E.K. Wimmer is one of my top favorite artists to be featured here at AFIN, and also an all-around nice, cool, multi-talented fellow. His last album, What Was Once Veduta is Now Found was reviewed favorably here in January, as well as the single from this album “Puppets and Ninjas”. His incredible new album The Invisible Audience was just released and I got a chance to interview E.K. about it – read on below!A Future in Noise: What were the musical and non-musical inspirations behind the making of The Invisible Audience?
E.K: Musical: The usual suspects (The Cure, Bowie and Siouxsie). The real influences on this record were T-Rex – Electric Warrior, Brian Eno – Taking Tiger Mountain (by Strategy), Sparks – Angst In My Pants, John Frusciante –Curtains, Neko Case – Middle Cyclone, Christian Death – All the Love All the Hate Part 1, The Glove – Blue Sunshine, Kylie Minogue – X, Alice Cooper –Billion Dollar Babies, P.J. Harvey – White Chalk and a trillion more. I love discussing influences because I have a ton and any musician that says otherwise is full of it!
Non-Musical: Nature, the past, my wife, the Oregon coast, depression, phony people, playing shows, my daughter and more nature.
AFIN: Since you had done soundtrack music previously, do you use the same creative process for your recent solo albums? (keeping specific scenes in mind, etc.)
E.K.: Definitely. I tend to always write songs that are self-contained, but are somehow connected like scenes in a film. The actual creative process is very similar between film scores and my albums. I sit down with a guitar or piano and write the structure of the song. I then take that demo and decide how I want to record it. The first track on the album, All These Things, for example, was originally a rock opera demo with strings and whatnot that I was working on for a feature-length film. I decided to completely change the sound, add new vocals and make it into more of a radio-friendly pop song (at least it’s pop in my mind, ha!) I once read that Wes Anderson makes a mix tape of songs he wants on the soundtracks to his films and then sometimes writes scenes around them. I feel the same way. I’m a director at heart so all my songs usually have a video in my mind to accompany them.
AFIN: There seems to me to be a distinct difference in the vibe of The Invisible Audience as compared toWhat was once Veduta is now found, like a lighter, airier almost nostalgic feeling in the new album. Was this intentional? How did this come about?E.K.: Well the most obvious thing between the two is how they came about. What was once Veduta was a collection of songs recorded over several years. The Invisible Audience was written within a year. I releasedWhat was once Veduta in 2008, but the most recent song on the album was recorded around 2004-2005.The Invisible Audience is really four to five years removed from the sound of my last record. It’s also the first solo album I’ve ever released (including Veduta) that is not electronic. No drum machines or programming at all on the new record. It’s the first time I’ve released an album that has live drums throughout. It’s also the first album with someone other than me contributing and I think this gives it a dramatically different vibe. Each song is it’s own thing. I just wrote songs how I wanted, when I wanted rather than trying to fit into a genre like I had in the past. As far as the airier, more nostalgic vibe, I think it’s just not so depressing! My music usually makes people want to jump off a bridge; it’s so depressing, but this album is lighter (apart from the last track I guess). The production quality was very intentional. I’m influenced by people like John Frusciante. I think his solo work is insanely overlooked. He strips everything down and just presents a great song. You hear the shuffling of instruments, breathing, etc. I’ve always liked the lo-fi sound because it takes on a life of it’s own.AFIN: I enjoy the album as a whole, but I think the most interesting track isThe Drawers of Nature – what’s the story behind this song and it’s meaning?
E.K.: It’s funny that you singled out that track over the others because it probably has the most involved story, so brace yourself! It was written in 2004 when I was living in Missoula, MT. It’s the only song on the album that wasn’t written in this past year, but I knew it would fit. I was in a band called Binocular with Paul and Sarah Copoc of the band Two Year Touqe. I was also doing my solo stuff (under the name Veduta) at the time. I played bass and shared the lead vocal role in Binocular. We did really fun indie-rock songs that covered topics like financial aid vampires, my van named Grandpa Whiscuit and the actor Jack Nance. I wrote this one demo and showed it to the band. It was way too dark for Binocular, but we practiced it anyway. It became known as The Bass Song because our cello player switched to bass for the track. We recorded the song, which never had any vocals, and that was pretty much it for the next five years. We never used it because it was more Veduta than Binocuar; it didn’t fit. So five years later I was in Denver working on my new album and I came across the instrumental Bass Song on my computer. I decided to record live drums, re-record my guitar part and finally write some lyrics. Back when we practiced as Binocular the drummer and I used to hum vocal parts, but never wrote anything so I went off that. The lyrics are a story in and of themselves. They are based on a poem I wrote about a short film I did, ha ha, how pretentious! It’s about a stop-motion film depicting items from nature (leaves, rocks, etc.) appearing in each drawer of a triangle dresser (the same dresser that appears in many of my paintings). Anyway, I recorded my parts and then asked my wife Maria to do the back up vocals in the chorus. The end result was a collaboration with Paul Copoc on electric guitar, Sarah Copoc on Bass, Maria Rose doing back ups and myself performing acoustic guitar, drums and lead/back up vocals. I’m very pleased with the end result. I feel the song finally found it’s home and we can all move on. Wow, sorry for that long-winded answer!
AFIN: A new decade is coming: how do you feel the climate of the music industry might change in the 2010s? Any tips for independent musicians/artists out there?E.K.: I like the constant strain on big record companies to keep up with independent music. I love seeing strange new acts poping up on their own minor label and then watching the big guns try to copy it. It keeps things fresh. I don’t see that changing anytime soon. As far as tips, I always say just do what you feel you should be doing. Don’t let trends in sound or style dictate your direction. If you try and mimic what’s hot right now it’ll be cold by the time your stuff gets heard or seen. Be influenced, but use that inspiration to do your own thing. Don’t get caught up in record sales, painting sales, etc. Just create and let your artistic projects do the rest. Money might follow and it might not, but you can’t let that gauge your relevance in the artistic community.AFIN: Are there any new directions or plans you have in mind for taking your music in the future? How about art-wise?
E.K.: Well the plan with this new record from the beginning was for it to be the last for a while. I’ve been releasing albums for almost a decade. I’ve reached the Brian Eno phase in my career where I record what I want with no intention of touring, selling merchandise and boosting album sales. Just because I made the album doesn’t mean I have to play shows to support it. Maybe people will hear it, maybe they won’t. It’s just another project I finished, but I put everything I have into it. I’m ready to really focus in on film scores and other collaborations. I’m working on my first feature film as a director and I’ve also been directing a lot of music videos (yours included). I’ve been laying low art wise. I’ve been doing some photography, but not a lot of painting. I haven’t had any shows recently; I should get on that! I guess I consider film to be art so I maybe I haven’t been laying low. I’ve got a lot of stuff lined up and I’m really excited to see where it takes me.