Austin-based artist Bayonne, a.k.a. Roger Sellers has announced his new album Drastic Measures is set for release Feb 22nd via City Slang. New single “Uncertainly Deranged“ is streaming online now.
Speaking about the track, Sellers said “As the title suggests, it’s about uncertainty with one’s own mind, the angst of creative pressure, and self-denial. It’s basically a conversation with myself during a period of heavy touring. Stylistically, I was looking to do something a bit more upbeat. I wanted momentum and good tempo to drive it. Once the beat and instrumentation were set, the melody and lyrics came very naturally.”
Each song on Bayonne’s Drastic Measures is orchestral in texture, unfolding in countless layers and kaleidoscopic tones. With great intensity of detail, the Austin-based artist deepens that sonic complexity by weaving in elegantly warped samples of the field recordings he’s gathered for over a decade. But in its powerful melodies and pristine arrangements, Drastic Measures ultimately bears a pure pop lucidity even in its most grandiose moments.
The new album takes its title from a track that embodies the album’s central theme: the instability inherent in an artist’s life, and the often-futile attempt to attain balance. With its unrelenting urgency and heavy-hearted lyrics, Drastic Measures looks at the disorienting effects of constant touring. “After a while you kind of start to lose touch with home and your friends and your family,” says Sellers. “You come back and feel like you’ve missed out on a lot, like you’re stepping into a whole different life.” And as the album offers up many a transcendent melody and anthemic chorus, Drastic Measures also reflects the volatility of moods within that way of life. “There can be so many highs and lows in such a small amount of time,” says Sellers. “I remember my parents flying to one of my shows in Brooklyn and feeling incredibly grateful that I got to share it with them. Just weeks before that I was touring through Germany, feeling so isolated and lost. The ups and downs can be crazy if you don’t actively try to manage them.”
The crystalline production of the album marks a departure from Primitives, Bayonne’s entirely self-produced and more loosely structured full-length debut. In shaping the immaculately composed album, Sellers partly drew inspiration from the sublime melodicism of 1960s symphonic pop. “I spent a lot more time thinking about the little subtleties than I ever had before, and putting more thought into the meaning behind the songs and the best way to get that across,” he says. “It felt like a natural progression for me—I wanted to make the music more accessible to people, including myself.” Mixed by Beatriz Artola (Fleet Foxes, A$AP Rocky, Adele) and mastered by Josh Bonati (Mac DeMarco, !!!, Zola Jesus)—but fully produced and mostly tracked by Sellers himself—Drastic Measures also finds the multi-instrumentalist enlisting several close musician friends to instill the songs with a more kinetic energy.
Throughout the album, Sellers matches his bursts of experimentation with the graceful piano playing he’s honed since he was a little kid. Halfway through high school, he started writing his own material, and self-recording with the help of his family’s tape machine. By his early 20s he’d discovered minimalist composers like Steve Reich and Terry Reilly, which led him to infuse an atmospheric, ethereal quality into much of his work. And with the release of Primitives in spring 2016, Sellers adopted the moniker of Bayonne as a way to distinguish his more electronically crafted output from his other musical projects. “I’d been playing a lot of shows with a very folk-based set, so using a different name was a way to separate those two personalities,” he explains.
In bringing Drastic Measures to life, Sellers merged his increasingly classic-pop-inspired sensibilities with a production approach closely focused on looping, layering, and overdubbing. “Even if you hear something simple like clapping or finger snaps, it’s probably layered 10 or 20 times,” he says. “I just like to stack and layer everything to get these big sounds, and create a really wide sonic space within the songs.”
No matter how big those sounds become, Bayonne maintains a certain sense of intimacy throughout Drastic Measures—an effect that has much to do with his playful use of the field recordings he’s captured since he was a teenager. “A lot of the time, I put them so far in the background that you might not even hear it,” says Sellers. “But that’s how I like it—I like having these little memories built up and then sticking them randomly in places all over the album. It’s almost like having some kind of diary within the music, and it gives it so much more meaning when I go back and listen.”
Drastic Measures track list:
2. Drastic Measures
6. I Know (stream)
8. Uncertainly Deranged
Drastic Measures artwork:
“It’s sensational, all dizzy-making, densely layered, euphoric electronica” – The Sunday Times
“Bayonne forges energetic and joyously sweet-natured indie-tronica. ‘Primitives’ finds him channelling the celestial overlaid vocals of AnCo, Toro Y Moi’s soaring gauzy electronic pop, the live, looping sample techniques of tUnE-yArDs and D.D.Dumbo, and even Steve Reich’s shuddering, percussive experiments in repition – with charming results” – MOJO (4*)
“The debut from Roger Sellers aka Bayonne is a polymorphous, looping-leviathan of an album, channelling piano, synth, samples and stomping rhythms into a never ending spiral of celestial bliss” – London in Stereo
“The electronic anchored sound of Primitives fluidly crosses into familiar areas of reference but resists solidifying into a set mould” – The Line of Best Fit (7.5/10)
“Evo-loop-tionary… At its core lies the beating heart of electronic music” – DJ Mag (7.5/10)
“You’ll be hypnotised by its charms” – Loud & Quiet (7/10)
“Bayonne stands out from his more well-known contemporaries for a number of reasons. The record is built on twinkling synth loops and even some folktronica elements on the likes of ‘Waves’ and ‘Steps’, but its most distinctive aspect is probably the heavy drum sounds that consistently punctuate the record” – Drowned in Sound