I have to be honest—this is one of my favorite editions of Bands Interviewing Bands, and it’s because it touches on so many important aspects of our lives, including one that’s incredibly dear to me, climate change. Throughout the interview, both our artists, Output 1:1:1 and Portes show true introspection and curiosity for not only each other’s music, but the message behind it. It makes for an incredible and compelling interview, and I can’t wait for you to read it!
PORTES: What was the inspiration for “Issue at Track Level”?
Output 1:1:1 : The most immediate inspiration for the song came from a series of panic attacks that occurred relatively close together. For a long time I was suppressing feelings of overwhelming dread. Allowing myself to live in my head for so long, I would, and occasionally still do, catastrophize and find difficulty trusting others. Living in a state like that, it was easy to grasp onto toxic thought about myself and those around me. Becoming aware of that element of my mind, it became a challenge to trust myself and to know that I wasn’t the sum of these anxieties, but rather a part of me. I think writing about it in an abstract sense was therapeutic for me – it felt like a more honest expression of what I have been dealing with. I wanted to let the music convey as much as it could the confusion and discomfort that were associated with those feelings.
Output 1:1:1: Hey PORTES, I was interested by your inclusion of your 8 year-old son on Human. Was this your first time bringing family into the recording process? Could you talk a little about the experience of doing so?
PORTES: Yes actually, this was the first time I included my son on a track. It just seemed very fitting for him to be the future of the song. He loves to sing and dance and he does it all the time. I wanted the word, “Human” to be sung, but I knew it was going to be a harmony, rather than me sing them, I worked with him on the vocals at home before we went into The Spot Studios to record. He loves to perform, but I had to coach him in the vocal booth and mouth the words with him. He got it though and I was very proud of him, of course.
PORTES: Can you describe how the visual arts inform your music?
Output 1:1:1: I took painting over the last two years, after the EP was recorded/mixed. My therapist suggested I engage in “ludica” – the concept of play. We discussed the feeling of needing a product to come out of a period of creation – You and I are musicians, we make music, and when we are taking time to be creative we must have a song at the end of it. I think that sense of commodity is why you have a great deal of creatives who are opposed to ideals associated with branding and corporate sales. Removing that demand of productivity from my creative time is a serious challenge and painting was an easy way to do it. I’m not a painter, and if you dig into my instagram, you’ll see a number of scratched out pieces. I guess visual arts reminds me create freely, to explore ideas and commit to them – it’s a lot harder to erase paint.
Output 1:1:1: Human directly confronts one of the biggest catastrophes of our time, and I can imagine that parenthood, and concern for your child plays a strong part of how you approach it. Recently, a 16-year-old has impressed the ramifications of climate inaction upon world leaders in a way no one felt they could do until they saw her act. Greta Thunberg’s “How dare you” has rung throughout the world with incredible urgency, surprising many who have said to themselves “What can I do about it?”
Do you relate to your younger self through your music, and in this song particularly?
PORTES: I remember in seventh grade writing a paper about overpopulation, in seventh grade! I think I was cognizant of these social and ecological issues then, but maybe not as actively engaged in repairing harm to our environment. It’s difficult to have that maturity sometimes. I wish I had been more active in recycling or nature back then, but I had other interests. Thunberg is certainly an inspiration for a lot of people, including me. When I started writing music in high school I was writing about war, as I aged, I had more maturity and clarity.
PORTES: Besides your music collaborators, who else is really supportive of your music?
Output 1:1:1: My partner has been incredibly supportive, especially when it takes from our time together. She wants to make sure that no internal difficulties get in the way of this project. She’s also incredible at helping me through a panic attack.
My family is also very supportive, they’re happy I’m doing it. I haven’t shown much of the new material to my father yet. He’s a worrier, and when he hears it I’m afraid he’ll blame himself for what I went through in order to make the music – which isn’t the case at all.
Output 1:1:1: How has working through these frustrations in Human helped you? Has it helped you discover new methods of fighting, or perhaps reengaged the fight within you?
PORTES: It has helped me in so many ways to express my true feelings. In that way, especially with having my son sing on the track, it’s my legacy to him. I’m telling him that I do care and I’m willing to fight for what is right and good.
PORTES: How have you moved through your own self-discovery creating Retroactive Rock Record?
Output 1:1:1: When I started, I only had assumptions of what was I felt was wrong. I was fortunate and had access to therapy, which was covered through Ontario’s Healthcare plan. When I found that out and went, my therapist and I worked through a lot of the things I wrote about for the EP. For one thing, I’ve learned that it’s never the case that when I write about an issue and it’s cured – that’s a bit naive. I may write about the same thing in one hundred ways, but it will still be a part of me. And that’s not necessarily a terminal diagnosis. I can live with that part of me knowing it doesn’t make the whole of who I am.
PORTES: What do you hope the listeners learn hearing this record?
Output 1:1:1: I hope people can connect in some way with a moment expressed in the EP. It doesn’t need to be a 1:1 experience or “I’ve been through that exact thing” but just a connection. I didn’t make this thinking “I’m making THE depression record” like it was an after school special or a great moment for humanity. I only know my own experiences with it, and I hope listeners can relate in their own ways.
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Bands Interviewing Bands: Output 1:1:1 (top) Photo Credit: Emma Letki. Portes (bottom) photo credit: Sierra Voss Photography