Interview – 27

Boston’s 27 create a warm and inviting combination of rock, indie, shoegaze, trip-hop and pop sounds, and have shared stages with everyone from Isis, Robert Plant, Low & Explosions In The Sky. M3 spoke to the band about the disappearance of albums, rock vacations and the environmentally friendly aspect of MP3s…

M3 – First of all, could you tell us a bit about yourself, and what it is that you do?
27 – We’re the band 27, primarily comprised of Maria Christopher on vocals & guitars, and Ayal Naor on samplers, bass, and guitars. Maria’s sister Terri joins us on drums when we play live.

What inspired you to form 27? What are your own musical backgrounds?
We (Maria & Ayal) had been in heavier rock bands, and wanted to try something different.

Many people have claimed that there is no longer any money in record sales, and that touring is the most efficient way to earn an income as a band. How much truth do you think there is in this sentiment?
Ayal:  It seems to be true for most bands, with some few exceptions. In addition, touring will only generate significant income for bands that draw substantial audiences, and even among these bands most can not sustain their popularity and thereofore their income source indefinitely.

Maria: Also, touring might help some bands earn an income, but it can also cost bands a considerable amount of money as well…there’s the transportation (vehicle, fuel, and in many cases airfare), there’s the manufacturing of merch, and there’s accommodations when you’re not staying with a friend.  So sometimes you just have to think of it as a “rock vacation” where you’re getting to play music as well as visit new places, meet new people as well as see old friends and not think of it as a way to earn a living.

Much has been made of the supposed death of the record store in recent years. Do you believe the digital age has killed the record store, and if so, do you think that this is a necessary part of progression, or a tragic loss?
Ayal:  It is both a necessary progression and a loss. There was a certain magic and challenge when music was harder to access that has been lost. The ability to easily listen to anything at any time brings a very different type of pleasure. Both have their pros & cons, but the convenience aspect naturally wins out.

Maria:  One positive way I look at the MP3 era is that it creates a lot less physical waste.  The process of manufacturing along with the plastic generated by CDs and covers cannot be good for the world.

What would be your preferred medium to listen to music (eg. Vinyl, CD, tape, MP3 etc.), and why?
Ayal:  MP3, ease of use.

Maria:  Yeah, most of the time I listen to music while I’m walking or in transit, so it’s usually MP3.  But if I had the luxury of being able to sit home and listen to music, I’d listen to a lot more vinyl.  I like the vinyl experience, I find it more engaging and tactile.  But it’s just not realistic at this time in my life.

Do you feel the idea of an album, as a piece of art that people will listen to from start to finish, has been undermined or forgotten about in the digital age?
Ayal:  Albums will eventually disappear, since there is no reason for people to limit themselves to that structure. Some artists will still group songs together into longer format pieces, but most will likely release music as they make it.

Maria:  I don’t think albums will ever totally disappear.

Recently, there seem to be a large number of bands offering their releases for free via sites like Bandcamp. What do you think of this distribution method, do you think it is a realistic solution to the problem of illegal downloading?
Ayal:  Illegal downloading will never be stopped, but some people still choose to support artists they like voluntarily. The sums of money will be smaller, but the record industry will be by-passed so that what money there is will go directly to artists. One of the most interesting models is releasing vinyl along with free MP3 downloads. This way the person has something physical with art etc, but also has the convenience of listening to the MP3 anywhere.

What is your take on the current SOPA/ACTA controversy?
Ayal:  If the government tries to make laws to prevent the inevitable, they will only be temporary and in hindsight will be viewed as mistakes.

What would you say are the main challenges facing an up-and-coming musician/band in today’s cultural climate?
Ayal:  Having realistic expectations.

Maria:  I think there have always been challenges for most musicians, or any type of artist for that matter.  I’m not sure that it’s any harder for an artist now than it was in the past.  It might be more challenging for record companies, but I think for the average musician, today’s cultural climate isn’t much different than it’s been for decades.

Finally, what does the future hold for 27?
Ayal:  We will continue to write, record and release music, mostly via MP3 and occasional vinyl.

For more information about 27, you can visit their official website, and find them on Facebook and Soundcloud.

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About M3 Event

The music industry is rapidly changing. The internet has enabled widespread piracy, as well as a variety of new business and distribution models. We want to offer an engaged audience in and around the Euregion an opportunity to develop a coherent and detailed picture of the future of music distribution. On the 31st of May 2012 a music conference in Maastricht, consisting of oppositional debates, creative workshops and lectures, will provoke opportunities for intellectual stimulation, debate, as well as networking. We hope to utilise the skills and ideas of some of most forward thinking minds and operators in the industry in order to highlight some promising new ideas and areas which can be improved upon.

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