Thursday, July 14, 2016

Evan Haywood's Ramshackles Release Show (Sunday)

I know it’d be hyperbolic if I said Evan Haywood was visionary. But look at the cover of his new album, Ramshackles…, you're drawn to those eyes. 

There’s psychedelic lattice fringing this dense forest like a blossoming nave behind his head, anthropomorphizing the thicket of his melodic thoughts. But it’s those eyes you’re drawn to…what’s he see? When he closes his eyes, what does he hear?

After spending nearly 20 of his 27 years on earth making research reconnaissance missions to the area’s various vinyl shops, Haywood got into producing, DJ-ing and developing an interesting vein of hip-hop and sample-strewn electronic with Man Vs. IndianMan. And he can drop bars as well, as 1/3 of the hip-hop trio Tree City. 

All the while, across ten years of working at Ann Arbor’s Encore Records, he was writing and recording music, some of which you’re hearing the finalized versions of…

Ramshackles on bandcamp 
Evan Haywood on soundcloud
Release show for Ramshackles is this Sunday The Getup Vintage  
215 S. State, Ann Arbor, MI. 
7 PM  /  $5-10 (suggested donation)
The show features Hydropark, Gardener (Richmond, VA), and Sister LakeINFO

The thing about Ramschackles is that it has so much presence. Like it’s radiating with the presence of myriad organisms. The ambient qualities of it are stirring softly, vibrating at the curtains of the soundscape continuously…Pulsing beneath the mossy growth are some gorgeous indie-rock shufflers, folk-pop lullabies and bendy harmonies, with splashing acoustic guitars, clasping drums and a dreamy amount of distortion. And then there’s those lyrics… So haunting, yet so relatable…surreal and very spiritual.

Let’s pick Evan’s brain…

Tell me about pluralizing ‘ramshackle…’
’... (that’s) indicating that these songs are haphazard little fragments, on the verge of falling apart.  I may have also drawn some inspiration from Marcel Duchamp and his “Readymades”, or Robert Rauschenberg and his “Combines”… works of art assembled from the trash of the world.

What’s the story of the recording process…
Most of the album was recorded in the basement of my old house, in downtown Ann Arbor.  My studio was called “The Lands”—a sprawling utopia where hundreds of songs were conceived.  The house itself was a creative but shady place, always a mess—I lived there for four years, until it gradually collapsed into a hellish maelstrom of heroin addicts, roaches, mice, burst pipes and rotting porches.  But for a while, it was a pretty nice place to live!  They converted it into a marijuana dispensary after I moved out.
I laid down the bulk of the album over the course of a few months, in early 2013.  I would write, record, and do a rough mix of one song per night, but only on the right nights.  It was all about capturing lightning in a bottle, during a turbulent time in my life.  After sitting on these songs for a couple years, I dug up all the scattered files and pieced them together into an album like a jigsaw puzzle.

Eventually, collaborators come in…?
Yes, a
fter assembling the core structure, I performed a lot of ‘audio surgery’ and called in a gang of talented musicians to fill out the arrangements.  But the majority of what you hear on the LP was recorded in those early sessions.  After I had personally mixed down all of the stems, I took them to High Bias Recordings in Detroit and worked with Chris Koltay on the final mixing.  Then we sent those mixes off to Heba Kadry at Timeless Mastering in Brooklyn.    

I want to talk about the spill of ambient sounds… Like the sounds or noises augment the emotions of a song, that the sounds almost have emotion…Can you talk about that, about what you were going for, about why the album needed the certain elements you chose…
For me, it’s all about trying to capture a nostalgic feeling or represent the essence of a memory.  I like to record environments as I travel and go about my life, as an auditory record of my experiences.  I try to hear the world as a child, and look for the wonder in each new sound.  Every sonic landscape on “Ramshackles” has a personal resonance for me, corresponding to an emotion or image being conveyed in the song.  I have always been interested in exploring sounds that are considered atonal, and how they can be incorporated into the context of a composition in such a way that they don’t seem out of place.  Many of my influences have dug into that concept, from Lee “Scratch” Perry to Brian Eno.

Over the last 10 years, what do you think has influenced your approach to songwriting…and your approach to production, most of all?
I’ve been heavily influenced by Surrealism and the concept of drawing inspiration from a well that is deeper and more mysterious than the conscious mind.  As a result, I often seek to create from a place of internal oblivion, complete nothingness… and later, I can sort through it all, analyze, and edit.  But it always starts from an instinct or a feeling, rather than a concrete thought.  This informs my writing process and helps to shape the collages of sound as well.  Generally, my intention is to pair a deep sense of discipline with a cosmic irreverence.  I am always experimenting.  And I am equally inspired by construction and destruction.  There is a great deal of controlled chaos in my process. 

Struggles with clinical depression have taught me about suffering and redemption, from my childhood to the present day.  I lost a lot of friends at a young age-- to suicide, gun violence, car accidents, etc…. and these losses have profoundly shaped my concepts of life and death.  Extensive studies of Buddhism, Hinduism, and Taoism introduced me to many paths of self-reflection, and led me to travels in India, Japan, and China.  These are all factors that have worked their way deep into the fabric of my music. 

Among everything you’ve studied, read, listened to…what have been some of the most impactful or influential factors, overall…
Most crucially, I have always taken the time to listen to people—and sought to interact with those who seem to be the most different from me.  As a result, I have been blessed with a diverse community of friends, many of whom are brilliant artists.  Those bonds of kinship have inspired me to challenge myself and forge ahead, when the weight of the world is wearing me down.  Plus, a lot of ‘em are bad motherfuckers!  So they keep me on my toes.

What kind of music do you see yourself…or hear yourself making, in the near future? Or the far future?
I can’t say what type of music I will be making five years from now.  It’s difficult for me to slow down… I am always in motion, forever changing.  Lately, I’ve been extremely inspired by the techno and house I have been exposed to in Detroit.  Moodymann and Drexciya are probably my all-time favorites.  In the past few years, I have spent an equal amount of time with drum machines and synthesizers as I have with guitars and microphones.  In that realm: my group with Ian Finkelstein—MAN VS. INDIAN MAN—will be releasing a project on the Rocksteady Disco label this year, featuring remixes by Egyptian Lover, Pontchartrain, and Table Daddy.  

I’m excited to work on arrangements and spend the time crafting this next album (Wavecasting – working with Fred Thomas)… I feel that I am continuing to grow as a songwriter, storyteller, and musician.  I imagine I’ll just keep exploring ideas and doing my work until I drop dead one day.  And if the world catches on, that’s great--- but if not, I’ll still be following the call to create.

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