Viewing: Rogues & Blushing Virgins - View all posts

Harsh Lessons 

A couple of years ago, Christian asked me to give him piano lessons. I was wary of this undertaking, mainly because we are polar opposites in our approach to anything creative or instructive, and we’re prone to epic spats. I told him that I was willing to oblige, provided he followed my rules of instruction. He agreed.
Having once been a teacher in another life, I’m skilled at handling the occasional unruly student, but Christian surpassed my most daunting classroom experiences. Let’s set aside the borderline sexual harassment.
He refused to go with the flow of the lesson, instead banging out frictional “chords”, and asking “hey, what key am I in?”
None key, man.
I moved on to a few basic visuals on standard notation. He balked at the visuals. I told him that he might try to conceptualize the notes as “little bugs suspended on a wires”. The “bugs”, and their positions on the wires,  I explained, represent different notes. He banged out more discordant shit on my piano and belted a song he called “Bugs on a Wire!!”
Fuck it. Expelled.  I kicked him out of our music room.
In retrospect, the failed piano lesson actually clarified how and why our song writing collaborations work. Discipline and structure from my end. Bugs neatly aligned on the wires.
Messy, amorphous, reckless cacophony from Christian’s end. Bugs stomped to oblivion.
For now, the epic spats are worth it, but there will be no more lessons.

Labour of Angst-  

Collaborative song writing is a bit like a murder ballad. It concerns two people who, on some level, love each other. Sometimes fiercely.  Yet in the end, someone is going to end up floating face down in a river.
I mean that metaphorically, of course. Sort of.
Fortunately Christian D. and I are still drawing breath after finally completing Rogues  & Blushing Virgins. Writing these songs was, in equal measure, a labour of love and a labour of angst. Our collaborations are always loaded and testy. They resemble that simmering antecedent to a marital blow-out. In retrospect, however, I think that fuming  energy worked.  Vitriol aside, Christian and I land on common ground in our love of narrative songs. Rogues draws from that tradition.
A brief exposition of the three songs, then, if you’re interested…
Rogues & Blushing Virgins is the aftereffect of three images that came to me a couple of years ago, while driving with Christian through a solemn, churchy little town somewhere up north. Three characters appeared to me: a ragged woman standing on a bridge, calculating the distance of the drop (Dive); a young man watching her, weighing his moral obligation to save her, (Dark Day Darling); and a storyteller who swears the shit he witnessed in a solemn, churchy little town was all true (Jericho River).
Christian and I are now finishing our next EP, Lament for Young Cain. We will strive to steer clear of any and all rushing bodies of water.

~Helena Berlin