Blanket Of Ash- An Interview With Mamiffer’s Faith Coloccia

December 20, 2010 by Chris Grosso

Faith Coloccia- Musician. Photographer. Artist. Record Label Owner. Visionary. Faith and her band Mamiffer are not a household name, and to me, that isn’t such a bad thing. Mamiffer is one of those bands that I’m enamored with and selfishly want to keep all to myself. I don’t want to hear someone at the mall talking about Mamiffer. I know that’s silly, but there’s something very sacred about the way Faith writes, and I’d hate for my relationship with Mamiffer’s music to be compromised by someone who’s picking up the new Drake album along with Mare Decendrii. With all of that pettiness aside, Mamiffer deserves so much more due than they’ve received, which continues to support the fact that the majority of music buyers the world over, still completely have their heads up their asses (oh, did I just say that!?), and honestly, they can stay there. I’ll be here…with Mamiffer, and my opinionated, child like take on this subject.

The Faith Coloccia Interview

TIS: So besides being a musician, you studied photography at Otis College of Art & Design. Can you tell me what attracted you to photography?

FC: My dad and grandpa were always taking photos, so I was around cameras when I was young. My parents got me Rolling Stone magazine when I started to like Nirvana.  One of the photographers who’s photographs I was fascinated with at that time was using a 4×5 camera and type 55 Polaroid film, which I didn’t know about until I went to college.  I took photography in high school, and I was fascinated with how you could make science experiments by yourself with developing film and prints.  Everything involved darkness.  I recall being inspired by Martha Stewart Living magazine after high school.  The photography was amazing and utilized something called “north light” which looks like cold and frozen, which is perfect to my internal world of Synesthesia! Then I majored in fine arts photography at Otis. 

My main attraction to photography is the story making abilities inherent in the medium.  How light speaks, and how you can freeze a moment in “time”.  How these different frozen moments create a personal or public narrative. How an image can be read when paired with other images.  Some of my fascination comes from control, being a keeper of moments, like a catalogue, or archive of life. I love how photographs live on after people or entire families are gone. (Like photos found in thrift stores, antique stores, or peoples attics.)

TIS: Very Cool. So when you’re out with your camera, how do you know when it’s time to snap a picture?

FC:  I never go out with my camera and wait for an opportunity. My process of taking photographs is one of focused intent, with specifically chosen moments. Most of my photographs that look natural are set up and pre-meditated, with a pre-determined location or environment. The quality of light in a given place allows me to know if a certain place is where I want to take a photograph. I use the light to capture a moment to place later into a narrative.

I also allow for my intuition to take over, and follow it, knowing that what I am doing will later come together and make sense.

TIS: And you’ve done some ash paintings which will be used as the artwork for the upcoming Mamiffer album “Mare Decendrii” which is coming out in March 2011 correct?

FC: Yes, Mare Decendrii comes out march 2011 on Conspiracy records and Daymare Records. The ash paintings were made with the ashes from our fireplace from 40 logs of wood we burned.  The electricity went out on the entire island of Vashon (where we live) on an 11-degree day. I made them in the same way I constructed the hand made artwork for Everlovely Lightningheart, but this time I used gesso instead of polymer matt medium. The artwork for the record also includes photographs by Giséle Vienne of the life size dolls she makes. And photographs I took of the forest in the snow.  

TIS: Is art another one of your passions, and if so, can you tell me about your background there?

FC: I try to live my life in the most creative ways possible. My background in art started when I was a child. I had a baby sitter who was very inspiring to me. Her house was made into different worlds and lands, sculpted terrains, and imaginary places.

My mom was in the theatre and I was around a lot of her creative friends who encouraged me to paint and play the piano. My dad was a carpenter, and was always constructing things, and would let me make art out of the materials in the garage. My grandfather was a graphic designer, and would draw for me and show me how to use his art supplies. My grandmother played piano by ear, I inherited that ability from her. And we had a big old piano in our house. We lived in the middle of nowhere in the desert and there wasn’t very many things to do, so me and my friends would have to find creative ways to keep busy.

