Published on October 9th, 2013 | Jonny Abrams
We were dazzled by the swirling electronic textures and deliciously sticky beats of “Simple Creatures” from Botany’s forthcoming debut album Lava Diviner (Truestory), so we winged him over our Showcase Q&A to find out more about him…
How would you describe your music, if pushed?
I’d describe it as a reiteration of hip-hop, psych, prog, early new-age, ’00s electronica and sample-collage, all filtered through the sensibilities of a sci-fi head whose inner life is as valuable as his outer, then repackaged as some sort of novelty within the modern independent music paradigm.
Where are you based, and what do you use to record with?
I bounce around a lot. I just say Dallas/Fort Worth but that’s not always true. I use a lot of records, tapes, and field recordings, all sampled and sometimes sequenced into an SP-404, then squeezed into a shitty desktop computer from 2001 (not the film) on Pro-Tools LE, then hashed-out in a cracked copy of FL Studio that hasn’t been updated since 2005, then back to tape when all’s said and done.
Are you signed to a label? If so, how did you come to their attention?
I’m signed to a label out of Austin called Western Vinyl. I was playing drums in a band that used to be on their roster when I was 20, and I met the label-head Brian at the first SXSW that I ever played. I had been working on my own sound since I was about 16 years old and I stopped playing in the other band after just a year with them.
But when I finally wanted to put out my own music I went straight to Western Vinyl and they were nice enough to help me. Now they’re a huge part of my life.
Is there a full album in the works? If so, what can you tell us about it? (Feel free to be as abstract as you like…)
In June, I finished a debut full-length called Lava Diviner (Truestory) that I slaved over and poured an unhealthy amount of heart and time into. I really picked up momentum with it while living in a converted horse stable on a farm outside of Austin, which I had moved into to get away from a stagnant creative life and an assault charge I picked up in a bar-fight in Fort Worth, TX where I’m from.
I would work on the farm by day and the album by night, and all the while I was having these great philosophical conversations and sharing stories with people from all over the country who were rolling through the farm to get away from their own versions of the same small-time stuff.
I started the album with a narrative concept in mind that involved a kind of geological cult that was hell-bent on apocalypse (which was reflective of my bleak outlook at the time), but inevitably the music just started becoming more about feelings and images much more abstract, varied, and emotive than that. I moved to Denton, TX shortly after and finished the album over the next year. I’m really proud of it. It’s out October 29th.
Where can we hear your music online?
The usual well-trampled avenues; SoundCloud, Bandcamp, YouTube. You could also check it out using your money on iTunes, Amazon and the like. I’d wait till the full-length is out, but it’s up to you. I’ll just be content with someone hearing it.
Which have been your most exciting gigs and/or overall moments so far?
The best show I ever played was when I opened for Panda Bear in Dallas. This area of Texas isn’t really known for acts like that, so when he rolled through and I got picked to open, it was a breath of fresh air. It was one of the better fits of any acts I’ve opened for out here.
I usually open for these indie-rock groups that might have a few electronic elements in their music, but they’re still mostly rock bands. I felt that people were really receptive to what I was doing, and it was the largest crowd I had played solo in front of some 500 to 800 heads.
Noah Lennox himself was really warm and receptive as well, he didn’t do the normal thing where he sequestered himself in the greenroom. He came up and introduced himself at his own will and congratulated me on a good show. Other than that, playing the new material for my circle of friends in the area has been great, they’ve all been really congratulatory and genuinely proud of me which feels amazing.
Got any more coming up? (Gigs, that is…)
I am playing with the group Crystal Fighters in Dallas next week, and after that I’m opening for my longtime acquaintances This Will Destroy You at a show for the Red Bull Sound Select series.
I’m really looking forward to finally doing something in November with a crew in Austin called Exploded Drawing. They make music along the same lines and philosophy that I do and we’ve been trying to set something up for close to two years, so it will be fun to finally do it.
I’m hoping that they’ll be receptive and make me feel like extended family of sorts, because I already feel that way about them. I feel like a little bit of an island in my part of the world so it would be nice to be part of that burgeoning community.
Are there any obscure and/or up-and-coming acts that you’d like to recommend or give a shout-out to?
I’d like to shout out my friend in Melting Season out in Dallas. He makes some pretty fearlessly trippy and tasteful sample-based stuff and he’s been a longtime friend and inspiration.
I’d also like to bring some light to Leaving Records in Los Angeles. They’re a little more well-known now having done some joint releases with Stones Throw, but they are by far one of the most progressive labels out there, doing what they love because they love it, and no other reason.
Finally, if you were forced to spend the rest of your days in solitary confinement, but were allowed to bring the entire works of five different artists along to tide you over, whose would you choose?
I answer this differently every time I’m asked. I feel like if you really love music, you won’t have a top-five anything. The music that has changed my life and inspired me is so varied and vast and my tastes change so much that I can’t answer this question and stand behind it forever.
But I’ll throw some names out that have been in my life for a while for reasons not mentioned, because I’m not even sure I could fully answer that myself.
Stars of the Lid
Botany, thank you.