Were you just daydreaming about sitting at home on your couch, covered in blankets and drinking tea? If you’re looking for the perfect record to complete the fall early hibernation mode, then Snowblink’s Inner Classics is it. Now close your eyes, pretend you’re sitting on the beach. It could be dawn or dusk. You’re watching the waves crash onto the sand and rocks. You walk back to your cabin in the quiet, but is it really that quiet? The air pushes past your ears, your feet hit the ground and the cabin creaks. You stand for a moment. Daniela Gesundheit sings in “Unsurfed Waves,” “Don’t forget you’re made of earth.”
Inner Classics is the duo’s second album, a wonderful and even more dynamic follow-up to the pretty introduction that was Long Live. Their first album signed to Arts & Crafts shows the beautiful partnership between Daniela and husband Dan Goldman. Their voices and talents were made to be together. When you listen to Snowblink, you feel like you’ve stumbled upon some magic. Gesundheit’s voice is heavenly as it floats through her environments, while Goldman’s is a reassuring comfort structure beneath. This is their best piece of work yet, and as the Californians have made Toronto their home, it’s a great peace to have here.
Get to know Snowblink in this interview with Daniela, which features talk of traditional Chinese medicine, connecting with environments, and what it’s been like to be an addition to the Toronto music scene.
Dork Shelf: Hello Snowblink! First off, tell us a bit about the band in general.
Daniela Gesundheit: We are currently a Toronto-based duo with frequent special guests, though the band began in California with four guy backup singers, two of whom were MGMT.
DS: What’s the story behind Inner Classics and the process of making it?
DG: Inner Classics features the first group of songs I wrote after moving to Toronto. The songs were written between tours in a cottage on Lake Erie in the middle of winter, our Toronto studio and a guest house on a beach in Los Angeles. We spent a year recording and mixing it in Toronto, Montreal and Los Angeles with Chris Stringer (Ohbijou) and Mark Lawson (Timber Timbre, Arcade Fire). Several friends appear on the record, such as Barbara Gruska (Jenny Lewis Band, Belle Brigade), Thom Gill (Owen Pallett, Thomas), Ryan Driver and others.
DS: The title is taken from a Chinese medical text. Have you been getting into Chinese remedies? How has this affected you?
DG: I have been interested in Chinese remedies for several years now, and have found them helpful with various ailments, but I would not have incorporated my forays into the health world into my songs if the language surrounding traditional Chinese medicine were not so poetic. I have found TCM to be more of an art than a precise science, in that ailments are labelled in somewhat vague and slippery terminology and treated with similarly loose prescriptions. For example, a chest cold might be attributed to too much “damp wind.” I was smitten by the language of the Nei Jing, or the Inner Classic – the master text of TCM. There are energy meridians in the body described as “The Hidden White” or “Wind Pond.” I was digging the play on the notion of a “classic” song, and on how deeply personal our relationships are with our own canon of classic songs, when I decided to call the album Inner Classics.
DS: Snowblink feels very natural, at one with environments. What do you feel you connect with, and how do you use it to connect with others through your music?
DG: I connect with generous silence, and with silence broken by considered language. “Nature” is an obvious place to find this ratio of silence to communication, but I try to create that ratio in concert halls and bars, to varied degrees of success. Lots of people feel very relieved and inspired by that sort of space, and others feel angered and frustrated by it. I am not sure why that is.
DS: How have you developed your sound? How would you classify it?
DG: We might be electro-folk, or more specifically, non-denominational devotional pop. Non-invasive contemplative rock?
DS: How do you hope to develop your sound in the future?
DG: For our Toronto release show, Dan wrote arrangements for two string players (Amanda Penner and Mika Posen of Timber Timbre), our drummer Dan Gaucher joined us (Sandro Perri, Fond of Tigers), Felicity Williams (Bahamas) sang backup and Misha Bower (Bruce Peninsula) and Feist sang guest vocals. It was a bit of a Snowblink big band, and I hope to tour with some incarnation of that in the near future.
DS: What’s it like being a musician in Toronto, after moving from the States? What was the transition like?
DG: It’s heaven for musicians in Canada. The market is somewhat limited and certainly spread out, but there is plenty of funding for musicians to tour and record, and the community is so tight knit and supportive. I really feel that the community shares its successes. I have felt perfectly at home in the Toronto scene.
DS: Where do you like to play in Toronto?
DG: The Music Gallery. The Holy Oak. Our apartment.
DS: What other local acts do you like?
DG: AroarA. Timber Timbre. Thomas. OG Melody. The Weather Station. Eons. Owen Pallett. Bahamas. Jennifer Castle. Feist.
DS: What’s on your Dork Shelf (movies, books, music, games)?
DG: Silkwood, various Macrobiotic cookbooks, The Lim Family and other Hawaiian vinyl, the game SET.
DS: What’s next for Snowblink?
DG: A few more videos, a re-mix by Nick Zammuto (formerly of The Books), a split LP with AroarA, more touring touring touring.
DS: What else should we know about Snowblink?
DG: We are offering “treatments” on our site – you can order a personal free “new age” singing telegram from us for a friend or for yourself.