Grizzly Bear interview (Chris Taylor)


Chris Taylor has his hands full. Besides being part of one of Jay-Z’s new favorite bands, Grizzly Bear, Taylor is also starting his own imprint to put out music he loves. Taylor took some time out to talk about his new project, the year it has been for Grizzly Bear and being on the New Moon soundtrack.

What are some of your initial thoughts on how this year has gone for you guys? Does it feel overwhelming at all?

There’s been a lot of shows. Feeling pretty tired. It’s all positive stuff. I feel really thankful…It’s just the strenuousness of being out and playing shows, and when I’m home, I do a lot of recording. I don’t ever really have any down time. I just may be a little more tired than the rest of the band, but I’m still very happy with everything. It’s not overwhelming.

You guys did a lot of television appearances and decided on different songs instead of shelling out the same single like most bands. Why did Grizzly Bear decide on this?

I don’t know. Just to keep it different. I feel like doing a television thing, we might as well do something different for each one of them, otherwise it’s just different recordings of the same song. Ideally, it would be cool if you never repeated [the same song on each show].

Are you happy with the way Veckatemist came out? Do you think the restructuring of what happened on Yellow House was a natural step for you guys, or a necessary one?

I suppose it was a natural step – we did it like that. I don’t know, for this album it had sort of that vibe to it. I don’t know that the next album will be the same. I know that it probably, definitely won’t be. I remember finishing Veckatemist and immediately feeling like getting into recording another album, and everyone else was really burned, so that obviously didn’t happen. I felt like there is still things that needed to be explored when we stopped. It just sort of stopped where it had to stop at. We got to where it was, and then that’s sort of where it was. It wasn’t as simple as some dude walking up to us on the street and saying, “You should play your songs in a more accessible format.” It just is what it is. There was no meeting that we had that said we needed to [be more formidable]. [Laughs]

You say you came out of this recording feeling there was more that needed exploring. Did you feel the same way out of Yellow House?

No. I didn’t feel that way. When Yellow House was done, I was pretty much done with it. I was done with Veckatemist too. I didn’t want to do anything else with those tunes. I was done with those tunes. I just wanted to immediately start working on something else.

Terrible Records, what can we expect from this? Who’s working with it? Will it be singles only?

At the moment, [we’ll only be releasing] EP’s and a 7″ series, which is like 20 split 7″ records. What they will be is just two artists on either side of people that I really find to be special at the moment musically to me. People that I really like. That’s the 7″ series. Then [we’ll be doing] EP’s with people who don’t have [record] deals yet. I just record them because I think their stuff is really good and should be out there. I’m just trying to help make that happen. I don’t want to let anyone down by doing the full length thing, and supporting a band that goes out on tour, and making sure they have proper press, and making sure things are going well for them, and publicists, and paying tour support. There’s all these responsibilities — the jump, between making EP’s and 7″‘s and full length albums as a label is, financially and time-wise, super-substantial, night and day, what is required by a label. I know I couldn’t do that. It’s just more casual.

I’ve been thinking about that lately. What do you think about bands only releasing singles like it used to be? Radiohead had mentioned something like that awhile back. (We both agreed that rumor was squashed by the band a few weeks ago.)

For me, Radiohead releasing singles and me putting out singles are completely incomparable situations. [One] is speaking about a label, and [one] is speaking about a band creatively. Those two events can’t really be compared at all. I think, and I answered this, the only reason that I’m doing singles is just because of ability, I don’t want to let anybody down. I’m a small time label. I can record all these bands because I have recording equipment, and I’m friends with people in bands I really love, so it really just made sense to make a little art book collection. That’s all I’m trying to do. I’m not trying to make a statement, or seize the digital market.

Not based on anything fiscally or in industry distribution, what do you think about artists going back and only releasing singles?

I just don’t think that will ever happen. I just don’t believe in that possibility. People are still going to make albums. Maybe if pop bands are trying to blow up their career really quick? Maybe the singles route is the good route – singles, singles and singles to sell a product. The album is like a performance of being more than one song. It’s such an age old tradition that it’s not going to end right now. People have been giving concerts for so long, and the album is a recorded concert in a sense. It’s such a beautiful thing.

Tell me about Cant. When did this project start forming?

I started when we recording Veckatemist. I felt this song, and I showed it to the band, and they just weren’t into it. So I started doing this thing as a solo person.

“Ghosts” sounds like its embedded more in harmony and voice as opposed to instrumentation. What’s more important to you: a great sounding choir or a lead orchestra?

I don’t have any plans [or framework] or compositional direction. I just kind of try and finish it all. That’s my biggest struggle is to try and finish it. It’s more of a personal thing.

You just sort of build from the ground up then?

Just the melody, and then maybe some lyrics. and then try to find some chords for it, or maybe it starts in another place. I just try to keep working through it. Just finishing it is something I’ve been really bad at doing, so this is the first one I’ve finished. I have ideas in terms of feeling and stuff, and how I want it to feel.

Besides your work in Grizzly Bear, you are also helping a lot with the production of those records and others. What seat do you like being in more, and how does each position feed off the other one?

