c h point / summer 2000 - Sound In The Signals Interview

I recently had the opportunity to interview c h point / summer 2000. We discussed an early introduction to music, the writing and recording process for new album ‘Ellie Kemper’, guest features, musical inspiration, physical merch, and more. Check it out below.

First, thanks for the interview.

Absolutely, thank you for having me!

Can you tell me how you started making music for those who may be unfamiliar with it? How did you initially become interested in music?

I grew up Mormon, so religious music became a regular (and somewhat ritualized) part of my life as early as I can remember. It seems like most other Mormon kids I know took introductory piano lessons at an early age, and I was no exception to that (I quit pretty quickly though). I was classically trained on the cello for most of my childhood starting in 4th grade, but shortly after beginning that I also bought my first guitar and started recording random stuff in Audacity. 

The rest of my musical experiences growing up sort of followed those contrasting classical/academic vs. DIY paths - playing, analyzing & transcribing music in orchestra and jazz band, while simultaneously writing, playing, performing, and recording for a number of garage bands and other miscellaneous music projects. In that sense I feel I sort of got the best of both worlds (although you might argue they are in fact the same world with different paradigms). I was blessed to be inspired by a couple life-changing music educators that encouraged me to create and find satisfaction in thinking outside the box while doing so, which really pushed me to where I am today.

Your new album ‘Ellie Kemper’ is out in May. Fans see this as a sequel to your popular ‘John Krasinski’ album. Do you see it as a sequel or companion album or something else? 

I see Ellie Kemper as an “intentional sequel” to John Krasinski in the sense that, yes, it is a companion piece with many, many similarities to my debut, but these parallels are purposeful and symbolic to what I interpret as the overall message & meaning of the album. I don’t want to say much more than that so I don’t overexplain it. :)

I had the chance to listen to the album early. I really like it. What was the writing and recording process like for this album?

Thank you, I’m really glad you dig it! One thing (of many) that ties Ellie Kemper to John Krasinski is their shared creative approach. For both albums, writing & recording occurred simultaneously in an attempt to capture the unsullied emotions of the moment in which I was sitting there in front of the microphone (which was usually when I was procrastinating and supposed to be doing something else). I would tune my guitar to some random open tuning that I liked, programmed a short drum beat that I thought sounded cool, turned the microphone on, and just started placing my fingers down on the fretboard randomly. The idea was to pull some sort of cohesive idea out of my subconscious as quickly as possible, and to not second guess it once the tracks had been laid down. I almost see it as a form of impressionistic improvisation, where there is no concrete vision of what exactly is going to be created - just a mood, a feeling, an atmosphere. The skeletons of most songs on both albums were formed this way.

On Ellie Kemper, however, (unlike John Krasinski) I also got to collaborate with a number of incredible & lovely creators. With each collaborator, I gave them very similar direction: a loose reference of what I was envisioning, along with the objective to “go wild” with whatever they felt fits, putting my 100% trust in their unique perspective on a briefly explained vision. And the common theme across every collaboration was the collaborator absolutely NAILING it on the first try. Lobsterfight, exciting!!excellent!!, and Asian Glow on their features, Dan Melizan (lifemoves.png) & my amazing partner Jane Berge on their immersive visual art, and finally James Witte-Cook, my childhood friend, long-time musical collaborator and Elder Jack bandmate on co-producing, playing literally every instrument he owns and bringing the whole album to the next level.

What musical or personal things influenced the sound and lyrics of these new songs?

There is a lot that ended up inspiring this album. I was listening to & ended up being inspired by the music of Koji Kondo, Duster, Alex G, Heccra, Brave Little Abacus, Deapfth Pop Records, The Reptilian, Taunus, Your Arms Are My Cocoon, and each of the musical collaborators. One of the most influential moments in the progression of the album’s vision was watching 8-Bit Music Theory’s video about the relationship between the Nintendo 64’s hardware limitations and Koji Kondo’s compositional strategies for the OSTs of Ocarina of Time & Majora’s Mask. Lyrically, the album is pretty similar to the other Summer 2000 releases in that it is inspired by my own experiences struggling with the cyclical long-term effects of religious conditioning and mental illness.

One of my favorite songs from the album is “Consecrate Your Mind In The Flame”. Can you tell me about writing that song specifically?

If I recall correctly, Consecrate was the first song on the album to have its music written, and the last one to have lyrics. I had initially recorded the song in one “impressionistic improv” session with instruments from the Super Mario 64 soundfont (which was heavily featured in John Krasinski), and for that reason I didn’t see it as part of Ellie Kemper (which heavily features instruments from the Majora’s Mask soundfont). I was thinking of releasing it on a split or something, but then at some point I decided to just try and swap those SM64 instruments for LoZMM ones and it ended up sounding great & fitting right in. Much like many other songs on the album, I had the song title and music recorded well before I had the finalized lyrics written.

Did you have a song that you were most excited for people to hear? Why? 

Honestly, if you think of John Krasinski as Super Mario 64, with a bunch of disconnected worlds & levels that you hop between throughout the songs on the album, Ellie Kemper is very much Majora’s Mask in the sense that the album flows more cohesively, following a single journey. Each song is part of a larger whole & intended to be listened to in order & in context. So with that in mind, I couldn’t say that there is one specific song that I’m most excited about - however my personal favorite is track 8, Parallel Apparition.

Will we see physical releases for this album? Is there any chance that you plan on releasing CDs, cassettes, or vinyl?

I’m collaborating with my good friend Max of Gizzmoix Records on a video game-themed initial merch run on May 5th. I’ll be releasing “switch cartridges” (which are actually microSD cards with the full lossless album), while Gizzmoix is releasing actual GBA & Nintendo DS cartridges flashed with the album. There will absolutely be CDs, tapes, and vinyl later this year though, so stay tuned!

Thanks for taking the time to answer the questions. Do you have anything else that you would like to add?

Thank you so much for letting me talk a little bit about my art, I’m just really excited & humbled that strangers online care enough about it to want me to expound upon it. My goal in creating has never been to “go mainstream” or “chart”; it’s always just been (and always will be) to express myself, and to be able to do that with the support of so many people is truly a dream come true.

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