Twine, Unraveled




Based in Austin and Baltimore respectively, Chad Mossholder and Greg Malcolm comprise Twine, a musical duo that produces ambient electronica punctuated by ghostly vocals and oddly soothing instrumentals. Working within the confines of the geographical distance that lies between them, the two create their music in a virtual space—layering, remixing, and completing one another’s creations—a process that ultimately results in a starkly beautiful musical palimpsest. In recent years, Twine has taken something of a backseat to the busy personal and professional lives of both members-kids, significant others, careers in the video game (Mossholder) and wireless telecom (Malcolm) industries, but 2011 will see the “relaunch” of Twine. After last hearing from Mossholder at the time of the release of Immobilité (the world’s first full-length film shot on a cell phone, for which he was the sound artist), we recently had the chance to catch up with both members of Twine.

KATIE MENDELSON: Chad, how has your work evolved since the release of Immobilité? Are you still creating cell-phone films?

CHAD MOSSHOLDER: Mark Amerika and I are continually working on new film and multimedia projects. Immobilité is still going strong and displaying around the world. Mark is a good friend, and I love working with him. He’s a brilliant artist and writer. He’s all about experimentation, so we’ve clicked from the very beginning of our artistic relationship. We are not working on any new cell-phone films currently, but we have many other projects in the works.

MENDELSON: What is Twine’s collaborative process like? What can you make together that you can’t on your own?

MOSSHOLDER: Greg and I have an interesting collaborative process. Our process allows us to work in fragments. We create a common virtual space where we can deposit ideas, sounds, song fragments, and sometimes complete thoughts. We can each go to this space and audition the ideas, which inevitably spark new ideas and lead to a final complete track. In a sense, we inspire one another. This is what makes Twine a group and not a solo project. There is a constant give-and-take of creative ideas.

GREG MALCOLM: Although this is the model that we use, we really don’t have an orthodoxy to the collaboration; sometimes the songs are almost 100% our own material, and sometimes the songs come from a live show that has been edited down to track length, and then sometimes the “Twine” method is used. I have been told that we are like Voltron: able to operate independently, but we can come together when needed, and make the sum greater than the parts.

MENDELSON: What is that “sum”? How would you describe Twine’s sound?

MALCOLM: Neither Chad nor I are purists in the sense that we claim some allegiance to some kind of look or some kind of sound, or that we will only work in this genre or that genre. I have noticed that as we and our friends get older the trend is to become more tribalistic in that some people will say, “I only listen to tech-house,” or, “jump-up is the only real jungle,” cutting oneself off from other kinds of influences. With Twine, we did not want this to happen, we wanted to have a pathway to real evolution and collaboration, and I think we have achieved this over 10 years. About our sound, it reminds of the definition of porn—I can’t define it, but I know what it is when I see (hear) it.

MENDELSON: What influences that sound?

MOSSHOLDER: Influences come from everything: film, literature, art, music, life in general. I can say that lately I’ve been enjoying My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless again, as well as Angels of Light, old Cure like Seventeen Seconds, The Grateful Dead, old Sonic Youth, Jesper Kyd’s game music, Bear McCreary’s TV scores, and Bernard Herrmann’s works, to name just a few. I try to listen to at least one thing I’ve never heard before each day. And I practice my art every day. Practicing your art helps you digest your influences and transform them into something new. So I may write five pieces of music in a week that will never be released, but that are essential to future works that will be released.

MALCOLM: Chad and I have known each other for over 20 years, and we have been best friends for most of that time, so we have an enormous amount of influences in common. (I listen to more classic soul than Chad, but I happily digress.) I listen to everything with a critical ear, and I feel that I am constantly taking in influences, be it the creaky overhead fan at a coffee shop or the echo-laden happenstances of sound bouncing in the alleys off the row homes in Baltimore, it’s all about being open and curious; in fact, I would say curiosity is probably the most important quality to being not only a good musician, but a more fulfilled person.

MENDELSON: What lies in the future for Twine?

MOSSHOLDER: We are currently refilling our virtual idea space. I’ve been very busy writing music for video games, working on film scores, and doing art installations, but I’m ready to do another Twine album. I know our sound will once again evolve. I can tell you that I’ve been playing a lot of guitar lately, so more of that will be in the new album. I’ve also been working with a lot of orchestral music for games and film, so, maybe something cinematic, moody with a lot of guitar experimentation.

MALCOLM: Chad and I are basically going back to the drawing board and we will attempt to “re-launch” Twine sometime later this year. We had a very long waiting period for our last album; the label sat on the release for almost five years, during which time Twine lost a lot of momentum, and then life in general started to take more and more of our time. I am in the process of building up a local promotion co-op that will help worthy musical acts in the area connect with interested venues and fans, minus all the “scene” baggage. Of course, Twine will be headlining and supporting many of these shows, so perhaps after this becomes a success I can fly Chad out to Baltimore and the Voltron can form again. Expect some good things from Twine in the very near future.