There’s different ways of describing a producer, and there’s different levels at which a producer is needed. There’s different circumstances. The circumstance I prefer most is physically making things and producing at the same time – what I do with Grizzly Bear, [where I am] playing stuff and producing at the same time. That’s just a really natural zone for me when creating music. It feels very comfortable and fun. Sitting in the back and just sort of orchestrating a general vibe or decision or something is also fun, it’s not as involved, so consequently it’s not as rewarding. There’s not as much trouble there. I enjoy playing music and producing at the same time.

What are your thoughts on Jay-Z’s remarks?

That’s a pretty big order to follow. I mean, it’s amazingly complimentary for him to say that. None of us heard that and was like, “Oh, cool.” It was more like “Holy cow! That’s crazy.” It’s also overwhelming to have someone put those expectations on you. We’re just going to keep doing what we do. It’s a really nice compliment, and I don’t really know what else to say.

Do those statements make it hard going into forthcoming projects?

No. There is a generally raised bar of expectation when people come out and say things like that. Then all of a sudden there’s, maybe fortunately, but maybe unfortunately there’s more expected of you from people who know your music or heard that comment. You try not to think about that when making a record. You just think about making good music. That’s all you can really do. You can’t set out thinking, “Oh man, we have to be as good as Jay-Z promised.” It’s not the right thing to be thinking about. It’s the kind of thing where you put it in your pocket and move on.

What bands have you played with that you’ve looked up to as an artist that made you nervous?

Playing with Radiohead was really intense. That was obviously intimidating. We all have love and respect for their music.

Who’s idea was it to be on the Twilight Soundtrack? What do think about the soundtrack containing tracks from Editors, Bon Iver, Thom Yorke, with a movie obviously marketed to a tweenage group as opposed to a crowd more inclined to listen to your music.

If you have an opportunity…we felt totally stoked about this song. We’re actually really excited about it, having [Beach House’s] Victoria [Legrand] sing. How much we love her voice, her band. It was so fun to do something like that. If you have an opportunity to put music out there that you feel happy and you feel behind, you should do it. It’s not really McDonald’s. It’s a vampire movie with Mormon undertones. I don’t really see anything wrong with it. It happens to be very popular. It’s because of the other bands that are on it, I don’t feel completely guilty, Obviously you make some money being on a soundtrack. Everyone knows that. That’s part of it, right? If we can make a song, and make money off this song, then that’s unique, because we don’t make money generally, so much, because people are downloading stuff. I don’t think people understand that impact that has on record sales. If you can make money by making a song, kind of how it used to be, then what’s wrong with that. There’s something much more wrong with people downloading. You don’t go into a doughnut shop and walk out the door without paying. I know it’s 60 cents, who cares, whatever, you know? Still. Call me an old person. I buy CD’s and records. I just can’t really get on with the whole [downloading] thing. I don’t see anything wrong with putting a song on a soundtrack. If we’re happy with the song, and we had fun making it, what’s the big deal? You know what I mean?

I think the track came out great. My downside to the album was that the music was good, but I just thought, not the association of the film, I think it’s one of the better songs out Grizzly Bear’s catalog, but I don’t think it’s the best, so for me, having someone be introduced to you guys, I’d rather show them something from your studio albums. I have mixed feelings about the whole thing. I don’t want to put down the music, but I’d rather introduce others to the bands on the soundtrack through a different set of songs.

Do you think it’s selling out?

No. I have no issues with the artists being on that soundtrack. What do you think about the Moldy Peaches-Juno Soundtrack?

[Kimya Dawson] recorded that album before that movie came out. She toured on it, and then got a call [to use that music]. Good for her. That’s sweet. Her music is out there.

It seems that the original Moldy Peaches album didn’t do as well as the soundtrack did…

If you’re making music that you feel behind – and yeah, maybe it’s not our best song, I don’t really care or think about that. I think about the fact that I’m into it and the rest of the band is into it and we had fun making it. That’s what it is. You have to just put it out there. If there’s an opportunity to put it out to more people, that’s a good thing. It seems totally legit to me.

Do you feel though if someone hears that song, and never discovers the other music you’ve made…

I’m not really worried about that. If that’s the only thing they hear and they don’t like it…

I’m saying, if they do like it. Like, The Shins being on The Garden State soundtrack. The listener could have liked those two songs, but they never went and discovered the rest of Oh, Inverted World and other Shins tracks.

If someone is that easily deterred from checking out other things, then that seems like a very short attention span. I can’t really say much for how that should go or not. I can’t account for that person. If anybody finds our music, then that’s a good thing. That’s sort of as simple as it is.

What’s next for Grizzly Bear?

We’re going to be touring through February. I’ll probably be taking a few weeks off to work on my solo stuff and work on label stuff. The band is probably going to take a break for a few months and then maybe we’ll start recording maybe, working on some stuff around Spring or Summer i would hope.

Do you see yourself secluding yourself at a specific location like you guys did for the last two records?

That’s really conducive to us. It will probably be something similar I would imagine.

Is that really important in the writing process?

Yeah. Totally.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: