20 Questions: Circuit des Yeux
As Circuit des Yeux, Chicago composer and vocalist Haley Fohr approaches music through the lens of a poet or even auteur.
Past releases such as 2017’s Reaching for Indigo or 2015’s In Plain Speech showcase Fohr’s striking, soul-stirring signature: a marriage of beguiling arrangements, deeply personal themes and that distinctive voice. It’s an ineffably poignant combination, one that feels even more realised on her forthcoming Circuit des Yeux album –io. Ahead of its release, we caught up with Fohr to discuss comfort meals, dream collaborations and that time she had sushi with Vincent Gallo.
What’s your earliest childhood memory?
My earliest childhood memory is walking in the mall with my mother. We were running errands and each step she took was about five of my little child steps. I remember feeling anxiety, and having to jog to keep up. I must have been 3 or 4 years old.
Favourite non-musical hobby?
I really enjoy painting and riding my bike.
How would your friends describe you in three words?
Sensitive, porous, well-meaning.
What’s your go-to comfort meal?
My comfort meal is chicken and dumplings. My mother used to make chicken and noodles for birthdays. Now my partner makes me chicken and dumplings whenever I have achieved a strenuous task; I usually come home from a tour to chicken and dumplings.
Weirdest thing someone’s caught you doing?
I once had to go to the ER room on laundry day. I was wearing bathing suit bottoms as underwear and the doctor commented on it…
What makes you feel nostalgic?
Food, music and scent.
If you could time travel where would you go?
I would either go to the late 50s to help my grandmother when she was a young mother, or I would go right to the period of industrialisation just to see if climate activists were working back then, too.
What’s your biggest fear?
My biggest fear is never finding faith. As people in my family age, faith adjusts in correlation to tragedy. My father refers to his deceased parents as orbs in the sky, and my mother deeply believes in the will of God. At the age of 32, faith and hope are still not embedded in me despite my suffering. Will I die in a void? It’s possible.
What would you want written on your tombstone?
Absolutely nothing. I’d like to decay under a tree.
Who would be on your dream dinner party guestlist?
Maya Angelou and Buster Keaton.
Most famous person you’ve ever met?
Had sushi with Vincent Gallo once? Terrible.
Who’s inspiring you right now?
I have been reading Andrei Tarkovsky’s Sculpting in Time. His dedication to his vision and ability to discuss his spiritual practice as a maker is very inspiring.
What’s the best party you’ve ever been to?
As you can probably glean from this exercise, I am an introvert. I like parties where you watch a wild movie together and talk about it afterward.
What did you dream about last night?
I was putting on a show for my newest record, and trying to sing a very high note in front of a young female musician. She must have been not even 20-years-old and I thought, ‘I will sing this note for her to show that you can remain strong as you age.’ My voice cracked and waivered and the whole thing became very embarrassing. Then I woke up!
Do you have a hidden talent?
My voice is still my hidden talent. Each time I sing to a new person their reaction is that of surprise and wonder. My speaking voice is very quiet, and my demeanour is much like a shadow. The juxtaposition can be jarring.
What’s the biggest realisation you’ve had in the past year?
Not everything happens for a reason. Things just happen the way they are supposed to.
Who is your dream collaborator?
I would love to score a play written by Leonora Carrington.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever given?
I once told someone who was very depressed and on the verge to remember joy. It is important to remember that there will be fleeting moments of joy in the future.
Any regrettable haircuts?
As a child of the 90s, please do not try and make the bowl cut something it is not (fashionable)!
If someone had to play you in a movie, who would you choose?
Sandra Bullock. People tell me we look alike, on my good days. But I don’t know, Sandra could really use some diversity and range in her IMDB. What about Sandra Bullock just like, mentally breaking down but obsessing over Jandek and Prurient as a child? Maybe she wears orange flowy clothes and a baseball cap and gets beaten up and shit but still finds Penderecki in a town filled with alcoholics and pharmaceutical plants. Sounds like an easy Oscar if you ask me.
-io is out now via Matador Records