Left — Coat, top, and pants by JIYONG KIM, jewelry by FEATHER PENDANTS, shoes by SASKIA LENAERTS
Right — Ring by FEATHER PENDANTS
What was your biggest inspiration in its creation?
I think it was people, man. Like I said, I was doing a lot of traveling, touring, going to places: America, South Africa, Europe… And just meeting really interesting, resilient, and amazing people across the world that were very open with sharing their culture, their information, their stories. It was a mix of everything that might have been going on at home or in the world. That was such a fun part of that time, being around incredible people.
Was this last year?
No, it would have been between the beginnings of 2018.
So you’ve been working on this for a minute.
Yeah, a little while.
The song “Stranger than Fiction” begins the album and was also released with a video. What is this song about and what was the process of making the video like?
The song is, you know, there’s a phrase, “The truth is stranger than fiction,” and it’s just a take on that. There’s so many things in the last five years, that when you sort of talk about it now, from Trump’s travel ban on Muslims, to Brexit, to the Windrush Scandal, to, you know, the list keeps going, you’re like, Is that actually real? I was trying to mirror that sentiment with music, so listening to it is like, What is real? Are the drums real? Are the synthesizers real? The blurred lines… it was kind of a creative response to the phrase “Stranger than fiction”.
It’s very impressive how you can translate, so distinctly, an emotion without saying it. I don’t know, it’s just very impressive to me. How does this project differ from your previous ones?
In a few ways: I think it was recorded very differently. Prior to this one, everything I’d done before was more traditional… Like, I would go into a studio for maybe one or two days, write the music beforehand, and come out with almost a project 80-90% done. Whereas this was a lot more open ended, it was a lot more experimentation, a lot more process, a lot more time to just sit and develop things. I didn’t record it in one space in particular; I would go between studios, people’s houses, bedroom studios, my bedroom studio… It was very open. There was no sort of constriction or time limit set on me. I just had time to do it. And nobody knew I was doing it or working on it, and it just naturally snowballed.
That’s cool. So, was it kind of a secret because you wanted to have the freedom to allow your creative process to flow freely?
Yeah, kind of. I mean, it wasn’t that deep, but yeah it was in a way. The minute you tell people you’re working on an album or something, press or whatever, I just wanted to get back to making music for me and having fun and having that moment, and not having to think about the radio, or this, or the other mechanism, or PR. I just wanted to make it. And then once it’s done, then we can enter those worlds. So for as long as I could, I tried to keep it very close to my chest.
What is your composing process like?
I think it changes, it’s developed. With this again, it was very open. I was very conscious to not go into the habits I had before, or just sitting at a piano and working out chords and structures and forms. I was more interested in making sounds that made me feel a certain way and not worrying about how I made those sounds or where they came from. So it could have been a synthesizer, it could have been a drum machine, it could’ve been me in Ableton or Logic. I didn’t really know how I was gonna arrive at certain things, but I knew when I had arrived at them, if that makes sense. Whereas before, I would sit at a piano and I’d know when a song was done. And then I’d work from there. This was a lot more explorative. Just open. I didn’t have one process for each track. I wanted to look at it from various angles.
So would you say in the past, you’ve worked more linearly, like, you had more of a step by step process? And this was not created linearly?
Yeah, definitely, definitely. That’s a great way of putting it.
How many instruments do you typically write parts for in a given song?
I play drums and I play a bit of piano, not enough to perform, but enough to compose and write. But I write for everything. I can write for everything except I’m terrible with lyrics. It’s just melodies, really. I know the melodies I want and I know the sonic capabilities of most of the instruments I write for: the brass, the guitar… I know how they sit in a song and I can hear what I need and want, so I’m good enough to write enough down on paper if I need to communicate to a trombone player.