Local duo Water Borders, comprised of Amitai Heller and Loric Sih, have been busy this summer as part of the Tri Angle Records showcase tour and anticipate the release of their debut full length this October on the same label. Although 80s industrial noise and heavy rhythms are prominent in their music, Water Borders draw inspiration from a variety of sources and keep their sound open to evolution. I had the chance to meet up with them to talk about their musical past and what comes next.
Where did you meet?
Loric: We met around the Santa Cruz music scene, through house shows. Amitai was in a band that was big shit for a moment in Santa Cruz for a while. When I was a freshman or a sophomore everyone always went to go party to Amitai’s band’s [The Gross Gang] shows.
Amitai: There’s only so much you can do in a band in Santa Cruz. It’s really cool within Santa Cruz but didn’t really translate outside of the city. We toured a bunch. It ran its course. Then we played in another band called New Thrill Parade, and that lasted for about five years. Loric joined that band two years into it and then that ran its course. Then we started this band.
How would you describe how your sound has changed within those bands?
Amitai: I think for both of us it’s been discovering new music to incorporate into what we’re doing. Being able to do that with two people instead of seven is pretty essential. It was really hard to refocus when everyone had their personal inclinations that culminated into one specific sound. To ask everyone to make a U turn is a little much to expect.
What’s your musical background?
Loric: I play standard rock band instruments and have since I was a kid. Amitai and I wrote a lot of songs together where I would be playing guitar and he’d be singing. This project is really different from what we were used to growing up in punk rock world where it’s all about guitars basically. Our last band was more of a gothy post-punk band.
Amitai: I don’t have any formal training in anything but I’m a vibe kind of guy. I’m mostly interested in textures and soundscapes.
What are some of your influences in terms of artists?
Amitai: I think that’s more of a shifting thing. In the beginning we were more interested in harnessing vibes of or evoking the feelings of Psychic TV and early industrial, like Coil. Somber, dark kind of hymnal music but I think that’s shifted a lot because of Loric.
Loric: I’ve just over the past few years been listening to more and more electronic music. And for me there’s just a lot of interesting ideas that I never really thought about until I started listening to that kind of stuff a lot. I think that’s part of what makes this band interesting; Amitai and I have overlapping but also relatively different musical tastes in terms of what we choose to listen to ourselves. I think that reflects a lot in the music.
Amitai: I listen to a lot of lyrical music and also early ambient and synth stuff. I don’t really listen to modern electronic music besides what Loric plays me for reference points. I like it more in the context of what we’re doing, than in the context of what it is on its own. I like the synthesis of other ideas because to me, well, it’s not not my thing. It’s as much my thing as anything else that I think is cool but don’t listen to.
How would you describe your music?
Loric: I think about a lot of the rhythmic elements of it which are definitely influenced heavily by all kinds of forms of dance music, past and modern and for me it’s important for a lot of our stuff to have that sort of body moving element. I find that to be something very human and relatable to people in general. Rhythm is sort of, for me, the most important thing about music that I like and music that I appreciate. We have our own imprint in the music.
Amitai: I’m usually just happy to defer the rhythmic part to Loric. I’ll sequence drums too but if Loric has a better idea I just let him take over. But in terms of the type of music we make its definitely dark in tone and it contains the spirit of early industrial experimentation in the production quality. And the other thing that differentiates what we’re doing from other things is the prominent vocals. A lot of newer bands kind of have similarities to what we’re doing but don’t have the same large vocal presence, sometimes the lead sometimes the background.
What sorts of sounds did you experiment with for your upcoming full length Harbored Mantras?
Amitai: There’s a lot of samples from “world” music.
Loric: More specifically there’s a lot of middle eastern, Indian and African and Gamalen samples so you’ll definitely hear that vibe a lot throughout the record along with heavy drums, heavy bass.
Amitai: Croony vocals. It goes to a lot of different places in the mind; it’s kind of a journey. It all kind of fits within the same theme though; it’s all clearly coming from the same point of view.
How long have you been playing shows as Water Borders?
Loric: We’ve only been playing shows for about a year. Late 2009 is when we started this band. The first few shows were disasters.
Amitai: There’s kind of been a string of disaster in every show. But we’re about to add another member in August for our live set and possibly recording, so I think when he comes then things are going to get balanced a little. He’s going to take some of the sound load out of Loric’s computer.
Water Borders play at 103 Harriet this Friday at Tri Angle Records Showcase: 2011 Reality Tour with oOoOO, White Ring, Clams Casino, Shlohmo, among many more. Tickets are $20.