Tempers – an editorial and interview

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Nisia Wasilewicz has kindly created this interview for Sang Bleu with the musicians Tempers. Lea Colombo has taken the photos, Zana Bayne styled the shoot and Todd Pendu working as creative director.

It’s sometime near midnight along North Brooklyn’s renewed waterfront strip as singer-songwriter Jasmine Golestaneh and her instrumental right hand man Eddie Cooper, better known as the NYC-based duo Tempers, sit at the furthermost table of a vast and desolate wine bar, spiked with the scent of newly stained wood. They’ve tucked themselves away in an effort to escape the stark contrast to neighboring Glasslands Gallery, where they took to the stage earlier that night, opening for compatriots Amen Dunes and Suuns. With the ghosts of the East River and an industrial past adrift above their heads, Eddie takes notice of an ATM blinking neon blue light in the dark bathroom hallway.


Golestaneh follows his gaze and with a visceral tone comments, “that’s so Tempers.”


Much like artwork can be distinguished by the nuances of a time period, these collaborating musicians can decipher visions and moments into their own personal aesthetic – a combination of Jasmine’s dueling poetically passionate Iranian heritage vs. her Latvian austerity and Eddie’s New York City-by-way-of-Berlin approach to electronic music.


“There are examples in culture that sort of speak to us specifically,” Cooper explains. “Jasmine recently sent me a photo gallery of these incredibly depressing Lithuanian discos - and coincidentally those images express exactly what we’re trying to convey. Empty but warm,” he adds.


“Cold but soulful,” she responds. “I saw those photos and was struck by how melancholically beautiful they were.”


Following a strong thematic dichotomy, each Tempers song finds itself harmoniously trapped in a despondent yet effervescent limbo. With several releases scheduled for the very near future – including a Swans cover, another single, a remix of “Hell Hotline” by Brian DeGraw from Gang Gang Dance and a European tour in November – the twosome is taking their time writing and recording a much anticipated full-length album in hopes of delivering an unapologetically dark but also rose-colored set of tracks.


“Because I come from a poetry background, I find myself writing a lot about love,” the songstress admits. “I think love is a very complex subject matter that brings out a lot of intense, confusing feelings. The words I use to express that emotion don’t necessarily come from some sort of dark place. Rather, the overall process feels more like a search for a feeling within that space. I think you need to dig into the darkness to get to the light, so for me it’s more of a cycle of transformation as opposed to a concrete nihilism.”


“I’ve always felt that darkness isn’t necessarily bleak, but that it’s actually a representation of depth. I feel like sometimes people confuse a dark aesthetic with a conveyed meaning of something sinister when it’s actually a very liberating way to be comfortable with more intense emotions,” Golestaneh concludes.


Together these two have had several incarnations – in Jasmine’s former band, Seasick, as well as their short-lived moniker Queen of Quartz under which the pair scored a handful of fashion films by Elle Muliarchyk for the likes of The New York Times andPhilip Lim. It’s here where both Eddie and Jasmine found themselves most comfortable, and where Tempers organically grew.


“That ended up being the excuse for us to pair off and start writing music together,” explains Jasmine in the dim light, sipping on a glass of the house red. “As we were doing these soundtracks, Eddie and I realized that we were really compatible in the songwriting process and essentially telepathic about aesthetics.”


“We have this sort of unspoken criteria when we’re writing music together. We’ve never really needed to explain what that is but we both know when it’s missing or when we’ve hit it,” Cooper says, almost as if he’s trying to find something tangible to put in his palm. “There are songs we’ve set aside for the simple fact that they’re not giving us that feeling and then there are songs that we’ll write in one day that, from the very beginning, just fulfill that hovering criteria. It’s almost like a divining rod we orient ourselves by.”


“There are definitely colors and textures that we never necessarily talk about, but exist as our guiding principles. Every song has it’s own color. Occasionally we ask each other questions like ‘What color is “Eyes Wide Wider” to you?’ and we pretty much always agree on the same palette. I think that’s a very satisfying process to be able to reference that and be influenced by this unspoken thing.”


