“ … any day we play is a better day than when we don’t“ – Colleen Kinsella (BIG BLOOD) im Gespräch

Über BIG BLOOD sprechen, heißt zunächst über ein Duo zu reden, dessen Wirken sich scheinbar von selbst speist. Tatsächlich trägt die Musik Colleen Kinsellas und Caleb Mulkerins eine Subströmung in sich, die in unvollendete Verheißung mündet. Oftmals wirken BIG BLOOD-Stücke so wie eine vertonte Scherenschnittcollage. In die Reihungen, in die Aufzählungen hinein brezelt das Paar immer als suggestive Chronisten diverse klangintensive Details. Diese werden anschließend sowohl in Form als auch in Inhalt ins Ekstatische moduliert. Deshalb wollten wir nicht von BIG BLOOD sprechen, sondern mit ihnen.

? What was the initial motivation to found BIG BLOOD and what do you think were the most important cross roads on the way of your project`s history?

There was no “founding” moment in becoming a band. Caleb and I were coming out of Cerberus Shoal which musically functioned as a democracy. Composing involved a lot of creative compromise. We both had strong ideas about the music we felt like making. We wanted more control over the sound and the writing. Recording became the outlet for Big Blood. Big Blood was naturally just the two us. We had been touring the U.S. and Europe for years as Cerberus Shoal (Caleb 4 years longer than me). Through our travels we began a long-lasting musical friendships from worlds very different from our own. It was life-changing and incredible. But touring constantly isn’t healthy. When I got pregnant with Quinnisa I knew I was done with being in Cerberus Shoal. Deciding to become parents–which we knew nothing about –forced both Caleb and I to pare down the energy we were putting out. We became focused on what we really wanted musically. During this time we were also playing acoustic music with our housemates as Threads which later became Fire on Fire (YGR). Big Blood was our time to practice songs freely, try out our voices and test ideas, i.e. 4 tracking, new instruments, tape machines. Our good friend Brendan of Garm asked us to play his store “Strange Maine”. It was our first show. We got our set list of songs together and realized that between the two of us we could put out a CD-r of everything we were going to play that night. So we made our first Big Blood release for that show and we have been cranking out music ever since.

? Can you give us a short overview about your daily musical life?

It’s too erratic and personal. We spend a lot of time listening to music. We play when we can.

? Do you make music every day? Is that your main activity?

No, but any day we play is a better day than when we don’t. Our main activity is being parents. We work jobs. But we try daily to keep our creative life in balance with it all.

? You’ve released an unbelievable amount of records, how do you oversee all of your releases?

It makes sense to us to produce music in this way. You learn so much about the voice or an instrument or song by listening to the recordings. We are both bored playing the same music over and over. Songs can quickly become stale or insincere. Because I am an artist/printmaker I have the skills to turn my drawings into covers. We print everything for the Big Blood/dontrustheruin releases here at home. Caleb is responsible for all the Big Blood recording and mastering. There wouldn’t be so many recordings if Caleb wasn’t there to get them down on tape! Being in total control of what and how we put out music is important to us. That way we get 100% of the releases and control over what happens to our music. That being said we have paired with labels like Time Lag, Feeding Tube, and Phase! Records in order to get our music out on vinyl.

? Where does this endless creativity come from?

?????! Speaking of endless creativity, we have a double LP, “Unlikely Mothers” of the music we played on tour in Europe as an electric trio. It’s heavy and trance-y and coming out on Blackest Rainbow(UK).

? What sources or tactics do you use to channel creativity?

If I am feeling overwhelmed, frustrated or down, I turn to music, (whether listening or playing). Playing music and being creative is a positive feeling that has always helped me. I am motivated on a regular basis to get into the “zone”. There is no tactic, I just sit down and start singing and playing. I have many sources. Women singers have fed me my whole life. Music and voices–women’s voices in particular, have helped me throughout different times in my life. I collect recordings of women who experiment with their voices. I listen to a lot of non–western singers whose voices blow me away. Living singers have effected me greatly. In my family everyone sings. My female cousins performed at many family gatherings. Seeing them inspired me to sing out. In church I sang all the time. I grew up doing plays and musicals. Later when I started going to shows the live experience was so raw I just listened to the bands and took it all in. I knew I wanted to sing/play but in a punk/music scene that was all boys, it took me a while to find the courage to write my own songs. I had a lot of support to find my musical voice in Cerberus Shoal and through Caleb. Caleb is a source. Quinnisa is also a source.

