Everyone knows that when light is viewed through a prism the human eye can see the visible part of the electromagnetic spectrum- wavelengths represented visibly as colors. Colo(u)r is an interesting idea that has been studied over centuries, notably by Issac Newton. And more recently by colourmusic.
colourmusic was formed in 2005 in Oklahoma and has since released a couple of EPs and the full length LP My ____ is Pink. Currently with London-based label Memphis Industries, colourmusic just finished up a month-long European tour and is continuing work on its second LP. The band is magnifying bass with smart song writing against guitars, rhythm, and vocals to create really quality music that is strategically influenced by color. Members include Colin Fleishacker, Ryan Hendrix, Nicholas Ley, and Nick Turner. Their sound has been described as psychedelic-rock, hardcore, and folk-psych-hardcore. However you describe it; it is uniquely colourmusic.
untitledradio caught up with colourmusic and had them answer some questions about the band and their music:
untitledradio: Guys- happy to talk. To kick it off, I want to touch on the impression I get when reading-up online about colourmusic. Your website is really well done, you’re travel-logging your current European tour on Tumblr, and you’re really engaged on Twitter. How advantageous has it been for the band to be so interactive online and engaged in social networking?
colourmusic: Nick Ley, “Um, its sort of the name of the game anymore, isn’t it? Plus touring life can get really old really fast. So you find ways of keeping busy…writing lyrics, making notes for musical experiments, drawing and writing letters home, etc. I just happen to enjoy documenting our trips within the confines of an iPhone and it keeps us connected with fans. I get tons of tweets from fans who made it out to a show and a lot from those who missed the show as well. With a single retweet or photo post, I can give those who missed it an idea of what they missed. Because, the live show is the new record in that you still can’t bottle the live experience – that insanity that we create – copy it over and over again and spread it across the internet. Some band gets upset about live videos, but if you think people might see your band on a live youtube video and be content where they don’t have to go out and see you in the flesh…then you’re doing something terribly wrong.”
ur: I discovered colourmusic by watching the video for Yes! online (@cristinarocks happened to tweet a link) and was immediately impressed by the production quality, originality, and hilarious/sometimes hilariously awkward sky punching. How was the video conceived and executed?
c: Nick Turner, “This video was actually a commission from the Oklahoma Creativity Project which was a live event to promote a creative community in Oklahoma. So we performed Yes! at the event with the video projected on a large screen in the background. The idea was to show a wide range of Oklahoma and the Oklahomans in a funny and positive way. So it was a really simple concept where we just drove all over the state and approached very random people to be in the video. It was a lot of fun to make.”
ur: Speaking of Yes!, the song is based around an excellent groove repetition highlighted by vocals that approach chant territory. How did you come up with this song? Is there any specific premise to it?
c: Turner, “Honestly, we had a vision of a car commercial in our heads as we were coming up with Yes! Unfortunately we haven’t had the song on any car commercial yet…hahaha. The idea was that when we see a commercial for a car, it tries to sell you a lifestyle, a positive life-affirming message that this car will change our life for the better. So we wanted to do a blatant yet ironic mantra on positive thinking. That’s why we have the line ‘I’m gonna love the machine’ which works on so many levels.”
ur: The sound of colourmusic is really unique and I’ve read that the concept of color is actually one of the main influences in your music. What is it about color you feel inspires the creation of a song or record?
c: Turner, “Using colour is our trick to keep us interested in writing music and making it different every time. By giving music a context outside of the music and sound side of things you can approach writing from different angles than you would normally approach it from. So a lot of the preparation for us writing music is thinking and talking about the colour or project in very loose terms about how we feel emotionally towards it.”
ur: From My ____ is Pink, I get a grungy, danceable feel that hints at early 90’s alternative while still sounding completely original. It has a dark vibe in parts but doesn’t kill the party. How does the band define the sound of the record?
c: Colin Fleishacker, “The ’90s definitely had a major impact on all four of us since we lived through that decade – for me, it was the first proper decade to live through, being born in 1983. But really, I think of the record as less of an amalgamation of influences and as more of an entire soundscape. The biggest influence on this record was Stanley Kubrick, not Nirvana or Loveless. Seriously. We just created what felt right, with, of course, influences being a driving force, but in a much more subconscious way. We weren’t ever sitting in the studio saying ‘this part needs to sound more like (insert Nirvana song here).’”
ur: Can you give our readers some background on the creation of My ____ is Pink?
