SXSW Interviews: Your Friend
Taryn Miller crafts soaring pop masterpieces under the name of Your Friend. Her debut album, Gumption, puts her in the same vein of similar artists like Beach House, though she’s mostly working on her own up in Lawrence, Kansas; I note that because she sounds nothing like what one would associate with the Lawrence scene from a decade ago. We briefly caught her via email to ask her a few questions about her journey to SXSW this year.
ATH:How many times have you played sxsw/Austin and what’s your favorite/least favorite memory of the city? If this is your first sxsw, what are you most looking forward to?
Taryn: Ive only played SXSW once so far. This will be my second year, with a bigger band, and in support of a full-length. It will be a completely different experience in many ways Id imagine. As far as favorite memories go, at the time, Timber Timbre had not been on a US jaunt for some time but I was able to catch their set two years ago. It was late and at one point I think the lights went out or something, but it really set the tone in an appropriate way. I remember being really excited to hear Magic Arrow, from an older record and I had been drinking a little, so I trusted myself to dance in public, which doesnt happen often. But I ended up dancing next to Oliviers wife and didnt know it for a little while. When that song started she looked over excitedly and I said something like, I love this band, and she said, Me too! My husband is actually the drummer! It was kind of a special moment. I still have the bloody napkin that the setlist was written on.
ATH:How do you go about choosing which songs to play in the limited time given in a standard minuscule sxsw set?
Taryn: Whatever fits together the most naturally, but still allowing there to be some room for loose ends and to have fun with it. It feels like a sprint at times, you know? So, Id want it to feel like we can sink in still, despite the time-crunch.
ATH:Best case scenario, how does your sxsw go?
Taryn: Parking the van successfully and finding it afterwards, haha! That all of our gear works, and that I eat enough, but not too many tacos to avoid making myself sick.
ATH:Who have you been listening to/ excited to see at SXSW?
Taryn: I saw that Blanck Mass is playing at some point. Id love to catch their set. Im really curious to see how it gets fleshed out in a live setting. Generally, I love stumbling into sets of bands that I havent heard of yet, or surprise sets from artists that I didnt expect to be there. It can be really fun that way, and a little more freeing.
ATH:Name two bands from your home town that we should listen to?
Taryn: Anything on the Whatever Forever or Intelligent Sound imprint.
ATH:Also, is the music scene in your city surviving? If yes, how? If no, what do you worry about?
Taryn: Id say that it is, musically, for sure. There is a really palpable energy in the town that gets to be pretty contagious. My only concern, or thing Id like to see change, is the communal space. We had this really amazing warehouse a few years ago that felt so comfortable and almost like home. Just as that world was opening and bringing more people into the fold, it got shut down by the city. We were all a little out of sorts for awhile. We have this great space now, but theres something a little sterile about it that were trying to work out. The thing that really bummed us out was that it wasnt insulated properly when it was built so theres a lot of sound bleed. Were next to a film production company that needs to be able to do voiceovers and the like and it cut our hours from 24 hours to 5-midnight. It really halted a lot of momentum and allowed for less practice slots. Ultimately, I feel hopeful that well find a way to create a space like that again. The communal element is the best part of a scene to me.
ATH:Describe your latest release in three words.
Taryn: Sense of self-awareness.
ATH:Favorite way to pass the time on tour?
Taryn: Reading, listening to podcasts/tutorials, working on stuff in the van, and honestly, getting to know my friends (bandmates) on a deeper level.
ATH:What’s the worst injury you’ve sustained on tour?
Taryn: There was a show in Pittsburg where my vocal chords slammed together and went silent for a moment. It was pretty alarming. I had to figure out a more healthy way to treat my voice and how I employ it shortly after.
ATH:What’s a festival you’ve yet to play but want to?
Taryn: Icelandic Airwaves. Heres to hoping!
ATH:What are your dream festival headliners?
Taryn: William Basinski, Floating Points, Kamasi Washington, Tim Hecker, Haxan Cloak, The original Thee Oh Sees line up, and Badbadnotgood would be a handful of headliners that I would get really excited about.