Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti - "Round and Round"/ "Mistaken Wedding"
4AD released Ariel Pink’s now-classic “Round and Round”/”Mistaken Wedding” double A-side single on April 26 of 2010, ahead of the full-length Before Today. Starting with the iconic intro of “Round and Round” and through a series of seemingly disparate and dreamlike twists and turns, the unlikely gem defies pop convention while remaining undeniably accessible to the listener. Similarly, “Mistaken Wedding” on the flip side of this vinyl 7-inch is as distinctive as it is inviting.
The songs, artwork, and accompanying “Mistaken Wedding” video all feel as fresh, intriguing, and important today as they did over eight years ago. For many fans of Ariel Pink, “Round and Round” in particular remains inextricably associated with the artist, and “Mistaken Wedding” clearly warrants its double A-side designation. Needless to say, both tracks remain in consistent rotation here at WMF.
We’ve thoroughly enjoyed revisiting the “Round and Round”/”Mistaken Wedding” single and video, documenting first-hand information from Ariel Pink and crucial long-time collaborators Kenny Gilmore, Tim Koh, Cole M.G.N. and Nick Amato. We’re happy to share a closer, behind-the-scenes look at this remarkable work with you here.
When asked about the “Round and Round” sessions, Tim Koh recalled:
“We first jammed ‘Round and Round’ in Ariel’s apartment. I have the original sessions on my computer. It was finished in my garage/studio with Kenny and Ariel. We took parts from a different song Ariel was writing and had recorded. It’s on one of those tour comps.”
Kenny Gilmore added:
“The song Tim is referring to is ‘Front Man/Hold On I’m Calling’ which is on one of those comps. We made a demo on the 8-track, which was the main groove. [Then] we made an edit of the new demo with the old ‘Front Man’ recording and made the structure of the song by taking different parts and editing them together. Then the band learned that structure.”
“Another memory I have is doing overdubs. I called up my high school music teacher. He let us come and record the marimba at my old high school in the Valley. Cole [M.G.N.], Tim, and I went out there and recorded the marimba.”
Ariel Pink confirmed: “I rented a room [in the Hollywood Hills] for a month just before or after we went into a real studio (House of Blues) to record ‘Round and Round’ drums and basic tracks. I’d written/recorded the ‘Frontman/Hold On’ demo about two years before that. I sampled the drums from ‘Other Voices’ by The Cure and wrote and recorded the parts over that.”
Cole M.G.N. remembered: “Jason Darrah (Whitemare/The Samps) and I were driving around, constantly slapping ‘Frontman’ from Oddities Sodomies. We just kept saying, ‘We [APHG] gotta redo this, this is the most incredible shit ever.’”
“We each brought it up to Ariel and planted the seed in his head. Then I guess he went about blending it into the mix and combining it with all the other music we were developing at the time. Jason told me he cried when he heard ‘Round and Round.’”
Looking back at “Mistaken Wedding”, Kenny Gilmore remembered:
“For ‘Mistaken Wedding’, I remember Ariel was staying in the studio space in a house in the Hollywood Hills. He was working on stuff there (this would have been long before we were on 4AD). Cole, Tim, and I went there and the four of us recorded it live to the 8-track just as an instrumental jam kind of thing. Then Ariel added vocals to the jam later and I’m pretty sure that was it.”
Giving background to the musical impetus behind “Mistaken Wedding” Tim Koh explained: “‘Mistaken Wedding’ was inspired by Ariel’s and my interest in Ethiopian music.”
Ariel Pink confirmed: “I was directly referencing a Getachew Asfaw song - I forget the name. [I] just love the soulful grooviness of Ethio-Jazz Fusion during the 80s — it’s like if the JBs played Xhol Caravan.”
A song as memorable and unusual as “A Mistaken Wedding” is certainly deserving of an equally remarkable video. Fortunately, The Nick Amato-directed Mistaken Wedding video is just that. What might strike the viewer as cinéma vérité is in fact actual footage from a Rosenberg family wedding.
Nick Amato has a history not only playing in Ariel Pink’s band, but also as a videographer/director who has contributed in various ways to the visual work of Ariel Pink, John Maus, and Geneva Jacuzzi, among others. Looking back at the remarkable slice-of-life “Mistaken Wedding” video as well as other visual work from that era, Nick Amato recalled:
“I negotiated that I could make a music video with the footage and in return I would shoot Michelle’s wedding pro bono. Not one of the projects [from that time] was ever funded or backed by a record company…[we] always put it together with whatever means we had. The footage was shot and edited by Travis Peterson and me.”
We would, of course, be remiss if we revisited this release without mentioning the unique cover art so strongly associated with the 7-inch. Though the back cover does include art credits, we’re glad Tim Koh was able to confirm the roles behind the art:
“I designed the ‘Round and Round’ 7-inch, and my friend Saiman Chow did the illustrations. I also designed the Mature Themes art, the ‘Reminiscences’ 7-inch, and a bunch of shirts. My friend/cousin Doug Lee airbrushed and designed Before Today.”
Note: all information from Ariel Pink, Tim Koh, Kenny Gilmore, Cole M.G.N., and Nick Amato is from direct correspondence between them and WMF in September and October of 2018.