Philadelphia's The Nightcrawlers were early American pioneers of ambient and atmospheric electronic music in the 80s at a time when the technology was most often utilized as a tool for making dance music for mass-consumption. The trio was active in home recording a way-the-hell-out-there style of longwave synthesizer composition reaching the furthest depths of cosmique sonic darma from 1980-1991. The purveyors at Anthology Recordings have assembled a box set, The Biophonic Boombox Recordings, to manifest the euphoria from these lost cassettes, each track recalibrated and restored for optimal orbital reentry.
Desolate, dystopian folk powered by motorik rhythms radiate from the brutalist architecture of Olden Yolk's colossal self-titled debut out today on Trouble in Mind.
The first Olden Yolk material surfaced back in 2014 on a split release with Weyes Blood. How has the project changed from those earliest recordings to this point?
Shane: Well, the most significant change since the earliest stages of the project is that it has become a collaborative songwriting entity with Caity Shaffer. This kind of coincided with taking the project more ‘seriously.’ In the past it was just a name I used to make some videos and music in a pretty nonchalant way. Over the past year, the group I had been playing with for years (Quilt) decided we wanted to go on hiatus, and the opportunity to pursue this project more ‘full-on’ became available. During this time, I met Caity and we started sharing songs together. That songwriting collaboration is Olden Yolk as you hear it today.
The first full length is self-titled and released February 23 on Trouble in Mind. Many bands use the "self-titled" album designation to label a signature work or defining set of songs. How does this record embody the Olden Yolk project?
Shane: It’s a place to begin from; it’s the first stage of many. This album really helped us discover where we’d like to go next and helped us to make a platform to build from. Along the way, we made some songs we’re proud of and were able to experiment a lot.
When we spoke last with Shane, he'd been listening to a lot of rap and different poets read to study the different forms of phrasing to refine your own writing. What type of influences were being absorbed during the making of Olden Yolk?
Shane: We are listening to so much different stuff all the time — it’s hard to put a defining finger on anything. This year I picked up some records I really love — discs from the Belgian composer Dominique Lawalree, the poetry of Judy Grahn & Pat Parker, Philip John Lewyn, the new King Krule record The OOZ, Laraaji, Ariel Kalma… There’s been a lot this year that has flowed in - as well as a lot of old influences. We were listening to a lot of CAN for the drum sounds — visiting AIR records, Brigitte Fontaine, The Great Society, Caethua, Sonic Youth, Television Personalities, Tucker Zimmerman… just a lot of stuff — hard to know where to begin.
Caity: Definitely a hodge-podge. For myself, much less singer-songwriters than ever before since I'm trying to catch up on music before this century. Chopin every day. Carlo Gesualdo. Joanna Brouk. When we're driving... we listen to a lot of Bread. Fiction-wise, I was going deep with Grace Paley and Robert Walser, who both have a sharp sense of humor. In general, we both like music/literature that can wink at itself. For example, for a while we were covering "Nothing" by the Fugs, and I think that suited us well.
Now that Olden Yolk is a band and not considered Shane's solo work, how has the creative process for the project been improved by adding full-time instrumentalists and songwriters?
Shane: Well, Caity and I do all of the actual songwriting and most of the arranging. It’s been an incredible process working together. I’m a huge fan of Caity’s songwriting and a huge fan of what she’s brought to songs I’ve written — so working with her has been such a blessing. It feels really natural.
We also have been playing with our friends Jesse DeFrancesco (guitar & keys), Dan Drohan (drums), and recently Pete Wagner (Bass) who have been helping us round stuff out for the live set. Jesse & Dan helped arrange some parts for the record — and Pete has recently joined for the live band — we’ll see what happens down the line. It’s always fun to try songs out in a studio with a group and see how things change in that process. Adds a little bit of that Cage-ian chance into the equation, you know?
The visual element of the project is rather dystopian and abstract. What's the source of this shadowy reflection?
