Hollow Sunshine Interview + New Song & Mini-Album 31 May 2018
Hollow Sunshine's new mini-album, "Lose Your World" comes out June 27th. Ahead of the release, Morgan Enos of Hollow Sunshine interviewed Reuben Sawyer of Hollow Sunshine. Read the text of the exchange and stream a new Hollow Sunshine song from the album below.
Hollow Sunshine - "Miserable," from Lose Your World
Order Hollow Sunshine's new mini-album "Lose Your World."
Morgan Enos Interviews Reuben Sawyer
ME: What directions are you being pulled in with your music right now?
RS: I grew up on all the various subgenres of punk, hardcore and metal, so that will always be a huge influence in my own music. It doesn't matter if I'm making pop songs, ambient pieces or electronic beats; I still crave that need for aggression. You can really hear that in the new Hollow Sunshine record. I'm constantly being pulled in many directions. My writing process when it comes to crafting songs or a certain sound is always manic and abstract. I'm always coming up with new solo projects and building this little world of different personas that I can embody at any time. I need it to be that way; it keeps me sane.
ME: We’re in one of the most divided moments in American history right now. Any thoughts on the nature of hatred and inequality?
RS: America’s brief and troubled history is a direct reflection of the division between dominance and empathy. The line doesn't sit right down the middle. It runs a jagged path. Are we any more divided now, any less filled with hatred for ourselves and others? Do we really feel equal? Hatred and inequality are the building blocks that this country tries to forget. It is a condition deeply stuck in our American unconscious. It's going to take a long time to undo this conditioning, and no one should expect it to be easy, no matter how progressive any agenda might seem.
ME: Do you believe in monitoring what media or “energy” you’re taking in on a day-to-day basis? Do you see everything you take in as “grist for the mill”, that it will eventually come out in some way?
RS: It's impossible to fully choose what we take in. To me, that reminds me of the notion of purity that religious dogma tries to impose on the untamed beast of humanity in some bizarre effort to make sense of the depravity. It always turns on itself. It is up to us to decide how we want to synthesize the information that comes in and how we can extract it. It can be meaningful or absurd but the point of the "grist" is to move past it. Another day done.
ME: I’m not sure about the value of ugliness. Do you think it’s a necessary springboard to feel the good stuff, or that we can all try to have the most loving, pure existence possible with the tools handed to us?
RS: You can watch the news, read articles, fill every nook of your brain with statistics and obsess over details that make the world look like this giant swirling mess culminating towards our imminent demise. For the most part, it’s a grim reality. We have lost our connection with this planet. Instead of viewing it as a living, breathing organism, we look at a vast landscape that we can manipulate to our favor. This is all obvious stuff to anyone obsessive about our impact. Most people live in denial because it’s easy. My opinion is that any tool handed to a human being becomes useless in idle hands. As for what the meaning of our existence here on earth is, I'm not really sure. Maybe it’s just to see what happens.
ME: Tell me about your idea of the role of language in daily life. Can worthless or gross talk we encounter day-to-day can be a form of verbal pollution?
RS: I think what pollutes the air more is the worthless bullshit disguised as truth or consistency. We tend to speak in absolutes most of the time. Judgement comes before experience. Often, we don't actually know what we are saying. If we stop to analyze the structure of a statement, where it deems its authority from and if the origin of detail is actually valid, it’s safe to say that we might hit a conclusion that dwells completely in the subjectivity of language itself. Symbols will always be more powerful than language. They project themselves into the unconscious with arcane meaning. They express a unwritten dialogue that will always remain artistic and beautiful, holding the power to unearth primitive emotion. I find Internet memes particularly interesting because it is a form of modern allegory, a bridge.
ME: Does abstracting language into oblivion actually neuter it, though? Calling someone a pejorative slur or using hurtful language can be devastating, no matter whether you want to pick it apart as to what it all means. Any thoughts on that?
RS: It lessens language more to be unaware of the nature of what you say. There has to be discourse to make statements effective even if the core remains abstraction. If the statement in itself is a tool, read the handbook. Hate speech is a good example of putting judgement before experience, which isn't a very effective form of communication. Also, it’s hard to understand racism because it's ridiculous. “Hurtful” language that isn’t racist or a slur, on the other hand, follows "rules" a bit more linearly and can be broken down with E-Prime, etc. A example would be instead of saying, "Pete is a stupid prick," you could say "Pete is acting unfavorably and insensitive today," which throws the absolute statement out the window. Once again, it's being able to navigate what you say and what you actually mean.
ME: Is your mental or emotional state pretty unperturbed by what goes on around you, or what you see and hear?
RS: No, I'm definitely affected by environment. I just know that environment isn't fixed as well. Think about that Bill Fay song where he talks about transcendence through walking around a familiar place and absorbing beauty, that the answers were under his nose the entire time. I mean really, inspiration is everywhere even through monotony. Right?
ME: What inspires or moves you in very banal, daily life?
RS: I gather a lot of inspiration walking to work. I skateboard so that it turns my brain off and I can come back to ideas with a fresh perspective. Laughter. Reading. All that basic stuff. I think, for me, I can totally agree with Bill Fay's perspective.
ME: Have you dealt with anxiety or depression in your life? If so, how have you overcome it? What’s your relationship with those two experiences like?
RS: It’s a symptom of consciousness. I think that every time you deal with anxiety or depression you learn something about yourself. Both topics can be terribly ugly and overlap but at the same time can be totally eye-opening and transcendent. Music, for me, has always been a great means of extracting these emotions and I am fully thankful for that. I tend to be more negative in my general outlook. This isn't necessarily a bad thing. Some people might agree that it's realistic. I like to think of myself as being actively indifferent instead of passive.
ME: For me, songwriting has always been this zone where you’re allowed to either be your weirdest and wonkiest or an idealized version of yourself. I’m on neither side; I adore both perfect Beatles recordings and demolished Guided by Voices home demos. What do you think of the concept of perfection in music?
RS: Well, really, what is music without the oddities? Both The Beatles at their prime and sterile death metal with drums fully mapped out in the studio exhibit modes of imperfection. Music is there to put one thousand ideas into one vision. It’s endless expression. You can argue all day about methods of recording, tuning, structure, lyrical persuasion, tone whatever. Who cares! Music was never meant to be safe. I say that frequently and with conviction.