Chain D.L.K.: Speaking about minimalism and pop, I’ve been positively surprised by the fact thatyour latest release has become more and more melodic without betraying your personalapproach. But being so hyper-prolific, aren’t you afraid of repetitions?
Taylor Deupree: I really make a conscious effort to continually explore new sounds and newapproaches to writing because I want to avoid doing the same thing over and overagain. I don’t think anyone could honestly say I do the same thing on each album. Infact, in the ’90s I felt like I was varying my sound TOO much and that I had lostfocus. Now I try to push in new directions but at the same time work within the samemindset or with the same set of inspirations.Also, I like to do a lot of collaborative work. This is a really great way to learnnew techniques from other artists and ideally creating a sound which is not so mucha layering of myself and someone else, but a multiplication. 1 + 1 = 3, I like toterm it.
Chain D.L.K.: “Northern” is full of acoustic or “non-electronic” instruments, since yourproduction work with Eisi is relatively recent; has it influenced the way you workedon your solo records?
Taylor Deupree: Absolutely…the album with Eisi was easily the most challenging projectI’ve ever done but I also picked up a lot of techniques and learned a lot from theprocess. Working with more traditional instrumentation and vocals brought on a lotof mixing challenges. For example, certain types of equalizers would work better fordifferent instruments than others…things like that. I learned a lot about mixing. I’ve been interested in blending acoustic and digital sounds for a number of years,and really began working with guitarists back in 2003 with the release of the”E.A.D.G.B.E” compilation on 12k. “Northern” was the first time I incorporated thesounds on a solo album. It was all quite natural, though, as I was takinginspiration from my new natural surroundings as well as from my work in the ’80swith my good friend Bryan Strniste which was quite pop and utilized many differentinstruments and vocals.
Chain D.L.K.: “Northern” is really filmic, have you ever considered composing the soundtrack fora movie? I’ve seen that your last work is accompanied by some nice black and whitewinter postcards, is that all of the visual influence you drew upon while workingor have you been influenced by other images/movies/landscapes? I mean, obviouslyevery musician/artist is influenced by whatever happens/is around him during thecomposition/recording process but is there a particular influence — for exampleSonic Youth always say their music is deeply influenced by New York City, Seefeel’s”Ch-vox” by a bad period Marc Clifford was experiencing, etc.?
Taylor Deupree: As you said, Northern was influenced by everything around me as well as thethemes that flow through a lot of my work such as stillness, the suspension of time,minimalism, etc. But, more specifically the black and white winter landscapes, whichwere all taken at our new house, and the move out of the city up into the countrywere big influences. My life has been at a very transitional time for the pastcouple of years, and I’d say also a difficult time. One thing that I really set outto do was create an album without too much force or direction. I wanted to createsomething that simply came naturally. I was in a brand new studio, my surroundingswere new, I just wanted to see what flowed out naturally, to embrace my newsurroundings and let the music come out.
Chain D.L.K.: You’ve said: “When I was 8 my favourite band was Kiss…when I was 10 myfavourite band was the Beatles and later new wave.” But can you remember when andhow did you discover electronic music?
Taylor Deupree: The electronic music definitely came from ’80s new wave. The bands I waslistening to then were primarily electronic. When I was 13 my parents bought meKraftwerk’s “Autobahn” and I was also listening to a lot of Jean-Michel Jarre atthe time. I was also a product of the video game generation. Our family had an earlycomputer in the house (a TRS-80) that I would program and I spent many weekends invideo arcades. I was sucked into this new digital wave and grew up as the personalcomputing industry grew up. Through high school I was quiet and tended to seek outlesser travelled paths and to specifically follow interests that others were notinterested in. This led to listening to a lot of alternative music and even withinthat circle I would seek out more unknown bands, a lot of them ended up beingelectronic in nature.
Chain D.L.K.: I find interesting the fact you decided to start a label focused on”unconventional Japanese pop”; I also think there’s a sort of continuity betweenthat, the music you play and 12k. At last minimalism had been deeply influenced byAsiatic (and also by African) culture. Is it a matter of aesthetics or did theypromise you loads of sushi?
Taylor Deupree: The sushi definitely plays a part…it’s my favorite food! But, yes, I thinkthere is starting to be a crossover with what Happy has been doing and what 12k hasbeen doing. Happy really set out to be a non-electronic label, I wanted to take itfar, far away from 12k — even do indie rock. But I’ve found that to be beyond mymeans, really, and I often think about merging the two labels…basically allowing12k to expand into more rhythmic territory if I wanted it to. Also a lot of 12k’sartists are incorporating some more “pop” (for lack of a better term) elements. Onthe latest Sawako CD, for example, she used vocals, a first for 12k. The upcomingFourcolor CD features piano on one track and is definitely a new sound for 12k.Back in 1997 I had a huge artist’s revelation and began to merge all of myinfluences from art and music and focus my aesthetics into a more cohesive whole. Ithink now I am coming to one of those times in life again, to re-assess what I’mdoing and collapse it into a new hybrid of aesthetics.
Chain D.L.K.: Many people criticize the fact that lots of Americans, when becoming fond ofeastern philosophy/aesthetics, disfigure its original notion — like they sayhappened with western Buddhism or western Hare Krishnas. What do you think of it?
Taylor Deupree: I try to stay safely away from a lot of the deep philosophy because theseare very deep and ancient thoughts that I simply do not have the authority todebate. I do not want to speak of original notions, for fear of distorting them.Instead I will read books and take away thoughts and inspirations on whatever sortof level they reach me at. Take Wabi-Sabi for example. This philosophy is soingrained in Japanese culture that they themselves don’t even speak of it or knowhow to describe it. So how can I? What I know, on a simple level, is that it’s theappreciation of imperfectness and a sense of ephemerality and non-permanence. Thoseideas right there are enough to excite me and to get me thinking in ways that I canreally parallel to my music. I don’t need to intrude on the sensitive philosophiesor claim to be an expert at something I’m not.
Chain D.L.K.: You’ve also said, “Graphic design takes up a lot of my time, but it allows me towork at home. It’s allowed artists to really take back control of therecording process because everyone can afford to do it in their own homes.” Itsounds like you put a lot of stress on staying at home. Are you spending that muchtime at home? And which are the main occupations of Taylor Deupree when he’s notworking in graphic design, on music or on the label?
Taylor Deupree: I have a family now, a 3-year old son, who is the center of my life. Soevery moment that I can stay at home is precious to me. In terms of music, I am mostinterested in what the studio has to offer, as opposed to live performance, so Ireally prefer to work there. Also, 12k takes up a lot of time, managing releases,processing orders, etc. All that is done out of my home office.There is not much time in my life after being a busy musician, label owner, andgraphic designer. So my occupation besides that is to play with my son, be a father,play ice-hockey, spend time with friends. And maybe if I have a spare hour, sitoutside under the trees and try to relax.
Visit Taylor Deupree on the web at:
[interviewed by Andrea Ferraris] [proofreading by Benjamin Pike]