Elwood – Interview

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On the phone with Elwood:

Where are you at now?

In my home studio.

Is that where you cut the album?

Everything was cut here, and for like four or five of the songs we went somewhere else to mix them.

Do you write over the top of beats or do you have songs worked out?

Like I might start out with lyrics and work out the beat, or work on a beat and then work out the lyrics later.

What has your day to day life been like since you got signed?

Well, making the record was the first half of it and now we are into the promotional side of it. It’s been fun, interesting, and something new.

Now you had experience in the studio before. Did that give you a good idea of things to come?

Yeah, pretty much. Like I said, we worked on the record mostly ourselves. I mixed like five or six of the songs, so I’m pretty studio savvy, I guess you could say.

Did you know about all this promotional stuff?

I knew about it, but in an ignorant sort of way. I knew you had to do it and knew it was there, but I didn’t realize it would be so demanding. We just got back from Canada and did like six television things in like three days and a couple radio things and then like eight phoners. It was madness. We were being dragged around and sometimes we didn’t even know who we were talking to. It just happens so quickly.

My first taste of your music was with the video for “Bush”. How did that all come together?

It was Chris Blackwell’s idea to make a video for that. I was totally for that. I loved the idea. They did it in like three and a half weeks. They did it crazy quick.

Especially the animation. It was tight.

Yeah.

The album has so many different flavors. Was that a conscious effort or was it your background and it just happened like that?

I think it was my background and it just happened like that. If I was to drop the phone and work on a track, there is no telling what it would be. It’s just me with all my collective influences.

That is what I dug about the album. I mean, every track was a bit of a mystery.

[laughs] It’s like a mystery movie or a scary movie.

Like “Forty Five”. Where did that come from?

That one came from a night of Brian and I in the studio where we couldn’t get it to come out. So we went downstairs for a cigarette break and tea break for me, and I grabbed the acoustic twelve-string and started playing the line in the song (Elwood begins to sing out the guitar line). And I was like, ‘Oh shit,’ and the keyboard was down here and he started playing the chords that go along with it. We ended up doing that in one night. That is a great feeling. I mean, you can’t sit down and go, ‘I’m going to write a “Forty Five” right now.’ [laughs]

Do you write based on everyday life?

Well, a lot of it comes from journal entrees. I write in a journal about every day and I’ll usually turn that into lyrics. For instance, “Dive”, that song just made me want to write to it.

I wanted to get an idea of what was behind a few of the songs. How about “Bush”?

“Bush” use to be a five-minute freestyle that we edited down. That is about situations from back in the day. It’s about a guy going out with a girl whose orientation is a bit suspect, like where she is from. Where she is going? She doesn’t know. She is poor and the only way she knows how to get around is to use her sex. And it is about a guy taking advantage of this girl by getting sex from her, and should he do right thing, which is to take her downtown and be proud of her, or should he be a hypocrite and push her into the bush and disregard her. It’s a little more than what people think. Like people think the reference of taking her downtown as should he go backdoor. [laughs] It’s good though because it gives people a chance to interpret the way they want.

What about “Love Hook”?

That was sort of a story that never evolved as a song lyrically, so we just made it completely ill. I mean, the story is still there. Like when I listen to it now I get the whole story, but it isn’t cohesive for the listener.

What about “Peaches”?

That was about a high school day. It’s about another less than fortunate girl who came around when she wanted some sex or thought you wanted some sex. [laughs] The mastering engineer said that all songs can be related to sex somehow.

Yeah. I believe it. Seems like love and sex is the foundation for every song.

Yeah.

“Stock Boy” was the one track that I totally didn’t expect.

It was interesting because it is really kind of deep actually. I’m saying, ‘We won’t last here anymore/ I’ve been down to score/ they’ve come back over roads/ I’ve been down before.’ It’s talking about everything from my career to everyone else’s career in the music business, and we all know what the score is because we’ve all been down the road before. That is one of my favorite songs on the record. Those verses were done at my friend Danny’s house, and I did it under the influence of a couple of different things, and I’ll never be able to get those lyrics back and that is why you can’t understand them. I was jumping around the page so you can’t understand what I was saying. Everyone said it’s like the black sheep of the record. Like no one liked it, so I put it last because I still wanted it on the record.

I liked it.

To me, that was a true moment of one night of me and my friend hanging out. It was one night where I was illing in New York with a friend and it just has a feeling to it. I’ve never been able to reproduce that no matter how hard I tried. That is art.

How did “Sundown” come about?

That was Brian’s idea to do that cover. We were actually covering “Spill The Wine” by War, and Brian came over one day with the idea to do “Sundown”. I thought it was brilliant. I was running around trying to find the vinyl. It was undeniable.

The first thing I was thinking about was that you are going to get teenagers who’ll have no idea that this is a cover.

Exactly. A lot of people don’t remember.

I dug it because you got the song to fit your style.

Yeah, I know. And people think we sampled it too. We didn’t. The only sample is the intro of the record coming in. We even sang the chorus over and over again. We wanted it to sound like they did on Gordon’s record.

How did you become an artist?

I was always an artist, if you want to call it that. [laughs] I’ve always been doing my thing, be it creating beats or writing lyrics. We’d marry them together any time I’d have the opportunity. Then the time came for me to make the record. Someone heard a few of the songs and got interested and then got others interested.

How did you come up with beats and songs?

Playing bass lines and throwing beats over them, or maybe playing guitar. But there has never been a method to our madness.

+ charlie craine

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