Fashion and music are inseparable. They’ve been playing off each other well before David Bowie recorded the tune “Fashion” or Duran Duran sang “Girls on Film.” With this in mind we will occasionally feature interviews with people in fashion and music that embody the qualities that we so admire. – Ford Models Blog Editor
Last week the Ford Models Blog scratched off the last name on its Christmas list with the publication of the Buzz Osborne interview. Today, however we’re making room for the 2011 models with a fire sale that includes this New Year’s Eve interview special with Aaron Turner, founding member of Isis and Hydra Head Records. The interview was conducted at our Fifth Avenue offices a day before Buzz’s back in June during the Isis farewell tour. A congested fashion calendar prevented this feature’s timely publication, but all the same the intervening six months have provided a perspective on the conversation and its surrounding events. Chief amongst the discussion topics of course was the consensual breakup of Isis, which to many observers (not least of whom included Buzz Osborne) was surprising given their critical acclaim and relative commercial success in independent music. The same five members including Aaron Turner, Jeff Caxide, Aaron Harris, Michael Gallagher, and Bryant Clifford Meyer were together for eleven years during which time they recorded five studio albums and went on countless tours. What is clear, however from speaking with Aaron is that the dissolution of Isis in many ways for him has been accompanied by a weight being lifted from his shoulders to follow any and all other artistic pursuits. And follow them he most certainly is.
So far as Aaron Turner is concerned the question has never been one of application let alone industry, but rather what next he will do and how. The New Mexico native moved to Massachusetts in the mid 1990s to study at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. He began the independent record label Hydra Head in earnest in 1997 right around the same time he started Isis. Parallel to his involvement with Isis and his record label Aaron has also played in various other musical projects including Old Man Gloom, Lotus Eaters, House of Low Culture, Greymachine, Mamiffer, Jodis, Drawing Voices, and Twilight (not to be confused with the teenage vampire saga). In addition to being a musician Aaron is also an accomplished visual artist and is the artistic director for Hydra Head, a label which since its founding has consistently excelled in the design and packaging of music. Aaron’s attention to detail is evident in all the releases he has designed throughout the years from the “OMG” that is formed when back CD covers of Seminars II & III by Old Man Gloom are laid side by side to the cryptic etched messages (e.g., “Not porky. We’re vegetarians.”) on the face of every vinyl release.
As much as Isis will be missed they are equally deserving of praise for ending it on a high note. Honest self appraisal of this sort is rare and even rarer still in a music industry rife with cash-in reunion tours. During the interview Aaron was adamant about wanting to avoid the ignominy of continuing the band past its sell-by date despite its relative profitability brought about by touring and merchandising. Whereas change and reconfiguration have been the veritable charter of the Melvins and their long history the same would not have been possible for Isis given its collective decision making structure. Furthermore the increasingly intricate mechanics of uprooting the lives of five adult men, many of whom have young families, for the sake of recording and touring made the decision all the more sensible.
Beyond Isis Aaron devotes time to playing with Mamiffer, the musical project headed by his wife, Faith Coloccia, with whom he lives on an island in Puget Sound off the coast of the state of Washington. Being a part of Mamiffer in a supporting role has been a welcome change of pace for Aaron after so many years of directing projects of his own. Aaron also continues in his capacity as artistic director and A&R for Hydra Head and leaves the general management of the now Los Angeles based label to his business partner, Mark Thompson. Whether or not any or all of these other projects of Aaron’s will satisfy ardent Isis fans is neither here nor there. Change is constant and so is the endeavor of Aaron Turner.
Credits include: Publication, Ford Models Blog; Title, “Aaron Turner Interview Special”; Subject, Aaron Turner; Interview/text, Damien Neva; Video, Damien Neva; Photography, Damien Neva; Music, from Wavering Radiant by Isis.