Strands: The Wavelength Interview

Purveyors of: Lo-fi looping melodies making love with floating heads on fire.
File next to: Weaves, tUnE-yArDs, white overalls being engulfed in flames.
Playing: WL17 All-Ages Matinee, Saturday Feb. 18 @ The Monarch Tavern. Get tickets here!

Strands are an eclectic, wild mix of projected flames, puppetry, looped distorted songs, and white overalls. Powered by Jasmyn Burke (Weaves) and visual artist Rosalie Maheux, the experimental duo have put on some entertaining performances that are nothing like you’ve ever seen. Rosalie employs an old-school overhead projector to bring her visuals to life. Jasmyn sings with a minimal setup. The results are magic. Wavelength’s Rebecca Hong sits down with one half of Strands — Jasmyn — for a chat.

So how did this collaboration between you and Rosalie come together?

We used to work together, and Rose was having an art opening and asked if I wanted to play my solo set. It was a really fun night and after seeing each other’s work we just organically decided we wanted to start collaborating.

With your main project, Weaves, and your side project, Strands, I notice similar themes in your name choices. What does Strands mean, and does it relate to Weaves in any way?

I love hair. It’s my obsession. I like to chop mine off when I’m bored and dye it when the seasons change. I love that it just keeps growing and is this funny malleable entity on our heads that expresses who we are in said year or month.

My first band was named Rattail, so Weaves felt like a continuation of my music. Then with Strands, I thought about each separate entity, and I guess going out on my own Strands felt like the natural name choice.

In your performances, you mix these amazing visuals (including your face with glowing demonic eyes, floating words, and flames) on a projector with your vocals and a loop pedal. I specifically remember your face being lit on fire. Are your performances improvisational?

There are elements of improvisation, but all materials used have been previously created by Rosalie, and I have the basis of each song but might go off on a looping tangent. We rehearse a lot before a show so that we can have a more spur-of-the-moment experience while on stage.

We also are always trying to build the performance. I am constantly writing new music, whether for Weaves or Strands, so we try and insert new songs and visuals into every performance just to keep it fresh. At the same time it’s all very primitive. We’re using an old school projector and I only use two pedals. It’s very raw and almost satanic yet childlike, because our resources are limited and we are trying to evoke some sort of analytical thought through voice and visuals. All these elements make it a fun challenge as we flow through each song.

According to your Instagram, it looks like you have a lot in store, including papier-mâché objects. Is this a new addition to Strands’ performance?

Yes! We have giant papier-mâché pieces we built for a little project we had on the side but are not going to use as part of the set. Flames everywhere. Burn down patriarchy. Rosie is a sculpture and mixed media artist, so incorporating more of her world into the set is exciting.

Mouth making

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The first time I saw Strands was at Long Winter last year, but you’ve had many shows since then. Has your style evolved since, after collaborating for a while?

I guess that was one of our first shows last year, so we were still figuring what we want to say. We have really only done a handful of shows since I was on tour a lot last year, but I think we’re just getting more comfortable and trying to push ourselves as artists. It’s this simple concept that feels unique to our personalities, and that’s what makes it feel like this special little moment each time we play. We never really know if we’ll play again, or if it will be six months later, so the spontaneity keeps it refreshing.

With the world plummeting into chaos as we speak, what are some tips you can share to take care of oneself through the winter and beyond?

Drink lots of water. Drink lots of tea. Read books. Apply lotion. Have lots of sex. Cut your hair. Grow your hair. Buy yourself flowers. Self-love. Purchase platform shoes. Attend protests. Meet someone outside of your circle. Turn off your phone. Unfollow that person. Make art all the time. Smile. Walk around your city or town. Follow your instincts.

Long winter last year!

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What can the good folks at Wavelength expect at your show at The Monarch Tavern on Saturday Feb 18?

White overalls for sure, so Rosie can project onto me. Improvisational dance moves. We love to dance and laugh. Feelings. Lots of feelings.

Get your overalls washed in time to catch Strands play our afternoon all-ages matinee this Saturday for Wavelength 17!

— Interview by Rebecca Hong