Gentle Whale

(Dylan Marx, who you can check out by clicking [HERE] recently interviewed
Saint Mahogany’s Andrew Campbell. They have a new EP called Burdell check it out HERE)

DM: Alright.  I’ve got some questions, and hopefully you’ve got some answers.
AC: Okay, word.  Let’s do it.
Would you say there was any kind of feeling or concept that inspired this EP?

Yeah, this might make me sound… well, I don’t know.  It’s mostly autobiographical.  The EP is called Burdell, which was the name of a hill in the town I grew up in, in northern California.  My family would go hiking there a lot when I was really young.  I guess it was the most representative word I could think of for my childhood.

And now you’re studying music in New York?

Yeah.  I studied jazz drums at the New School for a couple years, but I recently transferred to the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music.  It’s this great little program at NYU that focuses on things like music business, audio engineering, and production.  It goes really in-depth into the realm of the recorded music industry, and it’s more geared towards popular music.  The studios and the faculty are really incredible.  I’m really enjoying it a lot.

So you spend a lot of time in the studio, then?  Are you into music that’s more artsy and experimental, that uses the studio as an instrument?  Would you ever consider making music like that, that’s more sonically experimental?

Definitely.  My philosophy for producing the Saint Mahogany stuff – one of them, anyway – is to take field recordings and obscure sounds and blend them into the music, which is essentially indie rock.  Musically, it’s pretty accessible, but in some places there are underlying drones and textures that may be beautiful by themselves but not really interesting enough, in my opinion, to warrant being released on their own.  As much as I’d love to put out a compilation of all the sounds from the EP, I don’t think many people would be into it.  Maybe.  I don’t know, we’ll see.

What was the recording process like?  Did you do it at home, or the studio?

Mostly the studio.  We recorded bass and drums at Braund Sound in Brooklyn, and pretty much everything else was done at Clive Davis.  There’s some random aux percussion that was recorded in my apartment.  Some sounds were recorded around New York City or in California.

Do you go around New York with a field recorder?

Yeah, I do.  I actually got this idea from another band I play with called Little Sur (shout out to Josh and the gang), but I went into the 6th Avenue L Station one night and found a guy doing this crazy tapping shit in F minor on an electric guitar.  New York subway stations are all tiled walls, and when you listen closely they create this huge natural reverb.  The hallway that guitarist played in created this really beautiful texture that I recorded, which eventually, when pitched down, became the background noise you hear in “Featherlike.”

Tell me about your solo EP from 2011, This is What the City WIll Sound LIke When All the People Are Gone.  You did a lot of the instruments yourself, right?

I played all the rhythm section – guitar, drums, bass, keyboard, banjo – and did all the singing.  I did get a couple other folks to play strings and woodwinds but everything else was me.

Is the Saint Mahogany EP different?

With Saint Mahogany there are lots of other players.  I just kind of realized that I am not that sick at piano or bass – or even guitar or singing for that matter.  (Laughs)  But not only are these people killer musicians, they are really good friends of mine who I trusted to collaborate creatively and work out great parts.  Their contributions made the recording process much more fun and productive, and I think you can hear it in the EP.

What instruments are you playing?

Singing, rhythm guitar, drums, percussion, and all the sounds.  Again, that’s all I really felt qualified to do.

Was the songwriting more collaborative?

No, the writing was still all me.  But the parts and the arrangements were created together.  I made a point of letting the others know I was open to suggestions, and people would chime in if there was a chord that needed to be changed or whatever.

How does Saint Mahogany compare musically to what you were doing with What the City Will Sound LIke?

I think it’s a lot… clearer.  I put out that EP when I was still in high school.  I was smoking too much weed and listening to too much Grizzly Bear – not that there’s anything wrong with Grizzly Bear!  They are one of my favorite bands…  But I feel like my ability to write songs that are interesting both musically and lyrically has gotten much better since then.  

How much of the theory that you studied at the New School do you think about when you’re writing?

I’m very theory conscious.  I’m definitely of the belief that the rules of theory are meant to be broken, but you can’t really break the rules until you know them.  There’s some cutty shit that happens in these songs every now and then, but I’m completely aware of what’s going on.  Everything is very deliberate.

Have you studied non-western music theory?

I can’t say that I have.  It’s regrettable, but all my understanding of music comes from the classical and jazz traditions.  That’s not to say I don’t want to learn at some point, but I just haven’t gotten there yet.

There’s time.  Well, to close it off, what’s next for Saint Mahogany?

I’m not really sure yet.  We’re trying to play some shows around New York and get people juiced about us.  Beyond that, we’re just stoked to be making records.  I’m always writing, so there will undoubtedly be some singles or another EP at some point.

(Dylan Marx, who you can check out by clicking [HERE] recently interviewed

Saint Mahogany’s Andrew Campbell. They have a new EP called Burdell check it out HERE)

DM: Alright.  I’ve got some questions, and hopefully you’ve got some answers.

AC: Okay, word.  Let’s do it.

Would you say there was any kind of feeling or concept that inspired this EP?

Yeah, this might make me sound… well, I don’t know.  It’s mostly autobiographical.  The EP is called Burdell, which was the name of a hill in the town I grew up in, in northern California.  My family would go hiking there a lot when I was really young.  I guess it was the most representative word I could think of for my childhood.

And now you’re studying music in New York?

Yeah.  I studied jazz drums at the New School for a couple years, but I recently transferred to the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music.  It’s this great little program at NYU that focuses on things like music business, audio engineering, and production.  It goes really in-depth into the realm of the recorded music industry, and it’s more geared towards popular music.  The studios and the faculty are really incredible.  I’m really enjoying it a lot.

So you spend a lot of time in the studio, then?  Are you into music that’s more artsy and experimental, that uses the studio as an instrument?  Would you ever consider making music like that, that’s more sonically experimental?

Definitely.  My philosophy for producing the Saint Mahogany stuff – one of them, anyway – is to take field recordings and obscure sounds and blend them into the music, which is essentially indie rock.  Musically, it’s pretty accessible, but in some places there are underlying drones and textures that may be beautiful by themselves but not really interesting enough, in my opinion, to warrant being released on their own.  As much as I’d love to put out a compilation of all the sounds from the EP, I don’t think many people would be into it.  Maybe.  I don’t know, we’ll see.

What was the recording process like?  Did you do it at home, or the studio?

Mostly the studio.  We recorded bass and drums at Braund Sound in Brooklyn, and pretty much everything else was done at Clive Davis.  There’s some random aux percussion that was recorded in my apartment.  Some sounds were recorded around New York City or in California.

Do you go around New York with a field recorder?

Yeah, I do.  I actually got this idea from another band I play with called Little Sur (shout out to Josh and the gang), but I went into the 6th Avenue L Station one night and found a guy doing this crazy tapping shit in F minor on an electric guitar.  New York subway stations are all tiled walls, and when you listen closely they create this huge natural reverb.  The hallway that guitarist played in created this really beautiful texture that I recorded, which eventually, when pitched down, became the background noise you hear in “Featherlike.”

Tell me about your solo EP from 2011, This is What the City WIll Sound LIke When All the People Are Gone.  You did a lot of the instruments yourself, right?

I played all the rhythm section – guitar, drums, bass, keyboard, banjo – and did all the singing.  I did get a couple other folks to play strings and woodwinds but everything else was me.

Is the Saint Mahogany EP different?

With Saint Mahogany there are lots of other players.  I just kind of realized that I am not that sick at piano or bass – or even guitar or singing for that matter.  (Laughs)  But not only are these people killer musicians, they are really good friends of mine who I trusted to collaborate creatively and work out great parts.  Their contributions made the recording process much more fun and productive, and I think you can hear it in the EP.

What instruments are you playing?

