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Interview: Strange Stains + Harris

Interview: Strange Stains + Harris

Wednesday 1st June, 2016 12:34PM

Eyegum’s Wednesday residency at San Fran continues to churn out an assortment of awesome (and free!) gigs for the Wellington public. Last week's show featured local electro-noise artist Strange Stains (aka Cooki Ami), as well as being the debut outing for alt-rock and soundscape musician Harris (fronted by Harris Mackenzie Boock). After the show Eyegum member Sophie Scott-Maunder gathered the two acts together for a wee chat ...

UTR: Cooki, how did the stage name Strange Stains come about?

C: I like the sexual connotation surrounding the image of the name Strange Stains. But it’s not a sexy image, it’s more post-sexy. Strange Stains isn't postmodern - it’s post-sex.

How would you describe the sound of Strange Stains?

C: My sound is droney electro goth wanna-be pop.

Harris, you utilised a lot of different instruments on stage tonight. What are your reasons behind using such an eclectic soundscape?

H: We really wanted an organic sound and part of that necessitates having instruments that you interact with rather than synth pads and emulators. Not to say that I’m against them, I record with that, but it’s more about how it sounds. Hitting a glockenspiel is different to typing in which pads you’re going to use. The reason we played it that way on stage was to match the arrangements of the songs that are on the album.

You recently worked on a song with Ghostwriters Collective. Can you tell me a bit about it and your relationship with Ghostwriters Collective?

H: I met Nik Brinkman (who founded the Ghostwriters Collective) by chance about a year ago on a balcony at a party. It was just a lucky meet. I was questioning whether I should approach him or not and then we just ended up talking and it turned out we were both musicians. He asked me if I wanted to collaborate on something so we met up and that was around the time he was starting Ghostwriters Collective. So we worked on one song and then another one called ‘Shores’. Collaborating is completely different to writing on your own. It’s a much cleaner sound than what normally I do but I’m interested in trying to find new ways to work and write.

Cooki, can you tell me a bit about the technology you used in your set, especially the headphones/microphone?

C: I try and make beats that have a lot of bass or deep sounds. I really enjoy making beats on the computer but I am only just learning which makes for a more unusual sound, I like to think. And then I play synth and sing over top. My lyrics are important to me, even if they’re taking the piss or talking bout some wanker on the street that you would rather not encounter. The message is important. Although I find this can be counterintuitive because no one can really hear what I’m singing most of the time. I could be singing about how much I love feijoas and no one would know the better. Like the song I play with the vocoder. No one would hear what I’m saying because my microphone is broken on my vocoder. I have to use headphones as my microphone and I to attach them to my face, which makes me look a touch Hannibal Lecter-y.

What are your respective plans for the future?

C: I am going to Japan in August for a month to do a artist residency with my friend and fellow artist, Kelly O'Shea. Before I leave, I will be involved in a fem play that Hex is putting on at Pyramid Club on the 3rd of August. And going to try and do some recording hopefully too.

H: I recorded an album over December and January. It took me exactly a month to record when I had a house to myself and so that was just the best time to do it. From there I’ve been mixing it and the album is almost done being mixed so now I just have to give myself a deadline to finish it. Now that this first gig has opened I just want to keep doing that and playing more shows. I want to send out this finished album to labels and say “hey, do you want this, are you interested in this album”. If no one wants it I’ll send it out myself.

Lucky last, cats or dogs or…?


H: Ummmm. Both...

Here's the track cooked up by Harris as part of the Ghostwriters Collective...

And here's Strange Stains with 'Your On The Wrong Road'...

Tonight's Eyegum show at San Fran features performances from Swamp Doctor and Mr Sterile Assembly, head over here for more information.

Photo by Sophie Scott-Maunder


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Wed 1st Jun
San Fran, Wellington

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