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On! Air! Library!
By Alexander Laurence

On!Air!Library! 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.


AL: 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 is missing.

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 Rock?

Phillip: Wow, it's been awhile. Hmmm. Last winter to early spring.

AL: Your songs are about unclear thoughts and feelings. Why?

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?

Phillip: RECORD!

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 mono).

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 of mine.

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 right now.

AL: Are there any other bands that you like?

Phillip: You mean new bands? Again these days it's mostly Hiphop… 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 on record?

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?

Alley: Loud!

Phillip: Live we are louder and more aggressive. Some people have called it "a wall of sound" which might be close.

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 you live?

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 many!

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 though.

AL: What do you plan to do in 2004?

Phillip: Tour ! Record at least one more record.

Website: http://www.onairlibrary.com/


--Alexander Laurence


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