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Interview with Washed Out

19 NOV 2010 | Posted By: Georgia

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Interview with Washed Out

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Washed Out interview
How did it come to be that the poster boy for chillwave (a word that is in strenuous debate with Pitchfork readers from here to hipsterdom) is a shy, married library-school graduate from America's deep south? Well, he doesn't really known the answer either.

Creating tunes from his bedroom in Georgia that sound like they should be sunning themselves on some intergalactic beach, Ernest Greene, aka Washed Out, found himself riding a wave of second generation MySpace discoveries.

A couple of blogs later, Greene was thrust into the misty glare of the spotlight. After never having left America, he was playing all around Europe, touring with Best Coast and kicking it with the heavyweights of the indie music scene. It has taken 18 months, but he's finally come across the seas to Australia. Lifelounge had a chat to him ahead of his long swim.*

*Note: this interview is to be read in an incredibly endearing Georgian accent, not like this one.

Ernest Greene: Hey, howsitgoin? Sorry about the delay. They have all of these interviews back to back.

Georgia Frances King: That’s totally fine. It must be horrible doing them one after each other like this. Like you’re part of a cattle herd.
EG: Aw, it’s not so bad. I actually prefer doing them all at once, because I’m generally not the type of person who likes to talk like this! I’d much rather be locked away in my bedroom. I feel like once I get the ball rolling, it’s a lot easier.

GFK:
You sound genuinely happy to talk to me right now though. Very cheery!
EG: It’s hard to complain about people being interested! It’s mind-blowing to me that we can even make a trip over to Australia. It’s a pretty amazing feeling. I couldn’t ever afford to make the trip over, so it’s a huge blessing. That’s definitely the best part about everything that has happened. I really enjoy travelling now. I had never travelled overseas before this.

GFK: Your vibe just about epitomises Australian summer. You’re going to be over here for Meredith and Happy Mondays at the perfect time.
EG: Yeah, and I’m especially excited because I have a lot of new songs that I’ve been working on for the past two months. So I’m going to use Australia to try them out. This tour will be the first time I play a lot of the new stuff. We’ll see how that goes. Hopefully it’ll be a nice reception.

GFK: Well, how has your sound evolved to where it is now? From what I’ve heard, Georgia doesn’t really seem like the type of place to evoke your style of music.
EG: Yeah, you’re exactly right. In actuality, the music I play is kind of a reaction against what is popular here. It was never much of a conscious thing where I’m rebelling against it. It formed just naturally. And I’ve naturally gravitated towards more experiential types of music. It’s funny – I’m not sure if you’re familiar with the term ‘Southern Rock’, but it is still very much so an influence here. It dominates the radio stations. I try to get away from that, but I can’t.

GFK: What do the locals think of what you do?
EG: People don’t really get it. That’s the beauty of some of my more popular songs though – some of them have that crossover feel. It might make more sense on a more generic, mainstream, pop level or something, but as a whole, I’d say that nobody gets it. They’ll see pictures on Facebook of us travelling and stuff, but they don’t really get the music at all, which is kind of funny to me. My parents in particular have no grasp of any of the stuff that influences me. But of course, they’re still super supportive. They’re really into everything, although they don’t really get it.

GFK: I’m not sure if I’m grasping at straws here, but I’ve always felt that there’s a hip hop kid within you waiting to get out. The music is kind of imbued with that quality, without it being overt.
EG: Definitely. Hip hop music definitely kind of shapes the way I go about writing songs. When I was 18 or 19, I really started writing stuff, and I was very into hip hop – again, more of the experimental leaning kind of stuff, more loop based stuff. And I’ve never really gotten away from that. I’ve done various projects where my sound is like a rock band’s or whatever, but it’s still written in the style of how a hip hop producer would do things. So that’s kind of where I’m at now. I don’t think of my music as hip hop music at all, but it kind of informs what I do.

GFK: I’ve heard that both Ricky Martin an Ashton Kutcher have said on their blogs that they like your music, and I—
EG: [laughs] Oh God. Yeah, yeah.

GFK:
And aside from that being generally rad, they’re just two completely different people. Yet they both like your music, so it must appeal to both. It’s pretty hard to make a record that all musical walks like without selling out.
EG: It’s pretty amazing. I remember being sent the link to both of those on Twitter. It was insane. From a label perspective or something, I guess that’s an amazing sign: that you potentially have appeal to lots of different kinds of people…

GFK: You’ve been quoted as saying that you think music should be best enjoyed alone with headphones, not at gigs. Does playing live irk you?
EG: It’s just a completely different kind of beast. It’s been a really hard thing to work out for me, because my background is solely in the recording side of things. I rarely got into performing. That said, over the past year I’ve had a lot of shows to try to figure out how to approach it a little bit better. For the most part, I think that the record will always be more of a relaxed kind of headphones feeling. Whereas, I try to make the live show entertaining and a little bit more dynamic. I prefer to promote the higher energy stuff. It’s not going to be a crazy dance party or anything, but it’s going to be hopefully a fun show where it’s fairly upbeat. I’m pretty happy go lucky. It’s more loose with the band.

GFK: Do you think that there is an element of perfectionism in your work, and that’s the reason why you prefer recording over playing live? Because you can maintain control of it?
EG: Ahh! Certainly. That’s hitting the nail on the head for sure. That was kind of really freaked me out about performing. It was less about being up in front of people – I didn’t really love the idea of that anyway… But! It was more about not being able to control everything. When I’m here on stage, it sounds a lot different than what it sounds like in the audience, so that’s a very frustrating thing for somebody like—I wouldn’t say that I’m really a perfectionist across the board…

GFK: What are you then?
EG: I’m not OCD at all! I’m probably one of the more lazier people. But when it comes to the music, I’m very particular with the sound. So that’s the beautiful thing about recording: I can do things as many times as I want to and make sure that everything is exactly how I like it. I prefer that.

GFK: Well with your incredibly quick rise to frame, how hard was it letting go of that and understanding that you were loosing control of your public image?
EG: I still try to my best to control the output of photographs and music. I try to get my hand in it, for sure. But there’s definitely a level, with YouTube and everything, where it’s a beautiful thing to have people documenting things about your life, but it’s just really bad having the worst performance, and then the next day it’s on YouTube, In HD! That can be a little frustrating. For someone who’s just starting out, it’s like trial by fire. It’s not a great thing. But that’s the exact type of exposure that’s taken me to where I am now, so I can’t complain about it.

Washed Out is playing Meredith Music Festival December 10th – 12th, Happy Mondays' Rooftop series December 13th, and a few other gigs around Australia next month.

More at myspace.com/thebabeinthewoods.
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Comments on this Post
There are "1" comment(s) on "Interview with Washed Out"

Member pashoncoop2
You guys are lucky to hear new music from him. Great interview Georgia. Washed Out makes me proud.
pashoncoop2  -  3 years ago
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