Shane: A lot of it is just imagery we are personally attracted to; images that represent the current moment we’re in. Plays between architecture, nature, and the human gestures which occupy those spaces. In terms of dystopia, I personally feel that dystopia & utopia are constantly taking place in their own ways — as well as abstraction and realism — they all kind of fold in on each other like a mobius strip to create the current of the moment. At times, our current state of affairs can feel very confusing and groundless, and to find images which represent this, and to place them in both abstract and real contexts is fascinating to me. It’s interesting to see what is taking place around us and how we are relating to it…and also we need to sometimes shift that focus to look at what is currently taking place through an entirely different (and sometimes abstracted) lens. I personally just really like to play around with these forms to create some sort of charged energy.
Caity: Shane edited all of our video footage and made all of our show fliers, so I can't give him enough credit for putting our ideas into a visual format. New York City itself often feels like a dystopic place, given the changes that are (and have been) happening in the city, and the whole thing becoming like an amusement park of sorts. That "shadowy reflection" may come from a certain understanding that our country is not an ideal place to live for many people. We also watched a fair amount of zombie movies while making the album.
You've supported and raised awareness of mental health issues using the release of an early Olden Yolk track to benefit the organization Bring Change 2 Mind. How has mental health, inner understanding, and spiritual psychology impacted Olden Yolk and what ways was the record affected by these struggles and insight?
Shane: Well, the song you’re talking about had a pretty specific context and intention behind the way I released it. Yet, these kinds of ideas are always floating around for me personally. Music for thousands of years has consistently served as an outlet to discover and disseminate these kinds of insights. For myself, music has always been a spiritual exploration of some sort — and a way to share what has been found. Sometimes it’s a larger insight and sometimes it’s very mundane — yet both things have their place in the overall search. Musicians and writers have really helped me in my life. They have become my medicine in a lot of ways; and I am super grateful to all of those who have taken the time to create so that I can find new ways understand this insane world we’re given. If I can give back to that in any way possible it’s the least I can do.
Another project of Shane's, the group Quilt, had a release last year on Turntable Kitchen of a full cover of F.J. McMahon's Spirit of the Golden Juice, who Quilt performed with in LA for a return show of the lo-fi folk legend. Did working with F.J. impact the art and performance of Olden Yolk?
Shane: Working with FJ was an incredible experience. I love his songwriting, his voice, and his guitar playing a lot. Also, getting to know him and hang out with him was inspiring. It was a real honor to be involved with him. In terms of the direct influence on this record — it wasn’t anything we were thinking about directly. But, we are both are huge fans of his work.
The band has spent several years living in New York City as a working artist. How has the City changed in the perspective of working musicians and artists and how did those changes influence the new record?
Shane: I moved to New York City for the first time when I was 14 years old, and have lived here on and off since. In my experience, it’s one of the only cities I can say is ‘always changing and always staying exactly the same’. It’s still an incredibly stimulating city creatively, architecturally, and culturally. This hasn’t disappeared. Yet, one hard thing is that recently it’s just become too expensive to be central. So, a lot of artists are living really far out and not necessarily close to each other — which makes the sense of community feel a bit disparate at times. I love the neighborhood we currently live in, (Greenpoint) and have a handful of musician / artist friends who are here locally. Yet, I think a lot of the album (personally) did come out of a feeling of isolation — it’s weird to feel isolated when in a city of millions — yet it happens. When this happens it’s almost as if the architecture and the monuments of the city start to become your friends. I have known many of the buildings, monuments, and parks since I was pretty young — so a lot of the feelings for certain songs on the record were found when walking around these places reflecting. It’s an interesting moment in New York — who knows what direction it’s going in? This is one of the questions I thought about a lot over the year. Especially since it’s a city I love so much. This city will always have a huge place in my heart, it is my home… yet, I’m also personally interested in spending some time in other places upcoming.