Singing, rhythm guitar, drums, percussion, and all the sounds.  Again, that’s all I really felt qualified to do.

Was the songwriting more collaborative?

No, the writing was still all me.  But the parts and the arrangements were created together.  I made a point of letting the others know I was open to suggestions, and people would chime in if there was a chord that needed to be changed or whatever.

How does Saint Mahogany compare musically to what you were doing with What the City Will Sound LIke?

I think it’s a lot… clearer.  I put out that EP when I was still in high school.  I was smoking too much weed and listening to too much Grizzly Bear – not that there’s anything wrong with Grizzly Bear!  They are one of my favorite bands…  But I feel like my ability to write songs that are interesting both musically and lyrically has gotten much better since then.  

How much of the theory that you studied at the New School do you think about when you’re writing?

I’m very theory conscious.  I’m definitely of the belief that the rules of theory are meant to be broken, but you can’t really break the rules until you know them.  There’s some cutty shit that happens in these songs every now and then, but I’m completely aware of what’s going on.  Everything is very deliberate.

Have you studied non-western music theory?

I can’t say that I have.  It’s regrettable, but all my understanding of music comes from the classical and jazz traditions.  That’s not to say I don’t want to learn at some point, but I just haven’t gotten there yet.

There’s time.  Well, to close it off, what’s next for Saint Mahogany?

I’m not really sure yet.  We’re trying to play some shows around New York and get people juiced about us.  Beyond that, we’re just stoked to be making records.  I’m always writing, so there will undoubtedly be some singles or another EP at some point.

(Victor Florence who you can check out HERE.
Interviewed A Problem Like Maria. she has a new EP out here.)
VF: Since 2011 you have released 6 EPs, 3 LPs, 8 singles. What keeps you moving at such a prolific pace? 
APLM: I’ve learned to let go of my songs and accept them for what they are: representations of who I am and what I stand for, each bounded by a finite place and a finite time. In other words, I’ve stopped over-thinking. It keeps the music honest and current, and it keeps me sane. 
 
When I was younger I was always to hesitant to release my tracks “officially,” calling almost every song a demo because in my mind I could always do better if I just waited a little bit more. There was no appreciation for the journey; it felt as though I wanted to get to the destination without ever walking a single step.
 
By the time I finally released a hip-hop EP in 2004 under a different artist name, the songs felt like they were written by a different person. The motivation behind the EP was no longer pure; by then it felt like it was more of something I had to do because everyone expected me to do it, rather than something I wanted to do for myself. Too much over-thinking ruined what was supposed to be a milestone—I got burned out by the process and stopped gigging, eventually hitting a creative block that lasted until 2011.
 What got you over that creative block?
I got into a national songwriting camp. During that week I spent with 60+ different songwriters in a confined space I remembered why I started making music in the first place: because it made me happy. Everything else apart from that is just not as important. 
 
I’ve always been fascinated by how musicians approach their own work. Do you have a certain set process in writing and recording songs or do you try to vary it with each release?
Each release is slightly different, but some things remain constant. I work best with a tight schedule of deadlines, which can be grueling for the people I work with (hence my short list of constant collaborators who are understand and work well with my process). Every song starts with a story in my head, and every collected release starts with a full-on concept—even if it doesn’t seem like it by the time it’s done.
 
It’s quite rare for me, but at times I work alone—meaning I produce myself. When that happens the schedule’s even tighter, and all other areas of my life basically shut down until the music’s done (this happened with Saudade).
 
Nearly all of my releases are mastered by Rekapper, but before that I typically send out previews of new stuff to people I trust—so they can point out flaws that I might have missed. 
 
 
What is your musical background? Did you have formal training or were you self-taught?
I took piano lessons for a decade (from age 6 to 16), which accounts for my knowledge of basic music theory. My family’s Catholic background helped, too; I was in choirs all throughout elementary and high school.
 
There’s also my family, period. My mom plays the drums, my dad plays the guitar, and my brother plays the bass. All of them, plus my sister, can sing. That’s a lot of support and a lot to live up to, at the same time.
 
 
What albums did you find influential in how you approach music? What are you listening to these days?
There’s a whole lot of those, but off the top of my head, there’s Bjork’s Post, Tori Amos’ Boys For Pele, The Beatles’ Revolver.More recently, there’s The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu’s Baduism and Mama’s Gun, Imogen Heap’s Speak For Yourself.
 
Because of my line of work, I’m exposed to a lot of young, local music. There’s always a freshness and a rawness to the majority of my music consumption—something I’ve really come to enjoy. The downside is that I don’t get a lot of free time to listen much else. I’m still listening to the latest Childish Gambino, the latest Eminem—there’s always a little bit of Motown and the Beatles that gets rotated into my playlist, too. I’ve Jessie Ware, Com Truise, Chvrches and the new Beyonce on my phone right now so that’s what ends up in my ear when I’m on the go.
 
Beatles! Favorite Beatle? This is incredibly important.
I wanna say Ringo just to annoy RWE; but really, it’s Paul McCartney. All of my favorite Beatles songs are written by him.
 
 
What brought you to focusing your musical output on electronic based music? How do you work with your collaborators? 
Performance anxiety and shyness make face-to-face collaborations difficult for me. Usually when I work with others the part I contribute is supposed to be the focal point (because I sing), and I’ve never been comfortable with that. (Choirs are different because the whole point is to not stand out.) This made being in a band—or even forming one—very awkward. Electronic based music allows me to work by myself or with fewer people (and mostly online), which makes everything so much easier.
 
Don’t get me wrong, I do have a band now and I do enjoy making music with them and regularly seeing each other. The Cellar Doors have done a lot for my on stage confidence; but at the end of the day, that’s The Cellar Doors’ music, and not APLM’s. 
 
More often than not, I work with producers who provide the instrumentals for me to lay over my melodies and my lyrics. There’s a bit of a back and forth usually (email, Soundcloud, Dropbox, etc.); I’ll ask for some changes in the chord progression or the sectioning, even asking for adjustments of the BPM or the key sometimes. This is sort of the standard I’ve become accustomed to when working with musicians from The Hai (especially Water Gun Water Gun Sky Attack—we did a concept EP together called Decompose) and with Almost Technicolor (with whom I did Europa). Occasionally the producer will work with a demo I’ve provided beforehand (Mascara Hera and I have done this; the result is “Steal Your Heart” from Lagniappe). 
 
 
How did you wind up part of Gentle Whale?
Someone asked me if I’d be interested in joining, and I was, so I said yes! RWE and I worked on a collab EP years ago and I already was familiar with your work and Mascara Hera’s—seemed like GW was all good people making good music. What’s not to like?
 
 
Not only are you part of Gentle Whale but you are also connected to The Hai. What can you tell us about the collective? 
Honestly, I wouldn’t be as prolific and as creative if I’d never met the musicians who make up The Hai. We’re from all over—Brazil, Finland, Norway, the US, the UK, Canada, the Philippines—and all we are really is a group of friends who happen to really enjoy making music, occasionally with each other and occasionally following a theme. I really enjoy being able to hear and observe other musicians’ WIPs as they progress from demo to final product; and this  is often the case when it comes to us, our songs, and our dynamic as a group.
 
 
I’m a huge dork when it comes to lyrics and I really enjoy how you write, especially hearing how you vary your approach with each release. How do you approach writing lyrics for your songs? Do you approach the song with a certain idea and work towards it? Or is it more improvised on the spot? 
Like I said, every song starts with a story in my head. It’s easy to create a narrative for your song to follow, because you can get ideas from anywhere—books, TV, history, celebrity news, the title of the file the producer gave you when he first sent over the instrumental, whatever. What’s not so easy is to insert that grain of truth somewhere so the construct doesn’t fall flat. Songs need to connect, you know? That’s not going to happen without that little nugget of relatability.
 
