WASHED OUT – Interview

Ernest Greene alias Washed Out meldet sich nach vier Jahren wieder mit einem neuen Album zurück. Mr. Mellow heißt sein erstes Visual Album und koppelt sich etwas von dem dreamigen Chillwave-Sound der Vorgängeralben ab. Wie das neue Werk entstand und warum Greene sich selbst als schlechten Musiker bezeichnet, erzählte er uns im Interview.

Foto-© Alexandra Gavillet

You’ve been absent in the music scene for a long time. How does it feel to be back?
I’m very excited that people can see and hear what I’ve been working on for the last two years. You know, nowadays music recording happens very fast and you start making compromises. My last two albums were also recorded very quickly, but now I took the time I needed to finish the record. And I feel a bit exhausted right now (lacht).

What would you say is the main difference between the current one and the previous records?
For this record I wanted to embrace a kind of chaos and imperfection. Normally with today’s technology you can make everything perfect, but I wanted to make Mr. Mellow sound a bit raw. Paracosm for example was very light and embraced nature.

The sound has more styles like Free Jazz, House or Hip Hop, and lots of samples in comparison to the previous albums. Did you want to completely break with the term Chillwave?
It’s a difficult balance of moving into new directions and still relate to your previous albums. But I think this record sounds most like the EPs I did. So I don’t think it’s completely different. It’s maybe more unique and personal, because it’s me and my vision.

Who is actually Mr. Mellow?
It’s a piece of who I am, maybe what people think I am in my everyday life. You know, people called my music chillwave, druggy and super laid back. So people assume that I chill and smoke weed everyday (lacht). But it’s different in reality. This record plays a bit with this idea and is making fun of my persona. It’s like a caricature version of what people think I am.

Mister Mellow is your first visual album. What was the idea behind it and what does it mean to you?
This record was inspired a lot by 60s avantgarde music and weird animation. The thought was “why not just combine the two?” With social media today it was easy to ask people if they wanted to work together. Finally, everyone was really excited about it. I think, it’s really an ideal way to experience the record. I was always a visual thinker and it’s the best representation of what I wanted to present.

You worked with different video producers, right?
Yes, but I also did one by myself. In general I was more of an art director overseeing everything and making sure that everything went the way I wanted.

Many artists make visual albums now. Do you want to go more into artistic areas like video producing or painting?
Yeah, I’ve been inspired by a lot of visual art. But most of the visual albums which came out like Beyoncés Lemonade appear like a massive cinematic thing, which costs millions of dollars to produce. I wanted it to be kind of impressionistic and personal.

What I really like is your artwork in general. Were they all your own choices or did you have help?
Yes, I select all by myself. There is a drink called Yellow Mellow and I started to collect yellow things which fit to the nature of the album. I collected stuff for six months and put everything together. The artwork reflects this crazy urban and chaotic feeling of the record.

Is it now easier for you to be relaxed and not feeling so much pressure?
No, it’s even worse (lacht). You constantly want to raise the bar and make a better album. You think, oh maybe everyone forgot about me. As you get older, you also start to have more responsibility and there are more routines. It can be a bit boring. I am sometimes a bit nostalgic about more spontaneous times.

Would you consider yourself a classic millennial?
I have all of the symptoms of it and also some of the older generation. Your brain is always working and it’s always exhausting. It’s kind of funny. We’re connected more than ever and living in the best way possible, but are we are also more exhausted and not really happy. But of course, I couldn’t do what I do without today’s technology. I’m not really a good musician.

What? Why is that?
Well, I play some instruments, but not really well. Today, I can put everything into the computer and make something cool out of it. I can cheat more (lacht).

Why did you actually call yourself Washed Out?
I was really into photography and it’s a phrase to describe an image to be overexposed. Also, it has a kind of dreamy quality. This name made just sense to the style of my music.