Interview with Thee Oh Sees’ Brigid Dawson
“The instrumentation was so simple and there was a lot of space for harmony”
Thee Oh Sees re-released their 2006 album The Cool Death of Island Raiders on Castle Face Records in spring 2019.
repeat magazine had the opportunity to ask Brigid Dawson, the creator of many of The/e Oh Sees’ dreamy wondrous psychedelic melodies, all we wanted to know about the creative process and exploring and embracing your artistic freedom, the importance of collaboration and friendship in the Bay area’s music scene and her new art and music projects. And of course we found out what’s on repeat on her own radio!
repeat magazine: Hello Brigid! I really like the albums you created with The/e/ Oh Sees, they are very dreamy and sweet, this one as well, drifty in its sweet washed-out sound, cute duet vocals and spaced-out psychedelia as we love it at repeat magazine. somewhere I read the description of your composing style as “whimsical melodies”, which is very sweet as I am whimsical too. are you a whimsical songwriter, too?
Thanks Suzee, that’s very kind of you to say!
I’m not sure how whimsical I feel, either in singing or writing of songs, but I do know that I loved singing on those early albums with John, and with Patrick playing the musical saw. The instrumentation was so simple, and there was a lot of space for harmony. It was new, you know, I had just joined the band and I was very aware that I was so lucky to be playing with these great musicians.
I do know that I loved singing on those early albums with John, and with Patrick playing the musical saw. The instrumentation was so simple, and there was a lot of space for harmony.
repeat magazine: How does it feel seeing this album from 2006 re-released?
are you planning on touring with it live – again? or maybe just one show (maybe at desert daze?;)
Oh man, that would be great wouldn’t it? We haven’t talked about playing that album live, but you never know what might happen..
repeat magazine: Do you sometimes miss the energy from the music crowd as a reaction to your performance?
I do, always.
repeat magazine: Are you also working on your own musical projects or did you switch for good to painting as a creative outlet?
I am, I’m finishing mixing an album I recorded last year with a bunch of friends. It should come out this year. And yes, I’m always still painting…right now, I’ve been working on organizing a group show benefit for the Coalition on Homelessness that opens this Friday.
Everyone involved has given a piece of art, and also made a quilt piece for the group quilt we will auction. And that’s what I have been working on most recently. It’s been wonderful watching everybody’s artwork arrive in the mail, and how great and different everyone’s pieces are.
repeat magazine: Is it true that the music scene in the bay area is like one big shared friends circle and once you entered collaborations are easy-made?
Yes, it is. Although these days it’s much smaller than it once was, due to our very high and still rising rents here. But there is still that spirit of friendship, collaboration and helping one another that marks out our circle of friends, no matter where they end up moving to.
repeat magazine: What advice would you give to girls who want to play music but feel shy because of a still male-dominated scene and bad internalized retro role-models?
I would tell them that this is a great time to be a woman playing and making music. We are still outsiders, and that gives us freedom, from any thought, of what music is supposed to be.
I would tell them to trust their own ears and instincts, to make their own weird musical choices, I would tell them to listen to everything with an open mind, to work hard at their craft, but to throw any notion of what is musically right or wrong right out of the window…
..that belongs to the status quo, that belongs to an older time where the rules and tastes were made mostly by men
I would say to them, experiment!
And all of that being said, let’s not forget that ultimately we are all humans, I would say to them, don’t define yourself as a “woman” or “girl” musician, labels are not really needed or even important. Just be a musician.
repeat magazine: What music is on repeat with you right now?
The Staple Singers first album, Uncloudy Day. It’s utterly beautiful..
repeat magazine: Thank you, Brigid! Have an uncloudy day!
interview by suzee lee for repeat magazine in spring 2019
Castle Face Records was co-founded by John Dwyer in 2006 and has released music by Ty Segall, Feels, White Fence and many more, most recently a live album by Alex Cameron.