Silo Halo are a DC-based trio that combines guitar, bass, keys and male and female vocals into a dark shoegaze-indie-dream-fuzz sound. Christin Durham(bass, vox), Christopher Goett (guitar, vox) and Greg Svitil (guitar, keys, vox) have all been players in the DC music scene for years (in bands including The Antiques, Girl Loves Distortion, Victor Victoria, Soft Complex, The Parlor Scouts…) but came to play together in 2010, first under the name Night and the City, and in 2011 as Silo Halo. They released their first album this year, titled Night and the City, on Etxe Records, an independent label founded by Goett. Full disclosure- I first met Greg when I joined the band Soft Complex in 2004, and have remained friends with him since then. I’ve always been in awe of his musicianship, creativity, kindness, and general awesomeness as a human being. I’ve been lucky enough to get to know Christin and Chris through Greg in the past year, and one thing that really impressed me about the trio is their dedication to contributing to the creative community in the DC area, not just with their own music, but with tireless enthusiasm and support of others. You can see Silo Halo play Black Cat tonight along with The Mean Season and Golden Looks!
Alexia: How did Silo Halo come together as a band?
Christin: I asked Greg if The Antiques would like to play in my basement when I lived in Arlington. I was playing in a queer-centric 80s cover band at the time, and we would practice and play parties down there, so I eventually decided to put on more formal shows, calling the venue The Basement Speakeasy. That first show with The Antiques and Screen Vinyl Image was December 2008, and it ended up being The Antiques last show. Greg asked if I’d like to collaborate with him for a new project not long after that.
Greg: I saw Christin’s band Victor Victoria and was energized by hearing her sing and play bass, which suited what I had in mind as far as forming a band in which I wouldn’t be the main singer and songwriter. At the same time I was connecting a lot with Chris, but his band Girl Loves Distortion was still pretty active, and so it was a few months before we could bring him in to write, play, and sing.
Chris: Greg and I met via a regular community potluck of musicians, independent music label types, and recordists. We connected on several levels musically and personally. As The Antiques reached antiquity, I became aware of the new musical project. Christin and I met at We Fought The Big One, and that was another strong and instant connection.
Alexia: What song or artist first made you fall in love with rock music?
Greg: There’s a clear moment when rock n roll gripped me, which happened when I was ten years old, sitting two feet in front of the TV. The Ronettes came on, singing “Be My Baby.” Years later, I learned that the clip I saw was from Shindig in 1965. Their time and place was mysterious to me. At ten years old, I couldn’t place where or when they came from, and the music didn’t sound like anything I’d ever heard before. It still doesn’t. The sound was just enormous. I was mesmerized by their voices and how they looked and how they moved. A few months later, I discovered that my older sister had a tape of the song- it was the Dirty Dancing soundtrack- and I thought that she must be the coolest person on earth to have the capability to cue up the Ronettes at the drop of a hat. During my teenage years, the whole Ronettes catalog became some of the most important music in the world to me, and as an adult, it still is.
Christin: Speaking of The Ronettes, one of the songs Greg saw Victor Victoria perform was “Take Me Home Tonight” by Eddie Money, so seeing me sing Ronnie’s parts probably solidified his notion to ask me to make music with him, or at least that’s the theory I like, haha. A friend at the Christian school I attended for grades K through 3 played me “Crazy For You” by Madonna on her walkman. I’ve loved the devil’s music ever since. My older sister got me into bands like The Cure and REM at an early age.
Chris: I would have to credit my older sisters with my musical tastes and exposure as well. I have vivid recollection of my sisters and their friends sitting around and spinning their vinyl, socializing and discussing music. Most of this would now be classified as “first wave” music. However, the first really transformative musical experience for me was seeing Public Enemy play to a stadium full of people in 1992. The visual imagery, the ferocity, the command of the crowd, and the message were amazing and changed how I thought about recorded music. I’ve been an avid concert goer ever since.
Alexia: What inspires you?
Chris: My loved ones, friends, and neighborhood. Ordinary folks doing extraordinary things in their own way, on their own scale.
Greg: People’s lives, whether they’re those who I know, or those who I see on screen or hear or read about.
Christin: I’m a highly empathetic and emotional person, so I’m easily moved and inspired. Like most people, it’s easier for me to say what I don’t like and what doesn’t inspire me: indie brodeo, reality television, money, career, capitalism, suburbia, shopping malls…
Alexia: What was the experience like making “Night and the City”? Did you all record it yourselves? What made you decide to release it on vinyl?
