When did you first start music?
I'm not sure how to mark when I first started. I think I've always had musical inclinations in one form or another. There was always a piano or a Casio keyboard around when I was growing up, and I'd noodle on that, but I never really learned how to play. I learned the recorder, then the saxophone when I was about nine. I started making little compositions with a midi editor when I was maybe thirteen or fourteen. Around the same time, I was learning guitar. I think I started writing songs with the guitar about as soon as I was capable of making a few chords, because that's pretty much why I learned guitar in the first place.
The Grains is your new EP and your last release was A Phantom Whines, pt. 2 which came out in 2010, why the long wait and what made you decide on the EP format for the new album?
The long wait is because I wasn't writing very much. In general, I write a lot slower than I used to, but for a while I was writing barely anything, and the stuff I did write, I wasn't really happy with. I don't know exactly what happened. Just a deficit of creative energy. Putting The Grains together was almost a way of reclaiming my identity as a songwriter. I had just gone through a really terrible breakup with someone I had been with for a very long time and I had to latch onto something that made me feel like myself again. I think the reason it is an EP rather than something longer is partially because I made it with that urgency, but also because I thought people might actually listen to it if I kept it concise. Also, this was an Internet release, so I didn't really see a reason to make the length adhere to standards that are still tied into physical media.
What artists have a biggest impact on you?
Neutral Milk Hotel, Joanna Newsom. There are a ton of artists that influence me a little bit, and I think those little impacts comprise a larger part than the major impacts of my few favorite artists, so I'm hesitant to try and break it down in list form.
What is your favorite album that came out in the last two years?
I'm not sure. I've really been enjoying the latest Dirty Projectors.
You have a beautiful impactful song off your last album A Phantom Whines, pt. 2 called "Maryland, Maryland" if you are comfortable can you tell me anything about that song?
My college roommate freshman year had a seizure in the middle of the night and I had to call campus safety to come take him to the hospital. I didn't know what was wrong with him, and I was worried, and though it was a completely different situation, it got me thinking of a very close friend of mine who had committed suicide years earlier. The dorm room had a sickly, coppery blood smell because my roommate had bitten his tongue and bled all over the place, hence the line "everything kind of smells sweet and terrible." Anyway, I was thinking about my friend from back in high school who had killed himself, and I wrote "Maryland, Maryland" during the couple days that my roommate was in the hospital. Just to clarify, though, the song isn't about my roommate; it's about a friend of mine growing up. Or, more accurately, the time following his death.
"It was like I made the song a pain in the ass by design."
You have a nine Minute song "Shards" off your new EP, how was writing and recording that?
That's actually three songs that connect to one another. I wrote it a couple years ago, so I am shaky on the details, but I think it came together pretty quickly. Recording it, on the other hand, was a nightmare. I record into my computer nowadays, but when I first tried to record it, I ran out of tape. Recording it on the computer isn't a whole lot better, because I have a really, really bad computer and it likes to seize up on me if it's handling too much audio. It was a test of endurance, especially since I constantly fuck up when I'm recording and have to start over. The guitar, vocals, and anything else that's in all three parts had to be done straight through in one session, because you run into all kinds of congruity problems with the sound if you try to record one instrument part across sessions. I used samples for the rhythm, so I had to record with a click track, but that presented problems because the song has a tempo change. It was like I made the song a pain in the ass by design.
Do you have a favorite song on the EP?
Maybe "Shouting Into the Void," but only because it's the one I wrote most recently and it's the most relevant to my life at the moment. No, I don't have a favorite.