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“i’m changing everything about me..”
- from “changing everything”
“so if it’s me you want to change, you can fuck right off.”
- from “hell’s kitchen”
this pretty much personifies who the cambiata are.. a polarizing, indie/rock five piece from portland, maine. they’ve recently self-released their self-titled LP, prior to which they had released an EP entitled to heal, and their debut LP into the night. this band can be dynamic, simple, intense, AND give you room to breathe.. all within the span of one track. vocalist chris moulton’s charismatic croon sets the stage for the rest of the band to showcase true talent and diversity unseen in music today. this is the sound of a band that genuinely puts everything into their art, and you hear it in every note.
the band gave us the opportunity to present you with a sampler from their album. we handpicked 4 songs that we think will give you a good idea of what to expect from the cambiata. you can purchase their new album here, which we strongly suggest doing. in absolutely no way will you regret supporting this band.
scroll down to read our interview with the band and for more features.
download the weworemasks.com album sampler:
watch their “making of” documentary for the cambiata:
watch their video for “surgery”:
read the we wore masks interview with the cambiata:
Interview via e-mail:
Miguel Barajas [MB], Lead guitar/sampler
Sean Morin [SM], Piano/Guitar/ Loops
Dan Capaldi [DC], Drums/Percussion/Background Vocals
WWM: First, what does it feel like to finally have the album out? How has the response been so far?
MB: It feels great. It’s such a release to have it out. The entire time we were writing and recording it, we were all really proud of it and just wanted to show it to everyone we knew. It was especially tough not being able to play the new songs at our shows.
The response has been very positive. We knew that it was different than what we’ve done before so we were a little nervous to see what people thought. There has been a few people that come up to me and say it’s a very “headphones” record which I find interesting and enjoy.
SM:As always, it feels like a huge relief. For the first time ever though it feels like we have accomplished something denoted as “fully ourselves” – hence the reason to self-entitle.
Very simply put, the response has been better than the accumulation of our last two records, both in record sales and press/audience reaction.
DC: It feels great to finally have the record out. Like any album, we’ve had both positive and negative feedback. Most of the criticisms are in response to our music’s dramatic element, which we’ve simply accepted as our style. Other than that, we’ve been selling a lot of records and acquiring many new fans.
WWM: Is there a certain theme or overall message you wanted to convey with the album? Do you feel like it’s something you accomplished now that it’s out?
MB: Not really a theme but more of a tone. I would say a general tone of change, whatever that means to you, you know. Change in who you are, your life or your living situation or relationships, whatever. Our name means change and the first track is called “Changing Everything” and for me, sets the tone of the album.
I don’t think it’s something we set out to accomplish…it’s more of like “Hey, this is where our heads are at in this period of our lives.” And to record an album is to capture that period of time forever and be able to look back on it later on, I guess.
SM: Undoubtedly, the lyrical theme of “change” meanders throughout the record. In terms of tangible musical instrumentation, a constant theme we explored on this record was the addition of wine glasses as a pad in the back of significant (theme rendering) songs.
I don’t believe I’m completely capable of determining whether or not we accomplished that goal, though I’d like to think we did.
DC: In terms of physical message, that’s totally Chris’s department. Musically though, I hope we inspire young musicians to think outside the box when it comes to the limits of sound. We experimented with so many new sounds, but also were disciplined enough to allow each instrument to breathe sonically in the mix.
WWM: With you guys recording much of the album independently of each other, what was the recording process like?
MB: Well we wrote the songs very much together…like in a room for hours at a time ripping the songs to bits, which was actually very enjoyable as much as it was stressful. I feel like we grew so much as a songwriting group during the writing process…I’m very proud of our ability to disassociate ourselves from our songs and be objective. It’s very hard to do because as a songwriter, the songs are your babies and you’re attached to them.
SM: Very relaxing. We are often so critical of each other in the moment of recording that to be rid of that aspect of nerves enabled each individual to perform at his best (often leading to the first “take” being the best) – not to mention the additional stress relief of not being in a conventional studio setting, which can often lead to worries of finances and time (we recorded this record at various places, some being in the comforts of our own home or rehearsal space).
DC: Being in a band with five composers, ego is bound to get in the way. So often an idea is shot down before it’s even heard. Recording one on one with the engineer was a great way for us to try our ideas without preconceived opinions limiting our creativity.
WWM: How hard was it to narrow down so many demos to the final track listing? How much thought went into the final song placement?
DC: Narrowing 33 songs down to 11 was a long difficult process. It was a much needed test in determining what musical direction we wanted to head in. We had been previously pressured by labels to focus on a heavier poppy sound and demoed three songs that were sure to make the record. We ended up scrapping all three after agreeing not to compromise our artistic integrity for success. We recorded 13 songs, cut two and immediately agreed on the order in which they would go on the album.
WWM: There’s a very tense, yet cathartic feel both vocally and musically on the album. What kind of influences did you have (both musically and non) during the writing/recording process?
