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Pillar Point: Dance Music To Mend Broken Hearts

Thursday, 23 January 2014 Written by Huw Baines

The stated aim of Pillar Point’s self-titled debut, which is set for release through Polyvinyl on March 3, is to get you moving.

But, it’s no party record. The work of Scott Reitherman - also of indie troupe Throw Me The Statue - ‘Pillar Point’ is a melancholy collection, one that seeks to tap into what its creator describes as the “feeling of catharsis you can experience through dance.”

Across nine tracks, Reitherman delves into themes of loss, isolation, age and the modern reliance on social media, imbuing the record with understated electronics and melody. We caught up with him to discuss dance music that can mend broken hearts.

What drove you away from the style of Throw Me The Statue and into the world of electronica? Listening to the record it appears you already had a handle on the genre before experimenting with it.

Diving deeper into the world of old synthesizers and drum machines was really fun and a side of my musical life that I had been hoping to make more of a focus. Back when TMTS would do some of our dancier numbers at shows it was gratifying to register the crowd reaction as people began to move their bodies.

And that energy was really what I was trying to achieve with many of the songs on the Pillar Point record, first and foremost for myself. I was working through a period in my life where the catharsis I found in dance and movement was very healthy for me. I looked forward to doing Pillar Point shows that would encourage that kinetic energy for everyone in the room.

Electronica, by its nature I guess, lends itself to feelings of isolation. Was that a factor in developing the Pillar Point record or did the lyrical themes come later?

That's an interesting idea, I wouldn't have necessarily thought of electronic music in that way. Perhaps the creation of it can be a solo endeavour, but I don't know if it's any more isolating than making another type of music in this era of laptop recording.

But I know with this record I wanted to make something very personal, and try to capture in the songs some of the fractures I was working with in my own life. If you're suggesting that the listener's experience is isolated then at least with this album I would think that might be a good thing, since I hope to engage with the listener on a very personal level and share some things in a fairly unguarded way.

On Eyeballs, you look at the isolation brought about by social networks. What led you to explore that idea?

I believe there is a feeling that we unconsciously absorb the more we look at people's lives on the internet, on Facebook, Instagram. We all tend to portray our lives in the most exciting light that we can, as a highlight reel of sorts, and we then in turn begin to see this sexed up rainbow of life on the internet that we imagine might encapsulate all the possibilities of our own lives, if we were to decide: “Oh, I could go Machu Picchu, I could make a baby and post the pictures, I could climb a mountain, in fact maybe I should climb a mountain because all this looking at Facebook is making me feel ashamed for not going outside and doing something worthy of posting on Facebook.”

It's like this thing I read about a study of teenagers' internet behaviour, where apparently they are at their most sedate and content when they have a million tabs open in their browser. It's not when they find something they like, or when they buy something, it's when they feel as though they have endless opportunities and identities spread out in front of them. I think about that and the idea of FOMO [Fear Of Missing Out] seems a little off target to me.

I think the more interesting phenomenon isn't the moment when we refresh our feed because we're afraid of missing out on something going on with our friends, or in the news, but it's that deeper dread that starts to accumulate around the edges of our vision, that is the fear of not being everything all the time.  

Echoes and Cherry tackle that horrible ‘fork in the road’ feeling that many young people have been through. Has Pillar Point helped to relieve some of that pressure for you?

I think if you're a songwriter - especially if you stick with it and continue to make songs as you grow older - it's because you basically have to. There's a compulsion that comes from a need to make things and a need to process and document life, and there are certainly satisfying and therapeutic elements for me in this work. 

There's also, however, that other part of being a musician where you get to relive all your stories every night when you sing your songs again and again at shows. [It's] probably good to remember this so next time I can add in a few more redemptive endings to my songs in the future…maybe the next record will have some more smiles.

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