On that note, I’m a fan of repeating sections, often multiple ones. Prechoruses are my jam. Most of my songs are also sung from a specific point of view—a specific character in a story. 
 
 
It has been interesting comparing BONSAI (released July 2013) and LOVE LIKE GOLD (Oct 2013). BONSAI is embedded with a strong sense of hip-hop while LLG seems to be approached with more sense of space and mood. It’s almost ballad like. How would you describe the way you changed your approach between releases? 
BONSAI coincided with a milestone birthday and was a symbol of how I felt during that time: nostalgic but finally able to let go and start to accept my adulthood. There’s a lot of hip-hop because it’s where I came from. 
 
LOVE LIKE GOLD was actually just a way to finally release two singles of two producers from the Hai: StratosFear and New Dark Age. I love these two songs so much; they were both initially for different releases, but they complement each other beautifully. It helps that their lyrics coincidentally matched, too. 
 
 
Do you have any plans for this year?
I’m coming out with something this month! It’s a compact little EP with some song collaborations from the Hai’s recently released compilation, plus previously unreleased content. After that maybe WGWGSA and I will start on the sequel to our collab EP, or maybe I’ll do another solo LP. Oh, and my main piano man finally has some free time so we’ll probably do a few covers. The Cellar Doors are also recording, so there’s that, too.
 
Thank you for doing this interview! Before we end it, do you have any parting words for the reader?

Uh. I have a new EP out called Cold Summer—it’s short, sweet and straight to the point. Think of it as post quietly-feeling-your-feelings revival paired with chamomile and spearmint tea, wrapped in a warm blanket. Go listen to it; the whole thing’s less than 15 minutes.

(Victor Florence who you can check out HERE.

Interviewed A Problem Like Maria. she has a new EP out here.)

VF: Since 2011 you have released 6 EPs, 3 LPs, 8 singles. What keeps you moving at such a prolific pace?

APLM: I’ve learned to let go of my songs and accept them for what they are: representations of who I am and what I stand for, each bounded by a finite place and a finite time. In other words, I’ve stopped over-thinking. It keeps the music honest and current, and it keeps me sane.

 

When I was younger I was always to hesitant to release my tracks “officially,” calling almost every song a demo because in my mind I could always do better if I just waited a little bit more. There was no appreciation for the journey; it felt as though I wanted to get to the destination without ever walking a single step.

 

By the time I finally released a hip-hop EP in 2004 under a different artist name, the songs felt like they were written by a different person. The motivation behind the EP was no longer pure; by then it felt like it was more of something I had to do because everyone expected me to do it, rather than something I wanted to do for myself. Too much over-thinking ruined what was supposed to be a milestone—I got burned out by the process and stopped gigging, eventually hitting a creative block that lasted until 2011.

 What got you over that creative block?

I got into a national songwriting camp. During that week I spent with 60+ different songwriters in a confined space I remembered why I started making music in the first place: because it made me happy. Everything else apart from that is just not as important.

 

I’ve always been fascinated by how musicians approach their own work. Do you have a certain set process in writing and recording songs or do you try to vary it with each release?

Each release is slightly different, but some things remain constant. I work best with a tight schedule of deadlines, which can be grueling for the people I work with (hence my short list of constant collaborators who are understand and work well with my process). Every song starts with a story in my head, and every collected release starts with a full-on concept—even if it doesn’t seem like it by the time it’s done.

 

It’s quite rare for me, but at times I work alone—meaning I produce myself. When that happens the schedule’s even tighter, and all other areas of my life basically shut down until the music’s done (this happened with Saudade).

 

Nearly all of my releases are mastered by Rekapper, but before that I typically send out previews of new stuff to people I trust—so they can point out flaws that I might have missed.

 

 

What is your musical background? Did you have formal training or were you self-taught?

I took piano lessons for a decade (from age 6 to 16), which accounts for my knowledge of basic music theory. My family’s Catholic background helped, too; I was in choirs all throughout elementary and high school.

 

There’s also my family, period. My mom plays the drums, my dad plays the guitar, and my brother plays the bass. All of them, plus my sister, can sing. That’s a lot of support and a lot to live up to, at the same time.

 

 

What albums did you find influential in how you approach music? What are you listening to these days?

There’s a whole lot of those, but off the top of my head, there’s Bjork’s Post, Tori Amos’ Boys For Pele, The Beatles’ Revolver.More recently, there’s The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu’s Baduism and Mama’s Gun, Imogen Heap’s Speak For Yourself.

 

Because of my line of work, I’m exposed to a lot of young, local music. There’s always a freshness and a rawness to the majority of my music consumption—something I’ve really come to enjoy. The downside is that I don’t get a lot of free time to listen much else. I’m still listening to the latest Childish Gambino, the latest Eminem—there’s always a little bit of Motown and the Beatles that gets rotated into my playlist, too. I’ve Jessie Ware, Com Truise, Chvrches and the new Beyonce on my phone right now so that’s what ends up in my ear when I’m on the go.

 

Beatles! Favorite Beatle? This is incredibly important.

I wanna say Ringo just to annoy RWE; but really, it’s Paul McCartney. All of my favorite Beatles songs are written by him.

 

 

What brought you to focusing your musical output on electronic based music? How do you work with your collaborators?

Performance anxiety and shyness make face-to-face collaborations difficult for me. Usually when I work with others the part I contribute is supposed to be the focal point (because I sing), and I’ve never been comfortable with that. (Choirs are different because the whole point is to not stand out.) This made being in a band—or even forming one—very awkward. Electronic based music allows me to work by myself or with fewer people (and mostly online), which makes everything so much easier.

 

Don’t get me wrong, I do have a band now and I do enjoy making music with them and regularly seeing each other. The Cellar Doors have done a lot for my on stage confidence; but at the end of the day, that’s The Cellar Doors’ music, and not APLM’s.

 

More often than not, I work with producers who provide the instrumentals for me to lay over my melodies and my lyrics. There’s a bit of a back and forth usually (email, Soundcloud, Dropbox, etc.); I’ll ask for some changes in the chord progression or the sectioning, even asking for adjustments of the BPM or the key sometimes. This is sort of the standard I’ve become accustomed to when working with musicians from The Hai (especially Water Gun Water Gun Sky Attack—we did a concept EP together called Decompose) and with Almost Technicolor (with whom I did Europa). Occasionally the producer will work with a demo I’ve provided beforehand (Mascara Hera and I have done this; the result is “Steal Your Heart” from Lagniappe).

 

 

How did you wind up part of Gentle Whale?

Someone asked me if I’d be interested in joining, and I was, so I said yes! RWE and I worked on a collab EP years ago and I already was familiar with your work and Mascara Hera’s—seemed like GW was all good people making good music. What’s not to like?

 

 

Not only are you part of Gentle Whale but you are also connected to The Hai. What can you tell us about the collective?

Honestly, I wouldn’t be as prolific and as creative if I’d never met the musicians who make up The Hai. We’re from all over—Brazil, Finland, Norway, the US, the UK, Canada, the Philippines—and all we are really is a group of friends who happen to really enjoy making music, occasionally with each other and occasionally following a theme. I really enjoy being able to hear and observe other musicians’ WIPs as they progress from demo to final product; and this  is often the case when it comes to us, our songs, and our dynamic as a group.

 

 

I’m a huge dork when it comes to lyrics and I really enjoy how you write, especially hearing how you vary your approach with each release. How do you approach writing lyrics for your songs? Do you approach the song with a certain idea and work towards it? Or is it more improvised on the spot?