MB: Yeah…the album is very tense and cathartic, I suppose. Musical influence would be very different to everyone because we all go in phases in musical taste. At the time of the writing/recording of the album I was very into In Rainbows by Radiohead, Young Modern by Silverchair, Because Of The Times by Kings of Leon, The Flying Club Cup by Beirut, everything Tom Waits has ever done, and everything by The Beatles.
Non musical influences on the album would be everything that was going on in our lives during those two years or so, be it relationships within the band, out of the band, getting older and growing up and trying to deal with everything that comes with it.
SM: Personally, this record embodies the experience of 5 friends/members of a musical project learning their roles among each other. I think the tours leading up to this record were just as much of an influence on it as the records we were listening to together.
DC: Danny Elfman is my hero. His music has influenced me to pursue film scoring which I studied at Berklee prior to joining The Cambiata. The song Hell’s Kitchen was based on of a melodic motif I used in a film score last spring. In Chameleon Spit, I used a drum technique that was heavily influenced by the band Stereolab. I did two takes of the song and panned one hard left and one hard right. Each track was identical except for subtle rhythmic differences which are intended to catch the listener off guard.
WWM: Where did the idea of the ‘making of’ documentary come from?
MB: The documentary idea came about closer to the end of the whole process. As it was coming to an end, we started to realize how much of a journey this album has been from conception to final product and we wanted to document it as much as we could because we were all very proud of this thing we had created.
SM: I think it’s something we value in others bands when we can witness or understand how they made their art. Why not show it ourselves? It came quite naturally. Note that another documentary is currently in the works from producer and director Matthew Thompson (set for release in the spring/summer of 2009).
DC: Sometimes we get so caught up in artistic aspect of being in a band that we forget how important it is to share our experiences with fans. As awkward as we were being interviewed for the first time, this gave a broader audience the chance to see us as real people talking about the thing we are most passionate about. We’re not an image driven band by any means, but we realize image is important.
WWM: You guys have, in my opinion, one of the more diverse sounds in underground music. Is there any kind of formula to your song writing? It seems like you would have very interesting writing sessions.
MB: Well thank you very much. There wasn’t a song writing formula in the beginning but towards the middle of the writing we developed a routine I think. When we’re working on a song it starts by someone anyone recording a demo of a song or just a bit of music whatever. We would all take it home with us and listen to it nonstop — in the car, on the way to work, at home while on the computer, whatever. We’d get familiar with the song and come up with ideas about it. The next practice we would have we would go over the song over and over and begin to deconstruct it. Be it style, form, dynamic, instrumentation, tempo and just try it out every way possible. Once we felt OK about it, Noah [Cole, Producer] would come in and set up his gear and record us playing the song live. From there, we’d take that demo and listen to it together and discuss what we liked and didn’t like. From there, we’d discuss other instrument ideas we had and production ideas we’d have and once it was ready…it was time for the actual recording of it.
DC: Each song is composed individually by one of the five of us. We all have home studios and are capable of recording demos which we ultimately present to the band. Once a song is presented, we rely in a mutual respect between the composer’s overall vision for the song, and the freedom of the individual players to write parts of their own. Sometimes this balance is difficult and songs are sometimes scrapped due to ego, but this is a rare occurrence. Song forms are often negotiated and changes occur frequently.
WWM: Adding to that — Is there a conscious effort to include such a wide variety of genres/sounds, or do you feel like it’s something that comes naturally?
DC: I feel like our versatility is both a blessing and a curse. Having five songwriters in one band only guarantees our sound to be so unfocused and unpredictable. This is a big criticism from labels, but is also what makes us interesting and unique. We all try to write “Cambiata songs” to use with this band, but we’re all individuals who have other musical endeavors that cause us to evolve in different directions. I’m interested to hear what our next record will sound like…
WWM: What’s it like for you guys in the Portland (ME) scene?
MB: It’s getting better all the time. We’ve had an uphill climb here because we are in the outside of every scene here. We’re too indie and weird for the younger crowd, too mainstream for the indie crowd, too mellow for the heavy crowd. But we’re getting to a point where we are developing our own crowd which is a blend of all those other scenes which is great.
SM: Portland is a wonderful but small city that has embraced us in both the all ages and 21+ circuit. We try not to wear out our welcome as it can be easy considering it’s size. We are still struggling to find our place among the other art/attempts in New England.
WWM: What kind of plans do you have for the rest of ’09? Touring plans?
MB: Well right now we’re focusing on developing a New England following. Once that is established, we’ll be heading out further West and South so we’ll see what happens. We’d love to reach you guys eventually.
SM: Pushing to play at venues and cities that support art will always be a determining effort on our behalf. I’ll risk sounding cheesy and quote Andrew Bird’s anthem, ‘Plasticities’ (off of his 2008 release Armchair Apocrypha):
“We’ll fight, we’ll fight, we’ll fight for your music halls and dying cities…”
WWM: That’s about it. Any last words for the readers of weworemasks?
MB: Thank you for taking the time to read this and giving us a chance, we really appreciate it.
SM: Please do not hesitate to check us out at myspace.com/cambiata.
DC: Never compromise passion for ANYTHING. So many people are pressured into a one way path through life and are discouraged from pursuing their dreams. Shoot higher than what seems possible, and work as hard as you can to get there.