The C.I.A. Explore New Chanells
The C.I.A. Return With Sophomore Release ‘Surgery Channel’ Every indie music fan knows about garage rock phenom Ty Segall’s prolific output, whether it’s either under his own name or via the many bands & projects he’s involved in. With The C.I.A, Segall joins his wife Denée on vocals while handling the lyrics and Emmett Kelly from The Cairo Gang on bass, synth and backing vocals for a minimalist take on post-punk and new wave. Simultaneously, there are infectious rhythms and an overall charismatic vibe encompassing the music. This is the case in their second full-length album Surgery Channel that came out on January 20 via the Los Angeles based label In The Red Records. It’s the product of an intriguing collaboration among the trio that’ll captivate the listener to return to the music at various occasions.
Denée and I had a talk about the album, how it stands out from The C.I.A.’s debut, being wowed by how Segall and Kelly work together, doing things outside of music and hoping people give the new album a listen.
Northern Transmissions: What you say is the biggest difference between Surgery Channel and The C.I.A.'s self-titled album that came out back in 2018?
Denée Segall: Time played a big role. Our debut was written and recorded in a short period of time, I think we recorded and mixed the entire thing in two days. There was no thought of overdubbing, with it being strictly bass, drum machine and vocals, and no more than a few takes per song. It was a pure burst of energy with no looking back. The writing process for Surgery Channel was also unintentionally quick. Ty and Emmett write so easily together, it’s a joy to witness and I’m usually scribbling lyrical ideas at the same time, so the songs form quite quickly. However, the recording process for this record was much more involved so it took about a week total. We added synth and percussion to the line up and the vocal style became more dynamic, all of which took a bit more time to track. Plus, Surgery Channel is thematic, more intention was put into the overall feel and flow of the songs.
NT: The music video for the single "Impersonator" off the album has your face being mirrored by frames of faces. There’s ones that look like Pinhead from Hellraiser, the classic smiley face logo, Golem & Smigel from Lord Of The Rings and Miss Piggy from The Muppets among others. What inspired this approach to making the video and was it a fairly quick process to make it due to the simplicity of it or did it take longer than expected?
DS: A few ideas were tossed around for the “Impersonator” video but none seemed very unique and due to our busy tour schedules, we didn’t have much time. I’d almost given up hope and finally this idea popped into my head. I’d always wanted to do something with a projected image on top of someone and I’d experimented with it a little bit in the past using still photography. The projected mask idea seemed easy enough to orchestrate and the actual filming was but the prep work was much more involved than expected. It took many days to find enough images that would work for the idea and then cut and size them into individual frames. I’m so happy we we’re able to pull it off, it was well worth the effort.
NT: In your opinion, what makes collaborating with Ty and Emmett stand out? What makes the experience of writing songs and recording with them unique?
DS: As I mentioned before, watching Ty and Emmett write together in this band is pretty amazing. I’ve never seen anything like it, they barely have to speak and they have such a musical hive mind. Sometimes I’ll propose a vague, abstract idea of a certain feeling I’d like the song to convey and they are somehow always able to sculpt the idea into a song seamlessly. On a more personal level, I feel very lucky to be able to collaborate with Ty, my partner in every aspect, and with Emmett, who I consider a brother. Not only is it so fun and easy, but they continually inspire and encourage me to push my boundaries as a musician.
NT: Do you feel that The C.I.A. opens the door for you to pursue other collaborative projects that might fulfill other artistic pursuits you may have or do you plan on maintaining The C.I.A. to be your primary musical outlet for the time being?
DS: I’ve got something in the works that I’m very excited about, but I can’t talk about it quite yet. Other than music, I’m interested in trying out as many crafts as possible. I’ve been enjoying learning stained glass as of late and tending to my little garden.
NT: What do you hope people connect with when they give Surgery Channel a listen?
DS: I don’t have any specific expectations for how people will relate to the record. I can only hope some people dig it, or at the very least find it interesting, or at the very very least, listen to it.
Order The Surgery Channel by The C.I.A. HERE
Looking for something new to listen to?
Sign up to our all-new newsletter for top-notch reviews, news, videos and playlists.