Exclusive: High Places Takes Us to New Heights


High Places — a collaborative DIY duo known for their layered sound — took a moment from the touring circuit to chit-chat with Flavorwire via cellphone speakerphone, as they sat on a hill (ha!) attempting to avoid the sprinkling rain. Obviously their name is quite fitting, but according to Rob Barber, the moniker developed organically. After jotting down the things that he found inspiring, Rob’s love for “going to high places” (which he says most likely stems from “climbing trees and on top of rooftops” in his kiddie years) won out in the end.

“It’s not too loaded,” he explains. “It’s slightly hippie, but slightly hip-hop,” — in other words, all over the place, just like their mishmash sound. The female half of the pair, Mary Pearson — whose favorite high place is found on an island off of Finland — agrees that their music cannot be pegged to a single genre. “It’s very 21st Century,” she says. “There are so many sounds that you cannot separate one from the other.” Perhaps the fact that they use household items as instruments plays at least a small part in creating the aural casserole. After “drooling over expensive equipment,” Rob and Mary utilized plastic bags and mixing bowls to record their debut album in their Bed-Stuy digs. Not only did it save them so dough, it also introduced different sounds to their music, says Mary. “We’re interested in a broader palate.”

She refers to High Places’ music as noise held together by a melody, but this isn’t a musical pair held together by romance. In fact, they hardly knew each other before joining creative forces. They met through mutual friends (a “leap of faith,” according to Mary) before listening to and enjoying one another’s solo projects. Before meeting, Rob taught visual art classes at Pratt Institute while Mary was earning a music degree in bassoon performance at Western Michigan University. “We’re pretty different people — ying and yang,” says Mary. “A lot of guys suck,” claims Rob. “She smells better on tour, that’s for sure.” He admits that learning about their differences was an enjoying, “inspiring” experience. One thing is certain: they share a familiar sense of humor. “I pee sitting down,” says Mary, before Rob immediately interjects, “So do I!”

And while the twosome remained hush-hush concerning their favorite male/female duos (Rob considers their own band “sort of genderless in a way”), they were happy to offer up their top photographers. Mary, who always carries a camera with her (check out their aesthetically pleasing blog), says their photog friends are “inspiring” because they’re constantly making things. “So much other art helps their art,” says Mary of their three favorites, who all experiment in other art forms, such as music: Gary Fogelson (“you really see his perspective on life through his photos” claims Mary), Hisham Bharoocha and Mark Borthwick. Mary says it’s “inspiring” (there’s that word again!) for photography to be portrayed “in a way that’s not always trying to say something.” Art, just like High Places, that is up for interpretation. Great music, band members with no drama (they say they’re “legally family members”) and a good taste in visual art? We’re feeling higher already.

Tour Dates Sat Jan 24 Santa Cruz, CA – The Crepe Place w/ Hawnay Troof Thu Feb 5 Philadelphia, PA – Danger Danger Gallery w/ Soft Circle Fri Feb 6 Northampton, MA – Pearl Street Nightclub w/ Soft Circle Sat Feb 7 Providence, RI – Min-Pins 4Ever (112 Mathewson St.) w/ Soft Circle, Silk Flowers, Wizzardz Sun Feb 8 Boston, MA – Institute of Contemporary Art w/ Soft Circle Mon Feb 9 Toronto, ON – Horseshoe Tavern w/ Soft Circle Tue Feb 10 Hamilton, ON – Pepper Jack Cafe w/ Soft Circle Wed Feb 11 Buffalo, NY – Soundlab w/ Soft Circle Thu Feb 12 Princeton, NJ – The Terrace Club w/ Soft Circle Fri Feb 13 New York, NY – The New Museum w/ Grouper4