked colors to pitch and made me think how we interpret audio and visuals are actually the same in our brain. Sorry I’ll go off on a tangent on that but I’d love to bring that to our live show. Maybe down the road. 

Last year you released your infectiously energetic tune “Peach Juice”, can we expect more mind-blowing music in the near future? 

Thanks! This is an important question that I’ve also been asking myself this year. Maybe I shouldn’t spill any official beans but I drank a large coffee and feel like spilling. I think I’m gonna start releasing music under my name due to a lot of the pressures of organizing stuff in New York. Everyone in The Midnight Hollow is in multiple artistic endeavors outside the band and we love playing together but as far as recordings it may just be easier to put stuff out more frequently under my name. I did a lot of interviews when our last single, Peach Juice, came out last year saying we were about to drop a lot of songs and then we got tied up with life. Sorry! There still is a lot to release that I’m finally getting around to finalizing. It all just may come out under my last name. Just stay posted!

Interview by Adele Sakey

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