Mirza Ramic from Arms And Sleepers answered a few questions for us while touring Europe promoting the new single Hurry Slowly and celebrating the band’s return from hiatus.
An interview by Silviu Danaila (Philosopheon) with Mirza Ramic of Arms and Sleepers.
1. First of all how would you describe in your own words the metaphor represented by “Arms and Sleepers”?
Well, it means different things to each of us. For me personally, it loosely represents a realization I had as a child that some people are good at controlling weapons and using them against other human beings (“arms”) while those unaffected by such actions turn a blind eye (“sleepers”). However, this never meant to be a political statement or anything like that, but rather a personal observation that has carried on with me.
2. Your sound is very cinematic, were there any movies that influenced you in the act of creation?
Absolutely – films are extremely important to us when it comes to creating music. There have been numerous movies that have truly impacted us – probably most people familiar with A/A/S know about our love for Pedro Almodovar, but some other movies that have really touched us are Kontrol, Sex and Lucia, Elegy, Brick, The Squid and the Whale, The Lives of Others, The Secret in Their Eyes, Drive, etc. The list goes on and on.
3. Your music is generally described as post-rock I would go for smart eclectic post rock soundscapes. Were there any bands that specifically influenced you when you composed the music?
We really dislike our music being labeled as post-rock because other than a few songs in our 100+ song catalog, we don’t hear much resemblance to what is generally described as post-rock music (a loose term to begin with). We barely use guitars and we barely use live drums, for example. If we must label our music, I think “electronic music” is much more accurate. In particular with our last couple of releases and our upcoming full-length album, there is pretty much nothing to suggest that our songs are post-rock. It seems that most people (musicians and music listeners alike) are starting to get quite tired of hearing this term, so maybe it’s time to put it to rest and search for something new. In terms of bands that have had an influence on us as musicians, there are many: from the Beatles to the Beastie Boys to Nine Inch Nails to Air to Sage Francis to Kanye West to Why? to Pinback to Max Richter to Chopin to Anita Baker to Jan Jelinek to Baths… on and on.
4. During live shows what do you like more to do, experiment and improvise on the basis of the existing album songs or you would like to recreate the recorded material as faithfully as possible?
I’d say the latter because the music is closely linked to the visuals (which are synced to each song played live) so there is not that much room for improvisation. That being said, we tend to be a bit more aggressive live, adding more synths, delay, and other effects – it’s both more fun for us and I think more interesting for the audience. Also on this tour, most of the live set is made up of new, unreleased songs, so there’s definitely been some improvisation taking place.
5. How did you choose the remixes for the Matador remixed ? Was there a carefully planned and scheduled selection or you decided to do the album based on the remixes that you found or received and then came with the idea to do a remixed version of Matador?
I wouldn’t say it was too carefully planned. We simply liked the idea of asking friends to recreate songs off of Matador, an album which we had been working on for a very long time and which we were honestly quite tired of hearing. So we asked our musician friends to do their own thing and remix some of these songs, which they did wonderfully.
6. Can You describe the process of how a song is being selected to be made a video and how that video is being constructed/created around your musical insight?
Really depends – it can be any song, depending on our own mood. There is no formula for how videos are constructed – we tend to work with many other artists, and we trust their taste in matching the mood of the video to the mood of the song. So it’s a collaborative and organic process, and if we are unhappy with something, we say it and then we start from scratch.
7. What are your hopes and plans for the future of Arms and Sleepers?
To never again be called post-rock! No but really, just to continue to evolve as a group and to never ever create the same record twice, no matter how much others might want us to do that. Change is great, and as long as we can, we’ll continue to do so.
Arms And Sleepers will perform live in Romania this month, on 19th in Cluj-Napoca at Electric Castle Festival, on the 20th in Iasi and on the 21st in Bucharest at Control Club alongside the local act Modern Ghosts of the Road. You can check out the event’s page here.