Friday, April 22, 2011
Before Wye Oak set out on their most recent national tour in support of Civilian, singer and guitarist Jenn Wasner told me she had some recordings in the works for her new solo project. A week later while out on the road, Jenn passed along "Prison Bride".
"Prison Bride" is the debut track from Flock of Dimes, and was recorded at Chris Freeland's Beat Babies studio just outside of Baltimore. This instant-classic gets right to the point, courtesy of a jaw-dropping beat compliments of Wasner. Once Jenn's beaming pipes begin to shine over top of the cascading rhythms and infectious melodies, odds are that this genre-defying banger will be your new favorite. Enter, Flock of Dimes.
"Prison Bride" will appear on Friends Recs' forthcoming 2011 compilation, more details on which are TBA. I chatted with Wasner yesterday to get the scoop on Flock of Dimes, who told me about her "vanity project", Mickey Free's role in these new sounds, and Usher...
How did Flock of Dimes start?
I was in-between tours, and feeling crazy and maybe a bit overambitious. I decided that the only way I would follow through with making as much new music as I could while at home would be to set a deadline. That morning my friend Ben asked me to play a show at his house. I impulsively agreed. The 5 songs I wrote and recorded in the two weeks preceding the show became Flock of Dimes. Now I've got a few more shows coming up, so I'm trying to write 5 more songs. Baby steps.
What are your influences for this project?
Mostly I'm trying to work quickly, have fun, and have a project that's a little more carefree and open-ended. But it's also important that I feel like I'm challenging myself to explore areas that don't come naturally to me. (These recordings are my first attempts at drum programming, for example.) I'm trying to ask more of my voice, and force myself to write and play in different ways. For example, I arbitrarily decided that all FoD songs would be in one particular guitar tuning that I'm not really comfortable in. Breaking my old habits has really helped me write differently, and more quickly.
OH, I just realized that wasn't what you asked at all. I don't know…a lot of people tell me it sounds like Cocteau Twins. Or something.
Who influenced you from here in Baltimore?
I'm inspired and intimidated by so many of the talented people that live and work here, and that's a big part of what has convinced me to try and make more with the time that I have. People are just so goddamn prolific and multi-talented in this city. It makes me want to ask more of myself and challenge my own expectations of what I'm capable of.
How would you describe Flock of Dimes?
I'm fond of "vanity project". I'd say that about covers it.
Whats your favorite R&B song? Artist?
I'm a huge Aaliyah fan. I love Usher, R Kelly, Ciara, The-Dream. "Are You That Somebody" by Aaliyah is a front-runner in the "songs I can't believe I'm not tired of yet" category. I don't think Flock of Dimes is going to end up sounding like any of those artists, though.
How/where is Flock of Dimes recorded/produced?
The original basic tracks for the first batch of songs I made under the apprenticeship of Mickey Free (without whom these songs would certainly not exist). After I played my first show, I booked a day at Beat Babies with Chris and Mickey, and knocked out a bunch of live guitar, keys and vocals. I knew I only had a day, which was perfect, because part of the fun of this project is to move quickly, not over-think things too much. That studio day was in late December, and I've been on tour for the majority of the past three months, so I've had to work a bit differently with batch number 2. Currently, I've managed to put together a fairly functional mobile recording setup, so I've been able to tinker around with ideas while traveling. I'm trying to get more self-sufficient with the production side of things, and fortunately I'm surrounded by a lot of really talented and knowledgeable people who are ready with guidance when necessary.
What's in store for the future of Flock of Dimes?
I don't have any lofty goals or expectations for myself, on a practical level. I want to keep things low-key, play shows where and when I want to, and make sure I'm continually excited and a little bit confused.