Here experimental electro-acoustic composer Jenn Kirby has a few words with Charlie Romjin, who has previously played From Now On in her band Thought Forms and now will be playing at The Future Is Female as her solo act of Silver Stairs of Ketchikan.
JK: How do find living an artist's life? (Interpret that as you wish)
CR: Through the compulsion to make music, I've had more opportunities than I ever would have otherwise - to travel the world, to do things that scare me, to push what I'm capable of and to meet the most amazing people imaginable, becoming part of a wider family who I love dearly. I honestly can't imagine any other kind of life. The artist's life has also given me the chance to become a halfway decent barista for someone who doesn't drink coffee. (I'm still a terrible waitress, though). Hashtag : blessed.
JK: You use an alias, could you explain its origin and if you see it as an persona, separate from you or are you one of the same?
CR: Silver Stairs Of Ketchikan is the title of a poem by Richard Brautigan, whose writing I fell in love with as a teenager nosing through a friend’s dad’s book shelf. I wanted to use it for my solo work because then it can be anything - everything that I make on my own. Doesn't matter what style it is, or if I want to involve other people in the performance. I guess it sort of serves as both an umbrella and a comfort blanket. It's me but it's not me.
JK: Do you have any daily artistic routines?
CR: Not really - I should probably get some. I'm very easily distracted. It's something that I keep thinking about getting round to; I know it will be good for me. Whilst writing the last Thought Forms album I had an artistic routine which consisted of chain-smoking and crying and endless cups of tea, which seemed to work out just fine - but I'm looking for something a little more "between 10 and 11, record an improvisation on the instrument of your choice".
JK: How has your artistic output developed? How do you view your earlier work?
CR: I made the first Silver Stairs recording and started playing live with it 11 years ago and it's always been a very laid back project that I turn to as and when I feel like it... No pressure, no obligation, always very instinctive and improvisational. This year I've brought it back to life after five years being too scared to do gigs on my own and I suppose the music has developed into something more structured as I've been writing actual "songs" for the forthcoming album; but it's still rooted in letting things flow naturally. Saying that, I recently improvised a live score to a film by Rebecca Cleal and there was no structure to that whatsoever, completely lost in the moment and surrendering to trust. So maybe my artistic output hasn't developed a great deal, but I have and hopefully that can be heard in the music.