New relationships, new romances bring Los Angeles Police Department out of the bedroom for a sophomore record.
How is the newest, self-titled record different from your debut release under LAPD?
It’s different in a lot of ways. I think sonically what immediately comes to mind is how most of the songs were written and arranged on keyboards. For the first record, I was really obsessed with trying to make my recordings sound like a band in a room. I wrote those tunes on guitar. This new record is my first collaboration in the studio as well. I recorded the album with producer Jonathan Rado who had a lot of cool creative input. This album is also on a new label but I think they both are thematically similar in that they mostly explore my relationships and what I’m going through in my life romantically.
You've been branded with the bedroom pop genre across the web. What's your take on genre identities and would you call your newest record a step away from the bedroom pop idea?
Well the first record was recorded in my room – so I think that label is fair. I think that comparing stuff you hear to other artists or coining sub genres is a totally understandable way of contextualizing new music. I find myself doing it too. However, it’s definitely tougher to have it done to your own music and can feel reductionary at times. I’ve been fortunate enough actually to get compared a lot to artists I don’t even listen to, which to me is flattering. I think as an artist you always hope to have an original voice. So sometimes being stuffed into a genre or a box can be limiting. At the same time, limitations can actually be helpful for me with creating music for different projects.
How did you get into music? Has it been a lifelong passion? What's your earliest memory writing, recording, and performing? How has your style and sound changed with age?
I’ve always been very passionate about music, but my style and what I’m into definitely can change even week to week. My earliest memories writing were probably around 11-12, sitting at the piano doodling when I should have been practicing. I think my mom was cool with whatever I was playing, as long as I was playing. That’s how I started writing. Then I owe it to my dad for turning me onto the music of the 60s and 70s at a time when I was mostly digesting pop punk and rap rock. I know that a lot of people look for a maturation of sound. I want to go against that a bit and use my career to immaturely explore different genres. I want to make doom metal. I want to make hardcore punk that harkens back to 81 Los Angeles. I want to make early 70s country. I think Los Angeles Police Department will most likely always be grounded in the music that my dad introduced me to.
Your first record was released in 2014. What were you up to between releases? How did that time impact the new record?
A lot of things changed and a lot of things stayed the same. I started a relationship with someone new who informed a lot of the lyrical writing on the new record. I stayed in Los Angeles. I signed to Anti Records which was definitely a highlight of my career. I put out a 7-inch with Fat Possum which was great too. A lot of performing, recording every weekend and hanging with my friends. Releasing and recording music – although it’s my favorite thing to do, can be pretty emotionally draining and anxiety inducing too. Because everything took so long, there was a lot of build up for me and a lot of pressure that I put on myself. I think that pressure caused me to create a better record, but also drove me a bit crazy.
What are the musical inspirations for your work? What ways do you motivate yourself to create new songs?
I’m not sure. A lot of times I’ll start new projects or songs based on artists or genres I get obsessed with. For example, I was listening to this really chromatic classical piece and then I went home to write the Birds. Recently I just got really into Late for The Sky by Jackson Browne and tried to write a song as if he was in the room and I was trying to impress him. Although I don’t get a chance to do much destination writing, new environments are really inspiring to me. Or even old ones that I haven’t gone to in a while. I write a nice tune every time I go back home or to Vermont, for example. If I had it my way, I’d do a lot of traveling to write – and post up in a new spot for a week or two with a piano and explore a new area.
The new record was produced by Jonathan Rado. He's been a part of some really great projects lately. What were you favorite parts about working with Rado? How did you get involved with him?
My manager manages Jonathan, so it was a really natural relationship that just grew over time. We recorded a couple songs over a couple months before deciding to work together on a full length. You are absolutely right that he’s been involved in some great projects, and you can expect more coming soon. I’m a big fan of Tacoma Night Terror, Alex Cameron, Dante Elephante, The Lemon Twigs, and Whitney. I always check out what Rado’s working on because I know I’ll probably like it a lot! It’s hard to say what my favorite parts about recording with him were. He’s so talented and obviously I loved having him play on the record. He’s by far the nastiest bassist I’ve ever played with. I think how funny and nice he is, and also how comfortable he made me feel in the studio was probably the best part. It allowed us to really go for it and have a really cool collaboration that didn’t feel at all forced or antiseptic which I think happens sometimes in studios with producers. He also introduced me to one of my favorite diners in Los Angeles.
The first record was more a low-budget type release on a tape label we adore, Chill Mega Chill. How was working with ANTI- different?
The first record was actually a split between Chill Mega Chill who did the tapes, and Forged Artifacts who did the vinyl. Matt Linden, Ian Stanley, and Tim Thompson are some of the best music friends I’ve ever had. I absolutely adore all three of them. I love their labels so so much as well! At their level, there really is no reason to run a label besides 100% supporting artists and trying to help them get their songs out there in a bigger way than they could on their own. Any money these guys make go into their label and their artists. I admire them so much. Anti Records, even though it’s bigger – it feels similar in a lot of ways. Once I met the team, I realized that a lot of people who are working at bigger labels are still doing it for the same reasons as the FA/CMC guys. They just believe in me and my music which is so humbling and awesome. Getting them on board and getting a chance to work with people like Jonathan Rado and Rob Schnapf is a dream come true. I wouldn’t have been able to do that without their support, so it’s different in that way. Just more cool doors can open for more cool collaborations. Everyone though from a smaller tape label to the head of the biggest label in the world….it seems like everyone is just a big music nerd.