On Memory Tapes third-full length album Grace/Confusion, principle songwriter Dayve Hawk departs from the cerebral dance music that previously attracted critical acclaim and generated a devoted legion of fans. Instead, he’s composed six long songs — the most epic tops out at over eight minutes — and investigates more intricate, deliberately layered tracks. “At the time I made this record, I felt like a mess,” Hawk tells Hive. “I wanted the record to seem like a mess. I didn’t want three-minute singles; that didn’t seem appropriate.”
Hive caught up with Hawk about the making of Grace/Confusion (streaming below), the need to write longer, “messier” songs, and why this material was necessary for what’s next.
Grace/Confusion is a new kind of record for you, with only six songs at almost 40 minutes and something of a new sound. Did you set out to create something that’s such a departure?
I’m album oriented in the way I think about music, so I intentionally always set out to make a record if I get back from tour or I finish the million remixes I have to do and a period of time opens up. With this one, the starting point was that, when I was looking back at my previous records, I felt I had put too many limitations on myself. I got tired of that and I wanted to lift all the restrictions I had put on myself. Starting with this one, I had no limitations and allowed myself to do what I wanted to do. I was in a place where I was kind of confused and lost in general, in life, and I decided to embrace that and make almost a prog record or something that would usually be fueled by bad judgment. I wanted to do it intentionally as being representative of my state of mind.
Is that how you feel the album ended up?
In a certain sense, yes. I think that’s why the songs are so long and sprawling. There was part of my mind trying to rein it in even as I was trying to embrace it. That had to do with the duality in the title of the record; there were moments of clarity in then middle of the sprawling tracks. That’s the reason I kept the length of the tracks long but the number of tracks short. I tried to have it both ways.
What was writing these longer songs like for you? It’s a real change of pace.
I like writing this way. I would rather edit things down to simplify them. I feel like I’ve been listening to and writing music for such a long time, I started to reach a point where I was tired of songs. I started to become more excited by mixtapes and hearing fragments of songs appearing in then midst of what was going on around them. For me, I don’t view these as ‘songs,’ per se, I view them as moments of ‘songiness’ that exist in the context of bigger pieces.
Is this indicative of a direction that you’re heading in?
It’s more experimental. The next record won’t be anything like this one. It’s already different. But at the time I was making this record, I felt it was the best way. I always tell people my interest is in making a record representative of a time and a place. I don’t really follow the course where each Memory Tapes record is supposed to be bigger and more successful than the last.
So you’re on to a next record already?
I’m actually working on a couple things right now, though I’m not sure which will end up getting finished and coming out. Part of the process of making this record the way it was had to do with a hope that making a record like this would help me shake off some confusion. It worked and now I’m interested in making something faster to come together and less neurotically constructed.