Introducing: Heatherwood + Trade Winds Recs
Heatherwood is a new, Russian dream-pop duo who recently caught my attention with their incredibly gorgeous debut EP, FYR. It was digitally released just a few weeks ago on the freshly launched, Puerto-Rico-based label, Trade Winds. These two adorable 17-year-old lovers (Maskim and Darya) have spent the last several months locked away in their bedroom, meticulously recording what is now one of my absolute favorite EPs of the year.
FYR is glowing with youthful optimism. Endless possibilities.
Stream the EP and read a few words from Maskim of Heatherwood + a short interview with the founder of Trade Winds (Jordan Beard of Escucharemos ) below:
We are from Novosibirsk. Heatherwood is the kind of thing that started from good times spent together with Darya. We would just go to my flat, watch movies, listen to music, discuss everything, and then we began to make music. Eden was our first track, so I just recorded a raw sketch of the music and then Darya recorded amazing vocals to it. We were so excited with it, so we decided to make something more. Later we worked with our friend Aleksey Tebyakin to record the bass line of “Eden”, and Andrey Smorgonsky on “Insight”. We played a live show with Andrey too.
So, here we are.
We really love bands like My Bloody Valentine of course, and a lot of other 90′s shoegaze bands, like Slowdive, Curve, Majesty Crush, etc. Darya especially likes a lot of new-wave bands like The Cure, Depeche Mode , Tears for Fears, Joy Division, Sad Lover, Giants and more. But of course we love a lot of today’s music as well.
I really don’t know what will happen in the future. I think we need to make an LP for next summer. But how it will turn out– nobody knows. Maybe I will make some sort of solo release. That’s really difficult to discuss right now.
So you’ve been running your blog Escucharemos for quite awhile now, is Trade Winds an extension of the blog? What initially inspired the idea?
I started Escucharemos back when I was sixteen, in the coldest part of a Boston winter. I wanted travel and adventure. Most of the music that goes up on the blog was birthed from somewhere quite far away. Many of the artists that I’ve worked with constantly remind me how universal my desires can be. This new Trade Winds project was born out of the same yearning for more, for exploration and beyond.
I began thinking about creating a label sometime last summer, somewhere in between a mountain peak and a sandy beach. That was the summer before I set off for school. It was my last time at home for a while. I was ready to go beyond, to learn and to live. I wanted to explore some old misty city. I started playing around with different logos and fonts and all that stuff. But then I was at school. After a couple of months, I again wanted something distant. I wanted something distant to be familiar. I let things sit for then. I forgot about the idea.
I spent the month of May living in Havana, Cuba. There I studied Cuban hip-hop and how many Cuban rappers were striving to use music as a medium for social expression and political activism. I met many immensely talented artists there. They were creating the realest music. Even though I didn’t consider hip-hop one of my go-to genres, the emotions I found in Cuban rap were unmistakably beautiful. They are there, hidden in bedrooms across the country— small studios, old computers running bootlegged versions of music production software like Fruity Loops and Reason. We spent nights talking about all the challenges they faced—and listening to Run-DMC. I knew it was not the closet recording setups or the general lack of resources that hindered their so-called success. In those cramped rooms, with graffitied Cuban flags stretched across peeling walls, there was so much. I realized that much of the music I listen to, and a lot of the music that keeps the internet-based music mill churning, comes from artists working with almost the exact same recording resources. However, my Cuban ‘oh-mees’ were lacking the ability to distribute their music. Explaining the blogosphere to someone that has never used the internet (unless you count a state-run intranet) proved to be almost impossible. Many of these artists, who spent their days rapping about women’s rights and educating many with verses about the island’s dense racial history, were signed to a state-run label/PR agency, La Agencia de Rap Cubano, which only distributes music and promotes within the national market– making it more or less almost impossible for their music to spread outside of Cuba. Some artists try to work outside the system, I think the DVD full videos of duo’s performances, which a waiter slipped to me at alongside the check, probably falls into that category. In most parts of the world, musical distribution has largely inverted. Not so long ago you had to first ‘make it big’ in your hometown before there was any chance that someone in a different country would be bumpin’ your jams. Unless you’re Rodriguez, I suppose. In many ways, the dive bar has been replaced by a soundcloud account. It was during my time in Cuba that I finally understood how much I’d taken all of this for granted. Several young artists have told me recently that they aren’t really thinking about making it ‘big’ and that desire been largely replaced with the satisfaction and encouragement of making it ‘wide’—seeing last.fm scrobbles and bandcamp downloads from dozens of countries. For many young artists, the horizon has become the home front, and the internet the all-important mechanism in this madness.
Trade Winds is about connection. The project is about defying distance. It is about conversations only possible with google translate. It is about doing something so personal that it becomes universal— something your own, in your own space, maybe in your own language, and compressing it to an mp3 and sending it across town, across the pond. The world is shrinking everyday. I want Trade Winds to expand that distant horizon. I want to know everything about the edge of understanding.
How exactly did you find out about Heatherwood?
I have no idea how I found out about Heatherwood—but I remember when. One of those June Evenings, I was biking across a bridge over the Charles River, crossing into Boston. It was absolutely pouring—but I was jamming out to some Blackbird Blackbird perfection. Then my iphone shuffled to the next song. The intro felt like that same dreamcraft. As it continued I realized that I’d never heard the song before. A minute later, dripping under an awning, I googled Heatherwood. After a couple results for some golf course in Ohio and a few real estate websites, I found a bandcamp page from Novobirsik, Russia. I needed to hear more. I needed to tell everyone about these two Russian 17 year olds. So I sent Maksim an email asking if they were going to record any more songs. I wanted to help him and Darya release something in the future. He told me that they had a few songs floating around the interwebs and that he would love to pull them together into a short EP. I spent the next week listening to a handful of .wav’s that he emailed me. Then Trade Winds set sail.
In the week before the FYR EP was released, through email conversations, Maskim opened up and introduced his life, his relationship with Darya, his studies, his music, his city, his present, his future—but every time I go back and listen to ‘Eden’— I learn something new. Something I should’ve always known was there.
FYR EP is the debut release on Trade Winds, but I know you mentioned that you’ve got some upcoming releases in the works. Can you tell us about what artists you are planning on working with?
Yeah, there are handful of things in the works. These things come from places that I really want to visit—but very distant and different places. I’ve got a release lined up from a young Swedish artist. There are also plans for a little something from one of my favorite Venezuelan acts. Linda Sjöquist is honest, intuitive and poetic. I’m very excited. Swedish pop and Spanish songstresses are two of my favorite things in life. I’m also very much on the prowl for some Spanish dream pop here in Granada. I’ll have to get back to you about that though.
Will Trade Winds be a digital only label?
For a little while at least. When something physical does come out in the next few months it’ll be quite special— not just a 7” or LP release. It’ll be something crafted with several media, something visual and visceral. Preparations have begun. It shall be swell. But for now, releases are simply metaphysical. The internet is the place to be.
Lastly, what are your future goals for Trade Winds? Where do you see it going?
I really want to keep Trade Winds simple, but I’d love to add a sort of filmic dimension to future releases. Also, I foresee artists continuing to join in from all parts. With time I could see Trade Winds making a quick stop in real life too. I just want to continue to collaborate and get to know people in far off places; I want to go to Novobirsik, to Malmö, to Maracaibo—I want to see the horizon up close. I will walk these cities at a misty dawn, observing with my eyes or maybe, well at least for now, with my ears.
Alright— sinking behind the Sierra Nevada, which seems to envelop the city at this time of night, the sun has long set here in Granada. The Spanish sky is purple and pink and blue. I am still jetlagged. Buenas noches.