Much like films and photographs, music has always had a story to tell. Either through vocals or unique soundscapes it can be used to create a vivid image. A perfect example of an album that puts you in a certain setting is the recently released Luz. New York producer Tobias considers his album to be a mix of ambient, electronic and experimental. From the 11 track album, Tobias chose to go into detail and describe the story behind the songs For You, Stop and Take.
Near the end of my second semester this year, I was halfway through this album. I recently had bought a few distortion pedals, and had listened to Motivation by Lil B (the classic Clams Casino beat) on repeat on the way to class and back for weeks straight. I sat down with acapellas that my friend Raveena had sent me, and laid some real distorted guitar chords over them. I then got on my Sub Phatty and recorded a bass line with this patch I made that was very inspired by Shlohmo’s Dark Red album (I had recently been to his release party in Chinatown, very cool). Later, Everett (co-owner of 10 Fold) brought me to the Clive Davis studios at NYU and I recorded Rhodes and organ (for a lot of other tracks, as well) and pretty much finished it. This track was really important to me because it let me get out a lot of darkness and frustration that helped me accept a lot of shit that was happening in my life. Overall the biggest gain from this album was a general feeling of acceptance towards all the negatives and positives in my life, and no longer feeling a desire to seek out either.
This was one of the first songs I made for the album. I had been listening to Shlohmo’s Bad Vibes over and over again, and I think this is kinda the result of that. More the result of me feeling like he was just communicating how I was feeling, and I wanted to communicate the same thing, I guess. I sat down with my guitar on a rainy day and plucked out some harmonics, and right after that everything just kinda fell into place. I kinda jacked Shlohmo’s work flow here, and I used most of the instruments/sounds he did; kalimba, pocket piano, harmonics, SP404 external mic for drums, and tape hiss. The day after I spent the day rummaging through pots and clanging them together into my 404 mic, and found my old bamboo nunchucks and clapped them together for a better clap. This song is the most important to me because I think it’s the most accurate representation of myself I’ve probably ever made. The heaviness of the bassline/chord progression just kinda hit me. The combination of hazy noise and pretty synth/drum work provided this melancholy, stoned yet sharp atmosphere that I find I can only tap into rarely. This is my favorite head space for music.
I had been trying to make this song the entire time I was making the album. Coincidentally, it was the last song I made, just about a week ago, after I had thought I was finished. I wanted a somber, mid heavy guitar song that built up into this aggressive, saw synthy climax that kept building. I had just gotten my Moog Opus 3 in the mail, and as soon as I heard its basic saw waveform everything was just set. I laid the guitar chords/lead down, and then added a bunch of 808 percussion I had loaded onto my 404. A few days later, I started messing with the Opus 3’s weirder features and laid down some extra pads and gradually started mixing it and tweaking it. I feel like this song, and Lost both embody a moving on from this album, and allowed me to finally feel I had put enough work into this project. I feel so attached to this song- personally that I almost can’t say what it means to me, you know? It just feels like a chunk of me that I can’t necessarily like or dislike, because it’s so familiar.
Overall, Luz was about the way I felt when I was in Chinatown at 3 AM with the 10 Fold guys, the way light reflects off of trees, and my girlfriend Olivia. Shlohmo’s Bad Vibes felt to me as if lights were being projected in the most nostalgic way, sort of like the album cover. I wanted to emulate this feeling but with more natural, muted lights that I would look at in the reflection of the water on the East River. I felt very inspired by Phil Elverums sound selection and writing, and I tried to incorporate that as much as I could. Most of all, this album was for me. I got really caught up in releasing shit that I knew people was like, and I was really fucking sick and tired of that loop, so I said fuck it, I’m gonna make some music that hopefully most people would listen to and say, “Jesus, what is this?”.