Caity: I'm relatively new to New York. Growing up in Philadelphia, New York was always close in proximity but felt simultaneously untouchable, a place that might spit you out. I came here after living in Texas for several years. It feels surreal to be here now. We are constantly working on other projects--I ghostwrite/write professionally, while Shane has a dedicated visual art practice. Two of our bandmates live elsewhere. The New York influence on the record could be from the wistfulness of some of the lyrics, of walking around at night and listening to the barges, the trucks, the sound of Manhattan far away, the bridge near our house (The Kosciuszko) being demolished and rebuilt, the machines talking to each other, the whole thing. I hope it's all in there.
Purchase Olden Yolk's debut record out now on Trouble in Mind. Find the band's tour dates here.
We sent John Andrews, one of our favorite songwriters, a disposable camera. There was no assignment, no intention, and no boundary. John captured a roll of exposures the week before his last solo performance of Yawns material for the foreseeable future happening February 24th at Union Pool in Brooklyn opening the Olden Yolk record release show. John's latest record, Bad Posture, is also slated for a cassette reissue available soon on Marriage Recs.
The past 3 months I've been living in my hometown, Yardville, NJ. I've been working as a framer in Princeton, NJ but just recently put in my time there because I'm leaving for a three month tour with Hand Habits & Cut Worms, respectively.
This is the corner of my bedroom where I write a lot of songs. I recently joined a country cover band for a Valentine's Day show & have been practicing a lot of country licks here.
This is my messy desk. When I'm not feeling inspired musically I work on hand painted animations. This is a still from a short commercial I made for NYC venue called Mrmrr. I'm currently working on a short animation for Cut Worms.
It was a pretty nice day so I took a break from animations and drove to my favorite Flea Market, The Golden Nugget in Lambertville, NJ.
I've been working at a frame shop these days so my eyes are always drawn to those pretty antique moldings.
I drove to the Lambertille/New Hope area to walk around. The towns are old and witchy and divided by the Delaware river. The architecture at times reminds me of New Orleans/Savannah.
This is John & Peters...my favorite bar/venue in my area. It's where Michael Hurley & The Holy Modal Rounders started playing their first gigs. It kinda looks like it belongs in a Michael Hurley painting to be honest.
The Delaware. George Washington crossed it Christmas day. I go tubing down it drinking beers in the summer.
Lots of old cars hanging around the area.
The Hibbs House in Washington Crossing State Park. This area used to be known as Taylorsville, PA and has become this mini ghost town saved by the historical society. Every Christmas morning they reenact Washington Crossing the Delaware.
More photos from the roll below:
Blaze Velutto is the Quebec-based songwriter whose debut record, Weatherman, is an ambitious neo-primitive sizzler smoldering with country, Americana, and kind-hearted Canadian rock and roll. The record eludes traditional classification with the doodlin' jaw harp twanger "Morning Dew,” the tribal roar and aboriginal psych stomper of "M. Coyote," and Bossa Nova shuffle of "Dingo Dingo," Weatherman excretes a full-bodied dose of phantasmic multi-genre arrangement and inspiration. Velluto’s Collection hogties his bargain-bin lifestyle and blissful self-awareness for a truly genuine and effortlessly pleasant package.
Waylon Jennings- Heartaches By the Number
Jimmy C. Newman- Blue Darlin'
Hank Snow- Lonesome Whistle
David Houston- A Loser's Cathedral
Wanda Jackson- Nightlife
John D. Loudermilk- To Hell With You
Stonewall Jackson- A Man Must Hide to Cry
Connie Smith- Go Ahead and Make Me Cry
Johnny Cash- So Doggone Lonesome
Patsy Cline- Your Cheatin' Heart
Hank Thompson- Warm Red Wine
Charlie Walker- Gonna Buy Me a Jukebox
Vernon Oxford- Stone By Stone
From time to time a song comes along and completely redirects my attention from my current musical interests and occupies 100% of my bandwidth, scrambling my personal understanding of music's abilities on the psyche and soul. As I don't typically render myself as "in the know" or even relevant with current trends in pop music, when a track possesses those traits often referred to as "pop" (whatever that means in this day and age). it's even more exceptional when one of those songs is the culprit of my internal sonic hijackery. This time, Buzzy Lee's electrifying single "Coolhand" is the liberating transgressor climbing to the top of my queue for the day with her smooth, sublimating groove of the Nicolas Jaar-produced single from her debut Facepaint EP. Throw it on and feel the future.
