Interview by Tobias Carroll
Toronto’s Memoryhouse — comprised of composer Evan Abeele and vocalist Denise Nouvion — make thoroughly blissed-out music, at times reminiscent of a more ambient-focused Mojave 3. Their EP, The Years, is due to be reissued (in a remastered version) by Sub Pop next week; with an eye towards that, Abeele and I discussed literary influences, reading material, and more.
Virginia Woolf is thanked in the liner notes of The Years, and the EP features a song called “To the Lighthouse.” What prompted the inspiration and influence?
Though the songs on The Years EP draw from personal experience, Denise and I framed the EP around Virginia Woolf’s writings. The Years itself is a Virginia Woolf novel. Denise and I were both studying her work at the time, A Room of One’s Own being the big catalyst for me. I think that likely contributed to us using Memoryhouse as a band name, I was working on some elaborate study of rooms and houses in literature, and just spiraled into some weird obsession.
What was your first encounter with Woolf’s fiction?
My mother is a professor, and growing up, it was pretty difficult to walk into a room in our house without tripping over a large stack of books. So in a way, Woolf has been pretty pervasive thorough my childhood, but I didn’t really begin to dig deeper until I entered university.
Have you sought literary inspiration for any other songs in your body of work — whether it be thematic or based around certain striking images?
I think a lot of our songs draw from literature. I’m a big fan of James Joyce, and I’m always looking at ways to work him into our music. “Modern and Normal” is a poetry collection that Denise was really inspired by, which worked it’s way into our songwriting. In short, we’re very big literature nerds, so I think it will invariably be a part of our writing.
What are you currently reading?
The Pale King by David Foster Wallace has been a very heartbreaking and consuming read for me as of late.
What are some of the books that have stayed with you over the years?
Gosh, too many to name. James Joyce’s short story, “The Dead”, will likely stay with me forever. At least I hope it does.
(Photo: Derek O’Donnell)