Free Music Week: Foxes in Fiction
Foxes in Fiction is the current musical output of Toronto native Warren Hildebrand. Working entirely out of his apartment, Hildebrand makes small, endearing music for and out of personal moments. His music explores the borders of personal relationships with friends and places, all captured in a home environment that only accentuates the intimate nature of the performances. Releasing everything on his own Orchid Tapes imprint, the entire operation is very much a cottage (or in this case, apartment) industry.
1. When did you start making music?
I’ve been playing guitar since I was about 11 years old, around the time I discovered the White Stripes. I played guitar and recorded a lot by myself and also played in a lot one-off bands all throughout high school.
I had a lot of older friends at the time who all had their own solo projects for their own home recorded music, so around the time I was 15 or so I chose the name Foxes in Fiction to represent the music I was recording. Before that time I only really made really simple acoustic guitar recordings under my own name that I would sent to my friends over MSN Messenger. Later on I began making small batches of CD-Rs and cassette tapes that I only really shared with my close friends and family. It wasn’t until very recently that I began posting my recordings online or contributing to the whole internet music DIY culture thing.
2. You’re an avid home recorder, does that influence your compositions?
It definitely does. I’ve only ever recorded using various incarnations of personalized home studios, like many young people these days. There are bunch of different techniques and methods that I use that have come to me through experimenting with different set-ups. Overcoming limitations and technical restrictions definitely informs the way I compose songs, even the space that I’ve written or recorded songs in in the past have affected the tone or colour of the sounds I try to use in songs.
I once read that when Brian Eno is in the studio he only tries to use what kind equipment is available instead of fretting about what gear he needs or what’s missing, with the intention of letting the process play itself out more naturally. That’s something I try to always keep in mind when I’m working with what I’ve got.
3. Any desire to ever enter a “real” studio?
Not at this time, as least not in this present incarnation of the project. Since the way I write and record songs relies pretty heavily on improvisation and my little home set-up, it would be pretty impractical and intimidating. I’m pretty broke a lot of the time, too, ha ha. I think if I had a little bit clearer vision of the songs I wanted to record or had other musicians to record with, my outlook on recording in a studio might change. I’m not ruling it out entirely.
The next best thing in this direction at this point is that I might be getting access to a jam / recording space that’s partially owned by my friends in the Toronto band Actual Water (http://www.myspace.com/actualwater), which means I’ll be able to introduce bigger and louder sounds into my musical pallet that I couldn’t before (I live in a small apartment in a quiet building). I’m pretty excited about that.
4. Do you feel the internet has had an influence on the way you write/record/distribute?
For sure. Just in terms of getting my music out to a wider audience, I really wouldn’t be anywhere without the help of the internet. It’s interesting to think that because of all the possibilities of getting out via word of mouth on the internet and some really amazing and dedicated bloggers, there really aren’t any geographical limitations to where your music can travel to or be heard.
Recently a student from the country of Georgia added me to Facebook and told me a story about how he and his whole group of friends had basically made my album their summer soundtrack. They would drive around getting high in their truck and have my album playing on their stereo. That’s so incredible to me that something like that is even possible.
5. What other music influences you these days?
There’s a lot of new stuff I’ve been discovering online through participating in music blog culture and running my cassette label that I’ve been really happy to come by. A few favourites;
Trans-Bedroom Sound, which is the solo project of Ben Van Patten, a 16 year-old from Iowa who makes some really amazing, concise tape-based ambient compositions akin to William Basinski. I wish I had been making stuff this exquisite as that age.
Memoryhouse have really grown on me lately. I remember when I first discovered their music I got really into the song Lately but never really looked much into their whole EP, which was a mistake on my part. Their songs and whole aesthetic seem to really resonate me with and (being from Ontario, as well) inspire me. I even had the pleasure and fortune of playing a show with them in Hamilton, Ontario a few months ago.
Golden Eye is making music that sounds the way I wish my music sounded. Although I hardly know anything about band (solo project?) their gently distorted pop songs have found a comfy spot in my heart over the past few weeks.
Not necessarily new, but I adore Broadcast. They were probably the biggest influence on me during the recording Swung From The Branches. They pull off some of the most incredible sonic feats through combining pop and experimentation that I can only dream of someday being half capable of.
6. When/why did you start Orchid Tapes?
I started Orchid Tapes in February of this year just just as I began my 2nd semester of university, originally as an outlet to release my own material (as I was sans-label at the time) with my own iconography, artwork which I’ve always considered as important as the music itself.
Shortly after I started the label I was actually offered a deal with Moodgadget Records, who re-released Swung From The Branches. Since then, I’ve tried to expand Orchid Tapes to help materialize and release some of my musician friends music to a larger audience (to invoke Eno again; during the 70s he had his own label called Obscure Records which he used to bring the experimental music of his friends to a wider listening audience).
It’s also really easy for me to release my own little projects on the label in between more ‘major’ ones on Moodgadget. Also, the idea of doing free downloads with the possibility for people to buy tapes gives artists the opportunity for their music to be heard by anyone without a price, but people also have the option to actually buy a cassette and own something tangible and special instead of just a formless mp3.
7. How do you choose someone to be on OT?
If I find somebody’s music that I really like I usually just send them a message over MySpace and ask if they’d be interested in doing a small release. Conversely, I get a lot of messages from musicians and bands asking to do releases, and the same thing goes; if I like how they sounds I prepare a release. It’s pretty informal, whatever happens happens.
8. What are the future plans for Foxes in Fiction/OT?
I’m taking some time off from school for this year so I can work on music and other projects a little more uninterrupted. I’m going to be recording and releasing music as Foxes in Ficton throughout the year and expanding the Orchid Tapes catalog with some new artists, and hopefully making the label more of a serious and established thing (but still fun). I’m doing another EP on Moodgadget in a few months and afterwards I’m going to be beginning work on an LP for Ghostly International, which is kind of unreal to me.
Lately Mat Cothran of Coma Cinema and I have been working on a collaborative project called Coma Foxes (creative name, no?) and we’ve already released a song called School Night to some pretty heartwarming praise. We’re gonna be working on and finishing a full-length of an EP sometime this fall as well which we’re both really really excited for. We seem to really be on the same track about a lot of things, so it’s nice.
I’m also working on refining the live show for Foxes in Fiction too. Since it’s still only just be on stage, I’m constantly trying to find ways to make it more engaging for myself an the audience. I’ve re-written a lot of the songs I play to be more live-friendly, and it’s sort of cliche I’ve begun work on video projection to synch up with the songs. I may be something of a bigger tour soon, too.
9. Any free music that you would recommend?
Pretty much anything by Lay Bac, Coma Cinema, Pandit, Trans-Bedroom Sound and anything on Mat’s label Summertime In Hell or on the Orchid Tapes blogspot!
You can download pretty much everything Warren has ever made over on his Tumblr, which amounts to a number of EPs, mixtapes and two albums, ‘Swung From The Branches’ and ‘Slow Evolution’. You can also download or buy most of them (plus a lot more) on cassette over at Orchid Tapes.
‘Swung From The Branches’ album stream:
There’s a really cool dissection of the lyrics, sounds and motives behind ‘Swung From The Branches’ on the Foxes in Fiction Myspace.