Ensemble Economique is the solo project of Humbodlt, California-dwelling Brian Pyle, on half of the well-regarded Starving Weirdos. As Ensemble Economique, Pyle makes intensely atmospheric electronic pieces, focused on tone, power and passion.
With three LPs under his belt, the Ensemble Economique sound has continued to develop a personality as strong and individual as anything produced under the Starving Weirdos guise and the ripple of Pyle’s work through the American underground long ago became a torrent, and no one is complaining. His latest cut is on a split LP with Lee Noble, released by Hands In The Dark and on the back of that, he is playing upstairs in Whelan’s tonight. Doors are at 8pm and its seven quid in. Diamond Dagger is on support duties.
First of all, tell me about the split with Lee Noble. How did it come about? Was it something the label instigated or did you cook it up between yourselves?
Yeah the label instigated it. The timing was great, I had just performed at lee’s house in LA a couple months earlier and we became fast friends. we have a mutual love for each others work, so when Hands In The Dark approached us, it was instant YES.
Where do you see yourselves complementing each other?
I think in the emotional depth, the singular quality of the ideas each of us are expressing, I think we are both doing very unique takes on pop, a very left-field outsider sort of pop thing. I love it when artists release splits where each side is in a different style, it’s nice for the listener, interesting. I’d love to do another split with Lee at some down the road, I’m very happy with this release.
You’ve talked about using particular techniques to create Psychical and Standing Still, Facing Forward. Was there any process or set of ideas that defined your work on this split?
I think the use of lyrics, the use of my voice is something new. And definitely the content is new, these tracks are very much about desire/sex and in that regard very much different from Psychical and Standing Still, Facing Forward. My techniques are similar to my earlier records in how the tracks are constructed, the most striking difference is how I approached this new work, more personal, more intense I think. At least for me.
One thing I feel links all your work is the sense of dread or unease, which is about the most non-stereotypical Californian feeling I can imagine. Is there ever a conscious effort on your part to steer clear of that idea of the west coast?
I don’t see my work as dark at all. Take the lead track ‘With You, At Brandy Creek’ from Standing Still, Facing Forward for example, it’s powerfully romantic. Of course with Psychical there is an intensity that could be perceived as dark and I understand this perception. But from my perspective I’m simply just trying to make evocative, interesting work. Dark or light doesn’t really fit into the equation with me, it’s something I never consider.
You’ve talked a bit about the isolation of living in Humboldt, which is interesting. Does it ever become an over-whelming kind of feeling, being left relatively alone with your thoughts for periods of time? How do you find a balance between making music and art and then living a normal life, y’know, staying sane?
Humboldt itself is isolated, five hours from the closest major city, but to live in Humboldt is not at all isolating, it’s a university town, filled with everything one would expect from a community, based around a major university, lots of culture, many folks in their 20′s and 30′s doing interesting things, a very progressive place to live, liberal. I’m five minutes away from two towns with lots going on. I’m lucky to have a bit of the best of both worlds, a great community and stunning nature, that I have very easy access to. Old-growth redwood forests, beautiful sand dunes, a lovely coastline, I take many long walks on the beach and not a typical ‘Californian’ beach. Folks don’t sunbathe where I live (for the most part) or litter the beach with bullshit, it’s very natural, rugged, peaceful.
I’ve seen people compare your music, both as EE and SW, to people that you say you’ve never heard of. Do you find that to be a positive thing? I think it’s cool that there’s so many people out there finding similar means of expression, it makes what can seem like a hugely over-crowded and messy music scene all feel very natural and purposeful. How do you feel when you come across people that might be channeling similar things to yourself?
I love it, it’s rare when I hear someone doing something super-similar to myself and when I do I’m surprised and I think it’s cool. in all of my projects there’s never an influence or a desire to sound like something, the work comes from a very pure, natural place. So it’s always after-the-fact when work gets compared to something else. And yeah, many times I’ve never heard of who I’m being compared to.