conversations with bianca


This article was written on 07 Feb 2018, and is filled under Art Chats, Interviews, Music Chats.

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Heather Gabel on Hide’s Castration Anxiety

Chicago-based industrial duo, Hide, are set to release their debut LP Castration Anxiety on Dais Records on March 23. Hide’s Heather Gabel and Seth Sher’s live performances are provocative, with a hypnotic low-end and mantra like vocals; the record captures their essence. Heather and I chatted a week or so ago.

We first spoke in 2011 and back then you were excited at the possibility of making music, now in 2018 your band, Hide, is about to release a debut LP, Castration Anxiety; how do you feel about it all?

HEATHER GABEL: Yeah! [Laughs]. I am so excited about it. I’m still like, whoa! You can be in a band, go play shows and people will come see you play?! I knew that because all my friends were doing it; all my friends’ bands that are popular, I feel like they’re more accessible.

Being surrounded by so many amazing people that are so great at what they do, where you ever intimidated in making your own music?

HG: No, I still don’t feel intimidated by it… I feel like, for my friends that are crazy successful in huge bands… I don’t want that life. My favourite thing about all of this is that it’s all on my terms – if I don’t want to go to this city, I don’t – that’s why it’s so exciting that people are into it too… it’s so nice to just do what you want and put it out and not to really consider your audience. It feels way more authentic when you’re doing it ‘cause you have to, you know what I mean?

Absolutely. Why is your album important to you?

HG: On a personal level, having been known as a visual artist, I kind of just came to a point where I needed a different way to express myself. I made some films before I started the band and I was trying to do everything I hadn’t done before that I didn’t know how to do – things that kind of sounded a little bit scary to me. I needed something physical. For there to be an audience for that it feels really good. I’m still making visual art but this is a big part of my art as well. It allows me to be more political whereas my collage work is much more personal, it’s overarching political but it’s something totally different. Having this form of expression and having positive feedback, feels really good, you know what I mean?

I do. I think often music communicates stuff that we can find hard to put into words in everyday conversation.

HG: Yes!

The cover of your album is incredible! When it came up it in my feed it took my breath away…

HG: Thank you. I had the idea for it and a friend of ours shot it for us. It’s based on the Pieta.

Yeah, I totally go that.

HG: Some people are like, what? [laughs].

It reminded me a little of The Distillers’ ‘Coral Fang’ too.

HG: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah… Tim [Presley] did that, I’m friends with him, I love his stuff. I can see that… oh my god, duh, it’s like a female Jesus [laughs]. You’re totally right.

Your cover is such an emotive image, it’s powerful, vulnerable…

HG: Thank you. I am so happy how it turned out. Other people have seemed to respond to it in a similar way to how you do.

You recorded the record with Joe [Cardamone], right?

HG: Yeah we did it with Joe from Icarus Line. I’ve been friends with him for a really long time, we’ve been friends for almost twenty years. He had his studio, we kept in touch and I sent him our band’s stuff and he did a remix for us on our first vinyl EP. He asked what we were doing… so we went out there [Los Angeles] to record with him. I think he is a really sick singer and a really engaging performer, for him to be into what we were doing, it really helped… we wrote two songs in the studio…. I was intimidated by the recording process because when we’ve recorded stuff before it was kind of a shit show, we pulled it together but, it wasn’t smooth sailing. Joe is someone that can suggest something to me or tell me something and I’ll take his advice, usually I want to figure it out on my own. Because of our relationship I was comfortable and trusted him.

We ended up redoing the vocals after a couple of years because it had been so long. Time went by, Seth [Sher] had some thoughts about the mix and ultimately ended up remixing it. I felt like I could do the vocals better. Recording with Joe it was such a cool experience, it was so awesome. Just to be somewhere else making a record too, it really felt like we were making a record.

I think Joe’s work is totally underrated.

HG: I totally agree. He’s a person that people either love him or hate him…

He’s always been lovely to me. All the new music he is making is especially cool… the solo shows he was doing in Europe at the end of last year looked incredible, just him singing, a backing track and projections.

HG: Yeah, it’s so sick… and he’s like, oh, I just wanted to do something totally new.

