Recently on Grayowl Point, Michael Thomas described listening to Snowblink as akin to a religious experience.
“I don’t know about religious.” The band’s singer-songwriter, Daniela Gesundheit laughs when I tell her this. “Spiritual, maybe?” Gesundheit grew up in LA and spent her youth on the beaches and mountains of southern California. “In nature you have these experiences where suddenly everything is in focus. Those are the moments that I tend to amplify.”
The naturalism that directed the band’s debut, 2009’s Long Live, defines their latest record, Inner Classics. Those orca-coloured black and white mountains, those waves un-surfed—rich lyrics are bolstered by equally concrete textures. Gesundheit’s vocals flit atop percussive guitars, dexterous and avian. Ironically, both albums are the product of Gesundheit’s decent into the deep chrome canyons of Toronto. Yet I suppose much of band’s output—both lyrically, and sonically—is as much a function of Gesundheit’s past as it is present.
Snowblink’s online bio, hosted on the Arts & Crafts website, is a video of 6-year old Gesundheit performing a cover of the Beach Boy’s “Kokomo.” Snowblink’s eclectic sound is the elegant maturation of Gesundheit’s So-Cal surf-pop roots (two of the four all-male backing vocalists in Gesundheit’s previous band went on to form psych-rock sensation—and train wreck—MGMT.)
“When I was young, I wasn’t like ‘I’m going to be a singer when I grow up’,” says Gesundheit. “But it always seemed that it was something I would eventually do.”
Gesundheit linked up with Dan Goldman, the other half of Snowblink, shortly after her move north. Goldman, also a veteran to the music industry, stumbled into the medium at 15 when he picked up his first guitar.
Inner Classics has been out for three days at the time of our interview. We sit on the ledge of the fountain outside the Chateau Victoria, where the band are staying prior to their evening-slot at the Victoria B.C.’s Rifflandia Festival, when I tell Gesundheit about the whole ‘religious experience thing.’ She is genuinely surprised. Not because she isn’t confident in the record—“we love the record, we can stand behind it no matter what,” she says—but because Gesundheit doesn’t read her own reviews.
Goldman on the other hand keeps them in a folder. “I’m up for criticism in the purest form,” he says. His opinion extends both to classically trained music reviewers and the slew of amateurs that have entered the scene on the crest of web 2.0. “I think all perspectives are important,” he says. “[As a musician] I am in dialogue with a community and with past works I’ve done. You are not always your best judge.”
Goldman’s pragmatisms contrasted with Gesundheit’s interest in the metaphysical are what makes Snowblink so tight both on and off the stage. The writing process begins independently. Gesundheit meets Goldman with a song for editing. The two then record together, Goldman taking the lead on engineering and music direction. The process may require anywhere from a single take to five fully fleshed out versions of each song. What makes it onto the record depends on how it resonates with the finished collection as a whole. Inner Classics came together after a year and a half of part-time work—the timeline in part due to the bands perfectionism. “We had a lot of tours in there,” says Gesundheit. “Suddenly we’d be playing the songs differently and we’d want to go and re-record.”
Rifflandia is on the end of a late-summer festival stint for Snowblink. Both band-members agree that they prefer the atmosphere to individually billed shows.
“Usually with a gig you pull in 20 minutes before your load and you pull out immediately after,” says Goldman. “You can integrate more into a scene with festivals. Sometimes you’re there for two or three days.”
“There is more excitement around stuff in general,” says Gesundheit. She beams when I tell her the venue they are playing tonight, the intimate Metro Theater, is part of the re-purposed cathedral of Alix Goolden Hall. Goldman pipes in: they’ve played the Alix Goolden before—it’s the perfect space to hear their songs. Perhaps Thomas’s religious comparison isn’t too far off after all.