Hiawatha: The Wavelength Interview

Purveyors of: Electro-psych-noise-trance-pop
File Next to:Throbbing Gristle, Night Slugs, Thrush Hermit

Hiawatha is the brainchild of electronic artist David Psutka, a.k.a. Egyptrixx. This scrapyard psychedelic blend of modern electronica and industrial music makes for a sound both full and cavernous. His second Egyptrixx release entitled Bible Eyes (Night Slugs) in 2011 was followed with relative immediacy by Hiawatha’s release Language on Last Gang Records in 2012. Since then, Psutka has been busy touring, juggling various music projects, and writing. Fortunately, he was able to fit us in for a few words about juggling multiple projects, the creative process, and electronic music.

While both your projects (Egyptrixx andHiawatha) share a certain ambience at times, Hiawatha has been referred to as more psychedelic. Would you describe it that way?

Sure, I think Hiawatha can be classified as more “psychedelic,” but it’s a slightly vague term and there are definitely psychedelic or strange sounds in both projects.

In a past interview, you’re quoted as saying, “I started working on new Egyptrixx material last fall and realized it was something else. What is it in particular that made those ideas not appropriate for your work? While exploring other sounds with Hiawatha, do you feel it is important to keep your Egyptrixx material separate so that you can — for lack of a better term —pick up where you left off and keep exploring that sound, separately and independently of the other project’s influence?

Both projects are pretty distinct at this point — Hiawatha is more spontaneous, “played,” noisy and melody-driven. Egyptrixx is much more rooted in “club” or electronic music sound palettes, and tends to centre around non-musical, structural ideas and concepts. As they’ve matured, they’ve become very distinct from one another in my opinion, but I haven’t released too much material from either one. I think they’re both pretty young projects still.

Seeing as you felt like the material wasn’t appropriate to Egyptrixx before it became a collaboration, how do you tell whether you’re growing or going in a new direction as an artist, or working on a separate project? Do you find it easy to make that call? Does it matter?

I guess it’s a matter of preference — some projects tend to be more plastic or flexible. Personally I’m into very narrow and strictly defined projects — I find them to be more pleasing as an artist but also as a listener (or viewer, etc.). Now that they’re both a few years in, they’re quite rigid sonically, conceptually, whatever.

As an electronic music artist do you feel your creativity is more restricted to your home/studio, or are you able to write new material while on the road? (Follow-up: Do you find writing and recording material are more often one and the same in electronic music as opposed to other kinds of music?)

To be honest, I don’t really think of electronic music as something separate or distinct from any other kind of music. Most records in the last few decades are made with DAWs, sampling, synths, etc. In my mind it’s all just music, and every project/record has its own method or variety of preferred studio techniques. I write a bit when I’m on the road, but do most of it in the studio.

Can you describe what Hiawatha is up to at the moment? Do you find yourself touring heavily during the summer and writing/recording less?

Hiawatha is playing the odd show. I’m touring a bit with my other projects and working on a handful of records. There is a lot of new Hiawatha material written, but I don’t have time to do the record just now. Hopefully soon.

—Interview by Anthony Damiao

Hiawatha plays “Wavelength’s Endless Summer” on Saturday August 16 at the Vintage & Flea Market, 1251 Dundas Street West at Dovercourt.