Interview with Poor Remy

Shouting about their feelings from Ohio to Queens

By: Francesca Baker

April 29, 2014

Sometimes you become a lot of different things, sometimes you become the product of an obsession. But you're always becoming something.

Combining the simplicity of the AGD school of songwriting with the depth of multiple instrumentation and earworm acapella melodies, Poor Remy is a band who likes to shout about their feelings. Currently Queens-based, their move back from Kenyon College in Ohio is a common topic in Poor Remy's music as their songs suggest a sort of mellifluous nervousness. Sit back and bask in the lilting string work, dense harmonies, and enigmatic enthusiasm that Poor Remy's music embodies.

Ohio isn't the usual breeding ground for cool new bands. What is the impact of this location on your sound, and how has moving to NYC changed things?

Kenyon is, very literally, a small island campus on a hill in the middle of Ohio. It may as well be on the moon. Of course the Ohio backdrop is visible, and we each have anecdotes involving a corn field, streaking, confusing middle-American values, and endless flat horizons. But to us, Ohio really just means college: you know, that carefree variety, unbridled intellectual curiosity, ultimate frisbee, girls, limited responsibility, ad inifinitum. The impact of NYC is in some ways a "fall from Eden", with grown-up pressures seeping into the music and conflicting our original motivations. In another way, its also a somewhat necessary transformation for our maturity. 

Speaking of NYC, why Queens and not Brooklyn?

It’s all semantics. We actually live right on the border, two blocks into queens. Borders are arbitrary.

Philosophy and music - what is the relationship between the two for you?

Both can accomplish something significant when they're honest and raw, and both crumble when they rely on a hollow center. Claims are often poorly established in an argument because the writer doesn't even know what he/she believes to begin with, or when a songwriter is motivated by something sounding "cool" instead of a feeling or idea they need to transmit. The whole thing loses footing and you feel it somewhere deep, maybe even pre-intellectually. Not everyone agrees and thats okay, but there is a deluded pride that attends ignorance, both artistically and intellectually. Also who knows, this is a hard question!

Your sound is exclusively acoustic yet large in sound, what production and technology do you use?

Oh we're all natural, baby. But we're far from purist. Poor Remy thrives on acoustic as you can imagine, but we're not afraid to use tech to our advantage. All our instruments are electric ready, and we typically ask for a bit o' house reverb over vox. As for recording, digital is just cheaper and more convenient, plus we're all software literate so it makes sense for post-production. That said, if the opportunity ever arises, we'd love to experiment with analog recoding.

Tell me about Remy. Both the real character and the one you have created.

The real Remy is a friend of ours from Kenyon. He's not the manic-depressive our desperate music might paint him to be. The Remy we created lives somewhere in the ether. He's probably an amalgamation of whatever inspires each one of us to write, but he's not very easily defined. He makes an appearance at some shows, depending on the whiskey selection. You should meet him!

What's next for the band? Young and free, or chained to the music?

Easily the hardest question in the interview. Honestly? Not a clue. Controlling the controllables is the MO right now. We're working on a new EP to release this year, but we're not pressured by a marketing calendar or the festival circuit (of course this can be seen as both a good and a bad thing). We'll release it when its ready to be released, and we'll keep playing wherever people want to hear it! 

Do you believe that 'you are what you hear?' Who are you?

Here's our liberal arts response: question is something of a misnomer. You never "are" someone, since you're always in a state of "becoming". The way we see it, you're always transforming yourself, and what you surround yourself with will inevitably shapes that formation. You become what you hear, what you eat, who you talk to, what you look at, what you think, what you touch. Sometimes you become a lot of different things, sometimes you become the product of an obsession. But you're always becoming something.