Do you have a favourite song on the record?

HG: Hmmm… I guess not ‘cause I can’t think of one [laughs]. I like it all [laughs].

I was watching a video interview with you recently and you were talking about one of your favourite albums – Rudimentary Peni’s Death Church – and you were saying how Nick Blinko said in an interview once that his lyrics were just words put together and that you loved that… is it the like that for you?

HG: No… well it depends… hmmm I don’t know if I believe that about him [laughs]. If you read his lyrics there’s something else going on. The Black Flame EP is super specifically referencing real life incidences and it’s not just words put together. I have gotten started with a just a word… the two tracks we did in the studio, we just wrote them on the fly, Joe helped on both of them. Prayers was there too for the day just hanging out. Rafael did some vocals, but we didn’t end up putting them on the record but we might on the remix. Dave did some drum programing on a song. Both songs just started with some words from a feeling and then built off of that.

Does Seth’s beats and music inspire your words?

HG: No, not at all. It’s whatever I’m angry about at that moment, whatever has been on my mind. We have a song about hunting down a rapist in the woods and killing them… [laughs]. It doesn’t really have much to do with music, I just fit it in there. Seth used to be a drummer and he learned how to make electronic music right before we started this band… I’d say the music was more collaborative in the beginning, but now he’ll more come with something and we’ll arrange it together—the lyrics aren’t part of that process though. I’ll ever take forever or do it in a day.

You mentioned that you write about what you’re angry about; do you ever write from a happy place?

HG: No! [laughs].


HG: The music that speaks to me is not happy music—I don’t connect with it. Being able to express the things I do makes me happy.

All the film clips that Hide do and the art is black and white; is it a conscious decisions?

HG: Yeah. It’s basically because I do all the aesthetic stuff for the band, all the visual stuff, and I make things in black and white.

Have you always done that?

HG: No, I’ve used blue also [laughs]. Some red in design stuff. Usually people are like, ‘Can you add some colour?’ and I’m like, no… oh do you mean silver? [laughs].

Is there a reason you like to work in black and white?

HG: I love colour photography and things that are in colour but it’s just more comfortable for me. It’s relaxing to me. Colours are too much for me. I like the colour of trees and nature… [laughs].

I’m the total opposite, the more colour the better, as you can probably see from my art.

HG: Yeah, and I love that! Colour is just not who I am, Bianca [laughs].

Since you started making music how do you feel you have grown?

HG: Ah, good question. Everything I’m thinking of saying I’m wondering if it’s just because I’m older rather than from this… I know what I want. I feel like that you can tell yourself that you don’t care or don’t give a fuck and that’s one thing, and then doing something in the actual moment is like, that’s what’s happening. It’s very cathartic…

Do you feel like you get those moments live because it’s so spontaneous?

HG: Yeah. I’ll think about what I’m singing about sometimes and just start crying, no one can tell though. I’ll be very upset… but it’s good, to feel everything! Maybe that’s how it’s helped me to grow, by letting myself feel everything.

After the president got elected I was depressed about it, I was having a really hard time… other things were bringing me down, I wasn’t eating enough and I fainted, split my head open at the post office and I had to get it stapled shut… people were like “Dude, what’s wrong?” I was upset for a little bit and I was so stressed and it was affecting my health and feeling bad… being sad manifested itself in very inconvenient ways. I realised that I can’t not care about the things that make me upset, that I have control over how I process it… that I can do that with the band. I can have a better understanding of how I process my emotions.

I can hear that in your music. You’re a really amazing person.

HG: Thank you, you’re gonna make me cry…

I truly mean that, you have been through so much and to still be here and come out the other side and make this incredible art, this amazing album… aww now I’m crying too…

HG: Thank you so, so much. I really appreciate it.

When I saw your album cover I got goosebumps and I felt like it was a statement like—world here I am!

HG: Yeah. Totally!

FOLLOW Hide here. GET their forthcoming record here at DAIS. Check out Heather’s art here.

Create forever, Bx

Photos: 1) collage, me; 2) KRISTIN COFER 3) other images courtesy of Hide’s IG.

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