Washed Out Talks Atlanta, Within and Without, And Touring (VTT Interview)
Walk us through the process you went through in the beginning of your career when you started recording in your parents house. Did you know what you were stumbling into?
Not really, no. I was about 18 or 19 years old and it’s always been a solo bedroom-recording thing. When I first started out it was a lot of hip hop instrumentals so if you go through the past few years or so I’ve been doing more of a pop style of music with the instrumental difference and traditional vocals and a chorus. I listen to a lot of different music and I think that shows in Washed Out’s music. I think Washed Out is a combination of some weirder kind of ambient stuff and then some of the low-end material from dance and hip-hop.
Did you feel a new amount of pressure on your Within and Without once you were on a record label and some of the creative control was tighter on the album?
Yea I think more than anything else for me was the hardest part was starting out writing a full-length record because I was pretty comfortable with my recording set up. I had only done shorter releases and only thought about songs 1 track at a time. I knew that I wanted the full-length album to make sense as a piece of work form beginning to end. The style of music I do, with quite a lot of sampling, it’s hard to make a 40-minute piece of music. It was really intimidating. And this was the first time I knew there would be a large audience there and it would be reviewed. I feel much more prepared for going at it again for this next record. Much more confident and comfortable.
Will you be in the studio this summer working on a new album?
Yeah, I’ve been working on some stuff off & on like demo ideas in the van and stuff like that. We’ve been so busy touring I haven’t had much time to get in a real studio. The plan is we’ve got two festivals this summer, but for the most part we’ll be home and working.
How did you hook up with Ben Allen on production who has worked with artists like Gnarls Barkley and Animal Collective?
I was lucky enough that he heard my music and reached out to me in 2009 and at the time I had just finished the two earlier EP’s I had done and I didn’t really have any new material. It came to a point in 2010 where it was time to start work on Within, Without and he was the only producer contact I had. A lot of people have asked ‘Why did you pick him?’ but it was my only option and it was a great option. I was already a big fan of his work so once I reached back out to him; he was able to fit me in. We only did 9 or 10 days in his studio in Atlanta, but I had done a lot of the recording at home. It was a lot more mixing and adding live instruments that I couldn’t pull off with the shitty gear I had.
It came out really awesome. Where were you guys recording in Atlanta?
He had a space he called Maze studios in Midtown, but I believe he recently moved to a different spot. It feels less like a super clean studio and more like a living room, which helps a lot creatively. He’s got a couple couches and a really laid back vibe which made it an easier transition for me I think.
You just said that you began mixing with hip-hop production early on. We’re huge fans of Clams Casino and the production he has done in hip-hop music, what did you think of his take on the Amor Fati Clams Casino Remix?
I thought it was really interesting. I had heard, I think it was a mixtape he had put out and I was a big fan. I could see a connection between our music and I was really psyched on it. If the opportunity comes around I’d like to work with him again on something.
I really don’t even care because if it’s going to be labeled something and it’s not chillwave then it’s going to be electronica or something like that, you know what I mean? I try not to think about it too much, but there is definitely a kind of music that’s chillwave now that I hear. New stuff I hear online and at times I’ll say this kind of sounds like a chillwave track.
Do you ever peruse the blogs, some of the same ones that post your music when it’s released?
Yeah I think it happens less when I’m on tour because we’re lucky enough to get a connection strong enough to check email let alone stream music. I do like to go through music blogs when I’m home and I enjoy to DJ a little bit. I like having my ear listening to new, interesting stuff.
That’s cool, I didn’t know you were into DJing. You’ve said before you enjoy the recording process much more than the live show. Do you enjoy DJing more than playin’ live?
I would never claim to be an actual DJ. I think there are DJ’s that are really talented using traditional DJ equipment and some have really great taste in music. I have a certain taste that makes sense in the context of my style. I really enjoy it, but it’s mainly just playing songs I like. It’s less like playing a performance and more of partying with friends, drinking, and playing music for their friends?
Do you feel like the Terminal West show in Atlanta is sort of a homecoming show or do you feel detached from the city?
Absolutely. We always want to play our best shows at home because we’ve got family and friends in town. We’ve been on the road for over a month and we feel like we have our shit together after 30+ shows (laughs). This is the biggest tour we’ve done as far as the scale and capacity of the shows. We’ve been fortunate to bring a larger production crew along with us. It’s great.
Congrats on booking Counterpoint Festival in Atlanta for September. Are you excited to play another local show towards the end of the summer?
Definitely. There’s a lot of bands on their we’ve toured with or are big fans of. Anytime we don’t have to jump on a plane or travel to a festival it’s even better. That will be an amazing time and I’m really looking forward to it…