Jamie Stewart – Xiu Xiu
by Ian Cruz
July 15, 2006
1. Rumor had it that you were covering an Elliott Smith song on Tu Mi Piaci. What song did you cover and why didn’t it make it on the EP?
caralee was working on it so i am not sure (she lives in a different city). i think she was unhappy with how it turned out. he is her big hero so i think she would never feel did it well enough.
2. How do you feel about Xiu Xiu’s new album, The Air Force, already leaking onto the Internet?
i think it sucks. i think it is theft and whoever leaked it, or any records, makes art and the efforts of people that they supposedly like meaningless throw away pieces. i would like to say fuck you to them.
3. How does the writing process for Xiu Xiu go? Do you write the lyrics for the songs Caralee sings?
it is very mixed. sometimes i sit in front of the computer all day and night in my underwear and bang out a song non stop and sometimes 7 or 8 people work on small parts of a song over the course of a year. for the air force i finished about 75 % of it , as much as i could do before hitting a brick wall, and then caralee and greg saunier turned it into a record. it was very collaborative and exciting. both of them a endless springs of creativity. i write the lyrics but it is not a rule or anything.
4. Have there been any new sounds or instruments you had used on the new album that you hadn’t used on past albums?
the aforementioned caralee’s voice, certain percussions we did not have before, particualrly a set of tuned hyper sustaining bells called crotales. say as if it were french and it does not sound so much like jazz fusion. also a set of 21 hotel desk bells that are all within micro tones of
eachother in pitch. accordion we have not used that since knife play. greg also added samples in very subtle ways to several of the songs. it is interesting how he used them to enhance sound that were already there. also lots of bird sounds and koto.
5. Do you work when you are not doing anything with music?
no i am lucky. i work on music all the time but it is a priviledge.
6. You’ve been coming out with albums at least once a year, and last year you had released two albums on being a live disc. Are you planning to keep going at this rate with releases?
i hope we can. after the air force i am not sure but i hope. we have started working on the post air force record but it is still in early stages. we are adding a new member, percussionist ches smith and trying to take things in a little different way but we will see. we will also do another XXL record and freddy rupert from this song is a mess but so am i are starting an
industrial band in the vein of wolfsheim.
7. Are there any plans to do another split?
with w.s. burns.
8. Is there any significance in the album title or album artwork?
the air force causes the most death in the war on terror. the most civilians are murdered by huge bombs and rockets blowing up entire houses. the air force gets no physcial blood on its hands and is distant from the death it deals indiscriminantly. at least marines have too see what they do.it is so sick that a button explodes an entire family and the pusher never knows. in the united states the people who are the most pro war tend to be the most narrowly , violently christian and as a christian myself i cannot believe that they could claim to believe on the teachings of jesus but still join and justify the horrors they commit or support.
9. For The Air Force you had chosen Greg Saunier to produce. Why had you chosen him and who else did you have in mind?
deerhoof changed my life literally. we are friends and i love how he arranges songs and his sense of space and sound and emotion. he was a dream to work with. i had no one else in mind.
10. Were there any songs that did not make it on the new record and what were they called?
they never get beyond the scetch stage if they are not working out so they are all called like “song with wierd guitar thing” or something. scraps litter my hard drive.
11. Do you ever feel that you are too open with your personal life when writing songs?
no. why else make music if not to be open.
– The next set of questions were submitted by fans –
12. What’s up with that song “Fabulous Muscles”?
it is about the grocery store. what do you mean by this question?
13. Is it hard/awkward to play your songs live in front of audiences?
sometimes but worth it to play.
14. Some listeners say that you have a voice like Ian Curtis. He’s known to be one of your influences so how does it feel knowing that you have a similar voice?
i have been so moved by his songs so it is natural and a considering he is a huge favorite of mine it is a compliment.
15. On the new CD do you have any content related to George W. Bush like you did with La Foret?
his supporters but not him specifically.
16. How would you say your music has changed since the beginning? Less or more abstract?
more dense and we have stopped using real peoples names so for that reason i suppose a little more abstract. we never try to be abstract but it is not always possible.
17. Have you written any songs while being on illegal drugs?
i never really got into drugs. too much bad family history with it. booze on the other hand…. ugh!
18. A rumor on the Internet says that Elliott Smith was killed by his girlfriend, Jennifer Chiba. The question is what do you think about Smith’s death?
it is sad and pointless no matter what. he was a mess and is in a better place now but sad sad sad.
19. How did your Australian tour go?
it ruled. we thought it would suck but every nice thing you have head about australia and new zealand is true.
20. Will you be coming to Canada and not just Toronto?
montreal and i believe ontario.
21. How many times do people think Xiu Xiu is Asian pop music instead of
once in a while we get an email from china. it is nice. i have mailed a few records to people there but have never gotten a reply.
Anything you would like to say to the readers?