Saturday, 26 December 2009

A letter from Vic Chesnutt

Back in May, I did a feature on Constellation Records for what turned out to be the last ever edition of Plan B mag. One of the people I interviewed (by email) was Vic Chesnutt, an artist I guess I'd always been a fan of by association more than I was actually a straightforward devotee of the music; Kristin Hersh and Michael Stipe were huge fans, he was signed to Constellation... anyway, he was clearly a remarkable man, but he did get his answers in late and I never used them, and now he's dead under horrible circumstances, for which there is the full story here and a very moving tribute from Kristin here.

Anyway, I feel a bit weird just having said answers lying in a dusty corner of my inbox, unused, like I'm hoarding a microscopic portion of his soul or something, so I'm going to delete the mail but put the contents up here, as it feels equally wrong to erase them forever. Er. Yes. A 'normal' blog will be along soon, I think... um, but yeah, I'm not sure if I've really put this up to be read, or just so it exists outside of my responsibility... Anyway, it's here now.


Vic Chesnutt

to me
show details 10 May
sorry,
i lost your email
if i missed the deadline i apologize
i hope i didn’t

On 5/1/09 1:38 PM, "Andrzej Lukowski" <lukowski@gmail.com> wrote:

Hi Vic

This is Andrzej from Plan B - sure Ian has explained this all to you, but we're doing a big piece on Constellation records, its past and its present, and it would be super great to get your input as I guess somebody pretty emblematic of the changing face of the label.

Here's a list of questions - I understand that you'd rather not answer by email, if we can set up a time early next week to go over this then that'd be great. Questions pasted below and attached.

Cheers

Andrzej

1. So first off, when did you first become aware of Constellation? Was post-rock (for wont of a better term) something that you were into as it happened? Care to name a favourite Constellation band?

jem cohen was my entree into constellation. he showed me his godspeed cd, it was beautiful, he said he would give it to me of course but it was too precious, so i taped it on cassette and i used to rock that thing so loud in my studio when i needed inspiration. years later on their last tour, i saw godspeed maybe on their last tour, wow, it was unforgettable.



2. And then who made overtures to who vis a vis your signing to the label? It’s a ways to go, I’m assuming somebody must have lured you there? Who did you know already..?

when jem cohen produced my album at hotel2tango north star deserter we thought it was for new west records, but instead, they dropped me so that we could keep it in they family, my new found montreal family.


3. Had you heard of Hotel2Tango already?

hotel2tango is famous outside of constellation, yes, i knew of it, well. and i’d heard tales from jem.


4. How was recording North Star Deserter there? You got some pretty good Constellation collaborators, there...

it was magical. i was scared because i didn’t know any of these people except guy picciotto. but the whole constellation reputation from cohen had me terrified. i didn’t think i was up to the task. but immediately from the time howard bilerman, the engineer from hotel2tango picked me up from the airport i felt welcome and inspired and among comrades.


5. Obviously it’s early-ish days yet, but how does Constellation seem to be different to others labels you’ve been with? Do you feel they understand your needs better?

constellation is the best thing that ever happened to me.


6. I don’t need to point out that as an American whose work is located in the folk idiom, you’re rather an anomaly at Constellation... what’s your take on that? A conversation along the lines of ‘this isn’t what we usually do’ must have taken part at some point?

i don’t think about that, at all, really, with a good hunk of the heart of constellation characters surrounding me in the band, it feels like the only place for these albums.

7. It strikes me that community is probably quite key to Constellation... do you feel removed from that at all? Or not? Would it be journalistic wishful thinking if you could draw some amazing parallel between it and the early Eighties Athens scene?

well, constellation crew seems a lot more put together than the wild early 80’s athens scene.


8. Are you friends with Carla Bozulich at all? I guess you’re in a similar boat as ‘veteran’ US recording artists who’ve found their way to Constellation...

i know carla, of course. she’s amazing. but i haven’t thought about the constellation thing with us.


9. How do you politics stack up with the label’s politics? Are you as left leaning? Is it an issue?

oh yeah, i’m a lefty, alright. and we talk politics.

10. I gather there’s a new album due September... what can we expect? Was it done at Hotel2Tango again? Who were the personnel?

yes, we recorded at the new hotel2tango and it is silver mt zion sans sophie, guy picciotto, and
two-thirds of the witchies, single lp length. i can’t give away anymore details.

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