Label: Disco Modernism - DM 007 • Format: Vinyl LP, Compilation White • Country: Italy • Genre: Electronic • Style: Synth-pop, Italo-Disco
May 18, Music Music Feature. Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe. Julia Dratel. Last December, in the barely lit chapel at Bohemian National Cemetery, Haley One Of Us Must Know - Bob Dylan - Blonde On Blonde hunched over a spread of effects pedals and howled into Get Back - Rain (Beatles Tribute Band) - Live Two microphone as a looped phrase from her acoustic guitar rang and mingled with feedback.
The howl turned into a cackle as she rocked back and forth on her knees. Her face was in shadow, her hair draped over her eyes, and a full moon glowed in the cold night outside. Fohr, 26, has been performing as Circuit des Yeux since she was a teenager in Lafayette, Indiana. She moved to Chicago inand since then she's played in a confounding variety of venues with an equally wide range of artists.
The disorderliness of that list speaks to the difficulty of categorizing Fohr's music. She sings and plays string guitar, making it easy to mistake her for a folkie at first glance, and a distant twang of Americana reverberates through her droning songs.
But she also uses pedals to turn her voice and guitar into gothic phantasmagoria, and she washes her music in distorted noise to chilling, atmospheric effect. Live sound engineers often don't know what to do with her. Just put a mike in front. I need the monitor to be in a certain place so I can do feedback manipulation.
Fohr sits across from me on the back patio of a coffee shop in Ukrainian Village. Though I've seen her perform twice, I haven't gotten a good look at her face before. Onstage, her presence is fearless and opaque, as though she's being projected into the venue from somewhere impossibly distant. She seems different in the sunlight, and as we talk, Various - Szkoła Życia feel like we're both occupying the same space for the first time.
She's been putting out tapes since she was 17—her full-length Overdue earned overdue praise from Pitchfork, which called it "intoxicating, and even life-affirming"—and the new record is her most fully realized yet. She assembled a roster of collaborators, all good friends from other Chicago Hello Halley - Rago* & Farina* - Atelier Folie - Lost Demos And Unreleased Masters 1983/1986 , to augment her own layers of voice, guitar, synth, bass, electronics, and piano.
Cooper Crain contributes keyboard and drums to a few tracks, and Rob Frye, his bandmate in Cave and Bitchin Bajasplays flute and bass clarinet on a couple more. This diverse cast lends texture and depth to the winding, clouded album, thanks in part to the presence of instruments new to the Circuit des Yeux palette, among them the viola and flute. Rob Sevier of the Numero Group is even credited with "bicycle" on one song.
Everyone that I play music with is a dear friend of mine. It's not some hired person—it's an evolving relationship," says Fohr. Sometimes something really amazing happens that is beyond what either of you could produce individually. When you're just one person, you can overdub and overdub, and that's fine, but there's an energy about playing music with other people that I'm very into right now.
It's a really intimate thing to do. As she's done with every prior Circuit des Yeux release, Fohr produced In Plain Speech with no budget to speak of, recording mostly on the road or in a home studio. Several songs germinated during a three-day artist's residency at last September's Mission Creek Festival in Iowa City, during which she recorded their skeletons at Flat Black Studios with Luksetich and Baird.
Fohr says she tracked "about a third" of the album at her home studio and the rest at Chicago's Minbal studio, in both cases joined by Crain. It certainly wasn't ideal," she says. I think that's just because I've never had much money to put into it.
But out of that comes innovation. Fohr Hello Halley - Rago* & Farina* - Atelier Folie - Lost Demos And Unreleased Masters 1983/1986 to Chicago in from Bloomington, where she'd gone to college. Byshe and Crain had built the first incarnation of her studio, using salvaged materials such as cardboard avocado-packing forms, old clothes, and thrift-store blankets to soundproof it. The two of them split the cost of a used Otari Hello Halley - Rago* & Farina* - Atelier Folie - Lost Demos And Unreleased Masters 1983/1986 tape machine and "borrowed" a tube preamp Академическая Гребля - ОСП - О.С.Песня 2000 Guitar Center—they bought it, recorded with it, and then brought it back before the end of the store's day return window, a scheme Fohr described as "a great victory" in a interview with Dinosaur Mahaffey for Terminal Boredom.
