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by Leah Roh
July 25th, 2012

On July 25th, Rooftop Films is presenting “Her Master’s Voice,” a documentary that follows Nina Conti, a ventriloquist who journeys with the lost puppets of her mentor to the cemetery for deceased performers’ puppets, and what better way to introduce this fantastic though haunting film than the spiritual and dreamy music from the band Shenandoah and the Night. Rooftop Films had the opportunity to interview Shenandoah Ableman, who is the frontman of her band, about her style of music and its inspiration.

Rooftop Films: On your Facebook page, you describe the genre of your band as “dreamy” and “haunting.” I can definitely get the haunting and dream-like sense with your mystical vocals and cryptic accordion, but what specific elements of your band do you specifically consider “haunting?”

Shenandoah Ableman: I feel the vocals are a bit haunting, they quaver at times and I typically write in minor keys with slow tempos. I will say however, with the making of our most recent single So low, So High, the music is taking new shape and bending towards a more high energy and uplifting spirit.

RF: I read that you grew up with a musical family. How did growing up with musical parents affect your folk-pop-noir sound?

SA: My father plays fiddle, typically bluegrass and old style country. I grew up with loads of people in our house playing music and going to music festivals where everyone in attendance plucked their guitars, banjos, or mandolins into the evening. It was all around, and while I don’t specialize in this type of music, my vocal inflections have been influenced by it. Also, content wise, I feel the “folk-pop-noir” handle better represents the songs from the EP, which I wrote on my own while touring the country with my old band, the Yarddog Roadshow. The new material is lighter, faster, and textured by the evolving collaborative dynamic of the band, which is tight by the way. With or without me, these guys are the real deal and I feel so happy that we’ve been able to grow and change together.

RF: You studied music in San Francisco though your band is based in Brooklyn. What part of your current music do you think is drawn from the San Francisco/California chill-wave beach sound?

SA: I guess that the music now is intended to be uplifting rather then to complain. That seems very “California chill-wave.”

RF: And what are you working on next? Should we expect to see another EP coming soon?

SA: Yes, we have three songs recorded and under the belt and plan to record at least three more in the next couple months as well as a couple music videos and a kick starter to help fund the project.

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Rooftop Films is a New York based non-profit whose mission is to engage diverse communities by showing independent movies in outdoor locations, producing new films, coordinating youth media education, and renting equipment at low cost to artists.

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