Expect the unexpected

Him is the musical project of Auckland's Jazmine Rose Phillips. Photo: Supplied
Him is the musical project of Auckland's Jazmine Rose Phillips. Photo: Supplied
Him is the musical project of Auckland's Jazmine Rose Phillips, performed live with the help of Aaron Longville on saxophone and Saoirse Chapman on synth, and her latest album, Snakes at Night, is her most ambitious yet.

It contains eight fluid, unravelling songs which could be described as alt-folk, but aren't really well explained by any label. They're melancholy and haunting, with spacious arrangements and rich production. Sparing use of auto tune and delay help build these haunting worlds, ready to explore, while sax meanders throughout, a foreign textural entity among the watery ambience. In short, it's worth a listen, and then another.

I caught up with Jazmine to glean some insights into what this project was about before her gig at Dog With Two Tails next weekend.

Q What does the name Him represent?

It's simply a collection of letters that make a sound I like, I was seeking a name to go by a few years ago and did a meditation and that's the sound that landed.

Q For people who aren't familiar with your music, how would you describe it?

I wouldn't describe it. That's a very hard question. I think if I had the words to describe it, I wouldn't play it as music.

Q What is the process of creating your music? Where does it come from and how do you go from the idea to these dense arrangements?

Usually just a feeling that needs to be shared: it's home, spirit, secrets ... in the beginning, it comes from my heart and guts, I'm not sure it's ever an idea ... As for the arrangement, I usually play/record the spine of the song, the guitar/vocals/loops and I like to do it in one take if I can and then just add anything that feels like it understands. Then I have Aaron playing saxophone, so I usually tell him a bunch of nonsense instructions and say let's try to get it in one take, and somehow he does very beautiful things. I suppose I'm saying I don't know, a collection of sounds falling.

Q How would you describe the overlap between your performance art and your music?

I suppose the desire and the thing that makes me do performance art and music comes from a similar place: the seeing, feeling and understanding. Wanting people to see feel and understand. As ``practices'' they overlap in the sense that I use sound in my performance art works and vice versa. But the very visceral motivation, the need, that's how they overlap. And the inside of it, I can't take that out.

Q What should audiences expect from the live performance?

I would say it's never good to expect anything. I would be frightened of expecting. Come willing.

The gig

Him New Zealand album release tour, Dog With Two Tails, Sunday, June 16, 8pm. $10 on the door. Support TBA

For more from Fraser Thompson go to dunedinsound.com.

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