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On Transitioning From Bedroom Recording to Pro Studios
Formerly known as Yellow Fever, Deep Time’s Jennifer Moore and Adam Jones don’t aim to do anything more than create music that people find engaging. What they are managing to do, though, is bring people back to the days of early ’90s indie rock in a sincere fashion. They’re also managing to help “Keep Austin Weird” with unique lyrical qualities and arrangements on their latest self-titled album (released earlier this summer on Hardly Art). Moore, also previously of the Carrots, spent some time with Performer to talk about the new record.
So, who is the primary songwriter here? It seems pretty clear that you aren’t just throwing words together and calling it music, so could you walk me through your songwriting process?
I write the words and melodies, and then together we flesh it out and try to stretch the arrangement into something we think is unique or decide to add new parts. We usually start with a melody, but there are a couple songs on the new album that started with instrumental parts. The words come towards the end of the process. There will usually be some idea or topic floating around in my head while we are working on the song and by the time we are ready to arrange, I know what I want to say.
It seems that many people have been (im)patiently waiting for you to release music; what has been holding that process up?
Well, in the last three years we’ve been through a lot of changes in both our personal lives and in the band. The biggest factor was learning how to write with just the two of us.
We are both very picky perfectionist types when it comes to writing, and with recording we are even worse!
We are extremely happy with and proud of the new album, which makes the long gestation period worth it for us. Plus, I think now we better understand how our band works.
Subsequently, what factors played into your making this specific album, now?
As far as recording goes, everything we’ve done in the past was recorded at home. We were interested in making this album in a studio.
Our friend Barrett Walton recorded Daniel Francis Doyle’s album, We Bet Our Money On You, in his studio and we thought it sounded amazing! So we asked him to record us, and we made a shiny hi-fi recording that sounds really bright and dry.
Writing-wise, I think the melodies are moodier, the instruments are more herky-jerky and the arrangements are a little weirder, and all that was just influenced by the different things we were listening to at the time.
Is it a compliment or not that you seem to get compared to ’90s alternative rock? How would you describe what you’re doing?
We don’t really have a genre or time period goal. The aim is to write music that we enjoy and to make interesting pop songs that don’t lead your ear to think of a particular time or specific variety of music. It would be nice to just surprise people with sounds and get a fresh reaction instead of nestling into that dear old part of their brain that has a strong affinity for garage rock, or ’90s music or whatever. Not to say that we care particularly why or how people enjoy our music, we just hope to make it engaging for them.
How did your time in the Carrots influence what you’re doing now? Does it impact it at all or do you feel this is totally different?
Being in the Carrots taught me how to write songs. It was a nice way to learn because the band was going for a very specific sound: ’60s girl group music. So I didn’t have to worry about that aspect, and was able to experiment within a ’60s pop form. Also, a lot of the ladies in those groups were such amazing singers. It was an opportunity to play around with my voice a lot and discover new ways of singing. They say that adding some limitations or a frame to a creative activity can be really helpful.
How much do you believe image plays into people’s reception of your music?
I’m not really sure. I don’t think of us as having an image. We do get really excited about our record, art, videos and t-shirts as a visual representation of the band. It’s nice that musicians get to experiment with sounds and then when it’s all done get to design this appealing object and create in a different way. Like wrapping a present. Maybe the fact that we aren’t very aware of how our images affect people is a sign that we are terrible business people.
How has Austin influenced you as a musician? Pros? Cons?
There are tons of places to play and we’ve always had a supportive group of people who come out to our shows. Adam grew up here and played in so many different bands. I’m sure having all that music around was a good thing. A really fantastic part of living here is this nonprofit called HAAM [editor’s note – Health Alliance for Austin Musicians] that provides free health insurance to Austin musicians. I suppose a con is that we have to drive very far to tour either coast.
Even with a fairly stripped-down sound, do you have specific instruments that you’re smitten with and insistent on using?
I’m pretty smitten with singing. Other than that, I think we’ve each gotten to play every instrument in this project at some point, and Adam’s good at playing everything. It’s more about serving the song.
Why Deep Time? Some deep meaning there?
It’s a theory that a Scottish geologist, James Hutton, came up with. It basically means that the world is extremely old and has geologic events that seem completely random to humans, who live for such a short amount of time, but if you look at the big picture all these events are a part of a cycle. New rocks are being created and old formations are wearing down and being tossed about and are becoming new things. Looking at the big picture is an appealing idea to us. Also, we thought it sounded good.
photos by Ben Aqua and Angel Ceballos