Ponctuation may not be a household name today, but that could all change after this week. The French-speaking brothers Guillaume and Maxime Chiasson will release their third record as Ponctuation this Friday titled Mon Herbier Du Monde Entier. The group's last work, La Réalité Nous Suffit, was a Ty Segall-ish French Canadian garage rock record dripping with sweaty, aggressive thrash. Mon Herbier is the duo's sharpest and most refined collection with songs leaning more toward surf and psychedelic pop influences than the 80s punk the band leaned on before. Before the full length is revealed on Friday, catch a buzz with the second single, "Exil" that has a swaying, scruffy jangle in the style of The Kinks or Jacques Dutronc.
Breakup albums usually take one of two directions - impulsive, bullheaded rejection of any former feelings, or a schmaltzy whimper for commiseration. On Marlon Williams' latest record, a third brand is explored - a genuine postmortem reflection of vanishing desires and disoriented significance. The result is the Melbourne artist's finest work, weighted and balanced with an unambiguous message chaperoned by indomitable instrumentation.
The record is Williams' first release since the amorous fissure surfaced between him and singer-songwriter Aldous Harding. Make Way For Love is the follow-up to his much more country and rootsy self-titled record from 2015. Williams' Roy Orbison-esque vocals sing impassioned lyrics about his abandoned post in Harding's life where the singer once occupied. On "Can I Call You," a dark doo-wop ballad longs for relief through the simple palaver over the phone: "How's the weather there?/Hope you're keeping warm/Don't you remember/You sound happy."
Though the record is a portrait of a man feeling "as lucky as a snowman in the Spring," Make Way For Love eclipses any previous attempts to narrate the emotional impairment of lost love and replenishes any empty heart with the latent beauty of rediscovering yourself and confronting despondency.
Starting last April, Heidi Alexander has led an intragalactic tour of the Orion Arm of the Milky Way through her Earth Girl Helen Brown Center for Planetary Intelligence Band project. Beginning with MERCURY, her group of sonic cosmonauts, The Boogeyman (Emmett Kelley), Sunshine Lady (Sonny Smith), Loro Valiente (Tahlia Harbor), Ziggy Spec (Ty Segall), José Deseo (John Dwyer), L.F.F. (Tim Cohen), Jim Win (James Finch Jr.), the Former Future (Sean Smith), and Jasmine Ivanov (Jamin Barton) propelled themselves toward a new theory of planetary identification.
Using only their geocentric instruments, the project intends to create a cassette's worth of recorded tributes to each of the fellow Heliocentric satellites. Having splashed down to explore Mercury, Mars, and Saturn in 2017, the capsule makes it's landing on Earth's sister planet, Venus for it's first 2018 reconnaissance. The fourth transmission investigates the deepest anomaly of the galaxy, the terrestrial emotion of love. The project reaches a Zenith of cosmic energy on Venus just before the thrusters hurl them toward their next destination leaving behind only a cloudy mist of space debris and sulfuric acid.
The cassettes are available from Empty Cellar Records on limited edition 100% post-consumer recycled cassette tape 2/14 with all proceeds going to benefit organizations committed to the expansion of love and empathy as an antidote the absurd and vacuous practice of enmity.
Folklore and local tales were a foundational element of 1940s and 50s American country music of Appalachia. One man whose existence bridged larger-than-life fables with reality was David "Stringbean" Akeman. His jumbo stature and goofily-tailored wardrobe compounded his effect of bringing the traditional Old Time songs of Kentucky and Tennessee to life with his clawhammer banjo picking and blue-collar yodeled singing voice.
Oddly enough, Stringbean met future bluegrass royalty Bill Monroe in the early 40s on the baseball diamond playing against each other's semi-professional squads. The chance meeting led to a musical partnership with Stringbean picking up the banjo with Monroe's iconic traveling grassers. This introduced Akeman to performing and combining his humor with his musicianship as he would soon begin opening Monroe's shows with his early Stringbean routines. Soon thereafter, Stringbean's talents found a seamless transition to the Hee Haw country-comedy variety television show. Even with String's barnyard goofball act, his stellar banjo playing and traditional hayseed hymns sustained his identity in country music.
Through his successful career, Stringbean remained a sincere, humble feller living with his wife in a small cabin in Ridgetop, Tennessee only splurging to buy a Cadillac. His experiences living through the Great Depression spoiled his trust in the banking system, and it became gossip that he had large amounts of cash stowed away at his residence. One night after performing at the Grand Ole Opry, Stringbean and his wife were shot and killed by two men seeking the country legend's treasure. The men made off with only a chainsaw and a couple firearms before eventually being caught and sentenced for their horrific crimes.
String's legacy lives on in his timeless recordings and their influence on entertainment, country music, and down-home lifestyle.
The many songwriting styles of Neil Young existed as a patchwork bound by blue jean heartland country rock, personal maelstrom, and a career at a critical impasse on '77's American Stars 'N Bars. Fresh off a divorce and with a couple completed records in the can, Young's second thoughts about releasing songs written about intimate feelings of pain and loss led him to scrap the works that would later become his intensely personal Homegrown and compile a more familiar-feeling whiskey-soaked twangy rock and roll record.
Shakey enlisted Linda Ronstadt and Nicolette Larson who performed as The Bullets to record an entire fiddle-rich A-side of quintessential Young country ballads like "The Old Country Waltz" and the boot-scoot shuffle "Hey Babe." The B-side showcases arguably the finest guitar playing in Neil Young's career from the mythic riffs on "Like A Hurricane" to the unfastened sprays of electric scruff on "Homegrown."
Easily, my most enjoyable 30 minutes of music this year was spent daydreaming about being the third wheel in the romanticized life of Rain and Left, drifting across the colorful American landscapes and environments chronicled on their record Like Cake And Ice Cream. The duo play impressionistic folk music with tales about invite-only parties on family farms, the savory flavors of vanilla and chocolate, and the fact that cranes can’t fly.
To some listeners, I could see how this could easily come off as one of the dorkiest records they’ll hear, but perhaps the bizarrely simple lyricism and psychedelic kumbaya instrumentation are the product of the purest form of artistry and songwriting, stripping away anything and everything clouding the truth of a world made up mostly of ordinary experiences. Whichever way you fall on this record, it’s an undeniably therapeutic singalong that exercises the mind’s capacity to enjoy the little things.
Last week, Kevin Morby and Katie Crutchfield (Waxahatchee) released a dual-track single covering two songs from the epic songwriter Jason Molina. Molina's keen ability to deliver unashamedly honest counsel in his songs is not lost on his reverent folk singer contemporaries. Sharing more than just a love for Molina's music, Morby and Crutchfield both engage in months-long tours that can oftentimes subject traveling artists to the blue-collar emotional and spiritual bankruptcy chronicled throughout Molina's discography. The proceeds from the singles go to benefit MusiCares, a charity providing resources for musicians facing financial, medical, or personal emergencies.
The tracks selected by the frequently coworking twosome, "Farewell Transmission" and "The Dark Don't Hide It," reach into the bottomless vault of Molina's untarnished, nonpareil ballads and resurrect two cherished numbers that decode the long dark blues and mirthless truths of bearing Molina's conflicted awareness. Morby and Crutchfield's work fulfills the line from "Farewell Transmission" when Molina suggests "I will be gone but not forever" as their own creative touch sustains his lasting legacy all the while providing resources to the music community's most underpriveleged.
Deep within the credits of The Pretty Things' 1968 head busting classic from the early British psychedelic era, S.F. Sorrow, you will find a line listing the drummer as "Twink" and nothing more. Delving further into this mononymous percussionist, there exists a web of interconnected legendary UK musical involvement, curious disappearance, and overlooked brilliance.
