Mothers Fathers Sisters Brothers | Curious Wail Premiere
“I think music, along with art, poetry, dancing, and all other forms of expression, can immediately shift your mental and emotional state. It can help you see joy and hope when you are joyless and hopeless. But shining a light on the murkiness, focusing on the good in the world, it’s a constant daily practice that we have to choose to do. Music can be a tool to help us do that.” – Benji Marx
“Mothers Fathers Sisters Brothers is a project created by musician Benji Marx. He’s an artist out of Oakland California, (but while you’re reading this), Benji and band are in New York today probably gearing up for later tonight. They’re playing at our favorite venue with our dear friends Madam West at C’mon Everybody.
Equipped with 4-tracks and so much to say, Benji Marx tried to say what he needed to most via “Favorite Food, Dancer, I Remain, and Still Love You” on his latest. After the loss of a relationship, he found himself questioning his world, the meaning of joy itself, and what it means to live a life of meaning when the person that gave you meaning is no longer there.
But it is said that from your sadness a writer is born, and this sadness sounds so beautiful, deep in the bedrock I hear the whisper of 60’s and 70’s folk, but the use of modern indie folk tapestries like wooly-synths and horns are carefully placed, it’s hard to notice they are there at times because there’s a hypnotizing stranger in the room type of effect. You find yourself wanting to explore this feeling and a newness to the context is appreciated. One way to say it is, that it’s paradoxical wilderness and an intimacy strung with cuprous warm undertones, and it starts from the very first song.
“Favorite Food” is the kind of bright that fights blight, like lingering daylight in winter, there’s every bit of soul in the little bit of glimmer. Benji’s voice reaches upward towards those high notes often landing in a falsetto that’s on the thicker side, more throaty and less nasally, his voice is magnificently honest, and his falsettos rise in tambour with the music, it resonates easily as much with a trumpet or a patch of strings.
Then there’s a telephone quality, or FM radio vibe, on “Dancer,” that’s a nice touch of contrast to the coolness of the background vocals, creating atmosphere out of unusual parts. “I Remain” wanders into almost a Zepplin meets The Snake The Cross The Crown mashing of sounds, but it never quite delves into folk rock domains, it sounds too much like Benji Marx simply put. That’s sort of the vibe here, a clean balanced approached to writing, nothing is ever overdone, it’s much less a produced album and more so an album that needs each part to make sense, from the subtle tinkering instrumentals built upon one another on “Still Love You,” to Marx, free as a bird, weeping into the air outstretched on those high falsetto’s he loves singing at the right climactic moments, dispersed through out Curious Wail. The sparseness of the harmonies, the wailing of distant guitars, and subtle endless synths, create the signature and lasting impression of Curious Wail, it’s neither here nor there, much like the messages within, they’re rebuilding themselves with each wail.
Benji describes the focus of his project Mothers Fathers Sisters Brothers as “The cycles of gain and loss, happiness and sadness that flow through our lives, a totem to remind me and hopefully others of the circles we draw, and to maintain the mindset that we are all mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers.” Below are some questions he was kind enough to answer for his debut EP release of Curious Wail. And if you’re looking for a killer show to see, check him out playing at C’mon Everybody tonight and at Cake Shop with Hunter & Wolfe on the 19th.
Where was the record recorded, from what I understand you’re an Oakland based musician?
Benji Marx – “The record was recorded mainly at my home studio where I record a lot of my music and a lot of the music for other artists that I produce. The vocals for “Still Love You” and “Favorite Food” were recorded at Fantasy Studios, and the vocals for “I Remain” were recorded at my friend Gabe Wax’s studio in Brooklyn.”
“I think artists can really just keep doing the only thing that anyone else can do, which is continue to express your truth and your personal unique narrative. For better or worse I am a believer that art is an expression of the inner workings of a person. It isn’t about it being good or bad, but rather about it being true or false. If you express something that you really see as truth it will come through, and people will connect with that. That doesn’t mean you’ll make any money though, haha.” – Benji Marx
Your mission statement is so touching, it really touches on something i’ve thought of and think of, do you feel music has the ability? To possibly shine light where there are shadows and murkiness?
Benji – “I think music, along with art, poetry, dancing, and all other forms of expression, can immediately shift your mental and emotional state. It can help you see joy and hope when you are joyless and hopeless. But shining a light on the murkiness, focusing on the good in the world, it’s a constant daily practice that we have to choose to do. Music can be a tool to help us do that.”
What was the most challenging experience of writing this record? There are so many intimate moments on it.
Benji – “I think the most challenging part of writing this record was living through the experiences that are the subject matter for these songs, a lot of them being painful experiences. The actual writing process of course has it’s ups and downs, the periods of producing a lot of work and the periods of asking yourself why the hell am I even writing these songs. Those are difficult periods, and are definitely challenging. I would not have been able to finish this record though without encouragement and support from many people, especially my friend Brendan who also mixed all the songs.”
Stepping back, what do you think artists can do in society today if at all continuing to write music?
Benji – “I think artists can really just keep doing the only thing that anyone else can do, which is continue to express your truth and your personal unique narrative. For better or worse I am a believer that art is an expression of the inner workings of a person. It isn’t about it being good or bad, but rather about it being true or false. If you express something that you really see as truth it will come through, and people will connect with that. That doesn’t mean you’ll make any money though, haha.”
Are you who you thought you’d be when you were a kid?
Benji – “When I was a kid I thought I would be a farmer living off the land in the wilderness of some distant country, that or a monk.”
Someone you’ve been moved by locally?
Benji – “My friend Hannah, who went to join a Zen Monastery in Green Gulch, I really admire her dedication to seeking out her truth and willingness to radically change her life.”
Benji – “I would love to find band mates who want to go on tour. That would be wonderful. But really what else is there to do but keep working on material that I feel is purposeful and meaningful? I have also been looking into going to graduate school for social work.”