From: The Midnight Hurrah [url]
Date: November 2005

Interview: Terami Hirsch

Talented singer-songwriter Terami Hirsch is just about to release her third album, Entropy 29. The Midnight Hurrah's Laura Cushing caught up with her in a recent online interview and asked about this new release, music as mathematics, and her ongoing battle against the forces of lizard-kind...

Laura Cushing: You have a new CD coming out - Entropy 29. When and where is the release party, and what can we expect to hear on the new CD?

Terami Hirsch: The release party will be held at Hotel Cafe in Los Angeles. November 29. 9pm. The album itself is fairly atmospheric. Moody. Dark. Lyrically, I like to think it's literate...but that's because I'm a frustrated poet.

LC: Your lyrics are very poetic. Does the title have a special meaning?

TH: There are about 3 different ways I interpret the title. The first way, is that I like the sound of those words together. The second way is that I love prime numbers. They're beautiful and powerful. And the word "Entropy" represents something that feels like a rush of magnetism inside me. Spills and rattles. Unpredictable, wonderful messes. Lastly, 29 also represents that bridge of age between childhood and adulthood. And the album is very much about reaching through circuits of time to stir things up in my childhood memories. Sorry to get all...goofy...on you with that answer.

LC: No, that's a wonderful answer. Does it harken back to your days as a physics teacher?

TH: Not so much, really. Hard to believe, I know. I was thinking about words and emotion...much more than hard science.

LC: Good to hear- physics confuses me utterly. And I think that the laws of physics and the laws of music are probably quite different

TH: Different, yes. But music is math. And math and music are sublime. I could geek out on you hardcore right now. But I'll restrain myself...

LC: Math was my worst subject in school. I guess that's why I don't make music. And feel free to geek if you want to. I'd love to hear more about it.

TH: I was no good in math or science. But I came to appreciate them later. We're both right-brained thinkers, I suspect. It's ok. We have other talents... Want me to talk a little about the math part of music for me?

LC: Yes, please.

TH: To begin with, music has the ability to transport the listener. I know a few people who don't "get" music...but that type of person is rare. Most people are moved. When I was little, I would literally want to pull my spirit out of my body and mingle with the sound of the piano. I felt like if I could just understand how it all works, I could get inside the wires. When I got a little older, I read more about how sound is a particular intervals of vibrations (musical fifths, sevenths, etc.) are really part of a grand formula. I could dissect the values that each note represents and come up with a particular sensation, sound, emotion. There are people who understand this so much better than I can explain it, but the sound you hear is carried to your body in a wave. A beautiful, undulating vibration that smacks you in a way that could leave you breathless...carry you to worlds of imagination...remind you of something...soothe you...rile you up. But everything can be broken down to that number. How the sound is measured. It's pristine and so gorgeous to think about music - an intangible - as part of the way the universe was created. It was meant to be this way. A fantastic design. And without going into PHYSICS, that's the crux of it for me. How connected music is to the way the world works and why I am the way I am. And why it moves anyone.

LC: That's really lovely. I wish I could understand music on such a level.

TH: I don't understand it as much as I feel it.

LC: You seem like a very spiritual person- do you put a lot of that spirituality into your music?

TH: I put my personal beliefs. Not religious...but spiritual, yes.

LC: What are some of your other musical influences?

TH: I want to crawl inside the sound that Kate Bush makes. I want to write like Paul Simon. I want to whoop and howl like Patrick Wolf. I want to create the kind of worlds that Noe Venable creates. There are so many artists. I'm just a huge music fan. Bjork. Chopin. Happy Rhodes. Radiohead. Jeff Buckley.

LC: And how would you describe your sound to someone who's never heard it before?

TH: Piano. Electronics. Words with violence and beauty. (OK. Maybe that last bit sounds pretentious.) Hmm. It's definitely dark and moody...but I think it's quirky. It has elbows.

LC: Elbows like the macaroni, or the pointy body part?

TH: The pointy body part. Like a Tim Burton character. Or a spidery tree.

LC: Nice! And if we want to hear this music firsthand, where do we go?


LC: And if they're in the LA area, to your release show, right? Do you have any other performances coming up?

TH: Yep. The release party. I'm really looking forward to it. Next month (December 16/17) I'm going to be in Davenport, Iowa. On the 16th, I'm performing at The Bucktown Center for the Arts. The next afternoon I'll be doing an in-store discussion/performance at West Music. I know Iowa is a little random. But there are many people I love in Iowa.

LC: Iowans need love (and good music) too!

TH: Right, you are.

LC: What kind of background do you have, musically? Did you study music growing up?

TH: I started studying when I was 5. Classical stuff. I think I was best working with baroque composition. (It's heavy on the mathematics.) But I loved playing the romantics for emotional reasons. My biggest accomplishment as a youth was that I was part of a piano duo. My partner played the treble half of the instrument and I played the bass. We competed all around the region.

LC: Getting back to Entropy 29 - this is your... third full length album, if I recall?

TH: Yes-ish. It's my third available album. Before I did the Little Light EP, I gave away the full album, Stickfigures. It was a limited edition project and it's out of print. So Entropy is either the third or fourth...depending on how you look at it.

LC: Is your sound evolving with each album?

TH: I hope so.

LC: I watched The River video - and was entranced by the story of the old man that plays through it. Can you tell me a little bit about the video? And have you made any others?

TH: It IS a lovely video, isn't it? I had nothing to do with making it, however. It was created by a listener who heard my music on MySpace. When he showed me what he did, I was floored. How amazing to have someone put those visuals to my music. In 2002, I did a music video for Falling...and when I was in film school, I made a video for Serendipities. (an oooooold song.)

LC: Are any of those available for viewing online?

TH: I think Falling is on "Serendipities" was taken off my site a few years ago. I enjoy making videos. Independent artists should pick up the camera and have a little more fun, I think. It doesn't have to cost a lot of money or be all slick. Actually, I should take my own advice.

LC: You should! I expect to see a video soon.

TH: I know! You're going to hold me to it, I see. I have a friend who's taken some photos of me...she's a filmmaker too. I've been toying with the idea of enlisting her for a fun, low budget shoot. But these thoughts leave my head like vapor until someone like you mentions videos. Yikes.

LC: And then there's the lizards...

TH: LIZARDS! Let's talk about the lizards!

LC: I was reading about your war with the lizards!

TH: I just got really excited. Sorry.

LC: Tell us a bit about that - and for the record, which side is winning the war.

TH: Aw, it's not really a war. More like a friendly battle of wits. They're totally winning. And well they should! It's their land. We're the ones who plopped a house on it. Lizards always have a snappy comeback. Girls like me just stand there and drop the laundry basket in fright. We're useless. Sometimes the lizards lose their tails. That always makes me feel guilty.

LC: Aww, but they grow them back.

TH: Yes. They become little stubs of scaliness. And I worry that a predator will grab the stump where there was once a tail and it will be all my fault that they couldn't wiggle out of it.

LC: So as much as you battle the lizards for household supremacy, there's a little bit of lizard love in there, too...

TH: A little bit, yes. I admit it.

LC: And the traditional last question - anything else you want to tell the folks out there in internet land?

TH: I just have to thank the people who let me borrow their the ones I haven't met...and the ones who have become friends...I'm deeply grateful that we've found each other.