Time Crimes: A conversation between Scott Eastwood and Dayve Hawk

Dayve Hawk is a friend of Scott Eastwood’s from New Jersey. They met working at a Fresh Fields (now Whole Foods) in Marlton, New Jersey. Hawk was a prolific songwriter when they met and for many years prior, releasing music under the monikers of Hail Social, Weird Tapes, Memory Cassette and Memory Tapes.

The following is a conversation between Eastwood and Hawk, regarding Hawk’s former project Memory Cassette, which involved making “new” songs from “old” tracks he had recorded about a decade prior to the project. Hawk lives in rural New Jersey with his wife Samantha and two daughters Aida and Chloe.

“You were talking about Memory Tapes?” Scott asked.
   “You mean Memory Cassette?”
   “Yeah. Yeah. Have you done anything with that stuff lately?”
   “No.” Dayve laughed.
   “Did you stop doing it because you like were annoyed with it, or you passed on and left it behind?”
   “Everything depends on what a particular piece is. Making Memory Cassette felt like, ‘Well, that’s that.’ But then sometimes I want to go back to it. If there’s a particular sound set that I liked, maybe I want to dip into that again … but then you have to think about if you are going to fuck up what’s already standing.”
   “I understood that you were using older material and then going back over it, changing elements of it or whatever. But I was never sure which was what. I think part of that’s intentional because you put it all together and make it a brand new thing.”
   “Yeah,” Dayve answered. “The most explicitly laid out aspect of Memory Cassette was the Call & Response EP. The whole point was that the two sides of the seven-inch consist of one old song and one new song, and the new song was meant to be a reply to the first. So that one had the most explicit concept about the echo between present and past. But with the initial EPs, there really was no idea behind it. I was just doing stuff.”
“Sure, sure,” replied Scott. “Wait, so, what was the last thing with Memory Cassette that you did? Was it just two EPs?”
   “I did two EPs and then the Call & Response EP, which is the first one that went to vinyl. Call & Response featured one song from each of the initial EPs and a new track, which was the response to those songs. Sort of convoluted but—“
   Scott cut in. “Gotcha. Well I also wanted to know if you ever dig up your old stuff anymore or do you … Because I feel like when I first met you there was more of that. Granted, that stuff was not old then, it was within five years or something.”
   “I still do it,” Dayve answered. “I just did it a week ago. I found an old laptop, the initial laptop that I did Weird Tapes on and I plugged it in. Just to see what was there. The battery had melted so it’s all fucked up, but I managed to get it to work. I found that I had burned a lot of my old CDs into it, almost all of the stuff I had recorded as a teenager, maybe as far as to when we first met in my early twenties. And I was listening to a bunch of things … when you’ve written that many songs it gets to feel like I’ve written every melody I’m ever going to write, so I should probably kind of look over them.“
   “I’d think that’d be helpful.”
   “It’s equal parts inspirational and demoralizing,” noted Dayve. “Obviously a lot of it is corny. But within the same song, I’ll be like, ‘Man, this is so corny but if somebody could do this right it would be really great, good melody,’ or, ‘Those chords are cool, but why am I singing on it?’ So it is good to look back and it’s something I might use. For example, on Seek Magic, there was a song that took years and years and years before I ever even recorded it. It was just a song I knew how to play on guitar … ”
Dayve paused before continuing, “We always talk about how I don’t know how to play anyone else’s songs because I don’t really know music. I always have a couple songs that I know how to play, which I wrote on guitar. Somebody gave me an acoustic guitar, and that was one of those songs I played on it. Seek Magic had so many songs that were informed by house music, and I wanted moments that broke from that. So I thought this was a cool song to do. There are times where I’ll just kind of drag things up from whatever past.”
   “We were talking once about a wild collection of shit that you’d done in the past,” Scott remembered. “How did you dig through it and decide if something was worth using or not? Was it pretty arbitrary—like ‘Yeah, I heard this one day and I could do something with it’? There must’ve been a lot of stuff to sort out.”
   “Part of it was technical, such as the fidelity of whatever I had recorded,” Dayve answered. “Some of the things go back so far or were recorded on such terrible gear that they’re hard to even listen to now. Some of them offered just enough that I could make it presentable. Part of it was also stuff culled from one period of time that had a particular mood. Most of the stuff that I ended up using for Memory Cassette was from the year after I graduated high school, when the people I knew went away and I was alone. I was like eighteen going on nineteen, or whatever.”

Scott Eastwood, collage for Call & Response,  7" EP by Memory Casette; copyright by Memory Tapes, under license To Acephale Records & Sincerely Yours.

