folk from Los Angeles, California, USA
folk from Los Angeles, California, USA
folk pop from Kansas City, Missouri, USA
Since I discovered Fog Lake, it has been a steady part of my playlist. I admire Aaron’s talent to create the atmospheric vibe coming out of his songs. His music has greatly influenced my taste and will always belong to my favorite musicians. Recently, when I heard that he was releasing a new album, I decided to approach him with few questions via email to ask him about not only his music life in Canada, but also his latest release on Orchid Tapes.
Aaron, you are not very vocal on any social media. Do you prefer “online solitude”? Do you like communicating over Internet?
Anyone who knows me well knows i’m a bit of an introvert. I’m always afraid i’ll make a fool of myself online. Maybe it’s just an anxiety of mine but most of the time I’d rather let the music speak for itself.
Do you find keeping privacy important?
I do. I value my alone time a lot. If I didn’t, I don’t think I would have been able to have such an extensive output in these last years. I spend most of my time alone, for the better.
Do you remember when you first started getting more attention?
Yeah. I remember when I was delivering pizzas one day and someone told me that my song “Farther Reaches” had been posted on a popular youtube channel called “Majestic Casual”. Made my day. My music gained a very steady following after that. I’m very thankful for what they did for me, and I’m glad that they chose a song which I’m still fond of.
You are part of Orchid Tapes family. How did you met Warren and other guys?
Yeah. I’ve really only known Warren online. We’ve never met in person, yet. I discovered his project “Foxes in Fiction” on a forum and I always let him know how much his music helped push me to do what I do now. I think once I started making music, he realized we were coming from a similar place and I’m really glad he gave me a chance to be on the label. It was by far the best thing that ever happened to me and remains so.
You have released your music on cassettes. Do you prefer this type of media or was it a choice made by label?
I’m a fond believer in analog sound, even though I’ve not yet ventured into that path. I think putting out my music on cassette helps secure a sense of integrity and helps fulfill my own beliefs. Many of people I know laugh off the fact that I’m putting out music on such an “obsolete” device, but I don’t know, I really like the sound of a cassette just like someone would like the scratches on a vinyl record. It’s definitely an acquired taste.
Fog Lake’s songs have special vibe and sound. Was it a long process of creation or did you know from the start what your music should sound like?
Thanks. It took me a long time to realize that I really had a ‘sound’ to begin with, but these days I’m definitely a lot more self-aware. Whenever I’ve tried to branch off from Fog Lake, it’s never really worked out because I struggle to do something I feel is original. I would say it was a long process. I listen to a lot of my older material now and I just feel like I was trying to copy what was already done. Now when I listen to my new record, for instance, I feel like I can hear myself coming through and that’s fulfilling for me, providing something that comes from a real place.
Where do you get inspiration for your songs?
I can name you a lot of things that inspire my songs, but I won’t. Mostly just experience, and the ups and downs of this life.
In my previous interview with Katie Dey, she talked about unimportance of lyrics in her songs. What are you thoughts on lyrics?
As much as I love, love, love Katie Dey (‘asdfasdf’ is absolutely stunning) I really have to disagree with her stance on lyricism. My favorite music communicates through tone and language, resulting in the euphoria I often get from it. It would make a great debate I think. I spent quite some time on “Victoria Park” making sure the lyrics said what I needed to get out. However, I would never want my lyrics to ever overshadow the music; it’s definitely the more important and complex element.
Do you prefer working on your music alone or have you ever wanted to have a full-size band?
I definitely like the fact that music requires solitude (in my case anyway). I try to keep Fog Lake a solo project. I played my first set with a band in a while tonight and it didn’t go too well at all. However one of best friends Kenney has been a great and loyal bandmate for awhile now and he’s on three tracks of ‘Victoria Park’, which is new because all of my older records were entirely just me. I’ve always thought the idea of a “one-man-band” was really intriguing however and I felt I was the right person for that, so at it’s core Fog Lake remains my solo project. I’ve always wanted to start a band, but my experiences working with conflicting creative control/input has always been an issue for me, unfortunately.
How long did it take to create the last album?
