Dead Leaf Echo conjure nouveau new wave for next generation
By Tim Anderl
Incorporating elements of ambient, dream-pop, shoegaze and a buttload of other genres, New York’s Dead Leaf Echo run the gamut of underground aural possibilities to produce blossoming, genre-bending music that has left them at the forefront of NYC’s art-rock scene. Working with famed production heavies like John Fyer (Cocteau Twins, This Mortal Coil), rubbing elbows with original Psychedelic Furs guitar player John Aston, and playing sold out shows with Chapterhouse, Ulrich Schnauss and A Place To Bury Strangers, the trio have birthed a shimmering sound that mixes seamlessly with their aesthetic and high-art concepts. Dayton City Paper recently touched base with LG Galleon to discuss the band’s influences, forthcoming releases and growing fanbase.
How has your career evolved over the last several years? Are you finding it more or less difficult to find a receptive audience?
It’s a full mountain range of many levels and relationships – Artistic levels, financial levels and interpersonal relationships. For me it has to be about a personal fulfillment on an artistic level. If I don’t feel that it’s being pushed or taken to where it should be which is above par with anything else out there then the evolution stops and so does this project. That also plays out as one of many factors into how and why certain things take so long (others being financial, scheduling and placement). I find it less difficult to find an audience, as that audience has continued to grow both nationally and internationally over the course of the past few years. The second we stop climbing this mountain is when we let go.
I’ve gotten a chance to work with some of my heroes and people that I really respect in music. But I feel like with some of them, we’ve only really scratched the surface. I’d prefer a situation where we could really open up in the studio and experiment on a more long-form platform. Diving down deeper into a working relationship is very tricky but can produce amazing results. In the past few years we have had a chance to work with Ulrich Schnauss, Mark Van Hoen, John Fryer but overall we’ve spent very little time with them in the long run of things. You have to move quick and be ready for such things when they go down. It can be quite a change in style and what you find in yourself to bring to the table on a musical level.
It seems like your production and engineering choices have been extremely deliberate and that you spend studio time wisely perfecting your sound. How much writing do you do in the studio?
It’s true. Sometimes people have come to us and other times we have sought them out. But we’ve only tried to work with people that we feel would bring out the best in our influences and understand where we’re coming from. It doesn’t always work.
Most engineers and producers don’t really listen to what you have to say or make good choices on any artistic level, but I feel they’re not there for that. They’re there to make the levels work, bring you a cup of water and set up mic stands. It’s hard to find good people. Ones that understand where you’re coming from and can make you feel comfortable and relaxed so that you can give the take that you need to keep the process moving. It’s another factor why more and more recordings are done in the bedroom so that you have the leisure and space to track on your own clock, instead of a financially ticking one. As opposed to spending a shit-ton of money in one of the most expensive cities in the world and having some over-fried “producer” who listens to funk music tell you that you have too much “schmutz” on your guitar.
What can audiences expect from the live setting?
It’s always better live – unless the sound guy is an idiot. And chances are… Definitely it’s going to be a lot louder than the records. Expect a backdrop of blissful criminal visuals accompanied by a wall of sound.
“Act of Truth,” which appears on a split with Slowness is your most recent effort, correct?
There should be a video for “Act of Truth” out by the time that this hits the press. It was shot last summer on Super-8 but was never completed so we re-shot this summer a new idea digitally and have combined both that is being finalized now. As for new releases, we have new pressings of the single “Kingmaker” coming out on July 31. The label Custom Made Music had put out the limited-edition pressings of Kingmaker back in February and Christo hand made all the silk-screen covers. The new pressings will be with the crown artwork covers and on cool blue vinyl. We’ll also be releasing videos for both songs on the vinyl.
You’ve been working on a new LP, correct? Can you give us any of the details of that?
Well, yeah. It’s called “Thought & Language” Not only new, but our first LP ever. I think the fact that it’s taken so long has made us start to question it a bit. Wondering if we’ll ever finish it. Maybe it will never come out. It’s probably 75 percent done. But when you try something as ambitious as a double LP/concept album, you’re bound to run into obstacles. When deadlines become lax you can second guess anything twice. It sounded great yesterday. What’s going wrong today?
Dead Leaf Echo perform at Dayton’s South Park Tavern on July 20, and at Columbus’ Big Day In Festival 2 on July 21. For more information, visit their website at: deadleafechonyc.com/.
Reach DCP freelance writer Tim Anderl at TimAnderl@DaytonCityPaper.com.