April 13th, 2009 | Interviews

paul rodriguez | styling by ton y van van | hair by devin joplin | make-up by tsipporah liebman using mac cosmetics

Stream: Glasser “Apply”


Glasser is Cameron Mesirow using GarageBand in a shoe store and playing live with Matt Popieluch and friends. She works days helping artist Mike Kelley (who you will remember from your Sonic Youth album covers) and sounds like Terry Riley four-tracking with Linda Perhacs but today she is thinking about Ace of Base and Trent Reznor. She speaks now after resisting a Diet Coke. This interview by Chris Ziegler.

When Glasser goes slumming for coke, it’s actually Diet Coke?

Cameron Mesirow: Yeah. It’s a pretty sobering experience. It’s not the same as regular coke. You know, people are always like, ‘You’re totally not drunk anymore after you hit these fat rails.’ And it’s kind of true about Diet Coke, too. If you drink enough, the caffeine will take over your drunkness.
I was specifically taught in a psychology class that you’re not supposed to give a drunk person caffeine because then you get a hyper drunk person.
I don’t want to argue with science, but I guess we’re just a whole bunch of miracles waiting to happen.
What was the first song you’ve listened to today?
I don’t know what the first song I heard was, but the first song I was thinking about when I woke up was ‘All That She Wants’ by Ace of Base. The first words of that song were [sings] ‘When she woke up late in the morning light and the day has just begun,’ and I woke up and it was like [sings intro synth riff] in my mind and I was like, ‘Whoa, it’s time to wake up.’
You’ve turned into an Ace of Base song. How does that feel?
Pretty cool. I feel like adulthood is all about doing all the things that you thought would be really cool as a kid. Like living in my own apartment. One thing that really blew my 12-year-old dome was when I was asked to be on an Urban Outfitters compilation. It was something that I felt unsure about. But then part of me was like ‘Do it for the kid who used to go to Urban Outfitters.’ They paid me in gift certificates and I’m almost ready to start getting gag gifts. It’s really embarrassing because every time I go I have to explain to them that I get this huge discount and they don’t understand because they’re listening to Nickelback or something.
What does Nickelback sound like?
I have no idea—I don’t know why I just said that. I would say there might be an element of a Cypress Hill type of vibe. I really like Cypress Hill. I saw Cypress Hill in concert when I was 13—The Smoke and Groove Tour. It’s actually kind of a big occasion in my life. I can’t really smoke pot because it makes me go insane but that concert that was the end of my pot-smoking career. I was like already through my pot phase and I was like 13 at the Smoke and Grooves Tour going, ‘Well, I think I better do it here.’ And I did and I had a totally amazing experience. Ziggy Marley played at Shoreline Amphitheatre in the Bay Area and I was lying in the grass staring at the giant screens and Ziggy Marley’s face was so big and I felt like it was getting pressed into my forehead or something.
What’s a typical day like working for Mike Kelley?
Working for Mike is really insane but one time when I was cleaning up there—when I first started, I was sort of a janitor—someone was like, ‘There’s a pile of trash over there, can you just wade through it and see if there’s any important paperwork in there?’ And in the pile was Trent Reznor’s phone number. And I thought, ‘I guess this is trash,’ and so I threw it away. And people keep asking me why I didn’t keep it to prank call him but that’s totally rude.
You’re totally pure at heart.
Yeah, I mean—I want to fuck him like an animal. God, why did I just say that? No, I don’t want to fuck him like an animal but I really like that song a lot. I wish I hadn’t said that. And I really admire him for teaming up with 50 Cent on that remix. At least he’s better than Chris Cornell.
You’re really keeping tabs on everyone from 1994.
What, B-Real and Chris Cornell aren’t relevant to you for some reason?
Not to make this sad but do you know what today is the fifteenth anniversary of?
I do know! I will never forget the impact that that had on my life. It was just enormous. I was in 5th grade and we did current events, and I was probably doing some report about mistreated migrant workers—my human rights chapter—and this other kid was such a fucking idiot but he was like, ‘I don’t know if it’s bad news or what but the singer of Nirvana offed himself.’ And it was like an earthquake in my heart.
These are some poetic statements for 12:30pm on a Sunday.
See, I don’t need caffeine. I don’t need drugs. I’m trying to kick sugar. I’m trying to be free of these things and I’m higher than ever. It was really hard because you get the most insane headaches when you’re addicted to caffeine. I’ve been letting myself go with the Diet Coke. This morning, I was like, ‘I could really go for a crisp Diet Coke right now.’ I’m also pumped up with tons of Claritin right now. I’ve evacuated all of my brain mucus.
Is this EP all the songs you did on GarageBand?
Actually, it is. Everything I do is on GarageBand which is something that is really unintentional but it’s great. I did all of these songs on GarageBand. The first two songs I did a year ago or so and it was just the beginning of Glasser and nobody had heard anything from me—they’re virginal Glasser songs. I did them all over the place. I was working for a friend who had a shoe store and whenever it was really dead in there, I’d have my laptop and I would just riff and people would come in and I’d be mid-scream. I’d be so embarrassed but then all these fancy shoe ladies would try and hook me up with their record-producing friends. Nothing came of it—yet. But pretty soon people are going to be like, ‘I knew her. She worked at the shoe place!’
How did that affect shoe sales?
