It all started one London eve on a bus ride to a rave. David Trenaman and Colleen (Coco) Collins met and fell in love. And where first comes love then comes marriage then comes a band? At least that’s the order the east coast duo followed to get where they are now. After being together for more than 20 years and playing their brand of shoegazey, spook rock music for close to 10 they have yet to strain their creative connection. Especially now with their forthcoming album, their first since 2013’s Dark Lark, due out this year and the stream of residencies at their old, coastal home in Nova Scotia, “The Quarantine (because if you’re going to produce your own brand of “spook rock” you’re going to do it in an old spooky house by the sea). And of course their continuing collaborations and the occasional “life on the road” stints that musicians usually do to keep themselves busy. During their last trip to where it all started, Dave and Coco played the winter music festival put on by friends in Out of Sound. It was during this trip I was able to chat with Coco about celebrating a decade of Construction & Destruction, collaborating with artists of different genres and the importance of women in the music world.
When you two started Construction & Destruction you had already been together for some time. Why did you decide to take your relationship to the next level and start a band?
Coco: We’d been together for eleven years or so when we first began playing as a duo. It was a natural progression; we’d both experienced with music individually and had garnered enough trust between us to delve into playing with one another. The truest impetus may have been moving out to rural Nova Scotia, where jamming with each other in our isolation made much more sense…
You guys just had your 10 year anniversary for C&D. How did you celebrate?
Coco:Ten years, eh? Your question got us thinking about it! We haven’t marked the decade yet per se, but have a few thoughts on how we might. An album, a special show; maybe some all-encompassing physical oeuvre overview? Our first album was released in 2007, and we actually ended up recently listening to our entire discography on the 20-hour drive home from London to Port Greville. So many of the songs were unfamiliar to us because of the passage of time! The experience was elucidating in that we heard our voices and the compositions as if we were listening to others… as, in some ways, we were both different beings back then…
You turned your home into a home studio called the Quarantine. What brought on this decision?
Coco: The house had a piano and a pump organ when we got it and once we added our own motley crew of instruments we started jamming, which elicited the band, which elicited the recording studio. We wanted to work to make ourselves a comfortable place in which to make not-so-comfortable work. In 1969, of this Bob Dylan said: “That’s really the way to do a recording, in a peaceful, relaxed setting, in somebody’s basement. With the windows open . . . and a dog lying on the floor.” We also wanted to create a breeding ground for sound and feelings. The house and surrounding geography help make it so.
Who have you worked with there?
Coco: It’s been a great privilege to work with fellow music-makers on their recordings. We’ve learned a lot from our peers and their approaches. Most recently we’ve worked with Motherhood, Catriona Sturton, Partner, Julie Doiron, Jon McKiel, Whoop-Szo, and others.
The summer of 2013 was busy for you with the release of Dark Lark and the Cousins split but there’s been little records since then. Is there a new record in the works? What has C&D been up to in that time?
Coco: There is a new record in the works! They do take their own sweet time; we’ve been ready to jostle one out for a while, but the songs have their own agenda. Lots of gestation and distillation. But we did get to go to the Yukon, record a Community Theatre album with numerous musical pals, and participated in a tribute album for Mathias Kom of The Burning Hell, and did make it to some wonderful shows and fests. And we’ve recorded others, including the recent Greville Tapes Project, and ourselves with others, as with our friend Thesis Sahib.
You recently collaborated on a track with local artist Thesis Sahib. Obviously, your music is quite different from each others (spook rock vs. techno). What was the writing process like to create a track that embodies the different genres?
Coco: It’s been awesome working with Thesis. And while our sound work might have somewhat different cloaks, there are similar inner workings, and conceptual approaches. Thesis/James & I were both schooled in fine arts at the same places, and all three of us have known one another for a while now. The working environment has proven trusting and liberating. We’ve so far worked out two songs; the first was collectively recorded at our place in NS, the second at Thesis’ place in London. Moving forward into the next two, we’re hoping to work remotely and hear where that takes us.
(Hear a sample of a collaboration in the trailer below)
Being the woman in a two piece rock band there must be many times where you’ve either been the only woman or out numbered by men (for instance the Community Theater album where you were one of the only woman on deck). Do you ever feel unnerved by this or has it ever put you at a disadvantage or do you find that it has never really been an issue?
Coco: There are some generous and thoughtful woman music-makers of great breadth and depth and wisdom who’ve come before me, and who I can fortunately call friend. I see myself as part of a continuum and seek to be conscious of hacking at the path where I can for those that follow. At times this emboldens me and moves me out of myself into engagement; at times it causes great anxiety. At times, there’s been some straight-up bullshit to deal with. At times, I remember that the vantage point of the periphery can engender laterality of thought. And my peers and the musical youth frequently show me that a new age and way is afoot, and that we are all working hard to summon it…it may be a while coming yet, but our toe is over the threshold.
You talk about how you’d like to see more women in the music scene, not just on stage but behind the scenes moving equipment and recording/mixing and producing. Why is that personally important to you? Do you have any advice for any girls thinking about getting into music in any way?
Coco: I think of the two large cranes used when we lifted and moved our old house: the operators had to override the limitation settings to lift the weight. This sits with me: over-ride your limitations; unlearn helplessness. Max out the boom! I try to tell myself to question fear of failure and shame. These might be wastes of energy but to be no less thoughtful. That I’ll come through excruciation and that there is great liberty and wisdom in looking or sounding foolish. That I can fail and flail, but that I must get back on the horse!
Check out more music from Construction & Destruction on their Bandcamp.
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