From: Cambiare Productions [url]
Date: January 09, 2008

Meet The Creators: Terami Hirsch

We are very fortunate to have with us on this project a broad and diverse group of creators and performers, and we’d like for you to have a chance to get to know them all a little bit.

First up is Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter/rock star Terami Hirsch.

For the uninitiated, those that we are about to introduce to your music, how would you describe it in general? What would the pull quotes be if we were putting out a Terami Hirsch poster?

Once I wrote out a list of all the words I privately hoped could describe my music. It's uncertain how successful I am at getting these ideas across, but within the electronic/singer/songwriter genre, I love the words "cerebral, literate, intimate, melodic, and nocturnal". I don't know about putting any quotes on a poster, but I always appreciate it when people are able to recognize that the music is personal and homemade, like paperclips and glue set to a melody.

Although! Since my music featured in Transformations is an extension of an electronic side-project, instrumental stuff, nothing I just expressed makes sense. If I was describing the sound of my side project (Story of My Ghost) then it's best explained as electronic dabbling, little noises set around a spontaneous piano track. I record a piano line off the top of my head and then give myself only 24 hours to edit beats, noises, and melodies around it. It's an exercise in limitation.

If you were putting together a sample of Terami Hirsch music what three songs would you include?

Little Light (sample)
Mission to the Moon (sample)
and Diagram of Love (which is a song on my new album).

Now, you understand how big a fan Megan is right? You've looked at her Last.FM charts? It's just you and David Bowie (and David Bowie has a LOT more songs than you do….)

Wow! Well, I can't disagree with her musical taste…Noe Venable is also in her Top 10, and she listens to a lot of my other favorites like Mia Doi Todd, Rasputina, Grey Eye Glances, and Radiohead. It humbles me to be on that list!

Is "Hey would you like to write a song for my show" the oddest thing a fan has ever asked?

No. (And you don't want me to tell you the oddest thing!) But it IS one of the most flattering, and certainly the most creative request…which I think is a much better rank anyhow!

Have you ever written for others to perform before?

I've never professionally written something as a collaboration with other artists. However, when I was in high school I wrote for school projects all the time. One of my fondest memories was writing songs with my friend for a book report - for her to perform "live" in front of the classroom. We did The Grapes of Wrath, Dandelion Wine, and The Great Gatsby.

This piece is very much from the Story of My Ghost era of Terami, do you hear songs you've created and find yourself lost in a year or season of your life?

Good question! Actually, my songs trigger moments that are much more specific than general seasons. For example, whenever I hear "When it's Dark" I remember the exact moment I woke up in the middle of the night and looked into the backyard, imagining a wilderness. As I was writing that song, my mind kept returning to that moment for inspiration.

On my new album, a few of the songs were inspired by the book "The People of Paper" by Salvador Plascencia - and those songs bring me back to the feelings I had as I moved through the novel. Perhaps the only exception is when I listen to my first album, All Girl Band. Since I recorded the album so quickly, every time I hear it I have a strong sense of that exact time in my life…a time when I was utterly poor, living in a broken neighborhood, surrounded by struggle. That album was recorded out of an urgent sense to somehow become someone more alive, more willing to emerge from a sense of post-graduate suffocation.

What was your experience with Anne Sexton prior to Megan contacting you?

I was only familiar with her name. I do read poetry, but my shelves are lined with Louise Glück, Jack Gilbert, and Jorie Graham. It's good to broaden my horizons, and I'm very grateful that Megan introduced me to Anne Sexton's rich and provocative work.

You were creating based on "The Maiden Without Hands". Was there a passage or a line that spoke most to you, or most informed the music that came out of it?

It was more the concept of the poem that I liked, which is beautifully summed up in the last passage:

"All their lives they kept the silver hands, / Polished daily, / A kind of purple heart, / A talisman, / A yellow star."

I loved the idea of keeping a trophy of imperfection, whose Reminder conjures the reversal that being whole is unfortunate and being damaged is the most beautiful thing in the world. …and then, of course, that the maiden was loved irregardless of her return to perfection and the superstition her husband carried, that with her perfection would come his misfortune.

Do you have a favorite poem or poet to share with us?

My favorite poem is "The Forgotten Dialect of the Heart" by Jack Gilbert.

He starts the poem:

"How astonishing it is that language can almost mean, and frightening that it does not quite. 'Love', we say, 'God', we say, 'Rome' and 'Michiko', we write, and the words get it wrong." He ends the poem: "What we feel most has no name".

Without a tedious amount of wordplay, this poem breeches the boundary between the pure experience and our limited attempts to capture it in words. The only pure things are those things which transcend language.

But in even thinking about them, we use vocabulary and because of that vocabulary, we lessen the thing. It's the most sublime concept I can imagine, which means that by imagining it, I've lost the thing that was sublime in the first place.