For those of you who don't know, Au is an incredible... band? collective? cacophony? I managed to blackmail Luke Wyland, the amazing genius behind the whole operation (and only permanent member of the group), into an interview. See what transpired... Jocelyn: How would you describe your relationship with music? How does the music you listen to affect the music you make? Luke: It's most certainly my primary obsession. Historically I've been making it some way or another my entire life. Begun piano lessons when I was four, though I was never that spectacular at that form of playing. I quit when I was in middle school to pursue sports and puberty. Only came back to it when I moved from Ohio to New Hampshire, as it was the way I made new friends. Since high school and my first experiences with making abstract/psychedelic music it takes up a lot of thinking. Whether directly in methods of structure or historical studies, or simply its role in society and my responsibility to my community's culture. On a more personal level, it's always provided me with my greatest joy. Ain't nothing better than a good show with a friendly audience and a spent mind. As for the music I listen to, it's all relevant as places to start or reflect upon for inspiration. Ultimately my hope is to not regurgitate or simply copy things that have been done before. Loosely, the music I listen to is always present in the music I make. It's impossible to disconnect historically from an art form. A certain respect and reverence for things past is an important part of making one's own art. The struggle is not being a slave to such things or studies and then simply trusting or hoping that you're just another bead along the thread of where the form is going. J: When did you first decide you were going to be a musician. Did you choose it or did it choose you? L: I guess both. I was the only one in a family of six to continue past the first year or two with piano lessons, so I guess there was a certain something there that made sense to me. Once I returned to it in high school it quickly took hold of me. So in a lot of ways I guess you could say it did choose me. As for taking the next step and seeking to do it "professionally" it was my choice. Amazingly enough, I haven't had a job in just about a year now. I'm not living a very extravagant life, but it's more than good enough as I get to spend all my time focused on the music. So officially I first decided to be a musician a year ago. But I think music decided I was going to be a musician when I was a little boy. J: What draws you toward the abstract? L: A restless mind... And discovery. When it comes to playing music, I feel false in simply playing the standards. I went through a phase of studying jazz pretty hard core in high school, learning heads and ways of interpreting them. It certainly taught me a lot about the parts of music, but I never felt quite right in the aesthetic of the music. Only once I started to figure out what sort of sounds I had within my body did I really begin to take a deeper interest in the music I was making. This tended toward the abstract or miss mash of styles I had spent my time listening to. Ultimately it's most exciting when two seemingly disparate parts crash into each other and from it emerges something you've never quite experienced before. I'm not saying that's what my music is, but that's certainly what I strive for. It's in mulling the regions of what some would call abstract. I feel this is possible. It's also the most pleasurable medium I can channel my music through. So on a very physical level it's just more fun. Abstract music tends to be more physically fun to play as you're forced to use your instrument in ways that can be very specific to how you personally use your body. It's easy to learn other people's music, but for me quite boring to replicate in action. I always need something that's going to push me to find new things to do with my fingers or voice. J: Where does your music come from? L: A combination of intuition, peers, history, the instruments I play... God, I don't know. Usually it takes me by surprise. Usually things first spring from my relationships with my instruments. I'll fuck around for a while and then something will show its face to me. I'll try my best to grasp on to it and then see where it takes me. Then I'll record different improvisations based on the idea and start to dissect it. Eventually, if things go well, I'll have a new song. If not, just another lesson. Otherwise I'll be somewhere and something will pop up in my imagination - a theme, a reference and general starting place. I try to get these things to reoccur over time so I can subconsciously see how they develop. I'm I'm lucky they pop up again when I have an instrument in my hands. J: What's your favourite Au song? L: The one, or actually two as they form into one, I'm most proud of is "All My Friends" and "Are Animals". I had such fun working with a choir of my friends. J: Mine's "Sum". I adore that song. L: I love that one too. That's probably my favourite off the first album. Sadly enough I've never played it live. J: I was trying to imagine how you would play it live. L: I'd need at least eight more people all on the same instruments. J: Some day... L: Most certainly! J: So what's next for you? L: Well, I'm about to head up to Vermont to start recording the next album, as well as a live EP that reflects the show we put on this last US tour as a duo. My good friend Alec Dartley, who also runs Aagoo Records (the label I've been working with these last three years) has a beautiful place out in the woods that we've turned into a sort of makeshift recording studio. It's very basic, but works nonetheless. So we'll hopefully get both of those recordings done by the end of the year. We are also planning another cross-country tour to get us back to Portland starting in mid-January through the South (so as to avoid the snow and miserable driving conditions). From there, we'll prepare for the release of the new album and get ready to tour the US again, and then head over to Europe for the end of April. I also hope to get over to Japan and Australia net year, as we've been lucky enough to have labels put out Verbs in both spots. Who knows, it was supposed to happen this winter, but with the global economic crisis things haven't really made sense. Ultimately, I hope to travel and tour as much as I can. It's been real good thus-far. AU - RR vs. D from Rainbow Dropshadow on Vimeo. Don't forget to check out Au's Myspace page. Also, buy this album: