If you showed up early for Crystal Castles‘ gloriously battering show here, then you must’ve caught opener John Herguth aka Farrows at it. More than merely paving the way for the headliners’ onslaught, Farrows’ set was a statement-making, presence-establishing experience. In 2017, dance music is everywhere but the kind of worlds-merging, dance-adjacent music that Farrows has a handle on, is a distinctly singular creation. This is genre-confounding, convention-ripping, body-saturating music that’s perfect for soundtracking epics or even the insular drama of one’s own thoughts. Wowed, we hit him up for what turned out to be a extremely illuminating chat.
Hey John! How would you describe your time in Asia?
This has been my first time to many of the countries we’ve visited and I’ve been really overwhelmed by the kindness and enthusiasm that everyone has shown us. It’s been a wonderful experience having the opportunity to see bits and pieces of the different cultures and connect with some of the people. I’d like to come back and spend a little more time wondering. So, ultimately, to describe my time on a whole, I’d have to say that it was a very brief but welcoming experience.
You had a band with Alicia Testa, known as Volt Direction, amidst other projects. How would you describe the evolution of your music?
Volts was the project I had been working on in tandem with Farrows. Farrows got priority simply because Alicia and I are not in the same cities anymore. We had recorded an EP that we never released for various reasons but we did play a number of shows, including a tour of the East Coast with Dead Heavens. Spanish Waves was basically a solo project that happened right after Atlantic/Pacific imploded. It was a departure from anything I’d ever done but Farrows roots are deep in that project. With regard to my musical journey specifically, I grew up in the New York and New Jersey punk scene. My primary influence, and perhaps defining to a degree, had always been the music that came out of Washington DC in the mid to late 80’s. Bands such as Rites of Spring and Gray Matter.
How does Farrows fit into this grand scheme?
Farrows is my main priority. Everything I write is geared toward the next steps of Farrows. There is an EP that is nearing finished and I hope to tour as much as possible for the rest of the year and 2018. In regard to its actual meaning, its definitely a lot more personal that previous endeavours. Lyrically, I’ve always drifted around suggestion and ambiguity but I feel like this time, in longing to connect a little more closely with an audience, it’s gotten more personal.
How did you start touring with Crystal Castles?
I met them in Denver when I was playing with Neil Halstead. We played across town in two separate theatres. The rest is history.
“I think, ultimately writing melodies that sound good and parts that are interesting, melodious, and catchy, are really the goal. If that happens to make people dance, I consider that a win.”
“This Is What I Am Afraid Of (Brooklyn Love)” is a great example of how you’re able to find a nexus between the dance and indie pop/shoegaze worlds. Do you consider the music you make as Farrows to be ‘dance’ in the broad sense?
This song might be the culmination of all of my influences. It was coincidentally the easiest song to write. The fact that it exists somewhere in the haze of all of those things is still questionable in my opinion, but jamming it in between some more danceable songs and having it work is a relief. As far as Farrows being a ‘dance’ project, I don’t hate that. It’s a difficult thing for me, as I’m just writing music that I like. I know at some point its going to get weirder but I think ultimately writing melodies that sound good and parts that are interesting, melodious, and catchy are really the goal. If that happens to make people dance, I consider that a win.
I say ‘difficult’ because I constantly get flashbacks to DJ nights and the duality of how that can be. DJing a bar in New York City like Max Fish, where you get to play what you want, when you want and seeing people appreciate the music rather than doing a club or a bar on the Jersey shore, or wherever, where everyone just wants to dance leaves its marks. I’ve done both for awhile. I love the Fish, I had a Thursday night there and it’s where I got the confidence to DJ the music I listen to. So the ‘dance’ moniker has left a little damage, if only from the DJ realm.
Social media is a something that all artists have to navigate, these days. What do you think of this intertwining relationship between music and social media?
I think, if you’re going to be in this game, you’ve got to evolve with it within reason. Social media is an evolution and in all honesty, I don’t personally find anything terribly offensive with music being broadcast by way of it. I mean, please, by all means, blast any and all of these songs on social media.
Who have you been listening to lately?
America is going through such upheaval right now. How has life changed for you personally since Trump became POTUS?
It’s a nightmare. I’m not really in disbelief anymore but it is embarrassing and horrific. The only thing that I hope for is that this disaster is the catalyst for actual real change in America. As far as impact personally, I’ll probably lose my health insurance. But he sucks. They all do. I’m stopping there before it turns into an irreversible rant.
Can we expect a standalone Farrows show in Singapore in the near future?
I’d love to come back. That’s up to the powers that be in Singapore because I’m always up for it.
Live photograph courtesy of Moonbeats Asia.