Your Favorite Enemies frontman Alex Henry Foster launches his solo career in the U.S. on May 1 with the release of Windows In The Sky. (The LP came out in his native Canada the end of last year.) “The Hunter (By The Seaside Window),” the album’s first single, is Windows In The Sky‘s 15-minute centerpiece. Cinematic in scope, the track has an accompanying short film directed by Jessie Nottola that will premiere tomorrow in Paris at Quebecium with a Q&A with Foster and Nottola to follow.
“It emerged from a 30-minute jam that would later be released as 15 minutes of a noisy, out-of-breath and tortured kind of dark, spiritual, emotive and redemptive sonic journey,” says Foster of the song. “The lyrics are part of a series of texts that I wrote in my new home in the middle of the Virginia Highlands after completing a two-year exile in the city of Tangier. The symbolistic elements are numerous but are fundamentally the most honest I’ve been able to be regarding my lifelong struggles with depression and anxiety.”
Today, we’re proud to premiere the radio edit of “The Hunter (By The Seaside Window)” on magnetmagazine.com. Check it out now, and read our Q&A with Foster (after the jump) while you listen.
Q&A With Alex Henry Foster
“The Hunter” carries a suspense that erupts with your powerful vocals. Yet there is still this tension left as the song fades out. What was the inspiration behind the track? What is the story behind the songwriting process?
The process was truly instinctive, like most of the record. But contrary to most of the other songs on the record that had been written when I lived in the northern African city of Tangier, “The Hunter” had been written in two separate moments. It emerged from the purest of all collaborative experiences: a live improvisation moment. It all started with a droning idea that culminated into different motions of sonic layers, dynamic streams and free structural movements—no click track to pocket us on the grid. Only a musical flow without any form of “let’s make something special” ambitions, be it personal or collective. We simply lived and got carried by what I call the “now,” without any self-imposition on others nor any creative over-thinking. Again, only pure freedom. We were fortunate enough to capture it on tape.
It was only weeks later, when looking for another writing session, that I accidentally listened back to that musical moment. I immediately knew I had a text that perfectly incarnated the tone and nature of the song. It was only once back in the Highlands of Virginia, where I live and where I wrote the lyrics to what would become “The Hunter,” that I recorded the vocals, in a totally different technical set up from the one in which the music had been lived and recorded. This time, it was recorded with minimal gear placed in the tiniest room of my house. In order to go with the musical nature of the song, I simply set the mic and let go to the moment.
How does “The Hunter” relate to the other songs on the album?
I think it all relates to its nature, especially in terms of being its own moment. Just like with every song on the record, you can piece the record out track by track, but it’s been written and recorded in the very same order as the track listing is. Even though it wasn’t envisioned as a conceptual album, it’s an immersive journey.
What are the differences between writing songs as a solo artist compared to writing in a band? How has it developed your songwriting abilities?
Collaborating with others can be as incredibly singular as it can be intensively frustrating. I have experienced both ends of the spectrum. Creating is essentially having the courage to expose yourself to others while offering others the same measure of welcoming generosity. It can be sessions of constant compromises and collective bullying. It’s a fragile type of communion shared in a constant confrontational context. I’ve learned a lot in that context over the years. I’ve learned what it means to give life to something tangible from an invisible standpoint, but I’ve learned more about myself in an intimate context. When I couldn’t hide in the midst of a collective and had to assume my words and sounds, had to face the honesty by which I offered myself, it became easy to embrace the collective identity, fearful to step into the light of my own creations. So for me, it was mainly about acknowledging my fear of the light and facing the well-structured denial I had crafted over the years to remain in the dark. At the end of the day, what is important to me remains the words and sounds. The rest is either standardizing their nature in some sterile ambitions or welcoming their ongoing emancipation, which, again, goes beyond songwriting abilities and creative exploration.