Fohr's voice, which provides the heart of the new arrangements, remains the most striking feature of Circuit des Yeux. She sings in an unusually low range, rounding the trailing edges of her syllables with a lush vibrato—she took lessons for years as a kid in Lafayette, first at Tecumseh Junior High School and then at Jefferson High.
In school choirs, she was often given men's tenor parts. I can sing Nina Simone, Billie Holiday, a lot of low-registered women. But they reverted to me singing guy parts, basically.
Which is all right. Androgyny sometimes kept Fohr from fitting in as a teen, but now it's a fertile space for her, both personally and musically. Though she doesn't present herself as masculine—she wears her hair long, and at our meeting she's wearing red lipstick—her singing voice often confuses audience members who can't clearly see her. I've embraced Short Dress Gal - Various - The Sound Of New Orleans (1917-1947) she says.
It's a conversation that I'm meant to add to, and that's great. Fohr tours extensively—last year she was on the road for about seven months, two of them in Europe—and not every new audience is receptive to the way she sings.
Last September, she mentioned on her blog that strangers sometimes mimic her voice while she performs. It's like a flashback to high school—it's a bully situation. Frustrated by the fight to capture an audience's attention and worn out from traveling alone, Fohr sometimes fought back in ways that hurt her music, raising her voice to a yell or cranking up the distortion on her guitar. I no longer want my guitar to be used as a weapon. If that's happening, then I think it's a sign that I'm doing something interesting.
I'm pushing people's ideas; I'm making them think about something. As long as there's a strong, emotive reaction, then I'm doing my job. When she was growing up, Fohr imagined that A Girl - Frankie Laine - The Best Of Frankie Laine would help her see the world. It was a complete shock at first," she says.
Since then she's not only moved to Chicago but toured overseas, and the world outside the midwest seems smaller than it used to. People might eat different food and have nap times during the day, which is awesome, but it's pretty much the same," she says.
If I have friends in Paris, I'll hang out with them, and that's a great time, but if I don't know anyone in Paris, it's kind of dismal and dirty. It's a big city. Fohr still loves traveling, especially when touring Circuit des Yeux with a band—it's helped her feel less alienated than she used to. When she was 18, she dropped out of college, moved back into her parents' house, You Can - Sharon Batts & Power Source* - Someone To Love Me retreated inside herself.
She says her family still call it her "lost year. It's also one of the first songs she's written directly about another person—several of them, actually. The lyrics are about people she's met briefly on the road and felt an instant connection with, only to immediately leave them behind, maybe forever.
All the lyrics are directed at you, the listener. Hello Halley - Rago* & Farina* - Atelier Folie - Lost Demos And Unreleased Masters 1983/1986 not about me. I mean, it is about me as well, of course. In Plain Speech. It's about dialogue.
It's not all about me against the world, which I was feeling for a really long time. I think it's just part of growing up. My worldview is wide open now. Fohr's long struggle to open herself up to dialogue—to all sorts of social interaction, really—kicked into high gear when she moved to Chicago. She'd left a place where she could walk everywhere and recognize everybody for a huge city where neither was remotely possible.
Her shyness mutated into full-blown social anxiety. It feels really uncomfortable sometimes. I feel like I'm in overdrive—I feel like I'm meeting people at a rate that I don't normally. Conversations with people have always been a challenge for me. But I'm learning that as long as you feel uncomfortable, you're probably making progress. Fohr feels more at home in Chicago now than she ever has. People are really inviting.
That said, she's also excited to travel with the musicians who helped her record In Plain Speech and share the new songs with new people. On Tuesday, May 19, Fohr plays a release concert at the U. But when you're touring with people, it's awesome. Rolling through a new town with your crew, you've got people onstage to back you up, and you're all on this trip together," she says.
It feels like a whole new me. A new stage of life, completely untied to my past," Fohr continues. It took me all those albums to get here. But it's like a weight has been lifted. There's no dark undercurrent.
It seems really positive. I think this is the first album of the rest of my career. Every dollar you Hello Halley - Rago* & Farina* - Atelier Folie - Lost Demos And Unreleased Masters 1983/1986 helps fund the experienced, diverse journalists and editors producing the Reader.
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