? Last year your album “Radio Valkyrie +1905 + 1917+” was released. How did the album come into being and what can you tell us about the recordings?

RV came out of 4 track and field-like recordings. Caleb an I swapped tapes back and forth and built upon the sounds. Caleb really crafted all of the compositions and sounds on RV. I am very proud of that record. The sonic quality of the instruments/vocals and overall moodiness is really powerful and different from our more song-based albums. In a way I felt removed from it. Caleb took the raw tracks and stretched and pulled and embellished until they were more than just the little things that were recorded. The record is abstract and intimate at the same time.

? What kind of feedback have you received so far?

Almost all positive feedback

? When writing songs, do you get to know something about yourself? Are you interested in such aspects of yourself?

I am interested in pushing past what a female singer should sound like and talk about. Finding new ways to sing and making sounds influences how I go about writing music. I specifically stay away from tired overused themes in music and focus on surreal writing, storytelling and abstracted images of the world I live in.

? How have you changed your working methods since your first album?

The process hasn’t changed. We go where the music leads us. We find ways that work for us and continue to use them. What’s exciting is trusting someone enough to share a seed of an idea with them. Then working together, by playing or recording, turns it into this whole other piece. We have a lot of this in our band—seeds that stand on their own and the “finished” pieces. Maybe that why we have so much music…

? How do you feel your compositions have evolved over the years?

The music has evolved with us. The songs represent us in that moment, at that time, i.e. whatever instrument we were playing, the record that was on repeat everyday. But the overall sound of our music is still the same.

? Is there a basic idea that fuels all of your work?

There is no basic idea but a constant openness to ideas. I think we have a way of telling each other what’s exciting and sincere without worry or weirdness. It’s a rare thing that keeps us in constant creative flow.

? What role do looking back and memory play for you as an artist?

Time is not a set idea in my mind. Memories are happening all the time. Those feelings are expressed throughout our songs.

? What are some of your early musical influences?

My early musical influences are 80’s rap and my parents singing during masses in my living room. Right now I am hearing Bikini Kill and The Slits for the first time and reconnecting to my thirteen year old self. They are psychically becoming an early influence.

? And have you always drawn inspiration from resembling sources during your artistic career?

I don’t feel that I “resemble sources” so much as absorb or filter them. I want to always sing true and real like Nina Simone. I want to be a vessel or mirror that reflects a feeling within the melody or words that are coming out. Working at a record store as a teenager opened me up to all kinds of music. I was constantly blown away by new music and my tastes were all over the place. After soaking up all kinds of recorded music I longed for a live experience. Seeing hardcore/punk “shows” was inspiring but I often didn’t like the bands or music. The greatest influence on me from that scene was the energy of the performers, their social concerns and the fact that anyone could try it out. That desperate frustrated energy still drives me to sing and create.

? You are also involved into other projects. Could you tell us something about them?

Caleb and I have been collaborating with the super-organism, Ant Girls: antgirlsmaine.blogspot.com 4 artists and 2 composers who examine and celebrate the success of the society of leafcutter ants through sound and image. Dark UrrrU is a musical project with our friend Shon Br.Oak released by Peasant Magik.

? Are there musical fields in which you’d like to work in the future?

I know Caleb would be incredible with soundtracks. His compositions outside of bands are unreal.

? Will there be Big Blood gigs in Europe in general and in Germany in particular in the near future?

We want to travel and play in Europe and surrounding countries next summer!

? What continues to inspire and motivate you as an artist?

Seeing and meeting other inspiring artists and musicians whose work is true. Also seeing and meeting new people who give a shit about each other and cultivate their creative selves and the communities who support them. I would like to hear more music that resists over-styling breaks through stereotypical music genres. There needs to be more opportunities to see women of all kinds playing in bands. We need more women musicians who resist stereotyping and sexualization in order to redefine what it is to be a woman making music today.

? Final words…

“Nobody in the world, nobody in history, has ever gotten their freedom by appealing to the moral sense of people who were oppressing them.” -Assata Shakur

(D.L., S.L.)


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