Alex Cohen (Alex Napping): With most electronic music, there are a lot limitations that come with a live performance and figuring out how to perform those compositions live can be tricky. You currently perform as a 3-piece (and it's super tight and I love it, btw!), but if you could have the live set up of your dreams what would it look like? Who and what gear/instruments/performers would it include?
Nandi Rose Plunkett (Half Waif): You’re definitely right that it’s a challenge to recreate the recordings with a three-piece, and to some extent we do try to do that, but in other ways we like to adapt the songs specifically for a live setting. Which is to say, sometimes the best thing isn’t to recreate that synth bass part, but to approximate the feel with another instrument.
If I could have any instruments/performers on hand though (I love this question), I’d gravitate first to bass clarinet, which is one of my favorite instruments. And I think I’d like to have my friend Ng Chor Guan join us -- he is a master theremin player. If I’m dreaming big, I’d want Johnny Greenwood to write some wild string parts that my pals the Mivos Quartet could perform. And then I’d ask Emily from Florist to add some modular synth action.
AC: I have another project where I make and record music from home. Something that's a struggle for me is accepting that a song is finished when there are no constraints like studio time, other's availability to collaborate, etc. How do you know when to stop writing and commit?
NRP: Great question – I think for me, I’m a really impatient person. I’m dying for something to be done so I can move on to the next thing. These days, I’m working on many songs at once. And I do often ask myself, Is this as good as it can be? Am I too hasty to finish things that really need more breathing room and time? But when all the colors have run out in one song, when I’ve squeezed all the tubes and kind of painted in that one color palette for a while, I’m ready to move on to whatever’s next. I don’t like to dwell in my music. I do that enough in my mind.
AC: You've talked about how form/a is sort of about communicating and creating forms for your moods through music and have described yourself as a very emotional/moody person. I also identify as a hyper-emotional person but have, in the past, shied away from overtly embracing my sensitivity, especially in my art, because of female stereotypes and the unfortunate negativity that's associated with it. Even though form/a is it about your personal experiences, particularly within your current relationship, was it at all your intention to inspire a larger conversation about the harmful myth of the "chill" woman/girlfriend by being so upfront about experiencing intense emotions?
NRP: I hadn’t necessarily thought of that, but that’s a really interesting idea. As I’m getting older, I feel like I don’t want to constrain myself anymore by trying to be something I’m not. I don’t want to waste energy wondering if I’m being the right person, if I’m saying or doing the right thing, if people will accept me. I do still think about those things, because I’m human, but I’ve become more and more aware of how tiresome it is. So with form/a, and with my musical life in general, I’m stripping back some outer layers to get at the crux of myself, and I’m finding that being myself is so much easier than being anything else! Sure, sometimes it’s hard and weird to be honest, with myself and with others, about my relationship and my family and my life, but it’s the most natural thing to do. This has also helped me with my nerves when performing – I’ve always had pretty bad stage fright, so recently I’ve found that if I’m just 100% me onstage, being goofy or whatever when I interact with the audience, it calms me down. Because I don’t need to know any correct lines or social cues, I already know how to be me!
In regards to what you said, I really like the idea of this fearless honesty (which isn’t to say I always achieve that, just that I’m striving for it) can be a part of the growing conversation of what it means to be female or female-identifying in today’s society. It means embracing all aspects of our persona – the hard and the soft, the chill and the wild – and wearing them loud and proud.