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03. Fake memories, artificial memories and that kind of stuff

Our favourite soundtrack of the summer; Ducktails, alias Matt Mondanile, has created quite a buzz with his home-crafted brand of dreamy beach-pop. I managed to catch him here in Stockholm during the tour in September with Dolphins Into The Future, just after his soundcheck at Landet was completed.

So, how’s your tour going?
Oh, it’s going really good. So far we’ve played in Gent in Belgium, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Aarhus, Malmö, Gothenburg and now Stockholm. It’s been really cool.

How come you teamed up with Dolphins Into The Future?
He’s a good friend of mine. My first tour I ever went on in Europe was with him and this Belgian band called Buffle.

Buffle? I don’t think I’ve heard of them before.
Well, they are really small. They don’t really tour at all.

I see. OK, I wanted to ask you about this movement people have been talking about the last couple of months. They tend to call it chillwave or hypnagogic pop or whatever, and I wanted to know your opinion about it, since both you and Dolphins seem to come from that direction.
I actually don’t think it is as much of a movement as the internet and magazines make it up to seem like it is, but I definitely feel connected to Dolphins Into The Future and some other bands in having the same influences. I don’t really think that my music is chillwave… I think that genres like that is an easy way for music writers to rely on a hip term to put into their articles, and it enables them to not really talk about the actual music.

So I guess I don’t need to tell you about the article about hypnagogic pop in The Wire #306?
Yeah, I’m in that article, hehe.

What do you think about it?
It’s pretty cool! David Keenan is a very good writer and it’s really good that he wrote an article about The Skaters, because I feel they are a really important band in the world of experimental music. [James Ferraro and Spencer Clark of The Skaters] are both pretty influential people for a lot of artists, especially me. But at the same time I feel I’ve gone in a different direction now with my next record, and I think that if you heard it, you wouldn’t think it sounds anything like The Skaters or something like that.

For me, this term hypnagogic pop, or chillwave, sounds kind of weird. Most bands in this genre don’t even sound alike. For instance, there’s a whole world of difference between your music and lets say Poca­haunted. Do you think it’s even appropriate to talk about it as a genre?
It’s appropriate to bring it up; because it’s a way my music has been categorized. But if you don’t think that it sounds like Poca­haunted or Emeralds or something, then it’s cool. I mean, that means that you have listened to the music, haha.

Yeah. But at the same time, I’m really interested in the way people categorize stuff. I would speak of it more like a scene, rather than a genre. Don’t you agree?
I don’t think it’s really a scene. It’s not like there is a bunch of bands that are in the hypnagogic scene or something… I mean, they are all over the world. There are just a lot of bands linked together by writers to create juxtaposition, or some kind of relative thing, to be able to place the music somewhere. I think that everyone’s brain is connected on the same level, like a field of thought. It’s not like that there is this whole new music being created.

For example, I think that Robyn’s music is quite nostalgic, or hypnagogic, and she’s quite popular here in Sweden. I think that mainstream artists like Robyn or The Knife have these things going on. Even bands like Weezer; they have this new single coming out called “Memories”, which I think could be totally hypnagogic, but it just sounds like super-mainstream radio rock so it just wouldn’t be categorized as hypnagogic pop, haha.

So you can relate to what Keenan says about fake memories and all that?
Actually I’m really into the idea of fake memories, artificial memories and that kind of stuff. I studied it in college.

Yeah, really?
Yeah, I wrote my thesis on memory, having to deal with how the media portrayed the collapse of the Berlin wall in Germany. They had to deal with the television implanting artificial memories in people’s minds. And as for me, I don’t live in a tropical climate; I live in a boring suburb. I like the idea of artificial landscapes and artificial places.

You have some words that reappear in Ducktails track titles, like “mirror” and…
Yeah. “Mirror”, “surfer”…

Do you think of something particular when you think of a mirror?
When you look at a mirror you see yourself, but it’s also like you look at… Well, for instance this track “House of mirrors” is about me living in my parents house and looking at all those photos of me as a kid, seeing myself in different stages of my life, and constantly being surrounded by that.

It seems like the whole hypnagogic genre uses the cassette format to great extent… why do you like tapes?
It’s physical. People can have them in their car. And it’s more of a lost object, in a way more essential than a burned CDr. To make a cassette you have to spend time dubbing it and all that. It’s like the difference between a postcard and an email.

But does it mean more than the aspect of nostalgia?
I like recording on cassettes. I like how it sounds. I like the bleeding of the 4-track, how the tracks bleed into each other. It’s like an artist’s palette and a paintbrush; it’s part of the music. It’s the most complicated way I can record. When I grew up I took computer music classes, but when I tried to record on a computer there were so many options that I would never be able to finish anything. So when you record on a cassette you have to limit yourself to create and finish that thing. And for me, it’s really hard to fall through with things. So yeah, there you go.

Okay. So what’s next?
I have a new album coming out on Woodsist called Ducktails III: Arcade Dynamics, and an upcoming US tour with Deerhunter in October. Then I’ll go home in November and try not to tour for a while, haha.

Martin Herterich

Photo: Max Green Ekelin