A Track-By-Track Guide & Stream Of Memory Tapes’ Player Piano

LISTEN to a UK exclusive stream of the new LP from Memory Tapes, Player Piano - and read a track-by-track guide to the record from Dayve Hawk himself

"I don’t know if shy is the right word," pondered Dayve Hawk when Kev Kharas tried to delve beneath his carefully constructed elusive persona back in 2009. "I’m just not desperate for attention." Back then, our Kev – a man with his ear always glued firmly to the ground – pulled off something of a coup to coax some words from the shadowy cove behind Weird Tapes, Memory Cassette and then, finally, Memory Tapes, such was the extent that his anonymity had puzzled the blogosphere. Later that year he released his debut long player Seek Magic, an album that was, as Ben Graham said in his review, simultaneously "of-the-moment and yet so unbearably nostalgic… what lies beneath the perfect surface remains unknown".

But with new album Player Piano set for release on July 5, we’ve been bequeathed something of a gift from Hawk: an exclusive UK stream of the LP, and his own personal track-by-track guide to the record, in which he reveals the influences, meanings and thought processes behind his second offering. Listen to the album by clicking the player embedded below, and read on to find out about the insomnia, failed relationships, cynicism and social awkwardness that helped form Player Piano.

‘Wait In The Dark’

Dayve Hawk: I’m an insomniac, so I’ve spent a good deal of time lurking around darkened hallways, waiting for people to wake up so I can fuck/cry/argue with them. When I was little I used to lay in bed at night and convince myself that everyone I knew was gone, and I was the only person left. I thought it appropriate to write a love song from that perspective. It’s a bit like being a ghost: can’t touch the living.

‘Today Is Our Life’

DH: Most of my ‘upbeat/pop’ songs are more like trying to be ‘upbeat/pop’ songs. I’ve always loved the contrast of Motown and other early pop records, where you sing an uplifting song about being broken hearted: the lyrics are how you feel, but the music implies hope. I usually end up working from the opposite perspective: the music is my better nature, and the lyrics are me shouting myself down with self-loathing and cynicism. You end up somewhere between a genuine smile you’re trying to hold back, and a false smile you put on for a show.

When I say "We will never be better off than we are", I definitely mean the glass is half empty.

‘Yes I Know’

DH: This is my attempt at writing a simple song. I remember reading about the early says of Doo Wop, about people tuning in to these weak little stations and hearing a kind of ethereal/spooky love song drifting back to them. I relate to that sort of sincere but also dissociative idea of music more than any ‘realness’. I like the idea of looking at things through a filter, leaving things to interpretation. It can be more genuine sometimes to connect on an impersonal level.


DH: After Seek Magic, I shook a lot of hands and, in keeping with the cliché, you really begin to question the integrity of what you do. Luckily, I’m too socially awkward to ever rally get folded into anybody else’s trip. I don’t have to decide whether or not to play the game, because I honestly can’t even get the rules straight. Most people can probably relate to an endless questioning of why you’re doing what you do, whether it’s what you ought to do and whether that even matters.


DH: I tend to think of five minutes scanning stations as being as valid as any song, and this was meant to be a bit of that. I think I’m always trying to make my music sound to lesser and greater degrees like field recordings. I don’t want to make a song that sounds like that song you heard on the radio; I want to make a song that sounds like that moment you heard the song on the radio.

‘Sun Hits’

DH: Another ‘trying to be upbeat/pop’ song. This one is even sunnier, which of course means my attitude is worse: "Life is a dream if you never wake up". This was an attempt to reign in my tendency towards sprawling arrangements and write a simple song. I was also trying to have the balls to do a big pop chorus. It’s funny, but when you don’t make mainstream music, singing a pop song feels the way if must have felt for older pop groups to make art records: you’re afraid how it will be received. It’s easier to hide between darkness and noise.


DH: A pretty resentful song… "heaven is waiting" could mean paradise is real, but of course, it can also mean "get on with it". I’ve had friends take some of the attitude in my songs personally, but I’m usually talking shit to myself.

‘Fell Thru Ice’

DH: Most of Player Piano is about a personal relationship falling apart, and this is the point where I gave up. I don’t want to make up, I don’t want to help myself, I want to watch you suffocate… I really hate my voice, but the weakness is the point, and that’s why I use it.

‘Fell Thru Ice 2’

DH: This was meant to be a sort of soundtrack to the situation described in the previous song. Someone wandering out to the thin ice…

‘Trance Sisters’

DH: Kind of a follow on from Bicycle [one of Seek Magic‘s stand-out tracks]/ If I ran off with my "little sister" in that song, in this one we’re still on the street and I’m losing her. I think in general, where Seek Magic was about a sort of romantic vision of the dreamer, this record is the moment you realize that the dream is separating you from your bed.

The Quietus Digest

Sign up for our free Friday email newsletter.

Support The Quietus

Our journalism is funded by our readers. Become a subscriber today to help champion our writing, plus enjoy bonus essays, podcasts, playlists and music downloads.

Support & Subscribe Today