It is within this divine kinetic energy that Tempers finds fluidity – shifting effortlessly amongst the darkness of sorrowful crooning and upbeat synth-infused rhythms, creating a sound that is both ominous and danceable. An enigmatic air engulfs purposeful lyrics that, among the resurgence of a post-punk electro-infused goth aesthetic, is the connective tissue of Todd Pendu’s boutique record label PENDV SOUND. At the helm, Todd has managed to keep his head above the proverbial water to curate a roster of bands that shine through the seas of sheer black fabric.


“Our connection to Todd has been so effortless and fluid from the beginning. From the moment we first sat down with him, we just understood each other. He heard things in our music that no one else had really mentioned before,” Eddie says. “And I think that connection was so natural that initially we really took his very discerning tastes for granted.”


“For instance, a part of our criteria as far as the songwriting is concerned has always been – is it undeniable?” Jasmine continues. “I remember the first meeting we had with Todd he said, ‘when I first listened to your songs, there was something undeniable about them’ and I was like wow, he gets it. He understands our emotionality and why it’s important. He takes into consideration each dimension of the look and sound, as well as how they correlate to one another, which is really a gift. Simply put, he just sees it.”


And for Tempers, a band that references influences as far and varied as Leonard Cohen and Stevie Nicks to black metal, Nirvana and Kraftwerk, the freedom of understanding is what allows them to seamlessly careen from the wild call of a mystic adrift in “Hell Hotline” to the abstract ethereal fever dream of “Eyes Wide Wider.” But stripped of its new wave beats, there is much to be said about the simplicity in the raw yearning for something unattainable in “Strange Harvest,” perhaps heard best on the track’sacoustic B-side.


“The lyric ‘something I can’ t touch is reaching out for me,’ gets me very emotional,” Golestaneh says of her siren song.


As I ask her why, Eddie reaches his hand across Jasmine to interrupt. “I don’t want to talk about it,” she quietly replies.


“I was trying to protect her…”


After a brief moment Jasmine goes on, “the song is very raw to me. It’s about the experience of depression and mental illness and hallucination. Ugh, I’m going to cry now. I need to learn how to keep [my tears] under control. I’ll be walking down the street and then all of a sudden I’m crying, just because.”


“I wanted to write about that experience because I feel like a lot of people who suffer with those feelings do it secretly and I really empathize with that. I just needed to create a song recognizing something I feel so close to. As a teenager, listening to lyrics that understood those really confusing or crazy or depressed feelings was so reassuring to me like, wow, somebody else understands.”


Finally, with a nervous laugh she adds, “I feel like I have a lot of empathy for pain.”

Listen to Tempers music on Soundcloud here : https://soundcloud.com/tempersmusic

Interview by Nisia Wasilewicz editorial directed by Todd Pendu , styled by Zana Bayne & shot by Lea Colombo

Photographer: Lea Colombo

Creative Director: Todd Pendu

Stylists: Zana Bayne and Todd Pendu

Stylist Assistant: Nick Blumenthal

Hair: Ryan Austin Kazmarek

Make-up: Mark de los Reyes

01. 

Jasmine wears

Dress by Heather Lawton

Gaitors by Sally LaPointe

Boots by Acne

Necklace by Alexandre Plokhov

Eddie wears 

Jacket, Shirt, and Pants by Alexandre Plokhov

02.

Jasmine wears

Jacket by Sally Lapointe

Leather Shorts by Heather Lawton

Ring, Necklace, and Handlet by Bijules

03.

Eddie wears

Vest and Shirt by Alexandre Plokhov

Bracelets by Chris Habana

04. 

Jasmine wears

Dress by Sally LaPointe

Necklace by Bijules

Rings by Chris Habana

05.

Jasmine wears

Dress by Sally LaPointe

Harness by Zana Bayne

Ring by Chris Habana

Handlet by Bijules

06.

Jasmine wears

Jacket by Katie Gallagher

Shirt by Heather Lawton

Necklace by Chris Habana

Leggings by Heather Lawton

Boots by Acne

Eddie wears

Jacket and Pants by Alexandre Plokhov

Shirt by OAK

07.

Jasmine wears

Jacket by Katie Gallagher

Shirt by Heather Lawton

Ring by Bijules

Leggings by Heather Lawton

Boots by Acne

08.

Jasmine wears

Jacket by Katie Gallagher

Shirt by Heather Lawton

Necklace by Chris Habana 

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