Like I said, every song starts with a story in my head. It’s easy to create a narrative for your song to follow, because you can get ideas from anywhere—books, TV, history, celebrity news, the title of the file the producer gave you when he first sent over the instrumental, whatever. What’s not so easy is to insert that grain of truth somewhere so the construct doesn’t fall flat. Songs need to connect, you know? That’s not going to happen without that little nugget of relatability.

 

On that note, I’m a fan of repeating sections, often multiple ones. Prechoruses are my jam. Most of my songs are also sung from a specific point of view—a specific character in a story.

 

 

It has been interesting comparing BONSAI (released July 2013) and LOVE LIKE GOLD (Oct 2013). BONSAI is embedded with a strong sense of hip-hop while LLG seems to be approached with more sense of space and mood. It’s almost ballad like. How would you describe the way you changed your approach between releases?

BONSAI coincided with a milestone birthday and was a symbol of how I felt during that time: nostalgic but finally able to let go and start to accept my adulthood. There’s a lot of hip-hop because it’s where I came from.

 

LOVE LIKE GOLD was actually just a way to finally release two singles of two producers from the Hai: StratosFear and New Dark Age. I love these two songs so much; they were both initially for different releases, but they complement each other beautifully. It helps that their lyrics coincidentally matched, too.

 

 

Do you have any plans for this year?

I’m coming out with something this month! It’s a compact little EP with some song collaborations from the Hai’s recently released compilation, plus previously unreleased content. After that maybe WGWGSA and I will start on the sequel to our collab EP, or maybe I’ll do another solo LP. Oh, and my main piano man finally has some free time so we’ll probably do a few covers. The Cellar Doors are also recording, so there’s that, too.

 

Thank you for doing this interview! Before we end it, do you have any parting words for the reader?

Uh. I have a new EP out called Cold Summer—it’s short, sweet and straight to the point. Think of it as post quietly-feeling-your-feelings revival paired with chamomile and spearmint tea, wrapped in a warm blanket. Go listen to it; the whole thing’s less than 15 minutes.

Victor Florence interviewed by Johnny from Bedroom Minstrels. Victor’s gorgeous music can be heard here.
JH: Victor first I’d like to say obviously we know each other pretty well, but for those out there who aren’t familiar with you or your music, how would you describe yourself?
VF: Quiet, anxious, and dedicated to the art of the 4-track folk tradition.
JH: You’ve had a few releases in the last couple of years, most recently with Borderline you have transitioned to a more 4-track lo-fidelity type sound. Any particular reason for that change? To keep more with tradition?
VF: Well, I have always recorded with this small 4-track recorder, an H4 Zoom, but mostly limited myself to only single tracks of vocals and guitar because I felt like I wasn’t ready. Before you can paint you gotta learn how to draw, I guess. I’m not the best singer and I’m decent enough with guitar but if I could get lyrics down right, then I got my way to connect to the listener (which I hope happens).
When I felt comfortable enough as a writer, then I began exploring what I could do with those other 3 tracks. I love working within limitations because it forces you to be creative. I tried working in studio environments but could never get the sound I wanted because so much time is spent preparing everything. Some musicians love that but I can’t overthink things. I love lo-fi recordings made on the spot because if I get an idea, I can have it out and ready within 30 minutes. Much of the things I have out are kind of made up on the spot because of that.
Maybe it’s a bad habit but I want to capture what I want when it’s still new and unknown to me.
JH: that makes sense, that’s how lots of great albums have been made
VF: Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks was made in like two days. Crazy, right?
Same with Velvet Underground’s debut album. They were so broke that most of the final cuts on that album were first takes. 
JH: That’s surprising to me, I’ve always thought VU&Nico sounds so concise and specific to me, weird… Like the Velvet Uderground the art for all of your records are pretty fantastic, a lot of people have told me they like your album art. I know you’ve used a Picasso for one, but where does the rest of your artwork come from?
VF: Whenever I begin work on an album (and the bulk of the time is writing the lyrics), I have a good sense of the mood and tone of it and I keep a lookout for whatever passes by me that best represents that sound. Like recording, you just know when it shows up that this is the one. The one for that single I released last year was from a zine some dude handed me at a party I went to while living in New York. I kept staring at it because I spent the evening there alone in a corner feeling weird and stupid. It’s the I’m So Happy You Found Me one.
But for other times, museum trips and tumblr
JH: Who would you consider some of your key musical influences or inspirations? 
VF: Oh boy. Early Mountain Goats when he was screaming into his boombox because it showed me that you didn’t need to spend thousands of dollars recording and mixing/mastering an album when you could just do it at home. It really opened the door for me to embrace DIY folk.
Fionn Regan, especially his first album The End of History. It was the first folk album I listened to way back when I was like 17. I listen to that album at least once a week since.
Bob Dylan (duh) because he’s pretty much the Shakespeare of modern songwriting. He showed us all that you don’t need a pretty voice to be able to say something. But his live album at the Royal Albert Hall is where it all started, me trying to be a folk singer. I would lay awake all night listening to the acoustic section of the performance where he would sing these impossibly long and complex songs in this giant hall and you could hear a damn pin falling by how quiet everyone was. I had no idea what he was singing about but I knew it was fucking magic. It got me to start thinking about language as an art, got me working shitty service jobs to buy an acoustic guitar, got me on a plane to NYC to play as many live shows as possible while there.
And Elliott Smith because he showed that with a 4-track you could make songs that equaled with the Beatles on perfection.
JH: While some of your earlier work seems to have a more song-and-dance folk element to them, your newer work, particularly Head Full & Heart Full, Making Ready seems to lean more towards the ambient and abstract type sounds, creating a very unique and powerful atmospheric listening experience… Why’d you move in that direction?
VF: Good question. I wanted to explore mental illness and what I could do within the confines of the album format. People keep saying that the album is dead but that’s such a boring stance to take on the subject. It’s meant to be a companion piece to Borderline where I take the subject of instability and zoom in on it. It’s a folk album, just like the rest of my stuff, but I’m using music software to create songs that will hopefully connect with other people.
It started with the idea of how talking to someone on the phone is such a strange experience that only people of the last hundred or so years have encountered. When you talk to someone on the phone, you are literally talking into their ear as if they were intimately close to you yet they are not there. What you hear is a connection and a slightly distorted voice. When you corrupt that voice we experience a sense of confusion and dread that is very new to us in some ways. I think it helps you understand that feeling when you’re listening to someone you care about just garble out insane shit and how helpless you feel when you see that you’re losing them.
JH: That’s beautiful… I like that. Lastly, What are you working on right now and any parting words for readers?!
VF: I’m working on a few things now: the first is another album that will hopefully finish up the Borderline series. It’s very noisy and violent, which is something both albums only hint at but never fully delve into. The other is a collection of folk songs titled I’m Tired of Making Sad Songs. 
I’m also saving up money to buy a synthesizer…
Parting words? It’s okay to feel small and insignificant in this world because we are small but that only means that everything we experience is even more special.

 

Victor Florence interviewed by Johnny from Bedroom Minstrels. Victor’s gorgeous music can be heard here.

JH: Victor first I’d like to say obviously we know each other pretty well, but for those out there who aren’t familiar with you or your music, how would you describe yourself?

VF: Quiet, anxious, and dedicated to the art of the 4-track folk tradition.

JH: You’ve had a few releases in the last couple of years, most recently with Borderline you have transitioned to a more 4-track lo-fidelity type sound. Any particular reason for that change? To keep more with tradition?

VF: Well, I have always recorded with this small 4-track recorder, an H4 Zoom, but mostly limited myself to only single tracks of vocals and guitar because I felt like I wasn’t ready. Before you can paint you gotta learn how to draw, I guess. I’m not the best singer and I’m decent enough with guitar but if I could get lyrics down right, then I got my way to connect to the listener (which I hope happens).

