interview by: Ambrose Kemper
Will Weisenfeld is living proof that the boundaries between music genres in popular music – which once towered like Berlin Walls – are all but dust in 2011. Cerulean, his debut record as Baths, is one part LA beat-scene, one part heart-on-sleeve pop music, and one part abstract IDM. These genres, like the sounds on the records, are thrown together in such a way that it shouldn’t make sense. It shouldn’t work.
He is playing RNR Hotel tonight and we had the chance to talk with Will over the phone earlier this week about how these songs come together, his prolific output as Post-Foetus and Geotic, and Ratatouille.
BYT: You are down south right? You are in my neck of the woods… (ed.note-the writer is from Alabama)
Baths: Yes that I am I am currently in Georgia headed to Tallahassee today.
BYT: Have you spent time in the south before?
Baths: That I have, I have toured down here once before.
BYT: That’s what up. So how do you like it?
Baths: It’s nice; it’s a really nice area.
BYT: Yeah, driving down south it’s pretty nice. I used to teach English in rural Arkansas and it’s a completely different world down here. I am looking at the list and you are going to schools in Columbia, which is a pretty good town and Durham…
Baths: Its really rad. I don’t know I am very excited about this, it is a very beautiful part of the county I don’t know so that’s exciting
BYT: So, I reviewed a Girl Talk show last week and it is like the ONE constant in the universe is that anyone that reviews a girl talk show is going to have a bunch of commenters being like that asshole didn’t do anything one stage or he’s a jerk. Do you feel like the need to step in that debate or is that like irrelevant?
Baths: I don’t feel the need to step in on that debate because it’s like what he’s doing is his thing and whether he is actually doing anything on stage or not it doesn’t really matter. People are still buying Girl Talk tickets and people are just paying for a big party. There is no reason for me to debate in any artistic area because that is not what is set out to be, ya know?
BYT: Right. So, take a couple seconds and I really interesting in knowing you creative process. So how does a Baths song come to be? It comes up pretty quickly it seems…
Baths: Ha! that’s kind of funny because I feel like each song comes up in a completely different way. Sometimes I have a word and I will just build from that or sometimes I will write some lyrics and go with them but sometimes a song will come with a single sonic idea. For example- I will have a concept of how I want to compress sounds and its very random and all over the place. Than the way it is completed after that is usually different and very crazy it can sometimes happen all in one sitting, in just four or five hours but basically you have to work with something when the idea is fresh or at least that is what I do.
BYT: In Electronic music I feel like everyone has their own approach but do you, for example, have a bunch of ideas and samples and tools I suppose, for a lack of better words, just sitting around in a library waiting to be used or do when you like get an idea do just work with that
Baths: It is definitely the second one, when I get an idea I just work to achieve that aesthetic or whatever it is.
BYT: Yeah I think that is one of the beautiful things with music and technology nowadays is that you can create it with so many different approaches and that anyone can kind of well not anyone but you can take so many different approaches to it.
Baths: Yeah, exactly – I agree that is such a beautiful thing about it. It’s that it is so open ended, ya know what I mean?
BYT: So, um, you recorded a lot of this record at your apartment from what I’ve read, is that accurate?
Baths: Yeah, basically.
BYT: Do you think as technology advances that is going to become the norm rather than the exception?
Baths: Yeah, I think so its sort of like that these days you can do a lot almost as much as a studio album in an environment like that, and I am going to use that new Radiohead album as an example- there are individual parts that have no room noise, it is a beautiful thing sonically. So I like that, but it’s harder to do not in a studio, which is what people pay for – basically to have that level of silence when recording
BYT: Yeah, and you are working on the new record now, is that something you are actively pursuing or do you have like road mode and home mode…
Baths: Ha-Ha, no I am not even conscious where my mode it is, I am definitely road mode but home mode too, I don’t know. I’m waiting to work on the next album until I am like totally settled in which will be like June I guess? So I am not working on that but I am working on something on this tour that is like a bunch of songs that I have done which you can only get on other tours so its something special.
BYT: Yeah that’s great
Baths: Yeah, so- I am always working on music, and I have a show coming up soon as Genomic which is Brooklyn that is on this tour and I have yet to perform the set but its just something of music that I perform on tour
BYT: So those are three are you still doing Post Fetus stuff?