   “I feel like the older I get the more wrapped up I am in past things. You notice how much your past informs your present, and it only becomes more apparent that every move you make is because of what happened before.”
   “Of course,” Dayve replied.
   “It’s strange. I keep feeling like I have these moments that feel as if I’m always weirdly living in the past because I’m deconstructing stuff that happened and using it in some sort of way, whether it’s a traumatizing experience or a fun memory.”
Dayve said, “For me I’m either trying to recreate a time when I knew less about music or I’m trying to do something that I wished I could have done when I knew less about music. The main thing that’s burned into my mind is my relationship to music. Most of my memories are about how I always wanted to be able to do something. Now I know how to do that thing, but I used to be able to make tracks and not think about certain aspects I’m caught up with now.”
Dayve continued, “I almost try to forget things, to work in the way that I wanted to work when I was younger. I feel like it’s a constant act of self-reference because that’s really all you can work from unless you were imitating people. But even if you imitate people you’re imitating your idea of them. Someone asked me about why I don’t use samples because they saw me clearly making allusions to other artists; I was like, the whole point isn’t to sound like that artist. It’s more to reference the moment of your life when that song was playing. You’re charting your own personal history and your own relationship to these things.”
   “Well I feel it’s the same thing for visual art,” responded Scott. “Many artists get wrapped up in ideas of what the work is supposed to be and mean in the end, caught up in not stumbling through well-traveled territory. They try to be refreshing. Yet ultimately the best things you come up with happen when you’re off-handed and a little bit more intuitive.”
   “Yeah, yeah. I think that’s the most important thing you can learn from your personal history. Granted, there’s a ton of shit I don’t know and still could learn, but there are certain things that I know that I’m always trying to forget or at least not think about and not have as factors. The older you get the more developed your skill set becomes, and you constantly trip yourself, thinking ‘Oh I can’t do that because that will mean this,’ and ‘If I do this then that’ll happen,’ whereas when you’re younger you do a bunch of stupid shit and you’re not really thinking about it. There’s a certain charm in that.”
   “Sure, sure. It’s weird because it trips you up too. It can be exciting but you also kind of remember this crappy stuff involved with it too.” Scott elaborated, “Bumbling mistakes or just weird choices. I almost don’t remember what I was thinking when I was younger. I was so cloudy and just waiting to get through that time, and not being able to like focus on much else beyond enduring my youth. It’s weird when you unpack that stuff later; you can see why you made certain decisions or were inclined to like other things. But then at some point you realize that all of that was just luck or a weird sort of … Before the Internet, when we didn’t really know where to look for stuff so were farting around, tugging different strings and seeing what’s interesting.”
   “One of the weirdest things about looking back at things you did when you were a kid is that it’s always pretty clear what you were into at the time. The younger you are the more on the surface—or specific—your interests were, unlike now where I may listen to forty different things every week. When I was kid I was listening to five bands incessantly. And you can see what that meant to you at that time and how it means something totally different to you now.”
   “It’s funny because when I was a kid and involved with just finding records … ,” Scott recalled, “I listened to  later and found some of them actually cool—it was a funny surprise. It’s not really a surprise purchase; it’s not that you stumbled into it, you weighed all the options and made sure that it was the best thing for you.”
   Dayve thought for a minute. “I think all the time about the records that had the biggest impact on me and they’re all things I heard accidentally when I was younger. I remember going to the record store, looking for whatever—probably Smashing Pumpkins bootlegs or something—and hearing something they were just playing in the store and thinking, ‘Oh man this is really cool.’ That was how I first heard Rollerskate Skinny, which became a big deal for me. Then I remember going, having just heard of the Cocteau Twins and knowing nothing about them and no way of finding anything out about them—because how would you at that time—and just buying whatever I saw in the record store. But that record happened to be a remix EP [of the Cocteau Twins] by Mark Clifford—the guy from Seefeel—but I didn’t know that, it was just the only Cocteau Twins album they had. It sounds nothing like Cocteau Twins but like the most perfect version of Seefeel that could exist, so that was another record that totally flipped me out and it took me a really long time to ever learn the difference between that and what Cocteau Twins actually sounds like … and then to later learn about Seefeel. You know, I miss having those kinds of experiences of falling ass-backwards into things like that.”
   “What I always liked about when I was young is how I looked at things, especially how I put everything in the same box," Scott noted. "There was no ‘This is art and this isn’t,’ or ‘this is informing me artistically.’ You’re not using those words in your mind. It’s all thrown into the same pile. I like that idea of when you’re more open to the idea of it all being the same thing.”
   Dayve answered, “One of the things that I feel has luckily not really changed for me is that. I feel that even though I know much more about music and I’m aware of much more music than when I was younger, my attitude about what’s permissible and what isn’t has not changed. I’m sure a large part of that is because I had no formal education. I’ve never had to write a paper about why I do the things that I do—there’s never been a room of people who’ve said, ‘You need to fucking think about this.’ So I never do.”
   “I like doing this performance thing and the reason I like it is because it’s more of this temporal thing.” Scott continued, “It exists for this moment and then it’s gone. There’s no leftover thing. With art it’s because there’s some object left over. For a while I was wrapped up in making all of these cardboard things; I liked them because they were around for a bit and then you trash them. But ultimately I want it to be something other than just a photo because then that’s its own thing you keep around, where with music it’s you have an apparatus for it—like a record or a CD or MP3—but it’s still about this time when you’re hearing it and that’s the part that matters. The apparatus of it doesn’t really matter, it’s just the finished product of it. The space and time you’re listening to it is the exciting part. The frustrating part about art is you’ve got to put that to somewhere. I guess you do that with music, but with music you can shove that in a box, no problem.”

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