I spent a year writing and recording on “Victoria Park”. While I was making the record I managed to drop out of school, get into two relationships (neither of which worked out), have my stepfather die and lose two jobs, plus plenty of friendships. The last year of my life has been extremely chaotic and emotionally draining, I’m glad to say that ‘Victoria Park’ expresses and sums up those feelings of loss quite authentically.
What is the toughest part of the writing process?
I think the toughest part of the writing/recording process was really trying to make amends with what was bothering me at the time in a cohesive way, that was yet still relatable. I had a lot of bitterness/resentment when I wrote ‘Virgo Indigo’ and I didn’t want to repeat that again. I find myself very unhappy with that record now, I can say that ‘Victoria Park’ is much better.
Do you think your music is influenced by the place where you live?
Yeah, definitely. I find myself torn apart by how much I wanna get off the island of Newfoundland and how much I wanna stay because it’s such an entirely different scene that has so much potential. I wrote about 50 percent of ‘Victoria Park’ out in my home town of Glovertown (three hours away from where I live now) because I have so many memories attached to that place, and it always gets me inspired to write. All of the songs I wrote while I was in Glovertown reflect that time in my life and relate it to what my life entails now, three years after moving away from there, into a much more populated city
Do you enjoy living in North America?
Yes! I’m hoping to do a tour of the eastern States sometime soon. From my few times in America I’ve really dug it.
What is your daily job?
I was doing dishes at a local bar/restaurant. It pays the bills. I delivered pizzas before that. Got fired for driving too fast though.
Is there any music community in Newfoundland and Labrador?
Yes! It’s a lot like high school. That’s kinda what the song “Renegade” is about. It’s very tight-knit and it’s an everyone knows everyone sort of deal. I can finally say that I’ve gathered some local followers which makes me wanna play shows and try to inspire, whether the set’s good or bad. I think there’s a lot of heart in our local scene, which has yet to be discovered.
Do you miss being able to hang out with guys around Orchid Tapes?
Miss? I’ve never met any of them. I feel pretty distant from the label most of the time to be honest. I’m very privileged to have a part in that scene. I’ve got Warren to thank for that. I’m a big fan of every artist on the label so it definitely cheers me up whenever I’m feeling down and out.
Do you have a place where you would love to live?
I’m thinking about moving to Montreal, or possibly running off to California. I could even try Halifax, maybe. I don’t think I can stay on this island for much longer.
Do you have any goals or dreams regarding your music project?
I’d just like to be remembered, and have some financial security. Neither of which I’ve had much luck with.
Did you have any music project before?
I had a few joke/novelty bands in high school with friends, but no. Fog Lake was the first thing I took seriously.
Do you remember what the first instrument you ever got was?
I don’t! I think the first instrument I ever played was harmonica.
Have you always wanted to make music? Did you have support from family?
I can’t say that it was my plan to begin with. I always wanted to do something in the arts, but I never felt talented enough to pursue music. It seems it’s becoming less of a hobby and more of a career the longer I stay working at it. I think it’s what I’m gonna keep doing until the end though.
What did you listening as a kid?
The first CD I ever bought was ‘Hybrid Theory’ by Linkin Park I’m pretty sure. Then it might have been that Smash Mouth record with “All Star” on it or something by the Backstreet Boys. It was bad, man.
What important advice would you give to young musicians starting their own music projects?
I would say to keep it as true-to-heart as possible. Stop thinking about what other’s want to hear and start thinking about what you wanna hear. Don’t worry about being technical. Don’t worry what your parents think. Give it your best shot.
What are your current three most favorite bands?
That changes 2 much 2 say.
New album Victoria Park out on Orchid Tapes:
Questions by Filip Zemcik
Answers and photos by Aaron Powell
folk pop from Bristol, England, United Kingdom
experimental pop from Boston, Massachusetts, USA
noise rock from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
lo-fi pop from Bloomington, Illinois, USA
ambient lo-fi pop from Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA
bedroom pop from Los Angeles, California, USA
bedroom pop from Washington, D.C., USA
The past weeks has been full of Katie Dey’s new album asdfasdf. I remember how I wasn’t giving it my full attention, but after some time I listened to it thoroughly and discovered its beauty. Katie’s music is something new and experimental in the current lo-fi, internet scene. Additionally, my favorite label, Orchid Tapes, decided to release asdfasdf on cassettes, which sold out insanely quickly. Thus, I have decided to approach Katie Dey with few questions regarding her music life.