When I felt comfortable enough as a writer, then I began exploring what I could do with those other 3 tracks. I love working within limitations because it forces you to be creative. I tried working in studio environments but could never get the sound I wanted because so much time is spent preparing everything. Some musicians love that but I can’t overthink things. I love lo-fi recordings made on the spot because if I get an idea, I can have it out and ready within 30 minutes. Much of the things I have out are kind of made up on the spot because of that.

Maybe it’s a bad habit but I want to capture what I want when it’s still new and unknown to me.

JH: that makes sense, that’s how lots of great albums have been made

VF: Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks was made in like two days. Crazy, right?

Same with Velvet Underground’s debut album. They were so broke that most of the final cuts on that album were first takes. 

JH: That’s surprising to me, I’ve always thought VU&Nico sounds so concise and specific to me, weird… Like the Velvet Uderground the art for all of your records are pretty fantastic, a lot of people have told me they like your album art. I know you’ve used a Picasso for one, but where does the rest of your artwork come from?

VF: Whenever I begin work on an album (and the bulk of the time is writing the lyrics), I have a good sense of the mood and tone of it and I keep a lookout for whatever passes by me that best represents that sound. Like recording, you just know when it shows up that this is the one. The one for that single I released last year was from a zine some dude handed me at a party I went to while living in New York. I kept staring at it because I spent the evening there alone in a corner feeling weird and stupid. It’s the I’m So Happy You Found Me one.

But for other times, museum trips and tumblr

JH: Who would you consider some of your key musical influences or inspirations? 

VF: Oh boy. Early Mountain Goats when he was screaming into his boombox because it showed me that you didn’t need to spend thousands of dollars recording and mixing/mastering an album when you could just do it at home. It really opened the door for me to embrace DIY folk.

Fionn Regan, especially his first album The End of History. It was the first folk album I listened to way back when I was like 17. I listen to that album at least once a week since.

Bob Dylan (duh) because he’s pretty much the Shakespeare of modern songwriting. He showed us all that you don’t need a pretty voice to be able to say something. But his live album at the Royal Albert Hall is where it all started, me trying to be a folk singer. I would lay awake all night listening to the acoustic section of the performance where he would sing these impossibly long and complex songs in this giant hall and you could hear a damn pin falling by how quiet everyone was. I had no idea what he was singing about but I knew it was fucking magic. It got me to start thinking about language as an art, got me working shitty service jobs to buy an acoustic guitar, got me on a plane to NYC to play as many live shows as possible while there.

And Elliott Smith because he showed that with a 4-track you could make songs that equaled with the Beatles on perfection.

JH: While some of your earlier work seems to have a more song-and-dance folk element to them, your newer work, particularly Head Full & Heart Full, Making Ready seems to lean more towards the ambient and abstract type sounds, creating a very unique and powerful atmospheric listening experience… Why’d you move in that direction?

VF: Good question. I wanted to explore mental illness and what I could do within the confines of the album format. People keep saying that the album is dead but that’s such a boring stance to take on the subject. It’s meant to be a companion piece to Borderline where I take the subject of instability and zoom in on it. It’s a folk album, just like the rest of my stuff, but I’m using music software to create songs that will hopefully connect with other people.

It started with the idea of how talking to someone on the phone is such a strange experience that only people of the last hundred or so years have encountered. When you talk to someone on the phone, you are literally talking into their ear as if they were intimately close to you yet they are not there. What you hear is a connection and a slightly distorted voice. When you corrupt that voice we experience a sense of confusion and dread that is very new to us in some ways. I think it helps you understand that feeling when you’re listening to someone you care about just garble out insane shit and how helpless you feel when you see that you’re losing them.

JH: That’s beautiful… I like that. Lastly, What are you working on right now and any parting words for readers?!

VF: I’m working on a few things now: the first is another album that will hopefully finish up the Borderline series. It’s very noisy and violent, which is something both albums only hint at but never fully delve into. The other is a collection of folk songs titled I’m Tired of Making Sad Songs.

I’m also saving up money to buy a synthesizer…

Parting words? It’s okay to feel small and insignificant in this world because we are small but that only means that everything we experience is even more special.

 

By A Problem Like Maria (check out her music right  here   and check out her collective, and our best friends, The Hai here ) 

Radio Wire Empire, has a double album out now entitled "Songs For Dismemberment" which is available to check out here 


APLM: First things first! I’ve always wanted to hear a long and drawn out explanation for this: What does Radio Wire Empire mean and why did you choose it as your artist name?

RWE: I feel like I concoct a different answer every time someone asks me this. I think it is a combination of things. Dumb things. One being that maybe I wanted people to think I was a whole band, and not just the one person that I am. The other that is most obvious to myself is that I just picked some words I liked and thought sounded good.

I actually started out using the artist title “Rapid Eye Brunette” which was just a case of, well, I don’t know. I don’t know what that name meant. I don’t know why I changed it to Radio Wire Empire. I probably took “radio wire” from all the Jeff Mangum I was listening to back in the far reaches of 2008. 

I have relatively recently, and somewhat humorously (funny to who? no one, just myself), said that I’d one day retire the moniker with a self titled album exploring the theme of a literal “Radio Wire Empire”. The imagery pretty much presents itself to me when I think of the name as an actual place. Like some kind of Oz. I probably talked too much about this question so I’ll end it here.


APLM: You mentioned Jeff Mangum. Would you say that he’s an influence in your music? On a related note, who ARE your influences?

RWE: The Elephant 6 in general was my biggest influence at the particular time I began writing and recording. I think you can really hear it (me trying to be the entirety of the collective) in some of that really really early stuff, if your Google sleuthing skills are good enough to find it. 

I think most who try their hand at any craft always start out by trying to be their influences. It hardly ever works as well as they think, either. I’ll spare you the “oh well you know life is my influence” rhetoric and just strictly state some of the consistent musical influences that have been guiding my sound, and you may be surprised by what standard choices they are.
 
Let’s see: usually saying ___ is the greatest anything is terrible foolishness but I will always go against my own advice and say that The Beatles are the greatest band of all time. I don’t need any arguments or comparisons. I have earmuffs on when it comes to this, and the lads are playing through those muffs. If they hadn’t had the success they did I’d still say the same thing. I can listen to them every single day and never get sick, because I have and do. The mythos that goes along with the group is just the cherry on top for me, really.

Um, let’s see who else. A quick rundown of the possibly unexpected but true: Thee More Shallows, The Format (Nate Ruess was once a cool guy before that sophomore Fun. album. The worst.),  At The Drive-In, Björk, 소녀시대, Little Dragon, Elliott Smith most certainly, Led Zeppelin, John Frusciante, Rodriguez, Okkervil River, The Beach Boys… I’m omitting so much more but I’ve already blown enough hot air and we aren’t even on the third question.

And hearing Pink Floyd as a very young kid (as well as Frankenstein by Edgar Winter) was what made me love music in the first place but those are different stories for a different time.


APLM: How was the reception to your massive double album last year? How’d it do?


RWE: The same as all of my other albums usually do: like a fart in the wind. Friends liked it, I think, but beyond that, downloads were pretty dismal. Kind of disheartening.



APLM: Does disheartening stuff like this cause you to think of “quitting” sometimes? How do you think your life would change if you stopped making music? (If that’s even possible!)

RWE: It makes me think I need to play live. Maybe that’d help in some capacity. I sang in a band called Earth Engine for about three and a half years and those guys are all incredible musicians, much better than I could ever hope to be, and we played live all over for that entirety, but had the same issue I have now with my music online. Maybe you need both and can’t have just one. 

But yeah, sometimes it does make me feel like retiring the thing at least as far as trying to get people to listen goes. I’d probably still make music just for myself. Who knows? Playing live as RWE is a bigger challenge for multiple reasons so honestly it has been leaning towards the latter option for some time now.



