SappyFest Q&A with Construction and Destruction

It’s common to find Colleen Collins and David Trenaman (C and D) of Construction and Destruction (C and D) at SappyFest, either performing or volunteering. The duo perform this year on Friday night at Thunder & Lightning along with Vulva Culture. We chatted with Collins and Trenaman from their home in Port Greville, N.S. ahead of SappyFest 12. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

What’s the draw with SappyFest? Why is it the sort of festival you folks like to play and hang out at?

Colleen Collins: I mean it’s definitely both. We like to play and hang out at it. It’s also the festival that’s closest in all ways to us: to our hearts, to ourselves geographically, to our history in a way. It’s one of the festivals we’ve played the most consistently.

One of the things for me is that familiar kind of aspect and the evolutionary kind of aspect of it. The ability to watch performers that come back and to see changes over time and arcs of music and a whole bunch of other kind of interesting facets for the people and the performers.

As people who have gone to the festival quite a few years over its 12-year existence, what are some things you’ve noticed that have changed over the years?

CC: I guess just sort of the actual physical size of it has changed. So you know where the tent was. And i find it, like anything, location and geographical arrangement really triggers memories for me. So when I can imagine the tent as a smaller square that was sort of right beside Strut’s Gallery there. It’s now on the main street. It’s interesting to be able to hold in the mind those different sort of geographical and physical configurations of the layout of the festival.

Are there any artists or bands in particular that you folks are looking forward to seeing this year?

David Trenaman: Ancient Shapes will be cool.

CC: That’s Daniel Romano’s band of course. We have a lot of friends playing so that’s always amazing. Jon Mckiel, Klarka Weinwurm, Partner and a whole bunch. People returning too, especially young people when they go have big experiences, adventures, success and then come back. It’s cool to see how they’ve changed in terms of their performances.

Weaves is also someone we’ve been interested in. Amanda Jernigan is a brilliant writer. I think it’s going to be good this year. We’re good friends with Steven (Lambke, SappyFest creative director) and we think he’s done a wonderful, along with help, has done a really wonderful curation this year. There’s a lot of different kind of things I’ll be exposed to, some things that I might not otherwise have.

What can people expect from the show at Thunder and Lightning Friday?

DT: I always find it an interesting space because the sound. Kind of half of it is PA and that, and you’re standing around the PA. And then the other half is sort of this huge cavernous bowling alley. I find it neat that way.

CC: We’re playing with Vulva Culture. We’re going to be playing some new songs and stuff like that. It’s a comfortable space at night with throngs of bodies in there and drinks and people having had a great time in the sun and watching other people. It’s a lucky energy to walk into and try to make music out of. I hope, we both hope, that we’re not too burnt by sun or whatever else happens.

You mentioned you’ll be playing new songs from Noli Timere. Now that the album has been out for a couple of months, are there any new songs you folks really look forward to playing live?

CC: We look forward to some stuff we know well or just like a muscle memory. New songs are kind of like a wildcard. Sometimes they can be a great kind of high, getting into the presence of the song or getting into the space of the songs. Sometimes it’s harder to get there with new songs, but rewarding.

One thing I like when I listen to Construction and Destruction albums is how it can switch from calm to frantic through the instrumentation and vocals. That kind of dynamic shift, what’s it like translating that into the live performances?

C: It’s tough in a way because, as you said, when there are dynamics, I think that also suggests there’s space or silence at the end of that spectrum. We work to maintain that because it’s always interesting in performances and songs, to have this — not necessarily uncomfortable space — but an unwritten space.

I think those are considerations certainly. Working towards that kind of dynamic, I think we feel it reflects our experiences in a true way, to some degree, of what the songs are written out of or how the songs arise. Consideration beforehand is something we try to do and then as little thinking in the moment as possible.