I went to Otis, and besides majoring in Fine Arts Photography, I took painting and traditional print classes. I had amazing teachers who still help me and are now good friends. I started a music collaboration collective with Christopher Badger called Everlovely Lightningheart while there. We explored sound, image making, context, chaos, life, and destruction.

After I graduated I got a job doing post production for a large corporate entity, but I basically got paid to learn how to use a computer and  how to do design and post production. I spent a lot of time scanning my own negatives too, my boss was awesome!

So all of that has lead me to making, music, art and design.

TIS: That definitely sounds like it all worked out great for you! So speaking of Mamiffer, can you tell me about “Mare Decendrii”, and what we can expect?

FC:  This record is very different from Hirror Enniffer, but still has a focus on the piano. We worked with Randall Dunn, who I have learned a lot from. I feel like he has helped me have confidence in my abilities and I felt very comfortable recording with him. I think this shows in the music. The songs are slower, and longer. Something I attribute to not being nervous while recording, and being taken seriously. The recording reflects my compositions accurately, and my ideas were not sacrificed. The record took a year to make, so we had a lot of time to figure everything out, which also comes through in the recording. We recorded grand piano onto tape at Litho. It sounds bigger with depth and has more space to breath, even though there are more people playing on this recording.

There are 5 songs, these are the titles: 1. As Freedom Rings 2. We Speak In The Dark 3. Blanket of Ash 4. Eating Our Bodies and 5. Iron Water.

There are vocals on this record, (contributed by Joe Preston, Sera Timms, Jessika Kenny, Parvaneh Daneshvar ,Mika Rättö, and Jussi Lehtisalo,.

I sing and play piano and play bass synthesizer.

Aaron (Turner) plays guitar and also contributes vocals.

Eyvind Kang did the string arrangements and played viola and violin.

Other people who contributed to the recording are: Timb Harris: viola and violin. Moriah Neils: double bass. Brian Cook: bass. Don McGreevy: drums, tubular bells and auxiliary percussion.

Aaron Harris, Travis Rommereim, and Randall Dunn all contributed auxiliary  percussion.

I discovered many new things about life, people and myself during the making of this record, and the music, lyrics and artwork reflect those things.

TIS: Nice, I can’t wait. When I interviewed Aaron (Turner) a couple of months ago, he mentioned you’ve been collaborating with him on his House of Low Culture project and that you guys recently finished a song for a split with Mamiffer. So do you find a difference in writing for House of Low Culture Vs Mamiffer with him?

FC: There is a big difference!  It is a lot less stressful to make music with HOLC, and to play shows. I feel like the pressure is off of me. I mostly play guitar, which is a fun and a mysterious challenge. With Mamiffer I feel very serious, and I think about it all the time. I write the songs and Aaron adds to them. With HOLC Aaron writes all the songs and I make parts, and it does not feel so serious to me. I am not scrutinizing every detail. Aaron gets to.

TIS: Sorry, but I have to ask this one… Do you find that living with Aaron makes the writing process for any of your endeavors together difficult at times? Like if there’s a personal disagreement, are you guys able to set that aside and focus on the music?

FC: Living with Aaron makes my endeavors more interesting and full and thorough. I feel like it is easier in the way that we can critique each other all the time, and ask a lot of questions so we know each other’s intent and purpose. I feel like we help each other, and collaborate well together visually as well as with music.

If we have a personal disagreement, we deal with it and communicate openly before making music with each other. Our collaborative music requires that we communicate and get along! I can’t imagine being mad at him and then us putting together a Mamiffer song. I don’t want to be in a position where I’m not getting along with someone but I push that away to make music, for me that would be an act or going through motions. I want to be present and emotionally open when performing or making music. And Aaron’s so nice I wouldn’t be mad at him anyway!

The only thing that’s hard or difficult for me is the sound of dog nails on the hardwood floor while trying to write music at the piano. So I would say that our dogs make it difficult to compose sometimes.

TIS: Haha, right on. And you and Aaron have also recently started a label called SIGE records, which I believe is focusing on Vinyl releases. Can you tell me about the label and what you’ve released so far as well as what’s to come?

