I N T E R V I E W
Wairehu Grant and Macaila Pescud from The Goth and the Pixie
by Ian Duggan (Photos by Ngamihi Pawa)
‘The Goth and the Pixie’ were formed in 2014 by guitarist Wairehu Grant (a.k.a. ‘The Goth’) and violinist Macaila Pescud (a.k.a. ‘The Pixie). With the recent addition of drums and bass, the band and their sound are seemingly ever-evolving. HUP catches up with both the Pixie and the Goth to discuss the changes in their style, their future aspirations, and Macaila’s Hamilton music pedigree.
HUP: The name ‘the Goth and the Pixie’ might give the wrong impression to those who haven’t seen you live or checked out your recordings, being neither goth nor sounding like the Pixies. How would you describe your sound?
Pixie: First of all, when it comes to the band name, I used to be in a band with my friend Effie called “The Pixie and the Gypsy”, and Wairehu was jokingly known as ‘the Goth’ in our circle. One day at an open mic someone wrote ‘the Goth and the Pixie’ on the board as me and Wai’s duo name – and it stuck. I think it describes our music well because we have creepy, chaotic darkness and pretty moments which mingle together. That’s how I would describe our music. It’s the contrast of the two – and the contrast of us two as people with our different styles and musical backgrounds. Of course now there are four of us. I’d like the name to become about archetypes, and people who come to our gigs can dress up and be theatrical. The music too is quite playful in a lot of ways. I like to push the boundaries of convention. I think that’s my main thing about music – I don’t really think there are rules. But there are directions the music wants to go, and I like to follow that. I’ve been largely influenced by bands such as Barons of Tang, Modest Mouse and Bright Eyes and their chaotic moments.
Goth: Yeah I’d really say our differing musical backgrounds have had a huge impact on our sound overall. I grew up a huge music nerd constantly getting obsessed with musicians and bands and wanting to know everything about them. Dad really got me into stuff like the Stones, Zappa, and Dylan. Then throughout High School and early University I kind of darted all over the show with my listening and playing styles: Jazz, dad rock, Pantera, The Cure, Tom Waits, anything that caught my attention really. All of that got me started on guitar for sure, and I think that all really feeds into how I approach a lot of our stuff from a guitar playing standpoint. The vast majority of our tracks are Macaila’s creations and I just do my best to interpret them musically.
HUP: Your sound and line-up are evolving. You started out as an acoustic two-piece, with guitar and a violin, went electric, and you are now a four piece with drums and bass. What are your future aspirations, and what do you think you might look like a year from now?
Pixie: The electric thing happened as a happy surprise for me. I wouldn’t have thought about going electric, being from a mostly acoustic background and brought up with folk/Irish music. But of course Wai, being super badass, used to play in a metal band and suggested to go electric for some of the songs – and he was right. It added a whole new dimension. Our drummer, Lott [Larsen], was originally a jazz drummer too. We’re all from very different genres and I like how that bleeds into the music. It brings new ideas and creativity. We were actually trying to find a bass brass instrument instead of a bass at first. I thought it would be super cool to have something like an oboe, just real quirky but with a loud and smooth sound. But then we jammed with Albert Bannister on bass a few times and we just had to keep him. So, future aspirations, for me; brass instruments, a song about breaking pianos, an album and I’ll learn to play musical saw. Right, that’s a year from now! Long term: to do some super theatrical tour and shows.
Goth: Yeah at the early stages I wasn’t really sure where the electric thing was going to go either. It started off really simplistic with me just adapting the chords and melodies to suit the electric guitar, but it really began to take shape once I started expanding my pedal board. Now we’re working with loop pedals, modulation effects, delays and occasionally some synth and other electronic stuff. It’s been a real crash course in shoe gaze 101, but it’s helped me a lot with some of my more artsy fartsy projects at University. As far as my views of a year from now, hell yes to the brass section, a tour and EP would definitely be a must by then as well, and hoping that I can manage to juggle my post grad studies at Uni. Fingers crossed on that last one.
HUP: Macaila, you are a second generation Hamilton musician, with your dad having been in '90s band Loose New Romans, among others. Has your family been a big influence in your music and taking up live performance?
Pixie: My mother was also in [‘90s Hamilton band] Nemesis, back in the day! Both my parents completed respective music degrees. And for sure, having a musical family is incredibly influential. My dad has his own home studio where he records songs he writes and, once my sister and I were older, he often recorded us singing his songs. My mother also writes her own originals and would sometimes get me to sing on stage with her at her gigs. These experiences awakened within me a deep desire to perform in my own band. I didn't think my parents had influenced my style until I heard some of my mum’s early Wintec recordings. There's a certain energy that we both capture I think. The emphasis on Irish/folk violin throughout my life has definitely influenced my playing style.
HUP: Macaila, besides Goth and the Pixie, you have also been involved in the New Millennium Beatniks, providing musical backing to Richard Selinkoff's poetry. How did you get involved in that project?
Pixie: Actually with NMB I saw them perform at a mutual friend's birthday party that Goth and the Pixie were also performing at, over a year ago. I really liked the feel of it. I simply went up to Richard and asked if I could perhaps have a jam or perform alongside them sometime. Richard’s response was to fluff on about how [NMB’s double bass player] Martin [Fisher] was very picky about who they played with. But then a couple of days later I received a Facebook message from him saying that Martin was uncharacteristically excited at the mention of me joining. So I guess he likes my style. Haha! The interesting thing about NMB is that it's all improvised. We usually meet the night before to hear that poems for the first time and sometimes we will jot down a feel or certain places for abrupt stops but otherwise it's down to whoever leads it on the night. I call it musical flirting - there's a certain interplay that happens when it's all fresh like that. It's incredibly invigorating and impossible to get bored of.