J: Let the record show… this is Music in the Attic. We’ve got Maggie here from the famous Hannah & Maggie. I don’t know where the ampersand falls in the relationship: if you’ve got it, if she’s got it.
M: We’ll split it right in half.
Maggie Thomasina – Little Wind
Maggie Thomasina – Brighton Beach
J: That sounds reasonable. So you recorded your first record Fine Being Here last J-term. And you’re gonna record another record this J-term. So tell me about that record.
M: Oh man. Right now it exists obviously only in our minds and we’d love to record a couple more songs than we did last time. We have 11 tracks on the first album and we’d love to do at least 12 this time around. And we’re trying a lot of different things out for the first time. We’ve written a huge amount of music since last January. We’ve encountered so much, so many different influences. We’ve been listening to a lot of different music and meeting a lot of different musicians, and bands that we encounter either in person or on the internet. We’re constantly finding ways to incorporate new sounds in our own music.
So I feel like the album will be a lot different: it will still sound like us, but it will be a different kind of us. We’re looking to get a lot more percussion on the album, we want a drummer to play on every track for sure, which wasn’t the case the last time. We want strings, we want weird ambient noise in the background, we want a fuller sound. And that’s new for us, because the entire album Fine Being Here was the culmination of all of the songs we wrote over the course of our lives, before we knew each other. Now that we have come together and sat down and co-written all of these songs, we’ve pieced them together along the way to have other stuff in them. We’ve done artificial upright bass on GarageBand and drum tracks and shakers and pianos, all obviously on the computer, but we’d love to see what it sounds like live. So I guess long story short, it’ll be deeper musically, and I guess lyrically, there are a lot of songs about crazy times in our lives. I was abroad, I was studying in Ecuador for most of the time that I was writing songs that will be on the album and Hannah was about to graduate from college. So they are both really crazy experiences and they resulted in a lot of crazy music. I’m really excited, we can’t wait.
J: Are all the songs on the first record one or the other? Are any of them co-written?
M: There are, if I had to say, about two that are 100% from start to finish co-written. Which would be “Things We’ll Never Know” and “Not the One.” Those were two songs that we sat together and wrote the whole way through; we were with each other the whole time. The rest of them were either mine or Hannah’s, so we had to rework them to include each other. We wrote new harmonies, we wrote new guitar parts for all of them, but they originated with one or the other. Which I think is really interesting because this time around, we were both so involved in all of them, for the most part. There are one or two that we wrote completely alone, but for the most part it’s the exact opposite, it’s way more involved from both of our ends.
J: How do you guys go about writing together?
M: It’s different every time. For the most part, so say I am playing around on the guitar and I come up with this chord progression that I really like but I don’t know what to do with it I’ll record an mp3 of it and I’ll send it to Hannah because we don’t live in the same place. Hannah lives in Manhattan and I’m here in Northampton. I’ll send her an mp3 of just basic, bare bones, of me just futzing around on the guitar and she’ll take it and she’ll play mandolin over it, or she’ll come up with a melody, she won’t have words but she’ll hum the melody over the guitar and she’ll send it back to me and it’s this constant back and forth. We find things we like and we save them, things we don’t like we come back to or get rid of. And I guess once we both feel like there’s not a lot more to be done and we’re happy with it, we consider it done. We put it away and next time we see each other we work on playing on live, and get ready to flesh it out the way it will be in the studio. We help each other with everything. If she has a weird syllable thing where the words won’t fit I’ll figure it out, if I can’t figure out where the bass line should be she’ll figure it out. It’s totally collaborate which is awesome. It’s really great. Songwriting has taken a really interesting shape because we’re not in the same place. I guess the last time we wrote a song where we were actually together in the same room was over the summer. We’ve written 3 or 4 songs since then.
J: Over the summer when you were together you did a mini-tour of the Northeast. How did that go?
M: It was awesome. I’d never done anything like that before. You know, we, obviously as I said before, I was in South America and Hannah was at Smith College and the summertime came and I had a full-time job at a summer camp and she was traveling around a little bit after graduating. We realized the only time we really had was a 2 week block at the end of the summer where we were both going to be a) in the United States and b) in close proximity. We didn’t have a lot of expectations; we’d never even played 2 shows in a row, let alone 2 weeks of music. We started in my hometown in Maplewood, NJ and we kind of just went. We encountered a lot of crazy stuff on the way but it was mostly just laughing and music and meeting awesome people and we hung out with really really cool people along the way and made friends and sold some CDs and just got a taste of what it would be like to be out making music and that’s all you’re doing, which is what we want to do.
J: So summer 2012. Yeah?
M: Yeah! I’ll be done with college and I have nothing to do but try to play music. We’re gonna try and see what happens, we’re gonna try and meet more people and play more shows and be out playing for longer we’d love to do 4 weeks or something, or a bunch of little blocks of time. We haven’t done a lot of planning yet but we have every intention of playing as much as possible.
J: So are you going to move somewhere in New York?
M: Actually I’m pretty close in New Jersey. So I’ll be close enough where we’ll be able to rehearse during the week and we’ll be able to figure it all out. It’s been really interesting and difficult being in different places. But I think we’ve done an okay job of trying to play shows when we can and finding weekends when we can go to one place or the other. So it hasn’t been totally unbearable.
J: The second record is gonna be the fleshed out, band record. Are you planning to tour as more than a 2-piece or are you going to strip down the songs for the show?
M: We’ve talked about this a lot. We’ve talked about what it would be like to have a band. From a logistical standpoint: could we fit more people in this car full of instruments? And from a musical standpoint: would we have time to get someone in and first of all find someone who would want to play and second of all someone who would be into our music? I feel like there are so many factors you have to take into consideration when you have more people because music is a crazy experience for everyone it’s a totally personal intimate thing. Sometimes you find people you’re musically compatible with and sometimes you’re not on the same page. We’ve talked about all these things and we’d love to have more people playing with us. We’d love to play plugged in, louder, fuller, it would be awesome. It’s nice to play acoustic sets but after a while you wonder what it would sound like if there were more people involved. I think it would be great, you know, the best thing in the world. But you never know how many people you’re gonna find who are like yeah sure I’ll quit my job and come for a month in the summertime and you know, play shows and not get paid and all that stuff. So hopefully we’ll figure something out, so we can try to reproduce as best we can the stuff we do on the album.
J: Will the songs you played tonight be on the record?
M: Definitely the first song that I played which is called “Little Wind.” That will definitely be on the record. And the other one I’m technically not finished with yet. I wrote it in April or May and you know Hannah likes it a lot and we’ve talked, it could benefit from something else, maybe a chorus or something else in there. I can’t say officially that it will be on the album but I really hope it is. It’s an important song for me. We’re still trying to map out where we’re going to with it.
J: Do you have a favorite band?
M: Oh man! [let the record show that Maggie is thinking] I never know what to say when people ask me this. I can’t say for sure that I do. I feel like there’s music that I’ve been listening to consistently for a really long time, and maybe that qualifies, or someone that i’m really into right now. I’ve been listening to the Bon Iver album since the day it came out, and that’s going on six or seven months now. I refuse to stop listening to it. You could say I’m currently totally enamored. I liked his first album a lot, I love the fact that he went crazy on the second album and everything that came in between it.
Now let the record reflect that we chatted for a few more minutes, and I thanked Maggie profusely for stopping in for an Attic Session. Right now she and Hannah are running a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for their next record, which you can support here.