What is your name?
O HAI! I’m Meredith Yayanos. How are YOU?
How would you describe what you do?
Lots of music, words, and imagery. Most of the stuff I make and do ends up being conversational and collaborative in nature. From 2007 – 2012, I was devoted to an online/print venture called Coilhouse Magazine with co-founding creator, publisher and partner Nadya Lev, as well as many other wonderful weirdos. It was, and remains, “A Love Letter to Alternative Culture”. The project’s on hiatus for now, but <CHEERFULPLUG> you can download all six of our print issues as free PDFs at the archival website, and the blog also contains thousands of entries on a wide variety weird and beautiful and funny topics. </CHEERFULPLUG> These days, I’ve gone back to making music pretty much full time; I play violin and theremin and sing. Score films. Oh! And recently I’ve started dabbling in making pretentious artsy fartsy films of my own. That’s been fun.
What are you currently working on?
I’m finishing up the final leg of production of an album of “haunted chamber music” by The Parlour Trick, my duo with fellow multi-instrumentalist Dan Cantrell. Ghostly, modern classical/aggro-ambient instrumentals. Piano, violin, theremin, musical saw, witchy vocals, harpsichord, celeste, pump organ, electronics, etc. Right now the project’s badass designer, Star St. Germain (who also worked on Coilhouse!) and I are sussing out all of the packaging for the Parlour Trick CDs and vinyl, which should hopefully go to press and be available for sale shortly. Meantime, on my lonesome, I’m devoting the bulk of my time to various aspects of reward fulfillment for the hundreds of Kickstarter backers who chipped in to get the album and related materials funded. (Any of you guys reading? You know who you are! HAY. I LURVE YOO. SORRY IT’S TAKING SO LONG.) You can buy the music digitally on Bandcamp. I’m also about to shoot a second Parlour Trick music video in New Zealand with my sweetheart, Madeleine Ledespencer, and a bunch of amazing folks we know from the Weta / Wellywood film industry. I seriously have no idea WTF I’m doing, yet. But I’m excited!
What is the greatest misconception about you or your work?
Oof… I guess it’d be that lot of people think I’m an extrovert. I’m really not. Actually, I’m an extremely shy, anxious person. Always have been. I started performing on stages in front of people when I was five. Then and now, I’m terrified of crowds and exposure. You’re basically talking to an introvert who, at some point, somehow managed to convince herself and everyone else otherwise by developing halfway-adequate social skills. (Related: I’ve had a solo music project in the works called “The Ever Present Tense” for well over fifteen years now. It’s like this hideously sparkly paste-jewel-encrusted lithopedion baby cataloging my various neuroses, including GAD, PTSD, and BDD. Woohooo, partaaaay. Sure to be an instant classic.)
What do you see as the main strengths and weaknesses of the medium you work in?
The allure of wordplay, yum yum. There’s that delicious brainmeat frission that happens when you read or craft just the right turn of phrase. But the medium has its weaknesses, too, in that words… well, they fail. A lot. Words fail me every day. All the time. Because they put me at a remove from more atavistic sensations, connections, communications. Which is why I love music so much– the ribcage-expanding, gut-and-capillary level reaction it can trigger. Music is my magick. Also, the visual resonance of art and design: when I lean both my body and my brain into a piece of music… I see landscapes and I feel textures. And then that’s when the most unfailing words come– stories that have steeped in sounds and images.
How has technology impacted upon the work you do?
Immensely. In too many ways to count. Coilhouse Magazine couldn’t have existed without the global network we all built together online, and the kinship that sprang up from it. More generally, I’d say that many of the most wonderful collaborators I’ve worked with, across multiple mediums, are thanks to BBSs and chat rooms, and later on, social networking sites like Livejournal, Twitter, Tumblr. Every day, no matter where I am in the world, I can interface with authors, fashion photographers, editors, musicians, and filmmakers… all thousands of miles away. With a good pair of headphones and an Apogee One, I can (and have) recorded full-length film scores on my laptop in the midst of traveling internationally. I’m about to email this interview to you while I’m at ten-thousand feet in an airplane. I have cherished loved ones that I’ve never met face to face, and it’s a non-issue, because we’ve found ways to share our art. This world, and my subsequent work, is largely post-geographical, and I find that miraculous.
What’s the greatest piece of advice you would like to pass on?
The world can be brutal and unyielding. Please don’t let that take your luminosity away. Stay open. Stay kind. Stay grateful. Cherish yourself and cherish your loved ones. It’s good to be gentle, and it’s okay to yield. Do not be afraid to work veryveryeveryhard for a longlonglongtime on whatever it is that you love without receiving any validation or reassurance from outside sources. Just enjoy the adventure and rise to meet the challenge of the work itself. Don’t waste time worrying about what anyone else is going to think about the work you do, because it’s really none of your business. Most importantly, stop waiting for someone else to give you permission to be who you want to be, or to do what you dream of doing. And finally… regret is okay, and remorse is often warranted. But shame? Shame is bullshit. Shame is a colossal waste of life, so please, PLEASE work to find ways to regularly unpack whatever shame you have accrued. Pull it out of yourself, somehow, and burn it. Dance around that fire until it dies down, and then walk away.
What are you reading at the moment?
If music is my magick, then reading is my ritual! “The John Varley Reader” (a great collection of his short stories spanning thirty years), “Gun Machine” by Warren Ellis (relentlessly badass), “The People’s Guide to Los Angeles” by Laura Barraclough, Wendy Cheng, and Laura Pulido (highly recommended for anyone who’s curious about the invisible underpinnings of that city, both structurally and culturally) Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84 (gobsmacking!), and, most affectingly, the first 200 pages of a novel-in-progress by a very brilliant friend. Re-reading, actually, multiple times a month, as the working draft evolves. Watching this story grow from the ground up is easily one of the most spellbinding and nourishing experiences I’ve ever had, or ever will.
What are you listening to at the moment?
On heavy rotation this week: Sun Ra’s “Space is the Place”, Shostakovich’s Piano Trio No. 2 In E Minor (Kalichstein Laredo Robinson Trio recording), Sibylle Baier, Gazelle Twin, K. Flay, Cabaret Voltaire, Miles Davis’ “Bitches Brew”, Goblin, Clint Mansell’s score for “Stoker”.
Anything else we should know?
Yes. Please, please support the artists who make the songs and stories and pictures and dance and theatre that move you. If you appreciate their art, and you can afford to do so, please *buy* that art. But even if you can’t afford to buy their work, then talk about it, share it, celebrate it in some fashion that respects and values the artist as well as the art. Give them credit. Say their names.