On! Air! Library!
By Alexander Laurence
is a band consisting of members Phillip Wann and twin sisters,
Alley Deheza and Claudia "Cloudy" Deheza. They
formed five years ago in New York City. Their music evokes
melancholy, destroyed landscapes where anything can happen.
Maybe this is the reason for some of their Goth following?
Anyway, On!Air!Library are prolific, thoughtful, and seem
to be excited about reaching out to the new fans.
The band released a self-produced EP a few years ago. Aaron
Shoblaske engineered the split EP with The Album Leaf, which
was their second release. Producer Steve Rivette (who has
worked with The Beastie Boys, and Liars) recorded the new
album. Most of the tracks were originally recorded in Phillip
Wann's bedroom studio. On!Air!Library! explores both songwriting
and experimental music on this record. It also features
drumming by Brad Conroy of The Boggs and Sam Fogarino of
Interpol. It's like their mutual love of movie soundtracks
and the 4AD label brought them all together.
On!Air!Library! took their name from an African documentary
featuring an old man who read books on a radio show. The
band pride themselves on being genre-busting and part of
no specific scene. I got in contact with two members of
the band recently. Their album will be released in April
2004. This should coincide with a large tour.
When and where did you all meet?
Phillip: Claudia and I met in 1998 in the East Village
in New York. Alley
started writing with us a year later.
Alley: Cloudy works in his neighborhood. I became well
acquainted with Cloudy (Claudia) during the eight months
prior to October 18th, 1978 (when the official documented
relationship started). Cloudy and Phillip started making
music as a duo. A while later I showed up at one of their
practices with a couple of my own songs.
AL: Do you have any general comments on the music scene
in New York when you started and then now?
Phillip: Hmmm. When we first got together it was before
the "new york" music scene (The Strokes, Yeah
Yeah Yeah's, and Interpol, etc.) exploded. We didn't really
fit in, and we still don't now.
Alley: Well. In New York it's been a gradual "progression"
from 1960s to 1970s, to--can you guess?-Yes! 1980s music
inspired bands. At this rate I think that we are due for
some early 1990s Seattle sounds to keep the "progress"
moving along. All that aside though: there are a couple
of bands who are pretty phenomenal. The two that stand out
the most for me are Inouk and Shy Child. They are making
truly inspired, truly charged statements. A band shouldn't
just bring in the party and eventually contribute to the
hangover, but it should inspire you to continue that same
process, the same chain that it began, of the giving of
yourself. We ourselves were created, so creation is in our
blood as human beings. Neglecting that is what keeps us
dissatisfied and fearful. You know, feeling like something
AL: What made you decide to become musicians?
Phillip: I can't really do anything else.
Alley: Cloudy and I have been experimenting with instruments
and vocal arrangements since we were old enough to talk.
We had our first collaboration at the age of eight. This
particular song was about a meadowlark. Had I ever seen
a meadowlark? No. But the ever aspiring Julie Andrews that
I was thought it the most poetic of all birds. Ha ha.
AL: Have any of you had any musical training?
Phillip: I had a few years of piano when I was a child.
Alley: I was classically trained in flute. The rest I picked
up by ear. My father was an opera singer in his twenties.
I'm sure that must have had some effect.
AL: You have released an EP and a split CD with The Album
Leaf before. How did those come about?
Phillip: With the first EP we were recording a demo. Then
we realized how pointless a demo from an unknown band was,
so we recorded a few more songs and released it ourselves.
Eventually Pehr Records out of LA picked up for distribution.
Arena Rock set up the Album Leaf split CD.
Alley: I guess that we just felt the need to document that
part of our lives. We worked really hard on it.
AL: What are some of your musical interests and influences?
Alley: Oh man! Phil Lynott and Thin Lizzy, Patti Smith,
Otis Redding, Prince, The Soul Stirrers, X, that song "Chariots
of Fire," Vivaldi, Mississippi Fred McDowell, Mary
J. Blige, Kurt Cobain, and the list goes on.
Phillip: All I've listened to for a couple of years is Hiphop
and R&B (Jay-Z, Chingy, Dead Prez, Tupac, and Outkast).
Film more than music inspires me as a writer.
AL: When did you record the new self-titled CD for Arena
Phillip: Wow, it's been awhile. Hmmm. Last winter to early
AL: Your songs are about unclear thoughts and feelings.
Phillip: Most of the songs I write are about love and loss
Alley: We are made up of flesh and spirit, two things that
just by existing continuously, contradict each other. Death
and life. Being that the mind is pretty much the motor and
navigator of our actions, it's placed in the middle of this
constant war. The more dominant of the two will either defeat
you, or be your victory. Every day is a struggle between
the two, you know? It's about the world you build or the
world you tear down.
