Interview: Looks Like Mountains

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October 2017
by Ysabelle Kempe

Where are you from?

I’m from north of Boston, Winchester.  

How old are you?

I’m 26.  

How long have you been doing music?

Umm, I mean, I’ve been recording music since I was 14 or 15.  There’s, like, silly stories of me playing guitar and singing songs that I made up when I was like 3.  

Did you start as just an instrument player?

I started out playing drums after I saw School of Rock.  There were these commemorative bookmarks in my middle school library for the movie and there was one with the drummer on it and for some reason I just looked at that bookmark and I was like, I’m gonna play drums.  So I started on drums and then I started playing guitar like in order to try and write songs. So on guitar, I’m just self taught.

Drums you were not self taught?

Drums I took some lessons for a few years, yeah.

Were you in a band or a single artist?

I was in a band in high school and I’m in a band in Boston.  

I’m almost done recording another album and [my friend, Athylia] is recording some vocals for it.

What are your inspirations for your music; do you have any?

No, I definitely have inspirations.  I guess, like, the really big ones are Pavement which was a big deal for me in high school, and Animal Collective. Phil Alvin’s music was super influential to me from a young age, who’s Mount Eerie; he’s playing tonight.

Your music has changed over time.  What prompted that?

Kind of, my writing process is pretty influenced by my technical ability on the instruments that I use, so early thing that I did I couldn’t really play something extended and so I would sort of record pieces and collage it together.  I would use a lot of layers which is something I still kind of do, but, uh, yeah, it’s like each batch of songs I write, I can’t play them all the way through and then I just practice them excessively until I can, and then hopefully I’m getting better.

Do you have any pre performance rituals?

A lot of the time I’ll run around because when I get nervous I sort of feel separate from my body so I kind of try and do things.  I’ll like slap myself a little bit. I drink a lot of caffeine; I’ll heavily caffeinate before a show.

Why is it called Looks Like Mountains?

That’s a name I started using in high school and it’s in reference to how I used to take lots of pictures on disposable cameras, that was a little hobby, and there was always sort off misfires that would happen because you just had to brush the button and it takes a picture.  Some misfire in my backpack came out, and it was just little beams of light, but the light and shadow looked like a mountain range. I think it’s a decent name, it sounds like it would be some boring type of post rock band, but I like it.

Do you have any favorite moments from performances or recording things?

The most memorable things are from recording because it’s so extended and intense. Being with friends is a bonding experience; I’ve done some marathon ten hour recording sessions where we just recorded a whole album in a day.  It was fun going on tour with my band this last spring.

What is your dream venue to play at?

As a kid, I would occasionally go to The Great Scott for shows and I always felt like ‘Woah, I’m going into Boston to see a show, so I’ve always wanted to play there, and I’ve gotten to play there a few times with my other band, so that was good.  I also might like to play in Chicago, I like Chicago. I also want to travel around the South and do a tour there, and it would be cool to play in Seattle.

Do you have anything you like to do in Boston when you aren’t making music?

I love going to the library. Particularly the Central Library, they have really good comics.  I like leaving Boston to go to the woods. I like nature and swimming a lot.

In your bandcamp bio you wrote “Jack is trying to say something.”  What does that mean to you?

I guess that is just kind of a joke, just like a self deprecating thing.  It’s weird making music and trying to share it with people. I never really shared it with people until a few years ago and it’s just kind of a weird thing because there's no real reason for anyone to pay attention just cause there’s so much out there and I’m not sure my life experience is particularly unique or interesting, which is all super self deprecating, but I just don’t really expect a lot of people to be like “Huh, what? I need to pay attention to this person, so it’s just like music is how I express myself.  It tends to be pretty personal and straightforward about my life, so it’s just like, eh, I’m talking about myself.

Where do you want to go next with your music?

I recorded this album myself. Everything I’ve done I’ve recorded on my own and played most of the parts and I did that again with this new record, I’m just trying to get better at self recording, I have this new album of songs that I’ve written, and I want to try and record that onto a tape rather than computer.