Artist Interviews

Q&A: Washed Out

By | Published on Thursday 14 July 2011

Washed Out

Atlanta native Ernest Greene, who also goes by the name Washed Out, was one of a select few acts to ride out the ‘chillwave’ craze in serene fashion, cresting with a cream crop of such genre peers as Toro Y Moi, before scoring a deal with Domino Records.

His debut LP, the all-encompassingly-titled ‘Within And Without’, came earlier this week. It sees Green exploit his rare talent for crafting balmy, nostalgia-fringed pockets of electronica, casting his sights and ambitions beyond the in-bedroom studio that was the site of recording sessions for earlier EPs. What results is his most refined and delicate body of work to date, one to fill quiet spaces and airy concert halls alike.

Currently touring in the States, Washed Out will be putting in an appearance at London’s Lovebox Festival tomorrow, before washing up on our shores again for several more UK dates later this summer, the first of which is on 8 Aug at the Deaf Institute in Manchester.

Meanwhile, we caught up with Ernest to get his thoughts on our Same Six Questions.

Q1 How did you start out making music?
I started out playing the piano and guitar when I was young, so I’ve always been into music. I listened to rock initially, but discovered electronic music through a later obsession with hip hop. I was originally into more ambient, soundscapey albums.

Q2 What inspired your latest album?
I think the experience of playing live shows really shaped the way I thought about the record. There was about a year gap between the two EPs I did in 2009 and starting this new record – and between that time I played a lot of shows and met a lot of really good musicians.

Q3 What process do you go through in creating a track?
Normally, I start with a simple bassline or drum loop and build the song with layers from there. So, music first, then melody, then lyrics. I try to pay close attention to mood and atmosphere. The song should have a natural flow to it, and the composition should be very balanced and to the point.

Q4 Which artists influence your work?
DJ Shadow stands out because his music changed my approach. I started doing more sample-based music – rooted in hip hop – and everything naturally evolved from there. When I grew tired of making traditional sounding hip hop music, I started reaching out for more obscure sounds, which led to more underground dance music from the 70s and 80s. Around the same time, I got tired of making instrumental music and started making more vocal driven songs based on pop structure.

Q5 What would you say to someone experiencing your music for the first time?
Maybe to relax… and to not try to understand it so much – just experience it.

Q6 What are your ambitions for your latest album, and for the future?
Just to continue moving forward, creating music that is innovative and different, yet still having that connection to my previous work. I try not to think about it too much, though.