APLM: So how does this general feeling affect what’s on the docket for RWE this 2014 (or beyond)? Is there anything in the works right now, music-wise, or are you taking a break from even conceptualizing and doing demos and stuff? Are you concentrating on other things first (school, for example)?


RWE: I get little fleeting ideas. Bigger, more fleshed out concepts for albums I already had have been put on the backburner for now. I am mostly busy with my minimum wage day job and going back to school. Mostly, I have been coughing up some various covers here and there just to keep myself from getting ring rust, I guess. I wanted to do a whole covers/duet EP with the other Gentle Whalers but I haven’t been able to put much work into writing or recording the music. Can only hope things get better from here.


APLM: I hope so, too. As you know I’m a big fan of your work (and I really am not just saying that). Speaking of which, what’s YOUR favorite work of yours?


RWE: I think the Color & Colour EP had the catchiest tunes. The newest thing, the Songs For Dismemberment double, is probably my favorite thing I’ve done. If I can find it in me to keep doing more, the next thing will probably be sonically similar to my oft forgotten EP, Neotenic (which is a shame as it has some of my favorite songs and songs that are actually positive in nature as opposed to Color & Colour).


APLM: My favorite is Color & Colour! Alright, let’s wrap it up I guess. Since this is for Gentle Whale, can you talk about a few Gentle Whale artists and their releases that you like? The ones that were notable or left an impression on you personally, I mean.


RWE: Victor Florence is my dude. He is a really great writer and I’ve been listening to him since Trapeze which was forever ago. I’ve covered some of his stuff; and me, him, and Jon (Bedroom Minstrels) are always locked in a three-way text message conversation where we sometimes send each other little audio doodles. 

You, of course. You have a fantastic voice that sounds like many different great artists but at the same time sounds like none of them at all. I loved how our EP together turned out and I hope to make more sometime in the future. 

Behind Mascara Hera is a very talented kid. She is an adult but she was a kid as part of my big online friends (wow cool) family so she is still a kid to me now. 

Vernous is slick stuff, but I really really loved the record Elana Belle Carroll did as the Checker Chance. Really neat stuff that I can’t describe because any descriptors I use for any fellow artists will probably just not convey properly how much I like them so let’s stick with the “cool!” and the “awesome!” modifiers.

One of the newer members, Willow Youth, has something real special and I really have liked everything I’ve heard that I have got to listen to.

I mostly live in a music-less vacuum. I truly don’t listen to much music at all besides replaying the Beatles too much. At least the past couple years it has seemed that way to me.


APLM: I remember you had a little cover EP called Songs Paul Sings! Will you ever do a Songs John Sings? Hahaha! Or maybe Ringo? (Don’t sing that “You’re Sixteen” song, though, it’s a litle creepy.)


RWE: I had started a Songs George Sings around the same time but never finished it because I didn’t like the haphazard one take, no mixing, terrible mess that the Paul one was, with mouse clicks still intact.


APLM: Last question! What are you listening to NOW? (Alternatively: What’s the last song you listened to?)

RWE: The last song I listened to, I believe, was either Cat Stevens’ “Miles from Nowhere” or The Ronettes’ “Be My Baby.” I had my music playing at work today and it was one of those two that were playing just before I had to clock out.

By A Problem Like Maria (check out her music right  here   and check out her collective, and our best friends, The Hai here ) 
Radio Wire Empire, has a double album out now entitled "Songs For Dismemberment" which is available to check out here 
APLM: First things first! I’ve always wanted to hear a long and drawn out explanation for this: What does Radio Wire Empire mean and why did you choose it as your artist name?
RWE: I feel like I concoct a different answer every time someone asks me this. I think it is a combination of things. Dumb things. One being that maybe I wanted people to think I was a whole band, and not just the one person that I am. The other that is most obvious to myself is that I just picked some words I liked and thought sounded good.
I actually started out using the artist title “Rapid Eye Brunette” which was just a case of, well, I don’t know. I don’t know what that name meant. I don’t know why I changed it to Radio Wire Empire. I probably took “radio wire” from all the Jeff Mangum I was listening to back in the far reaches of 2008. 
I have relatively recently, and somewhat humorously (funny to who? no one, just myself), said that I’d one day retire the moniker with a self titled album exploring the theme of a literal “Radio Wire Empire”. The imagery pretty much presents itself to me when I think of the name as an actual place. Like some kind of Oz. I probably talked too much about this question so I’ll end it here.
APLM: You mentioned Jeff Mangum. Would you say that he’s an influence in your music? On a related note, who ARE your influences?
RWE: The Elephant 6 in general was my biggest influence at the particular time I began writing and recording. I think you can really hear it (me trying to be the entirety of the collective) in some of that really really early stuff, if your Google sleuthing skills are good enough to find it. 
I think most who try their hand at any craft always start out by trying to be their influences. It hardly ever works as well as they think, either. I’ll spare you the “oh well you know life is my influence” rhetoric and just strictly state some of the consistent musical influences that have been guiding my sound, and you may be surprised by what standard choices they are.
 
Let’s see: usually saying ___ is the greatest anything is terrible foolishness but I will always go against my own advice and say that The Beatles are the greatest band of all time. I don’t need any arguments or comparisons. I have earmuffs on when it comes to this, and the lads are playing through those muffs. If they hadn’t had the success they did I’d still say the same thing. I can listen to them every single day and never get sick, because I have and do. The mythos that goes along with the group is just the cherry on top for me, really.
Um, let’s see who else. A quick rundown of the possibly unexpected but true: Thee More Shallows, The Format (Nate Ruess was once a cool guy before that sophomore Fun. album. The worst.),  At The Drive-In, Björk, 소녀시대, Little Dragon, Elliott Smith most certainly, Led Zeppelin, John Frusciante, Rodriguez, Okkervil River, The Beach Boys… I’m omitting so much more but I’ve already blown enough hot air and we aren’t even on the third question.
And hearing Pink Floyd as a very young kid (as well as Frankenstein by Edgar Winter) was what made me love music in the first place but those are different stories for a different time.
APLM: How was the reception to your massive double album last year? How’d it do?
RWE: The same as all of my other albums usually do: like a fart in the wind. Friends liked it, I think, but beyond that, downloads were pretty dismal. Kind of disheartening.
APLM: Does disheartening stuff like this cause you to think of “quitting” sometimes? How do you think your life would change if you stopped making music? (If that’s even possible!)
RWE: It makes me think I need to play live. Maybe that’d help in some capacity. I sang in a band called Earth Engine for about three and a half years and those guys are all incredible musicians, much better than I could ever hope to be, and we played live all over for that entirety, but had the same issue I have now with my music online. Maybe you need both and can’t have just one. 
But yeah, sometimes it does make me feel like retiring the thing at least as far as trying to get people to listen goes. I’d probably still make music just for myself. Who knows? Playing live as RWE is a bigger challenge for multiple reasons so honestly it has been leaning towards the latter option for some time now.
APLM: So how does this general feeling affect what’s on the docket for RWE this 2014 (or beyond)? Is there anything in the works right now, music-wise, or are you taking a break from even conceptualizing and doing demos and stuff? Are you concentrating on other things first (school, for example)?
RWE: I get little fleeting ideas. Bigger, more fleshed out concepts for albums I already had have been put on the backburner for now. I am mostly busy with my minimum wage day job and going back to school. Mostly, I have been coughing up some various covers here and there just to keep myself from getting ring rust, I guess. I wanted to do a whole covers/duet EP with the other Gentle Whalers but I haven’t been able to put much work into writing or recording the music. Can only hope things get better from here.
APLM: I hope so, too. As you know I’m a big fan of your work (and I really am not just saying that). Speaking of which, what’s YOUR favorite work of yours?
RWE: I think the Color & Colour EP had the catchiest tunes. The newest thing, the Songs For Dismemberment double, is probably my favorite thing I’ve done. If I can find it in me to keep doing more, the next thing will probably be sonically similar to my oft forgotten EP, Neotenic (which is a shame as it has some of my favorite songs and songs that are actually positive in nature as opposed to Color & Colour).
APLM: My favorite is Color & Colour! Alright, let’s wrap it up I guess. Since this is for Gentle Whale, can you talk about a few Gentle Whale artists and their releases that you like? The ones that were notable or left an impression on you personally, I mean.
RWE: Victor Florence is my dude. He is a really great writer and I’ve been listening to him since Trapeze which was forever ago. I’ve covered some of his stuff; and me, him, and Jon (Bedroom Minstrels) are always locked in a three-way text message conversation where we sometimes send each other little audio doodles. 
You, of course. You have a fantastic voice that sounds like many different great artists but at the same time sounds like none of them at all. I loved how our EP together turned out and I hope to make more sometime in the future. 
Behind Mascara Hera is a very talented kid. She is an adult but she was a kid as part of my big online friends (wow cool) family so she is still a kid to me now. 
Vernous is slick stuff, but I really really loved the record Elana Belle Carroll did as the Checker Chance. Really neat stuff that I can’t describe because any descriptors I use for any fellow artists will probably just not convey properly how much I like them so let’s stick with the “cool!” and the “awesome!” modifiers.
One of the newer members, Willow Youth, has something real special and I really have liked everything I’ve heard that I have got to listen to.
I mostly live in a music-less vacuum. I truly don’t listen to much music at all besides replaying the Beatles too much. At least the past couple years it has seemed that way to me.
APLM: I remember you had a little cover EP called Songs Paul Sings! Will you ever do a Songs John Sings? Hahaha! Or maybe Ringo? (Don’t sing that “You’re Sixteen” song, though, it’s a litle creepy.)
RWE: I had started a Songs George Sings around the same time but never finished it because I didn’t like the haphazard one take, no mixing, terrible mess that the Paul one was, with mouse clicks still intact.
APLM: Last question! What are you listening to NOW? (Alternatively: What’s the last song you listened to?)
RWE: The last song I listened to, I believe, was either Cat Stevens’ “Miles from Nowhere” or The Ronettes’ “Be My Baby.” I had my music playing at work today and it was one of those two that were playing just before I had to clock out.