Baths: Um nope, so it’s just the two, which is the name, I had before Baths. It is confusing- it is Baths and Genomics now
BYT: So you see them as two very distinct entities
Baths: Yeah, like the way I help difference them which makes a lot of sense is that Genomic is passive listening and Baths is active listening and when I say that genomic is like music that you can put on in the background and pretty much ignore most of the time but it still serves its purpose and it is still good to listen to but it is still very background-y music. While Baths when I say it is active music I just mean that is requires your full attention its very sort of in the moment hearing all of the different pieces of it and that is how I like to think of the two of them in my head.
BYT: I think that’s uh a really good and easy way of explaining it, thank you. Your description of Genomics makes it seem like there are not many people who actively purse music that doesn’t require your full attention because when your typically talk about music like that I think that ‘oh he is making a Kenny G record’ so this is like Bath’s Kenny G record you know.
Baths: Ha-ha well exactly, but Genomics started as a project for me making music to fall asleep to that is where l the original music and couple songs came from that I made like what it sounded like and anything so yeah it started like that and it has been like that ever since it was sort of a selfish endeavor but it was kind of just me making sleeping music but than a couple people herd it and really liked so I just pushed it a little harder and started making it a thing that I put together and built a website and everything so yeah its just doing very well for itself now and it was very flattering that pitchfork reviewed the newest album I just never thought that it would happen because its so sort of like secondary to what I am doing but I have just as much fun making the music and it holds just as much as the baths music so yeah its as very cool and very faltering
BYT: Yeah, I think that all music journalism is very validating at some points but than at other time I feel like its like a fickle world where somebody can have something great out their I am not making any sense but yeah
Baths: N,o I totally agree that it’s a fine line sort of like “its great” but than it’s like it can tear you apart in a second – it’s a very delicate thing
Baths: I think about it more as “I am going to make my album the way I want to regardless”, like, I am not going to let the opinions of other people effect me like that but they could very easily turn on me and get horrible views but that is just the nature of things I have to go in there sort of expecting that and not really hope or look forward to getting a huge high rating on my new stuff if you know what I mean. You sort of have to have a reality check and realize that at any given moment people could turn on you and not really agree with the musical things that you are trying to do
BYT: Well there is certainly that. Well, my sister who is in Charleston, which you are pretty close by right now.
Baths: I am playing their tomorrow right or, no, I’m playing Columbia
BYT: Yeah Columbia, which is near it
BYT: So I occasionally write reviews on things for Brightest Young things and for the Atlantic which is in that area
Baths: Oh cool
BYT: So my sister is a big music fan and she calls me and is like ‘I love you and everything but music criticism is just bullshit and I can’t read what you are writing and its not that I don’t like it, I just think that music criticism is bullshit.’ So it’s not only that they can turn on you but do you think that whole thing is even valid? Is music criticism even valid in existing and I think that is a pretty legit question?
Baths: Ha-Ha that is a pretty valid question! Its just like criticism in general – how do you validate that again to the people that are actually making the art if you know what I mean?
Baths: People almost pay more attention to criticism than the actual the work of art or music or whatever else. I dunno, the best way to break it down, in my opinion, is to look at the speech at the end of the movie Ratatouille
BYT: If you had to have me guess what would come at your mouth it would not have been the speech at the end of the movie Ratatouille Ha-ha
Bath: Ha-ha I know. It seems really insane but just trust me on this – the speech that Anton Ego makes the end of Ratatouille is the most valid and important thing I have ever heard about the world of criticism ever, it is just perfect what he says about how it is self-designating and the value of criticism in and of itself and one critic versus another critic and it is just so good and so accurate and true and amazing and I keep trying to point people to that and get them to understand I dunno, just believe me, watch the last five or ten minutes of that movie and that is where that speech happens
BYT: Yeah ha-ha we will find a way to put it up, with the interview
Bath: Oh my god that would be amazing, that would be the best thing if you can put that speech
BYT: We will make that happen, well I really appreciate your time and I am very much looking forward to the show here in DC and there is anything else you want to know though this BYT interview.
Bath: I dunno ….I am pretty excited that I might have shirts by the time I am in DC?
BYT: All right!
Baths: Either way, I have stickers and CDs and other stuff to sell that is like tour exclusive stuff so bring some extra cash if you want some goodies
BYT: All right that sounds good …well, I really appreciate it man and I will see ya soon!
CATCH BATHS live @ RNR HOTEL TONIGHT