Interview Tanlines: ‘We Were Writing Music With An Uncertain Future’

Jack Parker catches up with the talented twosome to talk uncertainty, existential pop and Christian Rock.

Tanlines’ debut album ‘Mixed Emotions’ was received with open arms following its release earlier this month. The duo, namely New York’s Eric Emm and Jesse Cohen, were scheduled to hold a headline slot at London’s Cargo tonight (27th March) but have been forced to postpone. They will, however, be returning to the UK for Brighton’s Great Escape in May. Jack Parker catches up with the talented twosome to talk uncertainty, existential pop and Christian Rock.

What are your hopes for ‘Mixed Emotions’? Is there anything that you’d like the album to achieve?
Well, we threw ourselves into this process as hard as we could. I think the goal is always to reach as many people as you can in the most meaningful way possible. At this point, it’s a little bit out of our hands. We produced an album that we think is great, we produced it in the way that we wanted to do it, so I feel like we’ve done our jobs. I hope that we’re able to reach all of the people that will enjoy it.

What are the lyrical influences on ‘Mixed Emotions’? Are there any themes running through the album?
A month before we were going to start writing the album, we found out that we’d been evicted from our studio, which was the only place that we had ever written music. We were given six weeks to leave the building. It turned into six months, and during that entire time, we were writing music with an uncertain future. This coincided with reaching the time in our lives where we really craved some kind of certainty. The ‘exploration phase’ had sort of run it’s course. So I think a big part of the record, thematically, is about losing your home, wondering where you are, what’s next, what’s the meaning of growing up, and looking for some meaning in everything. That is why we refer to our music as ‘existential pop’.

How long did you spend writing the record? When did you start working?
We started writing new songs in June 2010. We had mostly finished writing in April 2011, but when we went to mix the album in Miami in September of 2011 we were still finishing songs. We finished writing ‘Not The Same’ in a room in Jimmy’s studio while he was working on another song. During the whole process we wrote probably 50 or 60 songs, but most of them obviously were never finished.

What are the plans for the tracks that didn’t make the final cut?
Of the 50-60 songs we wrote, some of them are just beats, loops, some of them are sketches of songs, some of them are completed songs with vocals, some of them are songs written and performed on an acoustic guitar…it’s a of different stuff. I think some will develop into finished songs for us and others will languish in development hell. I would love to work with other artists as songwriters and producers. Whoever found my lost iPod has heard all of them.

Speaking of, what was it like working with Jimmy Douglas?
It was amazing experience, a great opportunity. We learned an enormous amount about making music from him, and, part of what was interesting about the experience is that I think he learned a lot from us too. He was really looking for a project like ours when we came along, so it was good timing for both of us. We also have very different styles and approaches to mixing, and we had never worked with anyone else before, so, while it was occasionally difficult, I think it was exactly what we needed to finish the album and for it to sound fantastic.

What was your favourite instrument to play on the record?
I would say the piano. We have a really old piano, which we had never really put on any songs before we started working on the album. It sounds great.

Which song are you most proud of on the album?
I mean, all of them, of course, but I think songs like ‘Green Grass’, ‘Not the Same’, and ‘All Figured Out’ (a bonus track) really show just how much we’ve grown over the course of the writing of the album.

When you finished working on the LP, how did you celebrate?
Good question. I have no recollection. A lot of artists will probably tell you that the very end part of the process can be really difficult. I think we had some fights but I’ve blocked it out. When the album came out, we went to a fantastic Italian restaurant near my apartment in Clinton Hill with all the people who worked on it and it was a really great celebration. I’ll focus on that.

What do you think of the other artists on the True Panther Sounds imprint?
Dean, who runs True Panther, was our first fan. He literally was at the very first performance we ever gave and he’s been with us ever since. We trust him as much as we could ever ask to trust anyone. He really has a special relationship with music. He has a great sense of what is interesting. The artists on his label all do different things, but there is a shared gene, and that is Dean. It makes perfect sense and it is a family that we are really happy to be a part of.

Do you prefer writing and working in the studio or playing live?
Good question, and hard to answer. We do a lot of our work in the studio together, obviously, but I think that it was our experiences playing live that really pushed us the most. Those experience, playing songs that people knew the words to and cared about, were what pushed us to keep doing it. Connecting with people in a live setting is worth so much more than connecting with people by putting songs on the internet or whatever, in my opinion.

What’s the strangest thing someone has written about you?
This is easy. Some writer in the UK said that there was ‘the faintest whiff of Christian rock’ to what we do.

Is the reaction to your music different in the UK to the USA?
Very much so. I’m not sure how to describe it, but we are definitely perceived differently.

Tanlines debut album ‘Mixed Emotions’ is available now.

Read More

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Stay Updated!

Get the best of DIY to your inbox each week.

Latest Issue

March 2024

Featuring Green Day, English Teacher, Everything Everything, Caity Baser and more!

Read Now Buy Now Subscribe to DIY