Es war ein relativ undankbarer Abend im Sinkkasten Frankfurt für Small Black Ende des letzten Jahres, kamen doch an diesem kalten Dezember-Abend gerade mal 10-15 Besucher zu ihrem Konzert. Wir waren darunter und genossen ein, trotz dieser eher schlechten Umstände, gutes Konzert der Band aus Brooklyn, die kurz zuvor ihr Debütalbum ‘New Chain‘ veröffentlicht hatte. Nach dem Konzert kam man ins Gespräch und verlor irgendwie nie mehr den Kontakt, sodass wir uns heute darüber freuen, euch ein Interview mit der Band präsentieren zu können. Darin gibt es zu lesen, warum gerade jetzt die ganzen Schlafzimmer-/Lo-Fi-Produktionen/ boomen bzw. was man unbedingt mal in Belgien essen sollte…ach und natürlich einiges zur Bandgeschichte und zur Produktion von ‘New Hain’ – Small Black im Bedroomdisco Interview!
1.) Band facts
– Name: Small Black
– Band members: Josh K, Ryan Heyner, Juan Pieczanski, Jeff Curtin
– Founding year: 2009
– Residence: Brooklyn, NY
– Current album: New Chain
– How did you meet and how did you decide to make music together?
Ryan and I are old friends from Long Island, NY. Juan & Jeff are friends from college who we met a few years ago through our producer bud, Shane Stoneback
– Do you remember the first song you’ve ever written? What was it about/do you remember a line of it?
The first song I wrote was called ‘Listen to Your Teachers’ and it was in my 4th grade band Krayola Krew. I played a casio & a zoob tube, which is just a long cardboard tube with a spring in it that echoes. It was basically a demented version of a Stay in School jam.
– How do you normally work on songs? What are the steps/processes, what are the usual problems of finishing a song?
It’s a very collaborative process. One of us will bring an idea to the table. A line, a tone, a melody and if it captivates the group, we’ll begin improvising with it and through experimentation, a song will begin to emerge. Finishing is a whole other process. Many songs we start will never get there because they don’t turn into complete thoughts. Sometimes lyrics just don’t line up with the music or vice versa. But it’s always enjoyable to follow the process through and discover new colors in the songs that didn’t pop out originally.
– How was the production process of your full-length debut ‘New Chain’, how long did it take, where did it happen, what were the difficulties?
‘New Chain’ was recorded at a secluded house in Delaware. We worked for about 6 months on it in the winter/spring of 2010, with breaks in Brooklyn to give us some space from the music. It was a big step up production-wise from the Small Black EP and it was challenging to get all the sounds up to the quality level we were looking for. Learned a ton of tricks that we’re using on the new batch of material we’re working on.
– How did the production change from the beginning when you started as a bedroom recording project, to recording in the attic of a beach-house/surfboard workshop, to now producing in Delaware? What did you like about each of the places/what did you dislike?
We were very limited on the EP with gear/instruments and with New Chain, we got a bunch of new toys to try out and added Juan & Jeff’s skills to the production process. Loved working at my Uncle’s surfboard shop, but it was so cold and cramped! Delaware is a bit more spacious and comfortable and allows us to have all our gear setup all the time, which is great for improvising.
– ‘New Chain’ is one of our favorite songs – can you tell us what it is about, how it was done and if there is a story behind it?
‘New Chain’ was born from a keyboard lick I’d been playing that sounded like something from Mike Tyson’s Punchout on the cassia. Over a few months, it turned into the collage-dance piece that’s on the record. The title ‘New Chain’ originally came to me as reference to big rap chains and then the concept of a chain started percolating in my head. The idea of what binds you to your environment or situation and the simple thought of replacing those binds with something new.
– In what situations do you write songs/lyrics/which themes do inspire you to write songs?
I try to write every day. At least a page of lyrics/thoughts/ideas. I like to write on trains, buses. Anywhere in motion. Themes tend to emerge in my writing, rather than shaping their direction. I like to flip through the newspaper and pull out words/sentiments.
– At which point did you know that your record is finished?
We had a mix session with Nicolas Vernhes at Rare Book Room that was the finishing touch before mastering. It was great to hear the record in an amazing space with powerful speakers.
– You are one project of an actual trend/hype, as there are some bands/musicians getting more and more attention doing a mixture of low-fi-electronica/pop, like Washed Out, Teen Daze, Toro Y Moi…what do you think about this trend and what reasons do you see for this sound getting so much featured at the moment?
Mostly because these bands are tasteful and talented! And the total availability of home recording equipment now.
– You had been on tour in Germany at the end of 2010 – what did you like best?
Loved Berlin! One of the most incredible cities in Europe. Hopefully we’ll get to stay out and dance next time!
– What was the best dish you ate while being on tour?
Had an amazing vegetarian casserole in Ghent, Belgium.
– What are your next plans?
Working on a new record and a bunch of other releases.
– What are you doing if your not making music?
Reading and running
– What did you learn in 2010?
To work quickly!
– Your Top 3 records of 2011? Why?
John Maus, Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Destroyer
– What was the best movie you saw in 2011?
Tree of Life
– Which song would fit to your actual situation?
John Cale – Big White Cloud
– Which song makes you dance independent of your situation?
Big Boi & Gucci Mane – Shine Blockas
– How would your “Bedroomdisco” look like?
All alien strobe lights!
– Who did fill out this questionnaire?
Small Black – “Photojournalist” (Stereogum Premiere) from stereogum on Vimeo.