Memory Tapes Fallout / House On Fire
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• June/July tour announcement soon
• Full-length album in the works
2. House On Fire
With the foundation of his musical life crumbling, Dayve Hawk was struggling to maintain a relationship with his project Memory Tapes. But through the difficulties, Hawk managed to keep this vital outlet going. Fallout / House On Fire, the new two-song digital single from Memory Tapes, exhibits Hawk’s still strong songwriting talents and an alternative way of working. After the artist’s last LP, Grace/Confusion, he saw several professional and personal relationships end, all in the space of a few months. At this point, most of the structure built around the band since the first record, Seek Magic, had disintegrated.
The title of “Fallout” seems to suggest Memory Tapes’ situation around this time. The song itself sounds like an early meeting between post-punk and synth-pop, before anyone could polish out the feeling. The somewhat downcast mood of the music is reflected in the vocals, with Hawk singing, “all I want/ to be there, too.”
“I felt pressure to not collapse under my own insecurity with the situation,” Hawk says of the period. “But with my second daughter becoming a toddler, I’ve found balancing the relationship between my work and my life increasingly difficult. It’s made me question the self-indulgent nature of my music. At a particularly low moment I trashed the entire album I had spent much of the past year working on.”
In the beautifully eerie, simple “House On Fire,” Hawk seems to address these problems with his lyrics. “I’m sorry for what I’ve done/ called out to everyone/ try it all, I’m so afraid,” he sings. The delicate guitar melody works as its own soothing apology, lulling the listener to forgiveness.
How Hawk pulled himself out of that low place was through a bit of reinvention. The new songs are the outcome of a more off-the-cuff relationship to creating music. The tracks are completely live/hardware based, with no computer manipulation on the vocals. Considering the raw capture of these songs, they feel a little more like intimate demos than part of a traditional single. “I feel like it’s important to just do something and get it out,” Hawk says. “I’m trying to transition out of my hyper-introverted life.”
Cover artwork by Margaret Durow
Memory Tapes is the project of musician Dayve Hawk. Growing up in New Jersey, Hawk retreated into his obsession for music at an early age. He began playing drums at the age of nine. Inspired by his makeshift vinyl collection of The Beatles and David Bowie, he began writing songs—recording homespun guitar tunes on a toy karaoke machine. Over the next decade, he recorded hundreds of tracks alone in his parents’ basement—never going to shows, never playing in bands, and rarely sharing the demos. After years of building synthesizers and recording tracks at home, while working the overnight shift at a grocery store, Hawk was convinced by fellow coworker Matt Maraldo to form the Philadelphia-based dance-punk act Hail Social in 2005. The band released two well-received albums and embarked on international tours, giving Hawk an exposure to youth culture and an expansive music scene he hadn’t experienced outside of his insular home recordings.
When the band broke up, Hawk moved back to rural New Jersey. With a newfound interest to share his music with a larger audience, he started a blog to post his new tracks, recorded under the trio of aliases Memory Cassette, Weird Tapes, and Memory Tapes. The hazy electronic tracks began to circulate around the internet, along with his buzzed-about remixes for songs by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Peter Bjorn & John, and Britney Spears.
After releasing a Memory Cassette EP, Hawk officially adopted the Memory Tapes moniker and released his debut LP, Seek Magic, in September 2009. With the Memory Tapes project, Hawk fleshed out his vision of experimental electronic music based on field recordings, and Seek Magic was greeted with praise from critics, landing at #23 on Pitchfork’s top albums of 2009. In 2011, Hawk followed Seek Magic’s success with his second full-length Player Piano, a record that adopted a fuller band sound in its Motown-inspired treatment. Memory Tapes also earned a Grammy nomination for Best Short Form Music Video for the Player Piano single “Yes I Know.”
Grace/Confusion, an experimental album of far-out pop hooks and epic instrumentals, was released in Dec. 2012. In an 8 out of 10 review, Spin called the LP “warm-blooded, definite, vulnerable, exposed.” Hawk returns on March 31, 2015, with a back-to-basics approach: a quickly recorded two-song digital single, Fallout / House On Fire.