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Larry Ryan

Larry Ryan joined The Independent's website in November 2007. He writes the "Caught in the Net" music column for the paper's Arts & Books section on Friday. He wears thick glasses and talks slowly, traits which people occasionally mistake for signs of intelligence.

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'Focused on my inability to focus' - a brief interview with Glasser

Posted by Larry Ryan
  • Thursday, 17 September 2009 at 06:51 pm
When I wrote about LA musician Glasser in these pages a few months back, I pitched her rather tritely between Kate Bush and Bjork. While her voice does call to mind those esteemed performers, she can stand pretty confidently on her own two feet aswell: a beautiful singing voice combines with strange vocal yelps; electro noises and live instruments mesh; dreamy ambience meets with childlike sounds.

In May Glasser, whose real name is Cameron Mesirow, released her debut EP 'Apply' via True Panther Sounds, on 12" vinyl (no sold out) and digital download. It's available through the usual outlets - iTunes, Amazon. On her Myspace are several lovely tracks, including a remix by Chairlift - despite waxing lyrical about her voice, my current favourite is the instrumental "Helloa", made with what seem to be toy instruments. There are also spacey, impressionistic videos for two of the tracks posted there.

Mesirow, whose day job is as a studio assistant to visual artist Mike Kelley, works in various mediums, with music only coming to the fore recently. This month she created a two-person pump-organ installation at the Deitch Project gallery in New York (take that David Byrne!) with the artist Tauba Auerbach, who also did the op-art like cover design for Glasser's EP. Keep tabs on her various endeavours at glassery.blogspot.com.

I had a chat with Cameron on the phone earlier in the week - here's what she had to say about Glasser and beyond...


CM: I'm in Hudson New York in a bed and breakfast.
LR: Sounds idyllic
I actually may have woken up with a cold. It is really beautiful here. I'm in a place of some dear old friends who were in a band with my mom in the 70s.
Were they well known?
I guess they sort of were. They played in England a few times. They were called Human Sexual Response. My mom was in the band. She sang. What else?

Was she your major musical influence?
She was a big one. The band was a big one.
So you've been working on this instalation at Deitch Projects.
I've been working on this project with my friend Tauba Auerbach who did the cover of my EP. She and I designed a two person pump organ. It's sort of a split organ - a four octave scale organ split into two keyboards, each keyboard playing every other key. Then two sets of bellows, so the bellows I'm pumping go to her keyboard and the bellows she's pumping go to my keyboard.
So you're playing each other
Yeah, we're helping each other play, is the idea.
Is that just a one off?
It seems like it's going to be an on going thing. We're already making plans for the next thing. We called it Auerglass - so Tauba Auerbach and Glasser.
So many puns my brains going to explode... Did you see the David Byrne pump organ based instalation?

I didn't see it but I saw a video of it.
You could have a rap style beef about it.
Yeah. Well I wonder what he thought. If he sees it. I don't if he has. Maybe I'll email him and tell him to come by.
He seems fairly amenable to new stuff so maybe he'll show up on his bike.
Yeah, I think he is. I've seen him around at shows.
Do you come from an art background then, or a music background?
I guess maybe both. My parents did a lot of combining of music and art ideas. My mom and her band were sort of a theatrical bunch. They made a lot of movies.
Is she still in a band?
No, no she's not. She's still very creative but she's just sort of keeping it to herself at the moment. At the mo, as you guys say.
Tell me a little bit about the EP you made a while back?
Well, it's a three song EP and I didn't know where it was going to end up or that it was even going to be an EP. But I was really pleased with it and didn't realise how much it would mean to me to hear, to see my own record and hear my songs on vinyl. It's a vinyl and digital release - you can get it on iTunes. I don't know how many have.
But that's not the point.
No, it certainly isn't. I'm pleased that it's out there regardless of how many people have found it... I think.
How do you put it together? Is there an over arching idea? Do you improvise?
Definitely the over arching idea was trying to bridge the gap between my dreams and reality - not my hopes and dreams but my actual dreams at night.
There is a lot of dreamy sounds and strange noises throughout.
Yeah, and I've always been extremely distractable. Meaning I have kind of a short attention span which is a good thing and mostly a bad thing. But I guess maybe I turned it into a good thing being able to make art about thought. Maybe I can stay focused on my inability to focus.
Are you focused enough to make an album or are you just going to see what happens?
I'm actually really focused on that right now. And the focus of the album is - well, I can't really talk through it at the moment, but basically it's a similar idea in focusing on my inability to focus and focusing inward all the time.
Will the sound stay similar to what you're doing at the moment or do you plan to change?
I really don't know. I have no expectations for any of it. I feel that whenever I churn out a song - 90 per cent of the time, the response is 'oh my god. It's so different.' And I'm like, 'really? It was kind of similar for me.'
I read that you recorded the EP on Garageband. Was that a necessity or intentional to get a lo-fi feel?
No, it was just how it happened. I didn't have a plan to make music until I was making it, you know? I was just feeling like I would just try something out on a computer and then when that worked, I didn't want to change. So I just kind of left it.
Have you done much live shows?
Oh yeah. My voice is hoarse right now because I have been doing a lot of live shows.
Do you use a live band or is it just you?
Well it's a revolving door.
Whoever's around.
Yeah. Honestly I've been doing most of my shows with an iPod and a guitar player playing dirty sounding guitar. But I've just done a few shows with the dance band - I don't know what to call them - Tanlines, from Brooklyn. Who have done stuff with Young Turks, the London based label. I'm also doing a single with Young Turks pretty soon.
I think I saw on your blog some pretty extravagant costumes you wear while performing.
I'm interested in combining all areas. What I've really noticed since becoming an official musician (laughs) - is that the music friends and the art friends don't know each other that much. They don't hang out with each other all that much. They have few things to say.
You want to bring them together.
Well I'd like to bring them together but they don't always understand each other.
Do you feel there is a certain of expectation...
To be a rock band
Yeah, that it should just be about making music rather than doing any theatrical stuff or anything like that?
I haven't run into the expectation that I should be doing that but I have run into people who are like "why would you do anything more? What's the point?" I've also been challenged like, 'how bad is your band that you need to bring in a visual element?' Sort of like insulted by that!
As if you're covering yourself by having distractions.
Right. And in the beginning of Glasser I was doing performances with a dance troupe. They would perform while I would sing. It was so fun. So fun. I read, someone sent me a blog posting about someone coming to the show and being like, 'euugh, what kind of band needs a dance troupe? To fill out their live show...' And then they were blown away by it. So who knows? I'd doubt if everybody felt that way.
Are you based in New York?
No, in LA. LA is where I live and work. But New York has actually been a much better audience for me, to be perfectly honest, because people are way more open to what I'm doing than in LA. In LA I think they're a little confused about what to do with me. It's not that they don't like it necessarily... it's just not exactly, like, a perfect industry show. But the New York audience is so... I feel like when I step off the plane in New York about a million doors open for me. It's frustrating when I have to go back to LA.
Any other projects in the pipeline?
The record is my main thing. I was working really hard on the Auerglass project for the last month and a half - even the last few months. But now I think the album is going to take precedence over anything else.
But you don't have a time frame for when you'll have it done?
Well I'd like to have it done by new year. I'm co-producing it with Ariel Rechtshaid of Foreign Born and we're going to work together in a studio when I get back to LA. So that's the next big obstacle! Nothing comes without... I don't do anything without a lot of pulling my hair out along the way.
A bit of drama.
Yeah! I'm an artiste.
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