Folded Light Interview

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What do you get when you combine cat lovers, film makers, and green pants on loan from Cher’s dance crew? You get the “pop music” duo of Folded Light, although Jaffe says that’s probably not how it would be described; perhaps “easy listening?” Steve Damstra and Jaffe Zinn make up Folded Light. They both have side projects going on, “several other music projects” and “movie stuff,” but are currently working on their third album. “We also just finished recording a cover of a Bauhaus song that I’m pretty stoked on.” Keep reading for more their new music, cats, and green pants!

Their history of the band and a bit about themselves.
Jaffe: We met when I was helping a friend shoot a music video for Steve’s other band Whirlwind Heat. Around that time I started recording some demos of some of my stuff and posting them on MySpace and sent a link to Steve. I’m a pretty terrible singer (although I can scream alright…. black metal style or whatever) and Steve sang over a couple of my instrumentals and that’s pretty much how it started. Then Steve moved to LA and we started legitimately collaborating and Folded Light was born. Now everything’s pretty much split 50/50 in terms of songwriting, but Steve’s still the primary vocalist.

Folded Light

Whether or not their music has grown since they first started.
Jaffe: I don’t know if “grown” is necessarily the right word, but I think our music has changed a bit. It’s kind of hard to answer a question like that because I don’t think we really consciously do anything…. it’s more like we just jam a bit and if something catches our ears, we run with it. It’s not a very cerebral process.

Where the inspiration for their lyrics come from.
Steve: The inspiration for the lyrics is usually the instrumental version of each song. Once all of the music for each song is finished Jaffe and I talk about what the song reminds us of. Then we come up with a basic idea for each one. I use the idea to write an outline for each song and then we both tweak it until it fits.

What we can expect from their new album and when it will be coming out.
Jaffe: We have roughly 12 demos in various stages of completion. In the past we worked on one song at a time and tried to finish it before moving on. With this one we’ve really just laid down ideas and plan on going back in, picking our favorites, and flushing them out. We’re hoping to have it done in the next few months and release it by the end of the year/ beginning of next year.

I think it’s a bit different than our last albums, but I don’t know quite how to articulate the difference. Maybe it’s a bit too early to tell.

Folded Light

In addition to your music, you do side projects as well. Jaffe, you directed and wrote a movie which premiered at Tribeca! What was that like to direct a movie you wrote yourself and then have it show at something as huge as Tribeca?
Jaffe: I actually think of Folded Light as more of a side project…..but I guess that’s probably because it takes FOREVER to get a movie up off the ground and there’s a lot more involved, as opposed to Folded Light, which is just me and Steve having a good time recording jams. Magic Valley was a pretty intense project, but it was definitely pretty sweet seeing it on the big screen at Tribeca and people really seemed to like it, which has been really rewarding. Now I’m just excited for it to go out into the world and for more people to see it.

As a footnote: Steve actually did the score for it along with our other friend Mads Heldtberg (who mastered both Folded Light albums and is 1/3 of another musical project I’m working on now as well).

You have this really strong affinity for cats and you have tons of pictures with cats pasted all over you. I’m really interested in how you do this because it’s quite good photoshopping.
Jaffe: I do love cats. I used to have an awesome cat named Mow Mow….. this really crazy Siamese that ruled, but he got eaten by a coyote in Idaho. That was a definite bummer.

I also have an affinity for the iPhone app Catpaint, which is how I make the artistic masterpieces you’re referring to. I’d like to open an art gallery some day with all Catpaint photos from around the world. I think it would be really nice. I think it’s the next wave of art.

Steve: I like cats as well. I’m allergic though. Cat saliva is like venom to my skin.

Folded Light

Steve, you’re in Whirlwind Heat along with Folded Light; how do you differentiate your musical ideas between the two? Do you get ideas for songs and immediately think it’d work best for one over the other?
Steve: It’s been awhile since Whirlwind Heat has written new songs, but yes, it’s pretty easy to differentiate writing for the two. If you listen to the bands back to back you can tell that FL and WH are quite different for many reasons. The main differences are the people, the number of people involved and the instrumentation each person is in charge of. In WH my only job is to write and play bass parts. In FL, Jaffe and I are splitting up the arrangements of songs that would traditionally require a four piece band. Those are pretty big factors that affect how I approach writing for each band.

Steve, fans are wondering when we will see the return of your infamous green pants! Will they ever be seen again?
Steve: I’m assuming you’re talking about the pants from the “Train Tracks at Dawn” video. Nope, I haven’t seen them since. Those pants were on loan from Cher’s dance crew. They were actually more expensive to rent than the Camera the video was shot on. Luckily the Director, Jon Watts, had a hookup so they cut us a deal. They were very comfortable pants.

Folded Light are hoping for their album to drop by the end of this year. While they’ve got no shows planned for now, “maybe after this album we’ll have enough jams we’d actually like to play live.” And they’ve got one last message for their fans: “Thanks for listening! We’re stoked people dig our jams!”


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Nancy Hoang created Hopeless Thunder in 2007. She conducts the interviews, writes the articles, photographs the concerts, and handles the site's coding & design. (She's basically a control freak.) Her work can also be seen on music publication, CMJ. Contact Nancy for image licensing, assignments, or just to say hi.

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