yellowbirddd - Sound In The Signals Interview

I recently had the chance to interview yellowbirddd. Check out the full interview after the jump.

CENTINELA is the name of the album of your new album coming out and as a word it has such an interesting meaning. How does the title relate to the music found on this new album?
When I first moved to LA about a year ago, my best friend let me sleep on his living room floor for 2 months while I got settled and such. Centinela Avenue was a street in his part of LA. The word stuck out to me, it just was aesthetically pleasing, which tends to happen with me and some words. (the very reason why yellowbirddd has extra d's - i just like how it looks). The word Centinela has meaning to me, and is significant to this album and my life, for two reasons 1) the root of the word "Cent" generally relates to time and/or the passage of time, and 2) the "ela" ending of the word makes me think of spanish/latin/mexican cultures. I have a love for the southwest, and Los Angeles, which gives that part of the word special meaning for me. My albums tend to be a reflection on the past year or so of my life and a representation where I currently am at mentally, emotionally, physically. After seeing the word Centinela,  I knew I wanted it to end up somewhere in my work…all the reasons above made a pretty perfect fit for the album title.

This is your fourth album. Four albums is a big accomplishment for any artist. How did you stay inspired and keep finding ways to progress your music when you started writing and recording this fourth album?
Thanks! I am fortunate to say that I tend to always be writing, and I like forward motion and consistent creation. Because material tends to pile up, and I like to share my songs, I tend to get the yearly itch to want to record and get the songs out to listeners. For me, as I grow as an artist, I look ahead, and look back as well - I think each album tends to be a reaction to the previous album, especially sonically, or how it was recorded. I love my previous record Highway Birches. It was the record that I feel like I finally discovered and documented the yellowbirddd "sound". That being said, it was recorded pretty casually in friend's apartment. That's what I was going for. With CENTINELA, I wanted to maintain the intimate, minimal, and personal vibe of Highway Birches - but create more Hi-Fi recordings, and not be afraid to expand the sonic pallet and instrumentation here and there, have some drums here and there, be open to what each song needed. I think we found a good balance and achieved what I was hoping for. Having reached that goal with CENTINELA, I am already inspired and thinking about what I could do with and where I could take the next record :)

"Familiar Darkness" is a song I really like from the album. It has such a neat mood. Could you tell me a little about the songwriting process for that song and what the lyrical inspiration was for it?
Glad you dig it! Familiar Darkness is actually the song on the record that has been around for the longest amount of time. I finished writing it in early November 2012, actually happened to finish it the night that Hurricane Sandy hit NYC. Thus this lyric found its way into the song: "it's storming out my window now, I’ve got nowhere to go". The song is a favorite of mine, I had a feeling it was a special one, and even though many other songs were written, I knew Familiar Darkness would most likely end up on the record, and should end up on the record. Lyrically, I think it is a snapshot of my life at a certain time, and looking back at a past relationship via that perspective.

Your worked with Peter Recine and Chris Frasco on this album. What did both of them bring to the table to help you realize the vision of your album?
Pete and Chris are the best! I was super excited to work with Pete because not only is he such a talented producer/engineer/guitar player but I was also quite confident that we had a lot of the same influences and musical tastes, so I knew he would steer my songs in a direction that I'd really enjoy. I also knew he'd be down to record some of the songs totally live, and use some unconventional recording techniques. He is a super versatile guitar player and I think he did a perfect job of achieving the vibe I wanted in the songs. It's all about the vibe man! Even when that vibe is really sad. haha.
Chris (known by friends and admirers as "Frasco") is a long time friend and long time yellowbirddd supporter and confidante! I have been writing songs for a long time, but it was Frasco who did the recordings that turned into my first official yellowbirddd release, Hard Feelings, back in 2010. Frasco and I also did the first yellowbirddd "tour" together! Mostly open mics, coffee shops, and general tomfoolery! Great memories.
It was a pleasure to have him involved in my latest project. Very similar to Pete, Frasco is a wonderful guitar player and he has really become an audio engineering PRO over the past few years. He moved to Nashville from NYC about the same time I moved to LA from NYC, it was significant and special to have him master the record from his new home. He has a golden ear and a top notch knowledge on all things mastering/audio/etc -- not to mention I trust him dearly! I am psyched on how it turned out. He was especially helpful in preparing the tracks for vinyl…which is something we are all excited about.

I'm a big fan of photos as artwork because every snapshot tells an interesting story. What is the story behind the cover photo of your new album?
The photo for the album cover was taken by the very talented Brian Green (http://www.meyouanddoom.com). I believe Brian and I came into contact online via my music, but we actually have yet to meet face to face. Following him online, I quickly learned that he is an avid creator and traveler. I love his photography and how he constantly seems to be traveling and/or working on a new project or piece. I found the cover photo one day while admiring some of his latest work. It stuck with me, which eventually prompted me to ask him about using it for the cover. I believe the photo is one of his friends, I think taken in South Carolina. I love the immediate feeling the photograph gives you. To dig deeper, for me, I connect with mountains and trees and vast nature you see in the photo. The great unknown. Then the girl, looking out into the great unknown, almost falling into it. Or maybe she IS the great unknown. The unattainable. I think life is about learning, new experiences, growing up, new understandings - finding certainty, recognizing growth, feeling secure -- but at the same time, there is so much uncertainty, so much happenstance -- I find all of that in this photo.

CENTINELA Album Artwork

You are releasing CENTINELA on vinyl limited to 300 copies. How did it work out for you to release this album on vinyl and what made you decide to keep the number so limited?
Good question! This gives me another reason to blab about another wonderful friend of mine. Mr Brian Bond! Brian is another longtime yellowbirddd supporter and a truly great spirit and friend. Although we have only actually spent time together at shows here and there over the years, Brian is a good soul and we've always kept in touch. During one of our more recent catching up conversations, he revealed to me that he has always wanted to start a record label, and that he would love for a yellowbirddd record to be the first release. See, I told you he was truly great spirit and friend!
Fast forward and now flower/flour records out of Buffalo, NY is a thing! We picked 300 copies as it is the label's first venture -- and I felt it was a good number for me as well, as I don't actively press or sell physical formats for most of my music. In the past when I was DIY touring more often, I would get CD’s made, but I keep things pretty digital these days. I am very proud of the record and I feel it is deserving of the vinyl experience, and I am so thankful and psyched that Brian was game for making it all happen. We can't wait to share the record with the world.

I guess that about wraps it up. Thanks for taking the time to answer the questions. Do you have anything else you would like to add?

Thanks so much for such thoughtful questions and for taking the time to interview me! I'd like to thank anyone/everyone for taking the time to listen to my music. The very reason I share my music is because I hope that people will relate to it and connect with it. That's what it is all about. - and maybe if you like it, and you know a friend who you think might like it - share it with them too! I love the feeling of connecting to a song, whether it is a forever connection, or connected to something you're feeling for a shorter span of time, it is still a really special experience. I'd love to provide that for some people, and the chance of that connection happening is 100% worth putting my music out into the world.

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