Prepare yourselves for a listening party/interview extravaganza. Cale Parks and Lemonade, performing tonight at Comet, have given us a few tracks each for your listening pleasure. They’ve also taken the liberty of interviewing each other so you can get to know the men behind the music a little better. We’ll kick this off with Cale Parks, who has worked with Aloha and White Williams and is now showing us his solo side. From there we’ll move into some Lemonade, the trio from Brooklyn whose totally danceable self-titled album debuted August 3rd. And THEN you can read their interviews with one another. So let’s get going, shall we?
I wrote the song “Breathe In Tact” during the making of the new To Swift Mars EP. In the end, it got cut, but it’s still one of my favorite songs. With this one, I wrote the beat on it’s own one day. A week later, I opened up the file again, sat down to work on it, and a friend called and told me Heath Ledger had just died. Slight bummer on the day. I know I’ve had my own history with prescription meds, trouble sleeping, and a general sense of wanting calm when sometimes it’s just not there. The result is slightly dark, but something I’d been feeling a lot of at that time. It is not a Heath Ledger tribute by any means.
Cale Parks “One at a Time” (video)
The song “One at a Time” was written in two stages. The music came first, after a slow disco listening session with my friend Shawn. The lyrics came later after I had just watched The Lost Boys. Even though vampire culture is all the rage now, I wasn’t really conscious of that at the time. When it came time to make a video for it, we decided to take a trip to Coney Island with some friends and shoot on the boardwalk, an obvious choice. Technically, the video contains no actual video footage. Photographer Shawn Brackbill shot thousands and thousands of still photos which were edited later on by Adam Bennett, who I’ve worked with in the past.
CP: I approached Lemonade about doing a remix. I sent the whole record to them and was really happy when they picked “Early On”. I was listening to a lot of Burger/Ink when I made that song. I knew they would do a great job with it. It sounds exactly like a Lemonade remix of that song ought to. I was really excited to hear that they all had a hand in making it because usually there’s only one person in a band that does the remixes.
Lemonade: When we started this remix, we were listening to a lot of the dubbier, more 4 on the floor dubstep, particularly Martyn, and we wanted to capture that vibe. We had recently purchased an old analog keyboard from a friend of ours in San Francisco. We haven’t ended up using it much on our own productions, but we used it for the bass line and some of the synth lines in this remix. We put the breakbeat into the track to try and capture the feel of those old breakbeat hardcore tracks that still had a dub reggae feel to them.
Listening Party Part 2: Lemonade
We don’t play this song terribly often anymore, but it’s still a favorite from the record. It was one of our first songs to take influence from UK bass music, although in retrospect it seems like a rather crude attempt. Often the most original sounds we come up with are our failed attempts at recreating something specific. The song is called “Sunchips” because one of the percussive sounds is actually a sample of us hitting a bag of Sun Chips.
Lemonade “Big Weekend” (video)
“Big Weekend” was a song we wrote a few years ago. It was one of our first times using Ableton Live, which is the software we use for our productions, and we knew very little about the program or about software synths. The synth line was a preset that reminded us of house music we liked and it saved the song from being just another disco-punk track. The break in the middle is a sample from some Puerto Rican music that we put a whole lot of resonator on. The story behind the video is that last year, before we moved to New York, we were going to shoot a video for our song “Blissout”. We invited a bunch of our friends to Martin’s Beach, where Alex grew up. We wanted to film an ecstatic dance party on the beach. Everyone had mimosas and we splashed around and ate fruit and had a really nice day. There were seals in the water watching us the whole time. That video never ended up happening and the footage just sat there for months. More recently we were asked to make a video for Big Weekend. We gave the footage to our friends Weird Days with the direction that we wanted a classic MTV vibe and they did an amazing job
Cale Parks interviews Lemonade:
CP: When you guys started making beats what were you doing exactly? Were you using drum machines or software or what?
Lemonade: When we started the band, we only had 2 weeks before our first show that we had booked. We ended up using a Zoom drum machine that Alex had, and we ran it through a Big Muff pedal to make it really gritty and then ran that through Ben’s bass amp from his old hardcore band. Callan was singing through a loop station and triggering a cheap sampler. It was all very lo-fi and extremely noisy. Our music at that point was mostly improvised and so we would just jam to beats on the drum machine. People really seemed to like it too, perhaps because it was so primal and cacophonous. Over time, our songs got more structured and we realized there were a lot of options and possibilities sequencing tracks with software, which is what we do now.
CP: Do you think that changing cities from San Francisco to Brooklyn has affected your sound or the vibe of your music.
Lemonade: The sound and vibe of our music has definitely been changing, because we can’t really stand to hear the same sounds for too long, but I think we continue to hold to a lot of the same general themes we had when we started. We’ve always aimed for something tropical, dubby, and noisy, and those ideas continue to be a part of our music. Living in New York has sort of made us think more about how we fit into the greater music landscape to some degree, but that hasn’t really affected what we’re writing.
CP: If you could do a residency for a month anywhere in the world, where would it be.
Lemonade: It’s a tough question, because we love to travel and have a lot of dream destinations. Ibiza might be a good one for a residency though, as far as being an actual destination for dance music audiences, but also a beautiful island vacation and a great place for food and drink. Ibiza has a kind of nasty reputation lately for being so touristy and trashy, but maybe we could help take it back to the way it used to be, or at least how we imagine it used to be in like 1990. If not Ibiza, definitely someplace warm where we can swim. Maybe Argentina, Brazil, or Thailand, or Goa, There’s a lot of places we would like to play that could fit, however strangely.
Lemonade interviews Cale Parks:
Callan Clendenin: When you started recording as your solo project, why did you choose to release it under your given name and not as some sort of band name/moniker.
CP: I didn’t like the idea of it being one of those side projects by a guy in an indie band. I was looking at things in a more long-term career perspective. A lot of my inspirations and influences are guys like John Cale, Peter Gabriel, Thomas Dolby, or Robert Fripp, who had their hands in a lot of different projects and were always able to dip into different bands and jam with friends. Plus my parents gave me a good name. Also some of the first solo music I was making was more abstract and instrumental and I feel like attaching a human name to that kind of music can help people relate to it.
Alex Pasternak: You play a lot of melodic instruments, as well as drumming for a bunch of different projects. Do you feel like you write from a drummer’s perspective, or more melodically?
CP: I think I write from a rhythmic musician’s perspective. Everything definitely has a rhythmic element to it. I love making beats and sometimes I’ll write a song that’s just based on a beat, but I think the songs I write on a piano on my own turn out to be the more interesting ones.
Ben Steidel: A lot of your cited influences are from progressive or more avant garde artists, but your more recent material has had a definite dance music influence as well. Those can be potentially difficult forces to reconcile. Do you think about a dancing audience when you’re writing these tracks or playing at a club night?
CP: I consciously wanted write music that was able to be played at clubs, where there was a kick drum pulse or a steady beat because most people can grasp that. Not to discredit fans, but people definitely connect to a steady pulse. I played a few shows early on that were based on live samplers and loops and it took me a long time to connect with people. I wanted to make songs that were a little more poppy and had that pulse that people can connect with. I’m not sure what’s going to happen next. I think there will always be beats and electronic sounds, but it might not always be 4 on the floor disco beats. It might be beats with just metallic percussion samples and no kick drum at all.
WANT MORE? Clearly you do if you’ve made it to the bottom of the post. So while you’re waiting for 8:00 PM to roll around tonight at Comet (get the details here), go ahead and check out the MySpace pages for Cale Parks and Lemonade.