c: Fleishacker, “Ummm…some of the songs on there are over 10 years old, while others were created during the album’s recording. ”Mono” is a song of Nick Turner’s he’s had since the ’90s, and “Dolphins & Unicorns” is a song Ryan’s had for almost as long. We just started collaborating in November of 2009, recording hours of experimentation, then went through those demos, picked the best song ideas, fleshed them out, revised them, went insane, and then birthed this beast in April/May of this year. It was quite the process, but a lot of fun. Other Lives, our friends and fellow musicians, began working on Tamer Animals while we were finishing our album, so we would help each other out a lot. They helped us make final decisions, we helped them get started. One of the best periods of my life. Working on purple, which we’re doing now, is up there as well.”
ur: The song structure of You for Leaving Me is a stand-out for me. Beginning with a lone piano note into a choir-like vocal until the main beat kicks in and then halted by a lone piano note at the end of the first chorus and then kicking everything back in. Can you give some insight into the origin of this song?
c: Fleishacker, “Oh God. Ummm…that’s another song that’s been around for a while, at least five years. That song really grew out of playing it live before we ever had tried to properly record it. It’s a dense puppy. There are at least six bass tracks on there if that gives you an idea how wooly this mammoth is. Ryan and I recorded the piano parts bookending the song one night at Other Lives studio, then we threw everything in the kitchen sink and then threw that in there as well, then we had a group of sisters who are all gospel singers from Oklahoma City come to Stillwater and sing backup vocals. It was amazing, they were a bit older and had never recorded before, so they were really excited to hear their vocals on tape. The song is about revenge in the truest sense. It’s from the point of view of God in the Old Testament, who is the meanest, craziest, crankiest, selfish character ever. It’s like worshiping a five-year-old who only wants his way. ’Pay attention to me! Now!’ I hope that doesn’t offend anyone…ah, whatever.”
Ley, ‘To add a little to the credit of the gospel singers, it was so amazing to see them interact. We had intended to layer their vocal takes anyway to create this huge choir sound, but they would switch parts each take and help create a whole different group sound from take to take. They were so cool. And they were sisters and cousins so they had no problem criticizing each other. They’d be like, ‘Girl, you you’re not hitting that note. You gotta get up there!’ and she’d be like ‘Yeah, I know, lemme do it again. I got this.’ Pure Awesome.”
ur: Feels Good to Wear really jumps out at me as well. The music and melody really get “the hips shaking.” Can you shed some light on how you all came up with this song?
c: Ley, “If I remember correctly, this came out of drum and bass demo that Colin and I did? That right? I’m fairly positive that the drum beat came first at least and Ryan probably fleshed out the rough idea of the song as he usually does. Then working with Colin to get that bass line perfect. At some point in here Nick Turner came back to the states and worked on the song, shaping it even more. When we were nearing the end, the song needed some sort of musical hook on the chorus because the vocal was designed to be understated so I messed with some junky keyboard through a tape echo to get that climbing airy melody at the beginning of the chorus. Oh, one of our final touches was running next door and having Jonathan Mooney from Other Lives record violin for the intro. Set it off. That sound correct to everyone???”
ur: One of the things colourmusic is known for are unique stage performances. You’re currently in Europe playing, how has it been overseas? Is the response to your shows any different than, say, when you play the Midwest?
c: Ley, “There are fewer beards in the crowd, thats for sure. Actually the arch of the audience’s acceptance is very similar to any show outside of Oklahoma. Usually goes – for first couple of songs, they’re saying ‘Fuck it’s loud!’ or ‘What the fuck is going on? They’ve got two bass players?!?’ Then on to ‘Ah I can move to this, maybe I can dig it.’ Then they forget about the volume and stop thinking and just enjoy. We play short sets still because there’s nothing worse than seeing a band you dig and them wearing out their welcome. Especially while we’re still trying to win over fans everywhere we go. Ya know, attention spans are virtually non-existent anymore so rather than try and build an intimate environment on stage, we cultivate this manic, chaotic atmosphere. We take the ‘don’t worry, this will all be over soon’ approach and the music compels it.”
ur: When you wrap the European tour, what is next for colourmusic?
c: Ley, “We are currently trying to finish our follow up to My ____ is Pink. The album is based on the color purple and we are busting our asses to get it out soon. We’d really like to return to Europe and the UK by next summer for the festival season – ideally. I don’t want to say too much about it other than its got us very excited, which is hard to do anymore. Also, we’re looking forward to the release of Nick Turner’s documentary of an abstract landscape painter from North Yorkshire named Peter Hicks. The film is absolutely beautiful and the band composed the soundtrack, which shows an entirely different side of colourmusic.”
colourmusic – Yes! [From f, monday, orange, february, venus, lunatic, 1 or 13, 2008]
colourmusic – Feels Good to Wear [From My ____ is Pink, 2010]
colourmusic – Your for Leaving Me [From My ____ is Pink, 2010]
colourmusic – Tog [From My ____ is Pink, 2010]
Find colourmusic on the web, Twitter, Amazon.