Here We Go Magic is like an ambient/psych/folk/jam band. The mix of styles is diverse, and the group’s ability to create such a textured yet cohesive sound is like a salve for the eclectic at heart. In addition to extensive upcoming tours in the US and Canada, Here We Go Magic‘s latest album Pigeons was released in June. Keyboardist Kristina Lieberson spoke to me on the phone this morning, and I was thrilled to get the skinny on the indie darlings straight from the source. She filled me in on the inner workings of the group, their future plans, and being inspired by her fellow band mates.
BnB: I caught your set at Bonnaroo in June, was that the first time that you guys played a big festival like that?
Kristina: I think probably our first really big gig was ACL, earlier in the fall. But Bonnaroo felt like ’Oh wow, we’re playing this huge festival’. I think we play festivals really well; I think we respond to the energy, and I think we’re able to deliver. It’s always really exciting. It feels more like anything goes, and we respond really well to that. The fans are already enthusiastic. It’s this weekend when they can spend all their money, see their friends, hear music, take drugs. They’re always really excited, it’s a fun energy. They are a less-uptight audience.
You’ve got an upcoming national tour with Dr. Dog before hooking up with Broken Social Scene in December and playing dates in Canada. Who are you more excited for? Or are some members of your band more partial to one group than the other?
We’ve already played with Broken Social Scene, and for us touring is always the most fun when you get along with the other band and they become your friends. We’ve toured with Broken Social Scene and had a blast doing it, but we’re also really excited for Dr. Dog, because we have some mutual friends from Philly. We played one show with them and they were super cool. I’m really excited to have a real tour, play tons of dates and get to know them personally. I think everyone else feels the same way.
How did you come together as a band? Are you all from New York?
Not originally, but we’ve all lived here for awhile. Well, Luke Temple and Mike Bloch (our guitarists) have played together for awhile on some of Luke’s previous projects. Luke and Peter Hale have known each other from the neighborhood for awhile. They started playing the Here We Go Magic stuff, then added Mike, then I was playing in a solo project with another friend, and they asked me to play keyboard. Then we met Jenn Turner at a show we played in Brooklyn, and she actually kind of magically came around when our other bassist fell through. She came up to us at a party and asked if we needed anyone to play, and she’s an amazing player. We’re really happy to have her.
What is your band dynamic like? Is it a family? A business? A group of good friends?
I would definitely say a family; I mean, we’re all really close friends. A lot of people who have worked with us have said we’re easy to work with because we got along really well. On the inside, we get along but sometimes we can fight like brothers and sisters. Generally, we get along compared to other bands. The male/female thing really helps. It helps with the balance, and to split up the energy a little bit. Having another woman to talk to is helpful, and I think if you were the only girl in all-guy band, it would be more difficult. I know it’d be more difficult for me. I think all-dude bands are just…they don’t ever talk about anything (laughs). I think we can we encourage that energy.
This last record, we were living in a house together upstate. We’d drink our coffee in the morning and Luke would come up with an idea, and we’d work on it. Sometimes it’d be an idea and turn into something else, or it’d be a song and we’d work on it. Like with ‘Collector’ and ‘Surprise’, those songs had already been written. Luke was the main generator, as far as song ideas came forward. But we would all work on our own parts and put a lot of effort into our individual playing.
Jenn and I…I think we just kind of randomly picked it. They gave us a few to pick from. In our hotel room in London, we just worked on it (laughs). It was actually kind of fun. I haven’t personally heard back from them, but I think Jenn has. She sent it over to them. It’s always fun doing those kind of things, and Jenn and I get into a real vibe and we go into our own universe. ‘Quirky’ is the word people often use. We worked together on the other Neon Indian remix we did as well.
Do you use any recorded loops to recreate your textured sound live?
We play everything live. I mean, Mike and I both use pedals, and we definitely use delay. I delay certain drones to create layers, and he does as well. But we do everything live.
In your opinion, who or what has been Here We Go Magic’s biggest influence?
Hmm that’s a good question. My personal influence? For me, Luke Temple. I know that’s super cheesy, but that’s true. Before I was in this band, I feel like his creativity has been a huge inspiration for me. It’s made me grow so much as a musician, and me personally too. Also everyone else in the band: but because I also write songs, Luke has been a big influence as far as thinking about the songwriting process in different way. He’s really good at just letting art and creativity be what it is, rather than confining yourself to these rules. He’s been a big help.