I don’t want to take any credit or anything for how the shoe sales went THROUGH THE ROOF! Actually, I’m hoping to get sponsorship from Apple because I’ve done so much with their software. I think it would be a good idea. I mean—I’ve wanted to do music forever but I’ve just been a singer and secretly interested in doing music but I could never convince anyone that I had potential for some reason. I had a number of people kind of laugh at me. I have a lot of guy friends in bands and whenever I was like, ‘Hey, can I sing with your band?’ or ‘I have this idea for a band’ and people would be like ‘With you? I don’t know.’ Because I didn’t do anything. I didn’t outwardly sing in front of everyone but I felt sure I had good ideas. My dad plays guitar and he taught me to play guitar when I was younger but I didn’t have the discipline and my dad was in Germany so I wasn’t practicing all the time and I also took piano lessons but nothing really stuck. This project has been really eye-opening because I realize that I’m an arranger more than anything else, and so I wanted to do music and my boyfriend Matt bought me an autoharp and I started writing songs on there.
As made famous by Roky Erickson and the Aliens.
As made famous by June Carter. Maybe they’re the same person. I once saw Dolly Parton play autoharp with reeeaally long nails—like crazy nails. Just insane. Anyway, he bought me an autoharp and I was really psyched and I started writing songs on it and they were cool but they weren’t what I wanted to do and he suggested Garage Band. I had it on my computer and I didn’t even know. I just sat down and started recording on there and using some of the loops in there and I would take it on a plane to go to Germany and I had hours where I was just like, ‘Maybe I’ll use this here,’ and ‘Maybe I’ll move that there.’
This EP was literally made on a transatlantic flight?
Yeah. A lot of things were put together on transatlantic flights. There’s something especially dire about writing stuff in the sky because whenever I fly I go, ‘This could be it. This could be the last time.’ We’re hurtling towards our destination and it might be death. We’re sort of doing that all the time anyway but this is especially poignant. But that’s how all that came about. And then I felt so self-conscious about the electronic nature of all the songs because I had intended on being in a cool rock band with guitars and drums, but I guess I’m pretty happy about it. But at the same time I have this attachment to real live performing. I’m actually doing a show with Ghost on May 21 at Spaceland and I’m going to do an entirely live show. No pre-recording anything.
How are you transposing this stuff from GarageBand to human beings?
It’s pretty simple. You just go track-by-track and musician-by-musician. The parts are so simple—there just happens to be 30,000 of them per song. It’s a really simple set-up. 30,000 people. We might need an extra generator. No, I think that it’s ironic that the music was all made very quietly in headphones but I think it translates better to a giant place.
What’s the giant-est place you hope to play?
I think Heaven.
What makes you think Heaven would be a more attractive place than Hell?
Probably because neither of them really exist in my mind, so I’d rather go to the happy mythical than the hate-filled mythical. Where I’d have to compete with Metallica.
What made you say that digital music is a music lover’s manifest destiny?
I can’t believe you dug that up. I was forced to give a quote about digital music and it just seems like we’re riding a new wave now. We’re in this weird shaky place where nobody knows what’s reliable anymore and also I feel a little bit bored sometimes with traditional stuff now. Where is the next level and how come not that many people are looking for it?
What’s on the next level?
I want to get to the unimaginable. And not that I think that I’m going to get there, but I just want to be inspired again—like you’re talking about Kurt Cobain. That was the last time that I was truly impressed. I’ll never get that back and I think for people who experience a jolt in their life from anything their whole identity is shaped by that jolt and they look for it again and keep talking about it. I think that’s where you get these kids now who weren’t even around in the ‘60s but totally identify with it because who ever rocked harder than Jimi Hendrix?
The Monks? Maybe?
The thing that was so cool about the Monks is that they were laughing at themselves and furious and were able to transcend the standard rock outfit with a simple haircut. I think that they’re like me in a sense. They weren’t necessarily going for what they were doing but they ended up there and it worked really well for them. It was a positive freak accident.
The Monks’ Eddie Shaw said the meaning of life is love because it’s the only thing that lets you get out of yourself.
I really believe that that’s true. That’s why I think it’s so sad that people look to other things that actually destroy their lives—like sugar and cocaine—because there’s no greater thing than recognizing real, true amazing coincidences. Real miracles are everywhere and those things are all a part of life. If you have love in your life then you can recognize love in how it manifests in other ways besides romance and companionship.
Do you agree with Kurt Vonnegut when he says, ‘When I write I simply become what I seemingly must become?’
That’s a great quote. That’s really incredible. I’ve actually been thinking a lot about the responsibility of being a creator. Someone told me Tom Waits doesn’t take responsibility for the things he creates because he says that creativity is like spiritual possession. You’re not in control of when it comes and when it goes and that’s a big problem with a lot of artists and writers. They pressure themselves to do the same thing over again if they wowed people and that pressure creates a self-consciousness that disturbs the flow of creativity.
What is the outfit you have that most makes you feel like you are wearing a theater?
Are you quoting me? I have a designer who does all my stage outfits—Ida Falck Øien—and she makes the most incredible things. I was wearing this outfit at the Smell that was a giant burlap sack but really elegant and beautiful, but it was really hot—being summer at the Smell—and so I said I felt like I was wearing a theatre in a theater. The piece itself is architectural.
What other buildings do you hope to wear?
Maybe the Hollyhock House or something Frank Lloyd Wright. I don’t like Frank Gehry. His only contribution to Los Angeles was the giant sunburn waiting to happen at the Disney Concert Hall. Thanks a lot, Frank.