PEAKING LIGHTS

 

It’s been a long time coming. Thinking of time somehow makes everything else seem so marginal in our case.  Indra and I grew up several thousand miles away on the same continent, several years apart with totally different concepts in sound and life experiences. I guess it’s easier to look for the thread that ties long spans of time together, rather than the needle that pokes the holes for the thread that collapses point a and point b - making life less linear and more cyclical. Like a pulse that pumps blood thru the body, bringing nourishing energy as well as removing the impurities within that whole thing you call you. It’s best to think of this as a story with no end or beginning.

Indra and I met under wild style types of circumstances.  Hot tub, late night, summertime, that’s all you need to know. We had known each other on fringes, thru friends of friends and the likes since the late 90’s when she played drums in the post-punk, no-wave influenced band Numbers in San Francisco and I played in a goth band called Heart of Snow and a psych band called Space Cobra in Oakland.  We’re a Bay and 7 years apart at that time.  Numbers chugged along for 8 years changing styles thru the years. Sometime around 2000, both bands I was in disbanded and I spent the next many years focusing on getting weird and building synths because I couldn’t afford killer vintage gear to make cosmic sounds.  Before we met, we both developed and learned so many different aspects of music, coming from relatively different worlds.

Numbers was full on for Indra. She was able to work in killer studios, toured out the wazoo all over the world and was able to get into a solid headspace for writing and preparing records. She experienced the highs and lows of band life and walked away with knowledge and direction knowing what she wanted thru the experience of what she didn’t.  She was touring massively for the first years of Numbers and why the fuck wouldn’t you want to travel and see the world if given the opportunity?  It’s an amazing thing, that touring bit, but no matter how you look at it, it’s easy to get caught in a bubble when you bounce from town to town night after night with the same crew. It’s also the best way to come up with the craziest ideas and far out jokes.

I played in a few band bands in the Bay Area, was an avid record nerd in Oakland where I worked on a legendary soul collection project (my job was to listen to and catalog the records). I had a small recording studio in my house and recorded a grip of bands. I traveled and lived for extended periods of time in Mexico, Australia and New Zealand, playing with a lot of musicians in an improvisational headspace (dare I say noise or experimental). My direction was different, directionless, thriving on chaos, genre-less confused organism taking in and putting out a massive body of work, I had given up on writing songs traditionally sometime in early 2000’s and went on a massive stone haze mushroom-induced tour-of-the-mind journey. I think the operative word is haze.

In 2006 when Indra and I connected things had done changed.  I had just got back from living in New Zealand and Australia for two years and Indra was winding down with working on Numbers recordings (which I was lucky enough to be invited to play organ on).  I was playing with my friend Nate in Rahdunes (a heavy death pulse electronic psych zone influenced by world music) Indra sat in on drums one evening when we were practicing, she had never improvised on drums and was a bit nervous with the thought. She always mentions how this was first time – while jamming - that she saw out of her third eye. We recorded a record together.  She went on tour with Numbers for a few months and Nate and I went on tour with Rahdunes.

It was after these tours we decided to move from the Bay Area to Wisconsin. It was a winter of no repent that year, the first winter of my life. Indra didn’t mind as much she’s from this frigid northern zone, even though it did break records in the amount of snowfall I don’t think it had the same mental impact, I was fucked. We lived in a basement apartment where I saw a hairy centipede (apparently they exist in Wisconsin).  It was a small apartment, I used to try and go outside in my underwear in negative degree weather and see how long I’d last. It wasn’t long. We hadn’t played music for a few months but got asked to play some shows with Rahdunes in Texas.  Nate was still in SF, and we couldn’t afford to drive all the way down, we needed to make a few bucks for gas. In case you don’t know America, it’s big. Long drives.  We started Peaking Lights to pay for gas on the way down to Texas, Yee Haw!

The first recording was a CD-R called Clearvoiant made early 2008 (which was maybe going to be our band name), we had only a weird little radio to use as an amp and a couple tiny keyboards and two handheld tape players we recorded by bouncing the sound between the two. It was pretty Lo-Fi to say the least. It was also my first time overcoming a fear of writing more, shall we say, traditional pop songs. With confidence and humility I can say that the formula we work with now has been because both Indra and I conquered some personal creative fears.  She was afraid of jamming and improvising and for me it was being afraid of writing songs with focus and intent. We found a happy medium somewhere in the mix. Our songs are still incredibly loose, we almost always play them different, but we always play them good and first and foremost enjoy playing them.  We’ve always approached peaking lights as a project that gives to our listeners, we’ve always wanted to be uncompromisingly giving.

The last little bit that might be crucial leading up to now and taking us into the future is how we make the sounds we make. Honestly, most of it has stemmed from being broke - we’ve learned how to use whatever is at our disposal.  There are sounds in every little thing. It’s like when it rains and you hear it fall in a pattern, maybe only you can recognize that voice pumping out that liquid rhythm, but it’s there; you just gotta find a way to share it with others.  We’re trying to approach making music without fear.  I’m not sure what that means, we might never get there but it’s nice to think about. I’m looking forward to not getting shocked when I try and build the next synth.  

There’s a lot more in this story, but it’s not linear, it’s a cycle. A bunch of circles rotating at different speeds but still intertwined like the Mayan calendar or how I visually imagine gamelan. Some of it we’ll save for the future, some of it we’ll never tell, some of it we’ll tell so much it will make you wish you never had eyes to read this b.s.  

Anyways, I still hate winter.


- Aaron Coyes (September 2011)