Name: Timmy Kinsella
Occupation: Musician, author, film director
Recent release: Timmy Kinsella and Jenny Pulse's Gimme Altamont EP, a harbinger of a full length LP slated for release in 2023, is out now.
If you enjoyed this interview with Timmy Kinsella and would like to find out more about his work, visit him on Instagram, and twitter. He also has a shared homepage with Jenny Pulse.
[Read our Jenny Pulse interview]
[Read our Jenny Pulse interview abut curation]
[Read our Joshua Abrams interview]
[Read our Theo Katsaounis interview]
[Read our Ben Vida interview]
Timmy Kinsella: "The process is always exactly the same and it’s always completely different.
There was a habit that Joan of Arc formed as a group and I imagine this is how and why we continued to be a band for so long. and Jen and I talked about our band together for a year before we ever did anything more than noise jams together and it was clear that she was drawn to this same approach. So from Day One it’s been our modus operandi.
We don’t write songs. Honestly I would have no idea how to write a song if someone asked me to. We develop systems of collaborating that can’t help but generate songs. We make a lot of charts and schedules and we stick to them. and then songs come out. We’re never like ‘check out this song I wrote’. But pretty often we’re like ‘what if the steps were sequenced in this way, using this gear’ and then a unified body of songs is born.
So, for example, I’ll explain how we made our second Good Fuck album Cherry Tree because it’s pretty straight-forward compared to a lot of them.
1—We toured our first Good Fuck album for a month playing versions of songs from that album along with new arrangements of songs from Jenny’s solo albums, my solo stuff, some Joan of arc stuff and even a weird version of a Cap’n Jazz song.
2—When we got home we made a quick pile of songs, probably about 30 in a month.
3—Then we drew a map of that live set, charting the dynamics and tonal shifts, etc. Because we liked how it flowed and felt like it’d be a sort of unbiased or intuitive starting point.
4—From there we grouped all the new songs according to which song from the live set each new song most closely corresponded to. Some of these connections were obvious and others were a little more obtuse. So then we had a first draft of the album that was like 4 options for Song 1, 3 options for song 2, 5 options for Song 3, etc.
5—Then we spent a couple months exhausting all the various combinations of 1A into 2A; 1A into 2B; 1A into 2C; 1B into 2A; 1B into 2B; etc etc etc through 10 songs and however many options for each slot, until the album emerged.
I would say it’s central to our process that songs “emerge,” meaning we don’t force them into existence and we remain sensitive to their contexts within the sequence and encourage them to feel the pressurization of what comes before and after.
One last specific anecdote of the making of Cherry Tree seems like a relevant example of the many little steps all contained within the bigger Step 5 from above:
We had to visit my in-laws, so obviously we needed a studio space to set up for the weekend. A friend from the same small town connected us to a used record store who pointed us toward a used music shop. I talked to the owner and he said “$100” and I thought ‘OK $100 / day is fair” and then he clarified “$100 for the wk seem OK?’
So we set up in the basement of this small town music store for a weekend. It was cluttered with junk and a space-heater rattled some hanging plastic sheets and that sound pops up across a couple small spots on the album.
After a few days we pulled ahead of schedule, so we had hours to use but nothing specific to get done. So we went to the thrift store and bought a pile of non-musical noise-making objects. We laid the objects out on the basement floor and took turns pulling numbers from a hat and whichever song you pulled you needed to do a full pass improvising over it with the noise-maker of your choice. and then that object was pulled from circulation, so as the final few songs were pulled, we had fewer and fewer choices of noise-makers.
This is representative of how we work in a few ways.
One) we don’t take days off no matter the circumstances.
Two) We commit to the hours, not the inspiration or the task, and when time opens up within those committed hrs, we find a way to use them
Three) We do lots and lots and lots of pulling numbers out of hats. We rely on oblique strategies and chance operations and surrendering to fate over and over at every step.
Four) More frequently than not, we approach an entire bundle of songs with the same approach at the same time and then see where it makes the cut. Meaning, we rarely say, ‘let’s add a squeaky toy here.’ But we often say, ‘OK, you have to put one of these objects on each song. Which object and how it fits are up to you, but there’s no not doing it.’"