What inspired you to first start making music? And how did you come to be in your current incarnation? Or if you prefer, a brief bio about you.
I first started paying attention to songwriting in 2011. Snow Patrol had just put out Fallen Empires and Coldplay was about to release Mylo Xyloto and those were my first exposure to bands I had previously ignored, and I began to go back through their discography and soaking up how they wrote songs and lyrics and eventually I wrote my first songs like ‘Guardian Angel,’ ‘Sophrosyne’ [currently unreleased, will be on LP2 in June], and ‘Mistakes’ [currently unreleased, will be on LP3 in January 2020]. These early songs are really simple and use the instrumentation as a ship to carry lyrics, which I’m gradually growing out of. I was also very inspired by a relationship that ended in 2012, which most of the songs on By Ghosts, my 2015 debut, are about, and I still write songs about to this day. She had multiple personality disorder, she could see ghosts, and had an imaginary friend – basically, she was a basket case, but all that stuff gave me some interesting lyrics, especially when I started to experience my own paranormal phenomena whenever she was around, directly relating to the piano that I wrote all these songs on, which is where the title of that first record came about.
Provide us with some info about your latest release…
It’s an adaptation of an unproduced screenplay of mine. It’s about a man who begins to involuntarily time travel after a storm in the Bermuda Triangle. He pops in and out of random time periods. In one of them, he thinks it’s over and has time to start a family and have children, and then he’s taken away from them again… He’s just trying to find a way back to his son.
I recorded this along with ‘Aquatic’ and the rest of To All the Sailors We’ve Lost at Donut Time Audio, the home studio of Bay Area art rock band Everyone Is Dirty, who lent their producer/guitarist Christopher Daddio’s many talents to the track. It was mixed by Kristofer Harris (producer/mixer of UK bands Belle and Sebastian, Clock Opera).
Which ones would you consider your main influences both music-wise & non-music-wise?
Foals is my absolute biggest influence, though I don’t sound much like them at all. Their ability to defy genre and make music that sounds both classic and futuristic at the same time gives me incredible drive. I even find myself to be more inspired creatively when they’re active and touring. If I could achieve even a tenth of the success they’ve had, I could die happy.
In what way does your sound differ from the rest genre-related artists/bands and why should we listen to your music? In other words, how would you describe your sound?
I have a hard time fitting into what people consider as “indie rock” at the moment, but I’m sure figuring out what genre you are is hard for most artists. This “emotional poetry” style that I do stands in stark contrast to most indie bands in the scene right now, or at least the indie bands that I play with at gigs. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to drunk people who just want to turn up at a show and have a great time. I’m trying to make a personal statement in a genre that isn’t used to it.
Please name your 3 desert islands albums, movies & books…
This is hard. ALBUMS: Foals – Total Life Forever, UNKLE – War Stories, Coldplay – Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends.
MOVIES: Scott Pilgrim vs The World, The Matrix, (500) Days of Summer.
BOOKS: The His Dark Materials trilogy: Northern Lights, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass.
Do you prefer studio or performing live and why?
Studio work is too stressful. I greatly prefer playing live, because if I screw up, it’s too late to do anything about it and there’s no use worrying about it. It’s a fun game to see how perfect I can make a version of the song for the audience. It never gets boring.
Is there any funny-unique story you would like to share with us, always in relation to your music ‘career’?
I went to an incredible Foals gig in 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri and my friend and I waited outside to talk to the band afterward. We ended up running into Jimmy Smith [Foals’ rhythm guitarist] and he was one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met. He makes you feel like you’re talking to an old friend you’ve known for years. I have no idea how he does it. After talking for a bit, I somehow worked up the nerve to pull out a copy of my first CD and tell him how much of an influence they were on me. He took it and stared at the cover art for literally an entire minute in wonder – he loved the cover art so much he couldn’t stop looking at it! Which is entirely credit to the artist who made it, a Romanian illustrator named Lucian Stanculescu, but still. He said he’d listen to it and took it onto their tour bus. Only god knows the rest of that story.
Which track of your own would you point out as the most unique and why?
By far my most unique track is ‘The Very Last Platform’ from my debut, By Ghosts. I don’t even know what to compare it to. I was inspired by the aesthetic of the puzzle game Limbo, which is an amazing game, and wanted to make a song about the afterlife that sounded black and white. The producer on that, Adam Putman, was a massive collaborator on the final version, and we took a pretty boring demo I had made and came out of it with something truly creepy that sounds like an old, broken recording discovered by archaeologists thousands of years in the future.
Would you like to share with our readers your future plans?
I’m working on two records at the moment: the first is called To All the Sailors We’ve Lost and comes out 14 June. It’s a collection of songs written at the same time as my first album [By Ghosts, 2015], but I tweaked some lyrics here and there to mondernize it and I’ve gotten to work with an incredible producer (Christopher Daddio, guitarist of the Oakland, CA art rock band Everyone Is Dirty) and a phenomenal mixing engineer (Kristofer Harris, also a producer, past credits include UK bands Belle and Sebastian and Clock Opera). The second record is called Dreamweaver and it’s a massive evolution in my sound, pulling influences from synth pop, trap music, and metal. That one will come out 24 January 2020.
Free question!!! (Ask yourself a question) you wish to answer and haven’t been given the opportunity…
What role does mythology and folklore play in your music?
I view all of my lyrics as taking place in an apocalyptic future that follows the logic and rules of ancient mythology. Gods exist; the afterlife exists. I grew up reading books about Greek mythology in particular and I just think those stories are the best ever written. I love the way they work. By Ghosts feels, to me, like someone walking through an empty earth looking for his inner self, through a world that no longer works the way it once did. My subconscious mind always tries to put in references to ghosts, ancient cities, centaurs, kaiju spirits of sailors, the apocalypse. ‘Pantheon’ from By Ghosts mentions Styx and ‘To All the Sailors We’ve Lost’ returns there with a reference to putting a coin in your tongue to cross it. Eventually Paper Anthem will take place in a modern world, but not this year.
Photo credits: Jason Alderman (1st one), Pamela Pavlova (2nd one)
Curated by: Christos Doukakis
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