Daniel Higgs, best known as the singer of Lungfish, is currently on tour singing with the Skull Defekts from Sweden in support of their most recent release Peer Amid, which was released on Thrill Jockey February 22, 2011. I was lucky enough to sit in their tour van outside the Great Scott and have a conversation with the multitalented musician. [Daniel drew this self-portrait to accompany the interview.]
How has the tour been going with The Skull Defekts?
Its been great thus far. I met them the day before the first date and will be with them for the full two weeks. Before that I was just playing a lot of banjo and making music. So I had to take a break from that to come play with them. I am enjoying it.
What is the most recent album you have put out?
I put out a tape called Ultra-Terrestrial Harvest Hymns. That came out a few weeks ago. I don’t have any copies with me.
How does it compare to the work you have released in the past?
Well it is a cassette tape that I recorded to a cassette tape, so the music has a jumped format. I made it on a tape and it is distributed as a tape. The tapes are clones of the original tape.
When you record on cassette tape its a long ribbon of magnetic tape scrolled up on two spindles and as you record on it moves along like a conveyor belt.
So when you record on it, you record some, then you stop. Record again and so on. Everything is successive. And you can mess and record over but typically most of the tape is recorded sequentially so you hear it as it unfolds. Sometimes I will push pause and not record for a few days. Sometimes I will record several times a day.
Where did you record it?
I was in Northern California for a month and I recorded in a lot of different environments up there: at the farm where I was staying, a river, a cave. So its not an album but its more like a sonic-travelogue-docudrama.
Sounds like a very interesting concept. Where can I buy the tape?
I’m not sure. Its on a cassette label named Moon Glyph. They are from Minneapolis and I know they have a website you can get it from.
But it will be hard to find it in a record store since there is only 500 copies.
Is Lungfish done for good?
Well we aren’t certain. It seems like it. I have a hunch that it probably is but its not certain. There are other things that we could do. There are possibilities to get the band together again but it would be a stretch. But we are all still making music and it is still Lungfish music if you know Lungfish music.
Zomes(Asa Osbourne of Lungfish) continues to convey the Lungfish sound, wouldn’t you agree?
It is like naked Lungfish music. Asa was the guitarist of Lungfish and one of the main composing entities of the band. We all composed the music together but he was main source of the melodies but we were all equally engaged in it. But Asa is a major component of the Lungfish sound.
How long has Zomes been active? When was his first release?
The first record came out a year or two ago but he never stopped making and recording music. He switched to the keyboard, I think, to have a new challenge because its not his instrument. He is a guitar player but has learned how to use it to get his song-way across.
Do you have any plans for music coming out soon?
I am working on some recordings. I might sing a few more songs with The Skull Defekts but I have a lot of new songs and a lot of old songs that I am getting to know better and re-recording them. I’m not sure what will come out first. Right now I am working on an instrumental banjo album. Its one piece but I am trying to get the compositional elements together and get it recorded.
What do you want to say to the music-lovers of New England?
Well I would say what I typically say. And that is anyone who has read this far, assuming this gets published and that what I’m about to say doesn’t get edited out, it would be safe to assume that they have some type of overall interest in music. So then I would say that anyone having any interest in music should make sure that they are doing their part to either make it well or listen to it well. And also if they haven’t lately tried dancing to live music to maybe give that a try again because dancing to records is fine but when you dance with music being made in your midst, you can actually become a participant in the creating of the music.
There is a lot more freedom in that kind of dancing.
With the records, especially the records with programmed beats, the insistent pulse of the digital rhythm generator will certainly induce a trance. But there are many different kinds of trances. The kind of trance it induces is nice to experience but you are doing yourself a disservice if you don’t try other varieties of trance. Because there is a very clear thinking, free trance where you are not in a stupor. You are not forgetful of anything and you are completely conscious, perhaps, more conscious of who you really are and what your relationship to everyone and the rest of the world is. So that is what I would say. That we are a music-making species and we have been doing it longer than we have been doing architecture.
Music is most likely the first medicine, the first language, the first way to have jams and have a really nice time.
The first way to make your women fertile and your men virile. We just need more music, especially in these times when people have been tricked into thinking the end of the world is 2-18 months away and it may be the end of the world but if it is it will be the right and just end. Whatever happens, something better will grow out of it. So thats what I would say.