By Andrew Campbell of Saint Mahogany ( Solo Material ) (  Saint Mahogany )
Dylan Marx’s new album American Coffee Pleasure available here
-Dylan Marx is a singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and if his latest release American Coffee Pleasure is any indication, he’s a huge studio nerd as well.  A San Francisco bay area native, he is currently a junior at UC Santa Cruz, where he studies music.  He’s obviously learned a lot there: American Coffee Pleasure is well-produced and well-recorded.  Marx’s music is dark and hauntingly textural, yet still retains a sense of quirky indie charm - imagine if Neutral Milk Hotel played Grizzly Bear songs.  Delicately finger-picked acoustic guitars and swelling harmoniums, carefully blended with ambient field recordings, the occasional fragmented drum beat, and Marx’s own baritone croon, make American Coffee Pleasure an admittedly bizarre but unendingly fascinating listen.
AC: I’ve never interviewed anyone before, so this might suck.
DM: I’ve been interviewed once.
AC: Alright, well, maybe you can tell me if I’m doing shitty or not.  So, tell me about American Coffee Pleasure.
DM: Okay.  I made it over this past summer, just like a bunch of songs that I wrote, and like messed around with in Ableton.  I took some field recordings, chopped them up, and did different things with them.  I dunno.  It’s not that long of an album.
AC: Tell me little bit more about the recording and production process.  You said you chopped up field recordings?  I’m kind of curious to hear more about that.
DM: I’d walk around the beach and record stuff, and record little things around my house.  And then I’d chop them up and use them as little percussion bits.  Like, for “Jacky,” I sampled my friend’s voice and made a little keyboard with it, and used that in the background.  She like, actually sings on this song too.  I dunno if that’s interesting.  (Laughs.)
AC: Yeah, I think it’s interesting.  Were these songs that you’d written beforehand or were you writing them as you were splicing these sounds together?
DM: It depends on the song.  For “Jacky,” I wrote sections of the song and spliced it up around the field recordings.  All the other stuff is like pretty acoustic guitar-based with other stuff on top of it.  I just kinda wrote and added stuff to it.
AC: How do you think American Coffee Pleasure compares to previous music that you’ve released?
DM: I feel more like I’m doing what I want to be doing.  It’s been a year or two since [Sod’s Collection of Bitter Songs] and I’ve listened to a lot of new music and studied music in school.  [Sod’s Collection of Bitter Songs] had much more instruments.  [American Coffee Pleasure] is a little more sparse, I guess, and a lot more of it comes from the computer.
AC: Cool.  So tell me more, then, about what you’re studying in school.  You’re in this like, electronic music program, right?
DM: Yeah, yeah.  There’s this electronic music program at UC Santa Cruz.  It’s pretty incredible,  but there’s not a whole lot of structure to it, really.  (Laughs.)  Everyone just makes songs, and we talk about the equipment.  Mostly people learn stuff by doing it.
AC: That sounds awesome.  How do you think that program has influenced your music?
DM: It’s made me less afraid of using the computer, I guess.  I’d be okay playing a show that’s just from the laptop now.  I mean, that wouldn’t be ideal, but I’ve definitely gotten a lot more interested in sounds that aren’t created organically.
AC: I see.  And what about the music scene in Santa Cruz?  I’ve only been there briefly.  Is there a cool scene?  Is it at all similar to what you do?
DM: There’s not really a huge scene cause there’s really nowhere to play.  Last year we had a ton of house shows with Great Harry, and we played a lot of shows at our house, but now everyone’s afraid that the cops are gonna come so no one does that anymore.  (Laughs.)  A lot of people make electronic music and it’s usually, like… not necessarily dance-oriented, but a lot of it is more groove-based.  I’m pretty into grooves, I guess, but I don’t really make them myself.
AC: There aren’t a lot of grooves on American Coffee Pleasure.
DM: Yeah, not really.  It’s not something that I do that much.  But maybe one day, I’ll make some sweet dance beats that people will get down to.
AC: How did you originally get started with music?
DM: Well, I took piano lessons like when I was four and all that stuff.  I played in bands in middle school, did a lot of covers and stuff.  Played with friends all the time.  I guess I’ve always been making music in some way or another.
AC: Are your parents musicians at all?
DM: No.  I think my great-grandma was like a piano player.  Like a good one.  Other than that…
AC: So what’s next?  Are you playing shows or is there other music that you’re working on?
DM: I’m working on another album that’s in the same vein of “Jacky.”  More field recordings and more sounds that aren’t completely organic.  But I’ll probably still do like some folky-type stuff with it too.  And then I’m working on a few collaborative projects with some friends.  They’re all in the early stages right now.
AC: Nice.  Well thats all the questions I have, thank you Dylan Marx!

By Andrew Campbell of Saint Mahogany ( Solo Material ) (  Saint Mahogany )

Dylan Marx’s new album American Coffee Pleasure available here

-Dylan Marx is a singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and if his latest release American Coffee Pleasure is any indication, he’s a huge studio nerd as well.  A San Francisco bay area native, he is currently a junior at UC Santa Cruz, where he studies music.  He’s obviously learned a lot there: American Coffee Pleasure is well-produced and well-recorded.  Marx’s music is dark and hauntingly textural, yet still retains a sense of quirky indie charm - imagine if Neutral Milk Hotel played Grizzly Bear songs.  Delicately finger-picked acoustic guitars and swelling harmoniums, carefully blended with ambient field recordings, the occasional fragmented drum beat, and Marx’s own baritone croon, make American Coffee Pleasure an admittedly bizarre but unendingly fascinating listen.

