Q&A: Emily Pothast of Midday Veil

Emily Pothast is multimedia manifest: An MFA in printmaking first brought her to Seattle, but these days she fronts Midday Veil, creates site-specific installation performances as Hair and Space Museum, curates visual art exhibitions for TaRLA transdimensional Art Portal, writes a smart art blog called Translinguistic Other, runs a record label and organizes events as a member of the portable Shrines Collective. This month she’s entering the studio with Midday Veil to record the band’s second full-length with renowned Northwest producer randall Dunn, and sifting through live audio improvisations the band recently recorded at the Integratron, a wooden dome built on a geomagnetic vortex in the middle of California’s Palm Desert.

What’s it been like to go from being a visual artist to being a musician?
I’m still an artist, but the scene is different. I’ve become friends with a completely different crowd and most of my artist friends don’t even see what I’m doing [with music] unless I perform at a visual art event.

The main difference is the relative degree of involvement and isolation experienced by musicians and artists. With some exceptions, music is generally a very collaborative activity, whereas most of the magic associated with producing visual art occurs while toiling in isolation. There are many local artists who are working to break this pattern of isolation and be more promiscuous with their collaborations, like musicians. I think this is great.

How does your work in each of those arenas influence each other?
Both of my bands have a strong visual component, so in a way we’re still making visual art when we design projections or make music videos or design album packaging. But I’m interested in taking that natural connection a step further and setting up performances that double as visual art environments.

What do you enjoy most about performing?
When you’re making an object—an album, a painting, a film, whatever—you get to think things through and deliberate over your decisions right up until the object is ready to go have a life of its own. But when you give a performance, everything that happens has to unfold in that precise moment. Either it works or it doesn’t…there are no edits, no overdubs. Performance is the only way I know how to occasion a moment that breaks free from its own space and time, and fills the whole of eternity.

Emily Pothast performs with Midday Veil on Oct. 22 at Heineken City Arts Fest

Photography by Nate Watters