You started out on drums and then played piano later on. How many instruments do you play now?
My main instruments would be piano, guitar, drums, bass, banjo, and essentially anything I can get my hands on to make sound. Even if I don’t really know how to play an instrument, I will sometimes fake it until it sounds at least slightly convincing.
What was it like when you first picked up an instrument?
When I was really young, I wasn’t as much playing drums as I was banging on paint cans and putting on “shows” for my parents. I eventually got a full kit around 6.
When did you discover you could sing?
I suppose I discovered that I could sing in late junior high or early high school. I took choir in high school and I think it really helped my singing voice.
What steered you away from live instruments and towards electronic music?
In college I started messing around with loopers and that’s when I began writing music with more repetition and layers than I ever had before. I was never really pushing myself away from acoustic instrumentation, I just found a way to perform much denser songs live without a full band.
You’re music leans towards electronic minimalism. What minimalist composers would you recommend and what drew you to minimalism?
Steve Reich and Phillip Glass have been huge influences on my music in terms of minimalism. I love the repetition and complexity that their music is based off of. It’s hypnotic and emotional with rapid single notes and gradual transformation that brings me to another place.
You’re likened to Panda Bear, Tory Y Moi & Caribou as well as Steve Reich and Owen
Pallett. Which artists stand out personally to you as an inspiration in your music?
I’m a fan of all of these artists, but the ones who stand out the most for me are Steve Reich and Panda Bear. Steve Reich because of his influence on minimalism and Panda Bear mostly because of his work in Animal Collective, who has been a big influence on my music since in high school.
How did you end up on the road with Two Door Cinema Club and what was that like?
Touring with Two Door Cinema Club was great! I’m not exactly sure how it came about. I’m pretty sure we just submitted for the tour and made the cut. It was great playing for bigger crowds in places that I don’t play as often in the Midwestern United States. They’re great guys and put on a fantastic show so it was great to be a part of it.
Austin Texas seems a long way from the UK, literally and culturally. What would you say is different in your experience of both? How does your music transcend?
Audiences are different all over the world, and sometimes it’s hard to decipher their reaction. Austin seems to have a much more rambunctious crowd than anywhere I’ve played in the UK so far, though I feel like my music and live performance is more fitting in the UK.
Either way, I’ve learned that it’s best just to be myself and not try too hard to perform differently to a particular audience. I’d rather just let it come naturally.
You mentioned that ‘music is therapy’ for you. How has music helped you in your life?
Music has always been a big crutch for me during the harder times. Whether it is music that I listen to or the writing process in general, I’ve always seen it as a form of therapy. It can make me super introspective, sad, happy, excited, or any kind of emotion.
I sometimes have a hard time putting too much trust and investment into people or things, but music is always there for me if I need it.
Why did you choose the album title ‘Primitivies‘? What is the meaning/ story behind that?
It took a while for me to figure out the perfect name for Primitives. I know at one point, the idea was introduced when my roommate and I were hanging out talking about it.
I remember we were talking about how the drums had kind of a primal sound and that the technology that I was using really wasn’t the most cutting edge. It was pretty primitive. I decided to pluralize it, making it feel more like smaller segments or songs that make up one large piece.
Could you explain ‘Spectrolite‘ in a few sentences?
Spectrolite is a beautiful stone that was gifted to me from an ex girlfriend. She had taken a trip to Australia and brought it back.
After that time, we started experiencing personal problems in our relationship, which made me use the stone as a representation of that in the song. I had the spectrolite stone next to me basically the whole time I was writing and recording the song.