A few months ago, people did not know about you and your music. How has the recent attention influenced your life? Do you enjoy the exposure?
It hasn’t really influenced my life much at all actually. The only real difference is that a few kind people bought my album on bandcamp and that helped me pay my rent and bills for the last month. That part is cool, I enjoy that. Actually, I guess I made some new friends over the internet which is awesome.
A new Facebook page, twitter account and many questions on Tumblr. Is it hard to manage all of this?
It can be a little overwhelming sometimes, but it’s mostly ok. I tend to put off answering emails a little too long though.
I think that a boom started when Mat Cothran from Elvis Depressedly started to recommend your album on different platforms. Do you know how he found out about you?
Mat apparently saw that I had been liking posts on his Tumblr for a while and decided to check out my blog which I had just recently posted a song on. We started talking and I sent him some demos which he said some cool stuff about and that became the album. It’s really mind blowing that he likes it so much because I’ve been a fan of his work for such a long time.
Do you know why people are so hyped on your music?
Not specifically. A few people have told me that they like it because it feels like something “new” which is a cool thing to hear. People like to hear things that don’t sound like everything else I think. It gets them jazzed!
A few days ago, Orchid Tapes put out pre-orders of your album on cassettes. Did you get lots of label offers? Why did you choose Warren’s label?
I got a few label offers but mostly small stuff which seemed kind of risky or stuff I wasn’t comfortable with. I’ve loved orchid tapes forever so it was kind of a dream come true for Warren to ask me if I wanted to work with them. It actually took me a bit of convincing from Mat Cothran for me to think it was a good idea because I was sure it would be a huge failure and I’d put Orchid Tapes out of business or something.
The first run sold out very quickly and the second one is selling pretty well too. Did you expect that?
On your Tumblr blog, a lot of people are asking about lyrics. Why are you not attributing them any importance?
I just wanted to shift the focus to how the music could convey itself as a sort of language in itself. There’s a lot of heavily lyric focused stuff around me at the moment in Melbourne and it’s kind of a reaction to that somewhat. It’s sort of an experiment I guess.
Also, there are various questions regarding your equipment. How did you find out your way of doing music?
It’s just something I’ve always done and have worked on for years and years. I’d gone through many phases before now that have heavily informed my current work. It’s hard to kind of describe how I got here, It’d be like telling my life story.
Do you get questions that bother you?
Very infrequently, most people are respectful. The gear questions can get a little much.
How long did it take to record your first album?
Those songs were done over the course of a 3-4 months at the start of this year.
Did you have a clear image of sound before you started recording songs?
I’m not sure I know what you mean by a clear image of sound, but I think I’ve always seen things in a musical way ever since I was little.
What is the hardest part of doing music?
The whole thing takes a huge amount of effort psychologically. It can really take a toll on your emotions and mental health. Singing is also hard.
I have read on twitter you were planning to record new songs, but it turned out badly. What happened?
I think I know the tweet you’re talking about, that was just a time I got a little overzealous with my recording plans and ended up trying to track 3 songs in a night which is a crazy thing to do for the sort of music I make. I ended up passing out at some ungodly hour and waking up with mysterious bruises all over my legs and arms, like I’d deliriously smacked myself into all of my equipment in a sleep deprived stupor.
Did you make all your songs by yourself? Are you planning to have a full band?
Yeah everything was done by me. No plans for a band at this point.
Who has been the biggest source of inspiration for you?
No one specifically. Maybe the based god.
What important lesson have you learned over past weeks of attention
People who do stuff for musicians get paid way more than musicians.
Where do you exactly live?
I live in my house in Melbourne, Australia.
Do you like living there?
It’s ok. The music scene is a little lacking maybe.
Are you part of any music community?
I’m part of the internet lo-fi illuminati.
Are you planning to start playing shows?
Not any time soon.
Are you getting any attention back home?
1 or 2 show offers every now and then. Essentially no.
What are your plans with this music project?
Just to keep pushing forward. I’ve got another album in the works.
Do you have any music dream?