Chris: The last album I recorded with Girl Loves Distortion was put to tape at Inner Ear with our friend Devin Ocampo helping engineer and produce. The opportunity to put our music to tape in our own practice and studio space was something special and different. I co-run a small music label here in DC (Etxe Records) and we’d been putting out full-length LPs – so when the band wanted to be a part of the label, the vinyl option was a no-brainer since that is how we all prefer to experience music at home.
Greg: There’s really no substitute for the comforts of recording at home, where you know every piece of carpet and where the cups are. You know when the mail will come, and your animals are around. I appreciate pristine audio, but will happily sacrifice fidelity in favor of the rawness and immediacy in musical execution that the home space tends to extract. The best moment for me was recording the song “Night and the City,” which is an instrumental. It was brand new and hardly in our muscle memories. We recorded all together, listening closely to each other’s instruments and trusting that it would arrive where we wanted it to go.
Christin: “Night and the City” was my first recording experience, so it was intense, and it helped me grow a lot as a person and as a musical being. I feel lucky that it happened where it did. I don’t think I would have handled the pressure of paid time in an unfamiliar space very well.
Alexia: You all went on tour in the Midwest earlier this year- how was that? Any favorite or weird moment or story from tour?
Chris: The tour overall was really a good experience. Playing with Fangs Out in Toledo and late night storytelling with our friends in Milwaukee are standout memories for me.
Greg: It’s pretty much impossible to not have a great time in Milwaukee. I always look forward to seeing our friends there, and there’s this venue called Quarters that’s just a fantastic space, and this guy Aaron who puts on the shows there and does really excellent work. Toledo is a favorite place, and our label mates Fangs Out are one of my favorite bands in the U.S. at the moment, so seeing them play live is special. Our friend Asim in Michigan prepared us this elaborate and wonderful dinner. I could go on. We traveled around, heard lots of good music, saw old friends and made new ones.
Christin: I was able to reconnect with some very dear old friends in Bloomington, Indiana, so that was probably my favorite part, though drunkenly watching a Glenn Danzig interview with Dixie and Josh at the Church of Murray is an extremely close second. I think I made Dixie replay the part where he says, “mmmm, welcome to my book collection” about five times. Strictly from a most fun city/favorite show standpoint, I would have to say checking out Detroit all day and then playing at The Loving Touch in Ferndale with Oblisk was at the top for me.
Alexia: You all are big on building & contributing to the creative community in the DC area- what are your thoughts on the music scene/community here? What cool things are going on? Any favorite spots/nights/events?
Christin: I like seeing shows at venues like Comet Ping Pong, the Black Cat, and the Velvet Lounge, and I appreciate what the bookers at those places are doing as far as hosting lots of different types of music and bringing in great out of town bands. I put on shows fairly regularly at Sova on H Street in NE DC, and that’s a great DIY space with a wonderful staff. There are some great house show spaces around, too, like Paperhaus and Rocketship.
Chris: I’m biased — but I think what Christin has been doing for the DC music scene at Sova has been amazing and a bit of a “best kept secret.” Her shows are thoughtfully curated, all ages, and free. Living in DC, there are nights where I’m torn between going to two different shows that are equally compelling — that doesn’t happen so frequently in other cities.
Greg: There are just dozens of different pockets of bands and artists around town, and I’m sure lots of good things that I don’t yet know about. The venues that Christin and Chris mention are favorites of mine as well. The CD Cellar is one of the best venues I’ve seen around here in a long time in terms of hosting lots of exciting music and not being genre-specific, and providing a welcoming and safe environment that’s artist-run.
Alexia: Is there any song you can’t get out of your head lately?
Greg: “In Liverpool” by Suzanne Vega. She gives us one vivid and dynamic image after another. It’s seamless and near perfect. It would make a good short story.
Chris: Circuity by the band 2:54. The whole album gets better with repeat listens, but that song always grabs my attention and stays with me.
Christin: “Shoom” by the Canadian electronic band Trust. I think it’s safe to say I’m obsessed with that band at the moment.
Alexia: What’s on the horizon for Silo Halo?
Greg: Continuing to be musical.
Chris: Recording, writing, and performing. I’m looking forward to a fruitful and productive 2013.
Christin: More writing, recording, playing and touring. Playing with old friends and making new friends. Silo Halo is a huge part of my life. I’m not sure I’d still be in DC if it weren’t for making music with Chris and Greg in Silo Halo.
& The Mean Season (headlining)