AL: How do you write songs in the band?
Phillip: It's always different. Sometimes one of us will
write a song beginning to end and show the band. But more
often one person will have a riff or a groove and we'll
all work it out together.
AL: How important are movie soundtracks to your music?
Phillip: Good question! I am personally very influenced
by movie soundtracks! The Ichi The Killer soundtrack by
The Boredoms is amazing! I'm also very fond of the music
in Bala Tar movies. Vincent Gallo does some nice soundtrack
stuff as well.
Alley: For me, personally, they don't play a part. But
when I write music, it always plays out very visually in
my head. If it doesn't do that then something isn't clicking
right. Then my heart isn't in it.
AL: Do you prefer to play live shows or record in the studio?
Alley: I absolutely love recording new material. I think
that is the best for me.
AL: How many live shows have you played before?
Phillip: About 30-40 shows I guess.
Alley: The first two years we barely played, but it has
been pretty regular since then.
AL: What other bands have you played with?
Phillip: A ton of awful bands we had no reason being billed
with. Some of the ones we have enjoyed playing with are:
The Animal Collective, Calla, Yume Bitsu, Hood, The Album
Leaf, Joan of Arc, The Boggs, Lovelife, and Mono (the Japanese
AL: What are your fans that come to shows like?
Phillip: There are very few at this point. For some reason
we have a few Goth regulars!? Which is weird.
Alley: I haven't really pinned that down yet. They have
started to get more rowdy, which I love.
AL: What books do you like?
Alley: Any books about Spanish or Basque history. My last
name is Basque. Anything by Vladimir Mayakovsky. Wandering
by Herman Hesse. Escape From Freedom by Erich Fromm. Old
Testament prophets. My favorite recent book is Wizard: The
Life and Times of Nikola Tesla. All these guys are heroes
Phillip: Norwegian Wood and Wind-Up Bird Chronicles by
Haruku Murakami, Coin Locker Babies by Ryu Murakami, The
Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera, and The
Art of Life by Joseph Campbell
. just to name a few.
AL: What films do you like?
Phillip: So many! I go to movies at least twice a week!
I'll give you ten:
1. What Time Is It There? - Tsai Ming Liang,
2. Pootie Tang! - C. K. Lewis
3. In The Mood For Love - Wong Kar Wai
4.Tokyo Twilight - Ozu
5. Go, Go Second Time Virgin - Koi Wakamatsu
6. Triplets of Bellville - Sylvainch Chomet
7. All About Lily Chou Chou - Shuji Iwai
8. Betty Blue-Jean-Jacques Beineix
9. Werkmeister Harmonies - Bela Tar
10. Audition/Visitor Q - Takashi Miike
Alley: I know I should be saying Werkmeister Harmonies
or a film by Werner Herzog but I am into Steven Segal films
AL: Are there any other bands that you like?
Phillip: You mean new bands? Again these days it's mostly
but I also like noise bands/artists like Merzbow
and Oval. The stuff the Liars is doing lately is interesting.
AL: How did you choose other musicians to play with you
Phillip: Mostly they are our friends.
Alley: Both Brad and Sam are badass drummers. They are
my favorites for sure.
AL: What is your live show like?
Phillip: Live we are louder and more aggressive. Some people
have called it "a wall of sound" which might be
AL: Do you have any hobbies?
Phillip: Eating out and going to movies mostly.
Alley: Painting, Origami, writing, playing the flute.
AL: Who does you website?
Phillip: Aaron Shoblaske (who also engineered our split
EP). He does it for free, bless his heart, but we are really
looking forward to taking it up a notch so to speak.
AL: What should people expect to see when they come see
Phillip: Technical difficulties!
Alley: They should not expect more than an half hour.
AL: Have you had any odd experiences over the past year?
Alley: Actually the one that sticks out the most is a very
strange cab ride on my way to work one morning. I got into
the cab and the driver started flipping out. He said that
he had to read my palm. He didn't want any money. He just
wanted to do it. He told me that I would be widely recognized
for two things in my life, but that I didn't know the second
one yet. To let me know that he was serious and credible,
he was able to tell me about two very intimate, very specific
details about my life. He did. That was bizarre.
Phillip: I'm a bellboy in a hotel so there have been too
AL: Does the band have any personal or political beliefs?
Phillip: Not as a band
We are all VERY different.
Almost opposite in many ways.
Alley: Individually, but not collectively. I am a firm
believer of believing without seeing.
AL: What do you think about Williamsburg?
Phillip: It's nice
right now I live in Manhattan
AL: What do you plan to do in 2004?
Phillip: Tour ! Record at least one more record.