Named for gifts of perm lotion received related to his long curly hair by fans of his early 60s British blues band, John Alder adopted the "Twink" brand name as his own moniker. His career began in Colchester, England performing with a mod-blues band called The Fairies. After relocating to London in the mid-1960s, Alder recorded on what would become a staple of UK psychedelic rock, Tomorrow's self-titled release.
Throughout the 60s, Twink shared stages with Jimi Hendrix, recorded with Ron Wood (The Rolling Stones), Kim Gardner (The Creation), and Jon Lord (Deep Purple) and ultimately ended up with a seat behind the drumset for The Pretty Things, who he would play with on their finest work, S.F. Sorrow.
At the end of the decade, Twink returned to the studio accompanied by members of The Pretty Things, The Deviants, and T-Rex to record his solo debut, Think Pink. The record was incredibly varied and blended psychedelic rock, blues rock, and UK folk into an instant occult masterpiece. After Think Pink, Twink moved to Marrakesh, Morocco and converted to Islam and largely disappeared from the public eye. During the 70s, Twink occasionally performed with Hawkwind and Syd Barrett, but generally stayed a less influential piece of music culture than he'd been in the previous decade.
Five decades after the 1970 solo debut, Twink released Think Pink II on Sunbeam Records recorded with Italian neo-psych outfit, The Technicolour Dream. The record never saw widespread promotion and has remained essentially dormant since its 2015 conception. Now, in February 2018, Twink has readied a third response for psychedelic folk fans with the release of Think Pink III, a stripped back and highly intimate reflection of the original Think Pink recordings from the pioneer songwriter. Think Pink III is hauntingly evocative of the boundless authoring from Twink's career transmitted like a synoptic sonic timeline of the history of psychedelic music.
Maintaining their punchy quirk and post-punk freewheeling, Shopping's latest chapter, The Official Body, is a confidently charming progression for the London duo. A more subdued flamboyancy seems to restrain the songs from floating backwards into the routine New Wave kitsch from the previous work on Why Choose. Although the group is still fundamentally indexed with their ESG, B52s, and Tom Tom Club predecessors, their third full-length reinforces their proprietary blend of New Wave elements and ultramodern originality.
From the one-two wallop of an opening track on "The Hype," the pent-up aggression and frustration of Brexit and Trump hysteria detonates into a funk-punk pool party with a rhythmic thwack of the bass, jittery guitar bursts, and shouted choral melodies. An articulate balance in the delivery of socio-political representation is a admirable strength of the trio made up of LGBT and persons of color and "New Values" is fine proof of their ability to craft driving, memorable, and meaningful songs.
Owsley "Bear" Stanley, noted audio engineer turned LCD chef for the Grateful Dead, conducted an unprecedented operation recording thousands of reel-to-reel live concerts from the glory days of the San Francisco cultural and musical revolution in the 1960s and 1970s. Beyond his seminal Dead soundboard archives, Stanley also spent four days in May of 1974 capturing the angelic, flat-picking mountain music from the stage mic's surrounding Doc and his son Merle Watson's gigs at the charming and historic (and now defunct) nightclub, The Boarding House in the Tendernob area of San Francisco.
The 94-track, 7-disc box set was released last month from the Owsley Stanley Foundation, a non-profit operated by Stanley's son, dedicated to digitizing the entirety of Stanley's private collection of 1,300+ multi-decade tape reels known as Bear's Sonic Journals. The first release from the grail, these Doc Watson recordings have not been heard in 40 years since the night they were performed and have been preserved and remastered worthy of any audiophile scrutiny. The marathon of Old Time standards, swing and gypsy jazz, and country blues span the panorama of acoustic mastery the Watson's exhibited.
The burnt-out cassette tape sounds of Dougie Poole's sizzling debut, Wideass Highway, meet at the desolate intersection of experimental pop and outlaw country. I'd like to use the term "hipsterbilly," but I'm sure it would seem derogatory, although the mix of Ariel Pink meets Bobby Bare is a genre defying tie-dye of musical brilliance.
