Tamaryn’s much anticipated Cranekiss just dropped. I recently chatted to her over the phone to ask about why now felt like the right time to make this particular record (which is markedly a sonic shift for her), as well as about her collaboration with Shaun Durkan and Jorge Elbrecht, and about employing a “nothing-is-off-limits” approach to the songwriting process. Read up on all of that below, and be sure to 1. grab a copy of Cranekiss (and/or preview it HERE // IT’S SUPER GREAT), 2. get tickets to see her live for what’s going to be an epic show at DC9 on Wednesday 9/2 and 3. follow her on Facebook and Twitter to stay tuned to all the latest news. HERE WE GO:
Photo by Alexandra Gavillet
So first and foremost, congratulations on the upcoming record release! I’d read in another interview that this is an album you’d wanted to make for quite a while; what was the moment that you realized that you actually could and would undertake it finally?
I think that from the beginning, Rex (my former bandmate and producer) and I were always trying to make things sound as epic and as big as we could; we came out of an era where people were doing a lot of bedroom music, the term “lo-fi” was getting thrown around a lot, and although we were super DIY and did everything ourselves, we never wanted to sound like that. And I think we succeeded, but I always had it in my mind to make a really well-produced pop record mixed with all of the sounds and influences I’d always been playing with, and I think that that’s what this record is; it still sounds like me and is a natural evolution of what I’ve been doing, but it’s taking it into a world of production and song craft that I had never really messed with before. I had always wanted to do that, but I don’t think that I knew how to make that happen until I met the right people and convinced Jorge Elbrecht to produce it. He was the only person that could help me make a record like this.
Right. And you also said that when you were making it, nothing was really off-limits to you. That’s really cool, but I know that when it comes to creative endeavors, sometimes having no limitations can sometimes almost be stifling in a way, because there are just so many options, and it’s like, “Where do I go with this?”
Mmhmm. I think that that was the point of what Rex and I were always doing; we’d say, “Okay, all these people are sitting around in their home studios getting lost in the limitless possibilities of what you can do on a record,” so we just boiled it down to a few key elements and then just pushed ourselves as writers. That was cool, but I wanted to do something on a different scale, and I think that you’re right, it’s dangerous territory, especially when it’s one person or two people (you can really end up just adding track after track after track and getting lost in it, or losing a sense of song craft in making something that is a vibe or a particular production sound but not really a song).
That’s where Jorge came into the picture; I’ve been a huge fan of his for the last twelve, thirteen, fifteen years (I don’t even know how long), and everyone that was involved in the record has the taste-level that I respect; we’re all sort of very picky and detail-oriented and opinionated, so when I went into the studio, I had no doubt that it would be exactly what I hoped it’d be between the three of us (me, Shaun and Jorge), and it was.
So nothing’s off limits, but there are still core sounds, you know? There are differences in the style of sounds throughout the album (there’s a lot of range), but there are certain sounds and sonic textures that were used throughout the whole album like a glue, so it’s not too schizophrenic. It’s still a statement of intent, but there are a lot more things happening than anything else I’ve done before.
And how’d you actually get linked up with Jorge to work on this in the first place?
Well, I basically just approached him, because I’d met him as a friend through other people. When I asked him, he hadn’t worked with Ariel Pink yet or anything; he’d worked with No Joy (which is another band on the label), and what he did for them was amazing, but I’d already been wanting to work with him for years. So I just approached him as a friend and was like, “Look, I have this idea for a record; it’s a pop record, but it’s still totally challenging and experimental and in the realm of all the things that we love.” So he said, “Yeah, I definitely want to do it,” but then it still took another year or two for it to come together with the label and everyone’s timing. It was something I had to be very patient for.
Right. And how about working with Shaun? Did you guys nail down any sort of routine or role structure in terms of how you wrote together?
Shaun and I had sort of wanted to do a side project together years ago (before the last record), and so a few of those demos got brought into the studio, but really they were just chord progressions, not songs. It was really cool; we went in (the three of us), and it was just super easy, super fun, and just the most positive creative experience you could ask for. Everyone brought something different, too. I’m sort of a producer, and the vision that I brought in really linked up with what Jorge already does (although very specific parts of what he already does), and then Shaun has a very defined sound that he’s been crafting through his band Weekend for a long time, so I kind of took his sensibility of that sound but put it into a totally different context to anything he’s already done. So when that all came together, it was just a perfect combination, and I’m really proud of the record. It’s everything I’d hoped for.
And has much changed with your live gigs in terms of how different this one sounds to your previous catalog?
Yeah, I’ve sort of been figuring that out. With my former band, I really presented it as an epic guitar band with a girl singer, to the point that I don’t think people even realized that Tamaryn was my name. This is different, though. There are still elements coming from that world (I took all my favorite things from that experience of lush guitars and loud volume), but there’s a lot more room for different ways to present it; I could do it with just me and one other person if I wanted, or I could do it as a full band and have a drummer and all that stuff. It’s nice to have that room for flexibility. And in that way, too, the numbers can change; it’s really open, it just depends on what opportunities present themselves. Putting out a record takes you on a journey, and you have no idea where it’s going to take you; you put it out there and you’re given opportunities, so I’m in a nice situation where I can kind of adjust. I’m also singing so much louder and confidently than I ever have before, which is different. It really couldn’t be more different as far as the archetype that I’m projecting on stage.
Cool. So now that the record is nearly out, what have you been up to? Just living in the moment and getting ready for the release, or have you continued writing new material in the interim?
Because it takes so long to make an album for me, and because I’ve set the bar so high, I’m definitely not making another album until I get all the right people and pieces together that I think is as good or better than what I’ve already done. (It’s not going to be easy.) But I’d like to do some more one-offs and things like that. I have a bit of an itch to do more electronic stuff, harder, like Prodigy or something like that [laughs], but I don’t know. I really just want to be open to what comes my way in terms of singing on things; I used to be very protective of my discography, because I didn’t want to have any throwaway songs or any extra stuff, I just wanted it to be a really strong catalog. But now, I feel like I’m three and a half records deep, and I feel really proud of everything I’ve done, so I think that instead of waiting two or three years between releases, I could do more one-offs and be more open to collaborations than I have been previously.