Back in 2015, when New York-based duo Tempers (Jasmine Golestaneh and Eddie Cooper) originally released their debut album, Services, the vinyl was limited to 500 copies and released through the German label Aufnahme + Wiedergabe. For the fan base that they were building in the U.S., vinyl copies were difficult, if not impossible, to find.
“I get emails every day from people wanting to buy the album,” says Golestaneh by phone. “It seemed like people really wanted to have it on vinyl.”
On December 11, Dais Records will reissue Services – and, yes, that includes a vinyl release for the Stateside crowd – alongside an acoustic version of album track “Bright Over Me.” At the time that they recorded Services, Golestaneh explains, the duo was working experimentally and recorded acoustic versions of some songs that would go onto appear on the debut.
Bringing together threads of musical styles like cold wave, minimal synth and techno, Tempers has forged a sound that is raw and emotional. Over the years, their process to making that music has evolved considerably. “In the beginning, there was this idea that if you labor or suffer over a song, it’s going to be better. If you haven’t suffered over it, somehow, it’s not good enough,” she says. “Over time, we discovered that the songs that take less time, the songs that, really, are the most intuitive and simple to write, are the ones that are the most powerful and immediate and effective.”
Tempers’ most recent single, “The Use of My Belonging,” came together fairly easily, Golestaneh says. She and Cooper worked on the song remotely while staying at home. The bandmates have developed a songwriting partnership that Golestaneh describes as “telepathic.”
At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the two were in the midst of a European tour. They had to fly back from Paris and reschedule the rest of the dates. Back in New York, Golestaneh’s apartment had been infested by water bugs, so she moved into the apartment of a friend who was out of town.
“She had a very interesting and unusual bathroom – it looks like the set of a Fassbinder movie. I recorded all the vocals in this very surreal bathroom,” Golestaneh recalls. “I feel like there’s something about being displaced during the pandemic and then finding myself in this very beautiful apartment and that really added to the vulnerability of the song.”
Golestaneh, who is also a collage artist, spent a lot of the stay-at-home period watching movies, going through the works of directors like Eric Rohmer and Wim Wenders. Certainly, she says, that’s influenced her current work. “There’s always a strange mix when you’re creating something,” she says. “It’s always this unlikely alchemy of elements that suddenly turn into something that feels meaningful and it’s pulled from so many different sources.”
She had been particularly moved by a re-watch of Wim Wenders’ film Wings of Desire. “There was something about the enchanted and melancholic spirit of the movie… I wanted to do a song that feels like this movie,” she says. That night, Cooper sent her the music for what would become “The Use of My Belonging” and it was precisely what Golestaneh had in mind. She was able to get the lyrics and vocals together quickly. The result is a delicately pensive song that captures the mood of a time where so little seems certain.
“Lyrically, it was very much about the feeling of being in a pandemic, but also the mass manipulation and power dynamics, really destructive power dynamics and police brutality and the rise of protests and feeling really overwhelmed and really scared,” she says, “but also really hoping that the loving aspect of our human nature will prevail through all of this.”
Learning how to make music without forcing the song to manifest is something that Golestaneh says took time to learn. “It’s trust. Trusting and letting it happen,” she says. “There’s something really powerful about just letting go in that way.”
But, getting to that point of trust meant moving beyond the common belief that creativity should be hard. “I think that it’s probably that way with a lot of artists, where you think that you should be suffering for some reason. There’s a nobility to suffering,” she says. “Life is already so hard – this is something that is really just quite freeing and quite a relief.”
Follow Tempers on Facebook for ongoing updates.