Where are you currently based?
At the moment, I’m in this really beautiful, quiet spot in the Grand Teton National Forest over in Wyoming, it’s absolutely wild out here!
Oh man, such a funny thought. Going to a small elementary school in southern Vermont, it was sorta an unspoken requirement to give some sort of musical instrument a try. I think in 1st grade my mom rented me a trumpet, but after a few months of absurd sound making, she returned the trumpet and came back with a snare drum. The rest is history. I stuck with playing the kit my whole life. I’d say the last 3-4 years I’ve really focused more on producing, but drums will always be closest to my heart. But yeah, I was lucky to have that push from my parents at an earlier age to grab something and see what happens.
What’s been happening recently and how has your Covid experience been so far?
So much has been happening! I’ve sorta packed up my life for the next 6+ months and just recently hit the road. We’ve been on the road for 28 days today and very much still acclimating to the go-go-go lifestyle. But we can talk more about that in a bit. As far as my Covid experience, it’s been waaay easier than others, which I’m grateful for. I was lucky to spend the majority of the thick of it in VT, where there was plenty of space and a pretty conscious community who’ve taken it seriously. Knowing buddies down in NYC and hearing about the extreme isolation, I’ve had it way easy. Dogs also help haha.
Your new single ‘Fulgurant’ is out now, what influenced the sound and songwriting?
How did you go about writing Fulgurant?It all started with this really cool synth I accidentally fell into. It was one of those random small plugins that came with a bundle I bought a while ago through Native. It blended so many washy layers together, so after telling myself to stop tinkering with it I had a really cool chord progression put together. From there, I knew I wanted to do some sort of vocodery layering as well, so I spent a ton of time working on that and trying not to overdo it with the amount of synth and vocal layers. Percussive textures are always something I focus a ton on, so getting those super crisp and clear was the third piece of Fulgurant. I spent a while looking for the perfect harp plugin, which was so hard to find, and sorta funny thinking back on it now. There’s this one small section where I have this huge strum from a harp that leads into the bridge type section, and the harp sorta handles the whole transition there. It took me a while to get that sounding right haha, but so worth it! Lyric wise, I didn’t know what the song was going to be about until I really took a step back and had a bit of a realization about some pretty heavy stuff, life and death, that kinda thing. For Fulgurant specifically, it’s all about seeing a family member age, and face some pretty serious dementia. Something a lot of people face, but never really confront outright. At the end of the day, we just have to be there for eachother, and that can be hard to do too.
Where and when did you record/produce/master and who with?
I’d say 75% of the song was written out of my small corner studio space in my living room at my old apartment in Burlington, VT. For the vocals I actually just brought my gear into a practice room at this spot called the Burlington Music Dojo. I’d rent out a weekly spot for practicing drumming mostly, but the room was treated super well, and I thought I might get a better take trying to record there. Seemed to work decently well! I finished the latter part of the track down at my childhood home in southern VT. Once I had it sounding the best I could, I sent it over to a good friend and amazing engineer Nick Squids, who did the mix and master and really took it to another level. Guy is a genius.
How did you approach the recording process?
I always feel pretty amature when it comes to recording live tracks in my songs. I don’t have anything fancy, but it always seems to end up clean and clear enough. I have a 2 track audio interface and a cheap condenser mic I use for just about everything. Outside of vocals, I recorded some guitar – I have this baby taylor that can’t hold a tune to save its life, but I love it so much. I always leave it in some random open tuning, and I just set up a mic in my living room while I was plucking a few chords that ended up working really well with the song. I also have this beautiful black tele, that I love adding huge held out chords with. I usually throw a fair amount of effects on the guitar stuff, you can get some really cool sounds that way. But yeah, it’s always recorded in the middle of my apartment type of thing.
What programs/equipment did you use?
I ended up using a combination of plugins between native, output, arturia for my synths, bass, and other instruments. There’s honestly way too many options out there these days haha. I feel like I could probably do more with less, but yeah, I’ll typically throw on a handful of effects from waves or soundtoys to really start distorting and manipulating the sound. I’ve been a huge fan of the soundtoys crystallizer and some of the maserati plugins from waves. I think my favorite part of the whole set up on this song was midi tracking my drum samples into this little electric kit I got off craigslist. It was the first time I was able to actually record what I was playing with a Teulu track. I feel like it gives it a better groove, and a good groove is so important. Even if it’s dragging or maybe off a bit.
I hear you’re living out of a converted 1989 Chevy van! How and why did this come about and how has the experience been so far?
Aha yes! It’s been a wild ride so far, that’s for sure. I think the whole idea started from a huge feeling of not really knowing where to go next. I moved back east with plans to move into the city, but COVID hit and sorta threw everything out the door, like it did for so many others. Not long after that, my girlfriend and I found this cheap, old 1989 chevy van that was already gutted, and we got to work building it at the beginning of the year. It then sorta morphed into “oh, we could really cut down on our consumption while doing this, and really minimize our overall footprint.” So not only could we figure out where the next home might be, but we could consume less, and waste less in the process. I also set up a pretty cool mobile studio, more to come from that soon though. It’s really easy to romanticize this idea of living on the road, which partly can be totally true. There’s also a lot of adjusting and acclimating to be done, and we’re still going through some of that now. Especially with two dogs along for the ride, haha.
Who are you listening to at the moment?
Oooooo, so much good music just dropped! I’m halfway through the new Tyler album, and he’s crushed it again. I just love his beats and all of his production, it’s so unique and good. I’ve also been really into this artist On Planets, wicked good lyrical cadence and his writing is really inspiring to me as of late. Oh man, and don’t get me started on the new Porter record. Another really good record just dropped from rum.gold that I’m super into.
What do you like to do away from music?
I’m a huge fan of winter, so taking the pups out snowboarding is something I do pretty often. Also a sucker for a good (and bad) scary movie, but you gotta have popcorn with it. Sorta random, but I picked up leather tooling from a good buddy over in Portland, OR, and really enjoy making simple leather goods out of recycled scraps. Anything that helps pull you out of the daily routine, and get you to think about bigger picture type stuff, I love.
What’s planned for 2021?
Crazy to think we’re already halfway through it! I’ve got a few more tracks to release, which feels good. I’m still a bit slow at finishing songs, so a big goal is to write a ton of new music while being on the road. And yeah outside of music, I’ll be on the road for the rest of the year, checking out some new potential spots to call home. The biggest thing I think is just trying to really focus on living as minimally as possible and recognizing what a privilege this all is.
Favourite food and place to hangout?
Oh man, tough question! Since I just spent the last week in Bozeman, MT, I’d say that’s been the coolest spot on the road so far. I was lucky to land there during a few Pride events, and the community there is so great. The food there is pretty awesome too, I had Bibimbap for the first time over there and it really hit the spot. Shout out to Whistle Pig.