FC: We started the label so that things would get done right and hopefully come out on time. Sometimes on certain labels a band isn’t considered a “priority” so releases get pushed back and back. We wanted to control as many aspects of production as we could, and do things hand-made, like stamping all the labels ourselves.  We also wanted releases to pay for themselves, so cutting out as many middle-men as possible was important to us. So much can get lost if too many people are dealing with one release.

Sige mostly works with projects that we are personally related to, or people we are close with.

So far we have released:

Mamiffer “Hirror Enniffer” LP , Greymachine “Disconnected” 2xLP,  and Mamiffer/Oakeater split LP

Some upcoming releases include: House of Low Culture/Mamiffer split LP(cd format available with Utech records), House of Low Culture/Mamiffer with Merzbow and Atsuo a live recording from Tokyo 2xLP(cd format will be available with a DVD on Daymare Records), Pyramids/Mamiffer split LP, re-issue of the first Everlovely Lightningheart record.

We also have 2 book releases underway.

TIS: That’s cool you guys are doing books too. Can you tell me what a couple of your favorite releases for 2010 were and why?

FC: -Alcest “Ecailles de Lune”- beautiful and perfect.

-Circle “Rautatie- awesome record, and their personalities and dedication show through the recording.

-Alex Barnet “Section 4” I can hear his mind at work, and the worlds he inhabits.

-Oakeater “Iron Road 2” Amazing and beautiful, I can hear a band that functions as one pulse.

Here are some others that I listened to a lot this year, but they are not from 2010, but they were important to me in the year 2010:

-Locrian “Rain of Ashes”  This record fit my mood and was the only record I would listen to in the fall.

-Nirvana “In Utero” a perfect recording, reminding me of the ideas about music I had when I was 13.

-Soap and Skin “Lovetune for Vaccum”  a beautiful violent mystery to me.

-Fever Ray self titled –something Aaron puts on while making dinner, our animals also really like this record. The video for the “when I grow up” song is amazing.

-Einstürzende Neubauten  “Five on the Open-Ended Richter Scale”  Affirms my ideas of what music can be, it is also comforting. I can see where my 16 year old self formed ideas of sound.

-Kevin Drum/Daniel Mench “Gauntlet” Aaron and I listened to this in a moving van from LA to Seattle, it was the perfect soundtrack for how fucked up the 5 freeway and the landscape in America is.


-Giacinto Scelsi “Suite no. 10” Ka”/ “Suite no. 9” Ttai” I just heard this a week ago. Most of the songs were just studies, and experimentations that were recorded and then the charts were written from that. I feel  like I appreciate Giacinto Scelsi’s process, and I can hear some of the questions I have in my musical mind being asked by him in his compositions also.

TIS: Anything else on the horizon in 2011 and beyond?

FC: These are some things coming up next year, as I write about them I dont know if they will all get done!

-Mamiffer “Mare decendrii” 3 cd versions, 1 LP, and a book.

-We are finishing a Mamiffer full length called “Lilac” which was made mostly on a 4 track.

-Mamiffer/Demian Johnson split tape on Hydra Head in January.

-live recording with House of Low Culture, Mamiffer with Merzbow and Atsu (Sige and Daymare)

-Pyramids/Mamiffer split LP (Sige)

-Pyramids/Horseback LP (Hydra Head)

-Everlovely Lightningheart tape of unreleased material (Dead Accents)

-Re-issue of the first Everlovely Lightningheart record (Sige) with a book.

-Photography book

-Mamiffer European tour in April, playing Sunn’s curated event at the Roadburn Festival.

-Collaborations and recording with Circle, and Locrian

-House of Low Culture full length

TIS: Cool. Thanks so much for your time Faith.

Visit Mamiffer Here

Visit Sige Records Here

Visit Everloving Lightningheart Here

Visit House Of Low Culture Here

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Chris Grosso is a writer, public speaker, mental health youth group facilitator, and author with Simon & Schuster. He also writes for Revolver Magazine, Fangoria, and has spoken at a bunch of fancy-schmancy festivals and conferences (as well as even more events that were significantly less than fancy-schmancy). Chris's podcast, The Indie Spiritualist, is hosted on Ram Dass's Be Here Now Network.