Lo-fi twirls of reverb guitar provide the Texas twang for the cheap drum machine and plopping bass licks of the tracks of supreme American candor. From the tear-jerkin' woebegone cowboy ballad on "Less Young But as Dumb" to the holy, droning, tongue-in-cheek psalm "Port Authority Hymn," Poole's pickled perspective is a chivalrous, back-handed salute to traditional American songwriting.
Find Dougie Poole's tour dates here.
Ben Montero, best known for his surreal, technicolor comic illustrations debuts his glamorous, arena-ready psychedelic pop palette on Performer, out tomorrow on Chapter Music.
How does your visual art intersect with your music songwriting? Are there commonalities in your motivations and inspirations? Does one influence the other?
They're only recently starting to intersect in some "official" way but pairing them together is not something I'd thought about presenting as a package. If anything, I was shying away from that. They're just the two things I do in this world so I'm not sure how to analyze it, but the commonalities must be there for others to see. I'm not sure how they influence each other but maybe they do.
Your work has been used for merch and album covers for bands such as GUM, Pond, and Kurt Vile to name a few. Are you more comfortable working on commissioned pieces for others or for your own work? Do you feel more pressure creating art to represent another person's creative identity or desires?
I feel more pleasure creating what I want to create without having to think about it. So it's just a reflex. If I have to start thinking about someone else and their expectations, then that's when insecurities can creep in and I can fear not living up to what they want. Then I feel like I'm in the real world again. But I do like making things for people that make them happy.
You lived with Jay Watson of Pond/GUM/Tame Impala. How did your time with Jay impact your personal creativity? Did you guys collaborate and use each other as resources during your time under the same roof?
Yeah for sure. I made the Pond album cover. He recorded my old band Early Woman. We swapped songs and talked about creative stuff. He had so many interesting stories about what he's experienced in music that was another world to me.
The new Montero record, Performer, is out Feb 2 on Chapter Music. How was writing and recording the record compared to envisioning and creating an art piece? Do you prefer one process over the other?
They're all completely different head spaces. Or maybe they're not? I'm not sure. The writing of the songs happened well before the actual recording and a lot had gone on in between those two periods. Then the mixing happened over another stage of time. Then the release at a much later point. So it's all very fragmented but somehow unified in my brain and I still feel the same as I did in each stage. I've done no growing up in the meantime. An art piece rarely comes out like you envision it but that's OK. You get something, whatever it is, to show for it at the end.
I enjoy all the processes.
You wrote the songs for Performer years ago. Why was 2018 the year to get it wrapped up and ready for release? What was keeping you from letting it loose all this time?
What's the rush? Things always take time and I haven't been in some music business timeline cycle until recently. People helping with the record behind the scenes etc... Plus, I was traveling and drawing and thinking and hiking and sleeping.
Performer has a glamorous aesthetic from the music itself to the cover artwork, however, you've mentioned that some level of personal emptiness and dispiriting life happenings were occurring during the writing of the record. Was this project a response to those feelings or more of a way to hide out from discouraging feelings you were experiencing? Or were you able to insulate yourself from those things impacting your art and music?
Those feelings are still there and I can never insulate myself from them. It's not like, "Hey it was a real sad time in my life so I wrote some songs." I always feel like this and it's probably been the worst it's ever been over this last holiday period. Also, I never sit down and write songs consciously. I just feel things out and sing whatever pops out as working lyrics then I just end up keeping the working lyrics in the end. Down the track I might realize what something is about and it all seems very obvious.
You recorded the record with members of Pond and Tame Impala in Mark Ronson's studio. Had you worked in an environment like that before? Does having high value equipment at your disposal make recording more challenging at all? Were there early takes or demos recorded with lower budget equipment? How were the songs reworked due to the access to Ronson's studio?
Just Jay and Ricardo Damian. I've never worked in such a fancy place. Very nice mood lighting! Having amazing equipment, players and engineers made recording a breeze for me.
I'd been sending demos of the songs I'd made on GarageBand to Jay over the previous year so we'd been working on sequencing, arrangements and even concepts for a while before we went in. We laid down all the basic tracks with me on piano and Jay on drums and then built them up from there.