I’d really like to move to America at some point and meet all the awesome people I’ve met on the internet.
What did you listen to as a kid?
As a kid I listened to a lot of Pink Floyd, Aerosmith, Silverchair and Radiohead. A bunch of classic rock too and dumb Australian bands like Eskimo Joe.
Have you always wanted to play music? When and why did you learn to play a music instrument?
I’ve always wanted to be a musician for as long as I can remember, yeah. I learned how to play keys from an old Wurlitzer organ our family inherited.
Name three recent albums that has gotten your full attention.
The new Elvis Depressedly, obviously. And the new Eskimeaux and Girlpool albums are both amazing.
Read a short review of asdfasdf by Michael Hansford
Questions by Filip Zemcik
Answers and photos by Katie Dey
rock & roll from Busan, South Korea
minimal beats from Chicago, Illinois, USA
garage pop from Toronto, Ontario, Canada
indie rock from Dunedin, New Zealand
minimal pop from Phoenix, Arizona, USA
noise pop from Versailles, France
dream pop from Medan, Indonesia
minimal electronic from Stanford, California, USA
emo from Mission Viejo, California, USA
bedroom pop from New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA
indie rock from Wellington, New Zealand
garage rock from Tokyo, Japan
summer lo-fi pop from USA
Lo-fi music is generally associated either with a fuzzy, haphazard garage rock aesthetic (think Guided by Voices) or the low-budget-but-we-like-it-that-way slacker rock banner carried proudly by Burger Records and friends. However, no small number of others, including Copenhagen-based recording artist Paw Grabowski, utilize the narrow stereo field and auxiliary hiss of tape recorders to fill out the edges of painstakingly arranged minimalist compositions. It is in this particular corner of lo-fi that I find many of my most treasured records.
Mr. Grabowski has been releasing music as øjeRum since 2007’s “There is a Flaw in My Iris,” with output on labels such as Horror Fiction, A Giant Fern, and Cabin Floor Esoterica. Also an artist in the visual realm, Grabowski accompanies his releases with black-and-white and sepia-toned treatments of period portraits. This interdisciplinary approach makes each new øjeRum release a collectors’ treat, with his most recent tape, Fraværsminder (english: Memories of Absence), being no exception. After selling out of the original run on Danish netlabel Phinery, Grabowski has offered up a limited edition second pressing of twelve unique cassette and portrait collage packages on his Bandcamp page.
Fraværsminder collects several years’ worth of øjeRum demos, combining instrumental sketches with more fleshed out songs, and despite their individual incompleteness, they build a compelling whole. True to previous releases, Grabowski builds his tracks on a bed of broken-chord finger picking and the occasional chord organ. Vocals feature on a handful of tracks; however, most lyrics must be left to the imagination, as the tape hiss and reverb conspire against his fragile baritone delivery. Comparisons to Slowdive’s unofficial demo tape, I Saw the Sun are apt, as are nods to albums such as Bohren and the Club of Gore’s “Piano Nights” and The Caretaker’s “Persistent Repetition of Phrases.”
While some compendiums are a chore to sit through (here’s looking at you, Mars Volta), the methodical, repetitive qualities of Fraværsminder work exclusively in the artist’s favor. In listening to this tape, I find it disarmingly easy to completely lose track of time. Only after the tape player clicks off at the end of each side am I startled back to reality. This phenomenon repeats itself quite naturally; even after a few dozen listens, I’m still processing the nuances and depths of the album, trying to anticipate particular instances of fret noise or tape warble.
That there is an eeriness behind methodical progression of Fraværsminder is a statement that needs no elaborate justification. Look no further than the cross-stitched figure on the album’s cover, and you will find the core of minimalist music’s fascination with memory and decay. That to which the stark, anonymous subject of Grabowski’s collage silently bears witness is made explicit in his song craft: no matter how hard you try, you can never relive your memories – you can only hope to preserve them.
Text by Nate Wagner
Photo by øjeRum
bedroom pop from Park City, Utah, USA
bedroom pop from Milton, Florida, USA
bedroom rock from Nashville, Tennessee, USA
guitar pop from The Woods, New York / Whidbey Island, Weashington
indie pop from Khabarovsk, Russia