AC: I’ve never interviewed anyone before, so this might suck.

DM: I’ve been interviewed once.

AC: Alright, well, maybe you can tell me if I’m doing shitty or not.  So, tell me about American Coffee Pleasure.

DM: Okay.  I made it over this past summer, just like a bunch of songs that I wrote, and like messed around with in Ableton.  I took some field recordings, chopped them up, and did different things with them.  I dunno.  It’s not that long of an album.

AC: Tell me little bit more about the recording and production process.  You said you chopped up field recordings?  I’m kind of curious to hear more about that.

DM: I’d walk around the beach and record stuff, and record little things around my house.  And then I’d chop them up and use them as little percussion bits.  Like, for “Jacky,” I sampled my friend’s voice and made a little keyboard with it, and used that in the background.  She like, actually sings on this song too.  I dunno if that’s interesting.  (Laughs.)

AC: Yeah, I think it’s interesting.  Were these songs that you’d written beforehand or were you writing them as you were splicing these sounds together?

DM: It depends on the song.  For “Jacky,” I wrote sections of the song and spliced it up around the field recordings.  All the other stuff is like pretty acoustic guitar-based with other stuff on top of it.  I just kinda wrote and added stuff to it.

AC: How do you think American Coffee Pleasure compares to previous music that you’ve released?

DM: I feel more like I’m doing what I want to be doing.  It’s been a year or two since [Sod’s Collection of Bitter Songs] and I’ve listened to a lot of new music and studied music in school.  [Sod’s Collection of Bitter Songs] had much more instruments.  [American Coffee Pleasure] is a little more sparse, I guess, and a lot more of it comes from the computer.

AC: Cool.  So tell me more, then, about what you’re studying in school.  You’re in this like, electronic music program, right?

DM: Yeah, yeah.  There’s this electronic music program at UC Santa Cruz.  It’s pretty incredible,  but there’s not a whole lot of structure to it, really.  (Laughs.)  Everyone just makes songs, and we talk about the equipment.  Mostly people learn stuff by doing it.

AC: That sounds awesome.  How do you think that program has influenced your music?

DM: It’s made me less afraid of using the computer, I guess.  I’d be okay playing a show that’s just from the laptop now.  I mean, that wouldn’t be ideal, but I’ve definitely gotten a lot more interested in sounds that aren’t created organically.

AC: I see.  And what about the music scene in Santa Cruz?  I’ve only been there briefly.  Is there a cool scene?  Is it at all similar to what you do?

DM: There’s not really a huge scene cause there’s really nowhere to play.  Last year we had a ton of house shows with Great Harry, and we played a lot of shows at our house, but now everyone’s afraid that the cops are gonna come so no one does that anymore.  (Laughs.)  A lot of people make electronic music and it’s usually, like… not necessarily dance-oriented, but a lot of it is more groove-based.  I’m pretty into grooves, I guess, but I don’t really make them myself.

AC: There aren’t a lot of grooves on American Coffee Pleasure.

DM: Yeah, not really.  It’s not something that I do that much.  But maybe one day, I’ll make some sweet dance beats that people will get down to.

AC: How did you originally get started with music?

DM: Well, I took piano lessons like when I was four and all that stuff.  I played in bands in middle school, did a lot of covers and stuff.  Played with friends all the time.  I guess I’ve always been making music in some way or another.

AC: Are your parents musicians at all?

DM: No.  I think my great-grandma was like a piano player.  Like a good one.  Other than that…

AC: So what’s next?  Are you playing shows or is there other music that you’re working on?

DM: I’m working on another album that’s in the same vein of “Jacky.”  More field recordings and more sounds that aren’t completely organic.  But I’ll probably still do like some folky-type stuff with it too.  And then I’m working on a few collaborative projects with some friends.  They’re all in the early stages right now.

AC: Nice.  Well thats all the questions I have, thank you Dylan Marx!

The new Radio Wire Empire record parts 1 and 2 are some of the best recordings you will hear all year. The greatest and most ambitious release from the RWE yet! check it out: http://radiowireempire.bandcamp.com/releases

The new Radio Wire Empire record parts 1 and 2 are some of the best recordings you will hear all year. The greatest and most ambitious release from the RWE yet! check it out: http://radiowireempire.bandcamp.com/releases

Back of the Sun, New Album!
~From Shed Gods:
Happy new years everybody! To celebrate we have this brand new record from Shed Gods, it’s fantastic.
Back of the Sun
Musically, Back of the Sun is the most ambitious, sonic record we’ve made to date, drawing from a wide pool of influences. Long time fans of Shed Gods will recognize the acoustic arpeggios, thundering drums, and despondent vocals that have become our trademark, but also an expansion of the instrumental pallet with rumbling electronic soundscapes, mournful cello passages, and haunting piano chords. Lyrically, Back of the Sun is a meditation on escapism. In times of hardship, we often try to transcend, ignore, explain, or disguise our problems. In the end though, the only way to move forward is to transform those experiences into something new. This album is our attempt to hammer out a year of experiences into music as a creative force. So grab your best pair of headphones or jack into some monster speakers and let us take you on a 43-minute journey to the Back of the Sun.
Special thanks to:
Johnny Hoel at Gentle Whale for taking our band under his fin, Kelly Metcalf at Harmony House for letting us record in her amazing studio, Alyssia and Arthur for letting us inhabit Parkside Studios for hours and hours of mixing, Melissa Chu for making us weep at her beautiful cello work, and finally, Ernest Martinez for reminding us how precious our lives are. R.I.P. E$ (To be honest, we thank everyone who has ever influenced us in any way. You’re all in here somewhere.)

Back of the Sun, New Album!

~From Shed Gods:

Happy new years everybody! To celebrate we have this brand new record from Shed Gods, it’s fantastic.

Back of the Sun

Musically, Back of the Sun is the most ambitious, sonic record we’ve made to date, drawing from a wide pool of influences. Long time fans of Shed Gods will recognize the acoustic arpeggios, thundering drums, and despondent vocals that have become our trademark, but also an expansion of the instrumental pallet with rumbling electronic soundscapes, mournful cello passages, and haunting piano chords. LyricallyBack of the Sun is a meditation on escapism. In times of hardship, we often try to transcend, ignore, explain, or disguise our problems. In the end though, the only way to move forward is to transform those experiences into something new. This album is our attempt to hammer out a year of experiences into music as a creative force. So grab your best pair of headphones or jack into some monster speakers and let us take you on a 43-minute journey to the Back of the Sun.

Special thanks to:

Johnny Hoel at Gentle Whale for taking our band under his fin, Kelly Metcalf at Harmony House for letting us record in her amazing studio, Alyssia and Arthur for letting us inhabit Parkside Studios for hours and hours of mixing, Melissa Chu for making us weep at her beautiful cello work, and finally, Ernest Martinez for reminding us how precious our lives are. R.I.P. E$ (To be honest, we thank everyone who has ever influenced us in any way. You’re all in here somewhere.)

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Check out this new single from our friends Shed Gods upcoming album Back of the Sun! 

http://thecockadoodlespaniels.bandcamp.com/
The Cockadoodle Spaniels new EP “High Tide” comes out in less than week! Check out the track “Spring” and pre-order a copy now!

http://thecockadoodlespaniels.bandcamp.com/

The Cockadoodle Spaniels new EP “High Tide” comes out in less than week! Check out the track “Spring” and pre-order a copy now!

Radio Wire Empire - The Brave Hue

(Source: taylor-moon)