Q&A: Yeasayer On Fragrant World, Not Being A New Band, And Casting The "Brooklyn Band" Movie
Yeasayer joined the late-naughts "Brooklyn band" explosion shortly after their debut All Hour Cymbals was released in 2007. Their second record, 2010's Odd Blood, received similar acclaim, and the band even reached the summer-shed circuit thanks to gigs with the Flaming Lips and Weezer.
Next week the trio releases their third LP, Fragrant World (Secretly Canadian). A bit less hook-driven than their previous work, it's a heavily arranged record with a hodgepodge of Middle Eastern-tinged electronic sounds. Tonight, Yeasayer shows it off from the Music Hall of Williamsburg stage for a sold-out show (don't worry, it's streaming online). Among a string of 16 interviews in one day last month, Sound of the City spent about 30 minutes chatting with members Ira Wolf Tuton and Anand Wilder (singer Chris Keating hovered idly around the hotel room) about the new record, making non-traditional music, and what the Brooklyn scene means today.
There are a lot of different levels to your music, and you recorded this in various stages. Is that how you always record?
Anand Wilder: Definitely. We just keep adding and adding to the demos.
Ira Wolf Tuton: But at a certain point, there's a practice of pulling back and finding new relationships amongst different parts. You know, you build A upon B and B upon C and C upon D and then you realize that A and D really sound great together.
Was it harder or easier to make this record than your previous ones?
Wilder: Um, I don't think so. I don't think it was harder or easier.
Tuton: You say an album is harder or easier, it just depends how you approach it, for anybody, you know?
OK. Well, on a very basic, nuts and bolts level, did the songs come to you in the same way as your previous records?
Wilder: I don't know. It was pretty similar. Just trying to get these songs, the layers right, tweaking them as long as you can before you have to say, "OK, we've got to hand this thing in and get it mastered." I would say that it probably gets easier because with every album, you know so much more. It's sort've like learning a vocabulary. Like, what does this song need? How to communicate with an engineer or a mixer or something like, "What does this need? Could you try this sort of EQ?" You get more specific with your requests, versus in the beginning when you don't even really know the difference.
Did you work with the same people mixing this record?
Wilder: No, all new.
What was the reason for that?
Wilder: Just excited to keep changing it, working with new people.
Tuton: Get new outlook, different spaces, different pieces of equipment, people with different expertise. Different skill sets.
Wilder: Also, it's a guaranteed way to not repeat yourself.
Tuton: I always think that's an enjoyable thing for us. Even outside of making the record, from the live to the videos to stage show, is continually working with people outside our box of perspectives on what we're doing. To breathe fresh and new live into the whole experience.
What do you look for when you're bringing new people in?
Tuton: Only brunettes. So you're out.
Wilder: It's all the sound. We got spec-mixes done for one song, and the mix that Dan Carey did was just above and beyond anything that anybody else had done. Looking back on that, I was just hearing on these things that I had never heard before. How is he getting this separation? This depth? You just have to trust your ears.