Since 1997, Songs: Ohia has been quietly building an impressive catalog of
modern folk, dark Americana and intimate rock and roll. Occasionally lumped into
a scene that wishes they could replicate his consistency, Jason Molina (the sole
member of Songs: Ohia) has been churning out some of his finest music in the
past year. In March, the release of Magnolia Electric Co. saw Songs: Ohia
graduating to a fuller sound that saw more contributors than before. Songs: Ohia
plans on continuing the output and was kind enough to answer some questions via
email about where he is now and where he is headed.
Tiny Mix Tapes: The full-band is obviously a new step for you on
Magnolia Electric Co. Was this the next logical step after touring with a live
band or was this something you were hesitant about at first?
Jason Molina: There has always been a “band” on each album. I would
say that Impala, with its drums, vocals, and guitar was the most minimal
of them all. Even Didn't It Rain had quite a few players on the songs,
especially side two. So it wasn't such a new step.
Tiny Mix Tapes: Can you tell us about Pyramid Electric Co.? Is it a
companion to Magnolia Electric Co. or it's own entity?
Jason Molina: Originally, I was going to have the Pyramid as the
companion record to Magnolia, since the songs were all written around the
same time. Once the Magnolia session was finished, it seemed to me that
it was now two separate records. The Pyramid Electric Co. is very dark.
Atmospheres created by the recording and the time immediately after the
Amalgamated Sons of Rest session with Will Oldham and Ali Roberts.
Tiny Mix Tapes: In many people's minds, you are hitting your peak in
terms of songwriting, arrangements and quality with your last two albums. Being
so prolific, can you explain what, if any changes, have you been through that
can explain the latest burst of creativity?
Jason Molina: I just wake up one day at a time, many times I don't sleep.
At four in the morning, I can write some terrifying things, these make it to the
record only once in a great while. Now everything seems like the world is
heading as fast as it can into oblivion. I'm still writing about the same things
as always. Now, it must seem more connected to the people. Some people have
always gotten it.
Tiny Mix Tapes: Where do you see Songs: Ohia headed? What would you
like to try with your music (e.g. collaborations, new musical directions,
Jason Molina: There will be another Magnolia Electric Co. record
done in November, and I have just recorded about 15 songs alone with piano and
guitar, so these should come out sometime next year. In January, the Pyramid
sessions will be released.
Tiny Mix Tapes: I've seen Neil Young's After the Goldrush cited as
major influential on your work. What other albums have influenced your music?
What makes them special to you? What modern artists do you feel are making
quality music these days?
Jason Molina: I do not listen to much new music. I like Trans Am for
their consistency. I think that After The Goldrush was fantastic because
the recording techniques of the day matched the tone of the songs perfectly.
Same with old blues 78s and early jazz recordings.
Tiny Mix Tapes: Has moving to Chicago affected the new musical direction?
Do you find like-minded musicians easier to find over there?
Jason Molina: It's only the Midwest. In the old days there were no state
boundaries. From Ohio to Nebraska, it is remarkably similar far as territory
goes and the music responds to the stars more than to the streets.