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Progressive Rock Interviews

The Living

Interviewed by Gary Hill
Interview with Elyse Jacobson and Mike Bell of The Living from 2013

It’s been a while since we chatted. What’s been going on in the world of The Living?

Elyse Jacobson: Great to be doing another interview with you after all this time, Gary! Since we talked to you last, we've moved back to Vancouver (from Berlin) and secured an awesome new lineup. We always wanted more strings, and the new six-piece lineup includes violin, viola, and cello in addition to standard rock instrumentation and vocals. We released The Jungle is Dark but Full of Diamonds this past December, after working on it for nearly a year.
MSJ: What's ahead for you?
Elyse Jacobson: We're looking into possibly doing a tour on the east side of Canada next spring. Right now we're mainly just playing shows around Vancouver, writing new material, and promoting the new album.

Mike Bell: Already writing material for the next album!

MSJ: What do you see as the similarities between your older work and your new album?
Elyse Jacobson: All of our work utilizes a lot of interesting sound textures, mainly from the strings. We're also partial to catchy choruses.
MSJ: What about the differences?
Elyse Jacobson: The songs on the new album are generally a bit shorter and more streamlined, and the lyrics are more political. The whole album is even more string-heavy than the previous ones, since we have the string trio now. We added lots of vocal harmonies to the new album as well, including one section (in “Maximum Gentleman”) where our voices are layered about 20 times, so they sound like a full choir!
MSJ: What was the last CD you bought and/or what have you been listening to lately?
Elyse Jacobson: We've been listening to the French version of CBC Radio a lot recently. They play a pretty cool mix of jazz, classical, and world music, as well as some avant-garde stuff that's really interesting.

Mike Bell: Other bands with strings have been an influence lately: Diablo Swing Orchestra, Break of Reality, Judgement Day, and Rushad Eggleston. We're loving Animals As Leaders and Dirty Loops too.

MSJ: Have you read any good books lately?
Elyse Jacobson: The last book I read was a biography of Frida Kahlo. She was such a fascinating and troubled person, a real sensitive soul with an incredible creative gift. Before that, a novel called “The Piano Teacher,” by Janice Y.K. Lee, which was also a pretty good read.
MSJ: What about the last concert you attended for your enjoyment?
Elyse Jacobson: I just saw Lila Downs when she came to Vancouver on her tour. Loved it! She has an incredible voice and a great stage presence.
MSJ: Do you have a musical “guilty pleasure?”
Mike Bell: Dirty Loops' covers of pop tunes - although I'm not sure if that counts because the arrangements are so good!.
MSJ: If you could sit down to dinner with any three people, living or dead, for food and conversation, with whom would you be dining?
Elyse Jacobson: Frida Kahlo - mentioning that biography got me thinking about her  - along with Bjork and Emma Goldman.
MSJ: What would be on the menu?
Elyse Jacobson: A delicious vegan feast catered by Plum Bistro in Seattle.
MSJ: Are there any closing thoughts you would like to get out there?
Elyse Jacobson: Thank you for having us again, Gary! We're glad you liked the album and we hope your readers like it too
MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2013  Volume 3 at
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