Forces At Play: Ripley Snell + Jonathan Sielaff

Ripley Snell and Jonathan Sielaff met through their mutual love of music and coffee. They have done some jamming and recording in the studio, but this Sunday night (10/30) at Holocene will be their first time performing live together, as their respective sets as Wine & Coffee (Snell, Old Grape God + Producer Skelli Skel) and Golden Retriever (Sielaff + Matt Carlson) will overlap at the Eyrst Halloween show. The night will also feature music form Maze Koroma + Friends and Volcanic Pinnacles. Grab tickets here, and RSVP + invite friends here!

In advance of Sunday night’s show, Snell and Sielaff interviewed each other, covering some amazing issues from Young Thug vs. Lil Wayne to Beyonce vs. Solange, and dream collaborations, to go-to snacks for hungry bandmates. Read below!


If your music was an article of clothing, what would it be?

JS: A cape. Big and heavy with a tall collar, but some tiny, detailed ornamentation on the clasp. The fabric looks like velvet, but is actually really techy, breathable but waterproof shit. It would look good with a tux, but also with old Levis and vans.

RS: A beanie. Something cozy around the ears, that looks great, but we all know its about the way it feels. Not one with a bill, not one with a pom pom, but a snug chunky cotton, without too much elastic.

JS: I like the idea of our music together being that photo mashup of our faces in a comfortable beanie and a weird cape.

Young Thug or LIL Wayne?

RS: Wayne is a legend, but it’s Jeffery season. It’s 2016, when bars < style.

JS: I agree. Young Thug. I love his flamboyant, weirdo style. His music and vibe are really out, too. Psychedelic.

What’s the scariest song you can think of, describe it?

RS: The song that comes to mind is “Murder Was the Case” by Snoop Dogg. This is a classic record, and at the time it came out, devil and demon voices were really popular in songs. As a kid I would scare easy, but there was a rush you got from listening to (what at the time was) scary ass gangsta rap. The song has Snoop storytelling over a black-metal gothic bell chime, and Dre’s signature G-whistle hitting some really nasty minor chromatic pockets. When Snoop starts bargaining with Satan to bring him back to life, it just brings me back to shifting my eyes in the dark under the covers, with the stereo just loud enough to be in the song.

JS: I love horror movie soundtracks and stuff like Pendereki’s Polymorphia (The Shining). I’m very comfortable with atonality and abrasive textures, so it’s really context that scares me in music. When I was a kid, I had to go to a Bill Gothard seminar (look him up, he’s terrifying). He had this messed up philosophy about music where he wanted it to be virtually devoid of syncopation and sensuality. He loved hymns (of course) and we sang one at the seminar. In that context it was the most bone-chilling thing I had ever heard.   

You can do a collaboration with anyone. Who, and why?

RS: If I could collaborate with anyone I would get a call from Michel Gondry and agree to do whatever he says. “Hey, Jointsy, I want you to play an old lady in my new film” He’d ask, and I’d just say “Yes. French old lady with the all white garment and virginia slims, or American old lady with a carpet bag and a rascal?” You get the idea. His ear and his eye give his work the quality of its own universe, and that’s so much what I believe art should do.

JS: This could go a lot of different directions, but maybe I’ll say Sade? I’ve always had this stupid fantasy of being a Stewart Matthewman type guy who plays all the guitar and sax solos for an amazing vocalist. I actually try to channel Sade’s phrasing in my playing sometimes. Also, I watched this live Rihanna performance of Stay and thought “I want to make my bass clarinet sound like that”. Maybe I would be Rihanna’s Stewart Matthewman?

Beyonce or Solange?

RS: I think I can take Solange with me a little more, you know? She’s headed off in the direction of Betty Davis. I think Bey is a little more like Chaka; super-powerful, talented, iconic. That said, in every day life Bey is kind of nobility, and Solange is proletariat. Just from where I sit, Solange has a more relatable style. Blue jeans v.s. gold leotard.

JS: This is harder for me than Young Thug vs LIL Wayne. I love both. I’m really into A Seat at the Table and could get more listens out of it than Lemonade. Solange’s musical sense is more nuanced and, like you said, relatable. But, Beyonce is such an unparalleled performer. Almost beyond human. I get emotional watching her perform, not from the soul of the performance, but from the sheer super-human perfection of it. Like watching the olympics or something. And I will always love Destiny’s Child.

Your bandmate needs a snack, what do you pick up for them?

JS: A veggie burrito. Maybe a slice of pizza or a falafel if he’s already had his daily veggie burrito.

RS: I know he’d want soup, but it doesn’t travel well, and it’s important to sit down for soup. So, I would bring him some Nong’s. Mostly because I need some Nong’s.

JS: We all need some Nong’s.