An interview with Chris Jarvis of Ancient Language

An interview with Chris Jarvis of Ancient Language

You probably won't be able to pronounce Ancient Language's new EP title, but that's beside the point. When it comes to the six-piece avante indie rockers' latest, Hygge is a resilient and transportive journey where Ancient Language manages to do two things: defy Detroit's incessant garage-rock scene with swelling, meditative electronica and rebel against the confines of traditional pop with their Explosions in the Sky-eque atmospheric meandering. We caught founding member Chris Jarvis for a chat about being a sucker for crescendos and the labor of post- production.

Metro Times: Why did it take two years to get this record to get off the ground?

Chris Jarvis: Well, me and my brother moved to Arizona last September. We were there about eight months, and we started writing it there. It just took awhile. We were sending songs back and forth. It was a slow process to get it going at first. We moved back and we continued writing and recording to get the songs finished. I don't know why it took so long this time. We weren't really sure if it was going to be a full album or not or if it was going to be singles. When we had a collection of songs we realized that they all stuck together.

MT: Ancient Language plays with a lot of layers and so much of that is prevalent on Hygge.

Jarvis: I spent a lot of time mixing this thing. It's a lot of clicking and mixing frequencies and levels until it sounds good. There's no romantic way to put it. It's a lot of tedious and meticulous work. I think most of it is post-production. Finally, it was just having to say, "This is as good as it's going to get." We finally need to just move in. You can keep tweaking and adding forever.

MT: Most of the songs on the new album clock in at five minutes long. Was this on purpose?

Jarvis: I think they just kind of ended up that way. I've just always liked songs that are longer and more filled up. There are elements to add and you build into this epic crescendo.

MT: Hence, the two years. You've mentioned focusing more on emotion than production. What emotion do you think is driving the new record?

Jarvis: I think it's honesty. Being honest about yourself and where you're at in life. But to me, Matt's lyrics are about being in the present moment and not worrying too much about the future or the past. When you're living in the moment, you have some peace with yourself.

MT: There are a lot of Sigur Ros-type elements, in that the songs are sweeping. What are some of your influences?

Jarvis: Sigur Ros is one of my favorite bands. Me and my brother have similar music tastes. Our vocalist and guitarist Matt has very different musical tastes. He's more into the rock and emo type stuff than we are, which I think brings more variety to our songs.

MT: It's hard to peg a genre, especially with this EP.

Jarvis: We've never fit in with a specific scene. We're too rock for the electronic scene, and we're too tame for the rock scene. We've always been in this weird, middle area.

MT: I know I'm going to mispronounce your album title —

Jarvis: (laughs) It's Hygge (pronounced hue-guh), and it's Danish for the art of comfort. I had to look that one up, too. It's kind of like their version of feng shui.

MT: How is your year shaping up after this release?

Jarvis: After we release this album, we are thinking about playing some out of town shows, getting a tour going. Just playing more, writing more, and getting the music out there in a way we haven't done so far. We're trying to keep moving forward to meet other bands in other states. We're just going one step at a time.

Ancient Language will perform on Saturday, June 2 at El Club with Earth Engine and Man Mountain; 4114 W. Vernor Hwy., Detroit; 313-279-7382;; Tickets are $10.

Get our top picks for the best events in Detroit every Thursday morning. Sign up for our events newsletter.

Scroll to read more Michigan Music articles


Join Detroit Metro Times Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.