But yeah, I'm having fun and being creative and mixing it up. It makes for an inspiring time -- back into the great wide open where anything is possible. And it's the same with the visual aspect of it. I just finished a stop motion, animated paper collage video. It's the same technique I used for the "Singing to the Earth" video, but taking that technique a lot further. It's really about having time to be home and focus on ambitious projects that will reach eyes and ears. I just have so much fun making them, and I'm grateful that I have the time and the freedom to do this and everything is working with my life -- finding musical gigs that will pay my bills and I'm doing exactly what I want to be doing.
Is there a correlation between the creative process with the stop motion animation and writing music?
Parallels definitely can be drawn. One thing that I love about doing the collage stuff is that it allows me to combine different time periods and different styles, which is what inevitably happens with the music. The background, the cut-outs and everything, that would be like the raw influences. And how they're put together would be an analogy for what my music does with those influences. That guitar part that you were talking about on "In Our World," well on its own it has a Les Paul technique. But that song doesn't sound like a Les Paul tune, because there's something else going on -- a completely different sensibility. You know, even if a writer compares you to five different artists and they nail it where each influence is something you love, it still doesn't capture the lyrics or the place the music transports you isn't the same. It's still completely different even if it has similar guitar sounds and rhythms. I'm definitely not ashamed to show my influences because they come across in a way that's not unoriginal. And making collages... it's like my friends who DJ and make completely new shit out of already existing albums. Collage is sort of the same way -- here's a photo that someone else took, it's done, it's beautiful. That's why mine looks good [laughter]. I'm just doing something different with it -- it's just one ingredient.
To me, that's progress. There's a lot of debate... well, I still actually talk to people sometime who are like, "Is DJ-ing art?" And I'm like, "Seriously? Yes! Of course it is." Sure, you can take a Police song and put shitty lyrics over it and no new melody and yeah, that's kind of weak. But somebody like Edan-- you know, if anyone wants to even have that conversation, I just say listen to this [laughter]. If you can even find the original albums, go listen to them and see if they even at all give you the same feelings.
Yeah, it's like anything -- you're researching sound and history to inform your own sound.
We don't really have forms of folk music like we used to. You listen to the old county stuff or the old rockabilly stuff or the old blues, and so much of it is basically the same song. And what you get out of them that's different is the essence of the performer. The timbre of the singing, the lyrics and nuances of the playing might be different, but it's not like the composition is this unique thing [laughs]. They have the same intro, the same melody... and now if you sample a crackle-y orchestral record -- that's the reference -- like a folk reference. Now listen to what's going on along side of it, because now you're drawn in because there's this thing that I heard at my grandmother's house, but it's new and [has] modern compositions. It's not all out of left field. If it was, it might sound stiff and keep you at a distance, because there's nothing to grasp on to that's rooted. I feel like we've all heard new interesting electronic music, but it's not engaging. And that's not a blanket statement. Sometimes I'll hear something that I really respect because of how many boundaries it's pushing sonically, and yet there's nothing warm and inviting there.
Right, it's lacking history in its sound. Going back to this idea about the sound in your head, is there something you've heard recently that influences that? I imagine that's part of how it evolves.
Yeah, definitely. I've been really into the staccato style guitar playing and there's a lot of that on this record. There's not as much long-bending notes or Hendrix-y sustained notes. I've been drawing from a lot of the surf stuff that I've always liked, and I've been finding a lot of cool stuff from Africa with great players. One of my favorite bands right now is this African band Orchestre Poly-rythmo de Cotonou, and the guitar player is so sick. He's got this really raw style; it's kind of like this cool guy approach -- it's not for everyone. It sounds like the Velvet Underground of Afro-funk or something. There's this unapologetic sloppiness, but greatness dripping off it -- it's not accidental, it just has a very free vibe.
In a more general way without citing references, I've been more drawn toward guitar players that don't take the typical avenues for good guitar playing -- you know, like some just playing like Hendrix [laughs]. I like the leftfield kind of approach that at first you might not recognize as any good. And even hearing something that is slightly out of tune and off is actually really, really great.