Splendid Emblem Brings Their Intriguing Sound To Day for NightSplendid Emblem. Photo: Courtesy of Artist/Uncredited
The beauty of acts like Houston’s Splendid Emblem is that you can’t begin to pigeonhole them, aside from saying that what they do is like no one else. The fact that the duo — composed of Collin Hedrick and Jason Fields — rarely plays live sets, the fact that they mix drone with experimental sounds, or even the fact that they dropped a video EP this year titled Upper Body; these are all ways to say that they’ll never fit into what you may want to categorize them as. With a performance at this year’s Day for Night, there’s almost no telling what attendees will get when they perform, yet that’s part of the allure. Free Press Houston caught up with them to see if they’d shed a light on what they have planned for the festival.
FREE PRESS HOUSTON: Can you explain what Splendid Emblem is to you, musically?
SPLENDID EMBLEM: Traveling drone music? Textural amniotics? Guided dreamscaping?
FPH: Collin makes mods and synths for other people, does any of that get incorporated into what you do musically or do you steer from that entirely?
SPLENDID EMBLEM: [Collin] When we first began I incorporated my own drone machines/fx into our sets. But we’ve since moved on to more complex textures and sample based compositions which necessitated the shift to a purely software setup.
FPH: What inspires you to write the kind of music that you make? Are there artists that you feel have had a role in what you do?
SPLENDID EMBLEM: We try to create, with sound obviously, an interior space (architecture?) for the listener/performer that exists (shelters?), throughout the performance then disappears once it’s finished. As far as influences from other artists, yeah, all the heavies: Shaeffer, J Dilla, Feldman, Hall, Oates, Hosono, Ashley, Haino, Oliveros, etc.
FPH: You perform pretty rarely, and you release music in almost the same manner. Is there a fragility to how you approach things in that you operate differently than most music groups? Or do you see music as sacred and you want things to be as close to perfect before releasing tracks into the world?
SPLENDID EMBLEM: Well, first off, we don’t think of ourselves as a band. So touring, consistent content of performance, album release, merchandise, etc. don’t have much meaning for us. What determines whether we play a show or not is a conducive environment for our music to exist as it is meant to and other performers and artists who are complimentary/sympathetic to what we are trying to do.
FPH: For someone who has never heard your music or who hasn’t seen you perform, how would you describe Splendid Emblem to someone who hasn’t experienced it yet?
SPLENDID EMBLEM: A 10ft x 10ft x 10ft cube of completely translucent gelatin.
FPH: Your sets have all been different, sometimes behind a veil of secrecy, sometimes out in the open. Is there a plan behind each live performance and do you have something different planned for your set at Day for Night?
SPLENDID EMBLEM: Each performance we do consists of sound materials meticulously gathered beforehand then, through shared improvisation, the piece is realized as the performance happens.
You can catch Splendid Emblem when they perform on the Yellow Stage at 3 pm on Saturday December 17. You can catch them alongside acts like Aphex Twin, Butthole Surfers, Arca, and many more at this year’s Day for Night festival. The art and music festival takes place at the former Barbara Jordan Post Office in downtown Houston on December 17 and 18, with tickets for the all ages festival between $170 and $700.