cole: “I was having a conversation with a friend recently. We were talking about the nature of collaboration, how watching it can feel as though you’re peering into some sort of intimate relationship. There is a particular thing that happens with bands or any long-term collaboration—it becomes like a marriage. I have a lot of friends who work in other artistic fields that are more isolating.”
Ambarchi: “You’re getting to know somebody, and you’re exploring stuff together, and you might not see them for two years, and then when you do, you continue from where you left off. It’s an ongoing conversation. I would say a big part of what we do is the meal after the gig, where you’re sitting around and talking about your personal stuff, or just having a laugh.”
cole: “I’ve played improv with people where you can feel a struggle for control. Someone is bashing away at something—‘I don’t like this safe zone we’re in, so I’m going to swhoosh! Push things somewhere else.’ Those shifts are sometimes exciting, but to me it shouldn’t be a conflict—it should be a way of dancing together.”
Ambarchi: “We don’t want to be complacent in life or what we do as artists. We want to keep moving and trying stuff, not saying, No we can’t do that, that’s not possible, we can’t go there. We can do everything—I feel that with crys. It’s exciting to work with someone you’re in love with.”
At 30th Street Station in Philly.
I FIRST INTERVIEWED BRAXTON at the Big Ears festival last March. We sat in a renovated factory in Knoxville, in a room overlooking train tracks. As I was setting up the camera, Braxton looked out the window and noticed the tracks running alongside the building.
When asked what associations trains had for him, Braxton said, “To keep us occupied as kids, my dad would buy us these HO-gauge train sets, and I became obsessed with trains. As a matter of fact, every Sunday we would go to Union Station and watch the Metro North and Amtrak trains come in because I wanted to see them. It became sort of a family thing.” He went quiet, and a moment later added, “That’s a funny thing to start an interview with.”
Was there a connection between HIVE and trains?
“If there’s a correlation I can draw," he said, "it would be a sense of being a passenger and viewing a landscape going by. I’m trying to create not just music but an environment.”
Later he continued, “When I was setting up HIVE today, I kept telling Sarah [Frankel] we should bring the pods closer to the audience. I like the straight line of it. It looks like the Supreme Court. We’re sitting cross-legged, we’re interacting very little with anything else but each other, we’re not looking at the audience, we’re just doing our thing. It doesn’t feel inclusive, yet it doesn’t feel alienating either. It’s like we’ve landed—and now you can experience the room.”