WRGP Radiate FM & FIUSM Present: an interview with Ernest Greene of Washed Out

By Christopher Quintana

We’ve noticed you’ve been one of the acts that’s managed to do many shows in South Florida including past shows at The Culture Room – are you guys fans of coming down here?

Yeah! We definitely love coming down here. Most of the band lives in Georgia so it’s not too far out of the way for us, unlike some bands that are up in the North East. We definitely enjoy playing here and the weather’s always pretty good.

How long has this tour currently been and how many Florida shows will you be having?

This is the second of three Florida dates, and otherwise we’ve been on the road for about 3 and half weeks.

Like we mentioned, you’ve been here a few times but recently your live setup has changed to a full band. What do you think are the benefits of playing with a full band?

Well I like the idea of the live setup constantly sort of evolving depending on what the sounds of the record sound like or what I’m into. I did start off with a pretty simple setup on my own and I didn’t feel like it was that entertaining because it’s hard to tell for an audience what I was doing half the time.

It’s kind of like a DJ – if you don’t understand DJing it just looks like someone is up there twisting knobs. So the main idea with a band is for it to look more interesting, to be more entertaining with our movement and creating a fuller sound. The current incarnation of the band is more a Rock sound because the setup is a bit closer to a typical rock band setup but I do think it’ll continue to change as the band grows.

We noticed you’ve added some different songs to your setlists since you started playing with a band, such as “Belong” off of “High Times EP.”  Does the band let you do more?

Yeah – definitely. We tend to play more of the songs that just fit with the lineup. There are some songs that are a bit more electronic and it’s harder for that to be played with a live band setup. Whereas a song like “Belong” was written in a band kind of format. In fact, all of the new record, “Paracosm,” was written with a band in my mind so there’s a lot of live instrumentation. The other big thing is a lot of early Washed Out songs are made up of samples, so there are sample loops that would be impossible to recreate with a live band so we tend to play the stuff we can actually play live.

Going back to that track “Belong;” it’s from your very early release “High Times.” Is there a reason you brought that one back in particular?

It seems like people were really big fans of the song, and it’s also quite different than a lot of the other songs that I’ve written because it has kind of a Reggae-bounce to it, which I don’t think I’ve written any other song like that. That’s the other thing with the live show – I don’t want it to be too much of the same throughout. We want to touch on different genres and have it tell a story so we’ve been playing that song quite a bit.

You mentioned with the new record, “Paracosm,” that you shifted to using live instrumentation. Was there a vision or sound you wanted to achieve?

I felt like, naturally, I tend to write sadder, melancholy melodies and I wanted to play against that and try something that would be opposite of that. We do tons of festival shows that are outside and I like the idea of writing optimistic pop songs. So it was written for those environments mainly, I think.

We’ve seen on your Instagram that you post a few previews of new songs. Are you working on some new tracks as you go or are you already looking into creating a new album?

We’ve been really busy playing shows since the album came out last August with a few breaks here and there so I’m always working on music when I have the time to. The Instagram previews were me trying to make an effort to work harder with the little time that I did have. It’s just brief ideas and I don’t have enough of them to create a full record or anything but its little glimpses into what I’m into without having a perfectionist streak to it. A lot of that music is something I did in an hour or two and I was not stressing out with the mix of it or anything. It’s kind of like a diary entry or something.

In the past you’ve drawn inspiration from great tracks like “I Want You” by Gary Low.  What are some of the new kinds of sounds that are influencing you at the moment?

Well like we touched on before, I wanted the last record to feel live, to try to really work with the live band setup. Having done that, my instinct is sort of to do the opposite, so I’ve been making new songs with a ton of samples and stuff that performance wise – I’m not sure how we’ll end up performing them. But I’ve been into a lot of less poppy stuff. For example, there’s a period of New Age music when it was first starting out that I find really interesting. I think when most people hear New Age music they think of ‘80s synths and 15 minute songs that are kind of like soundscapes. But there was some really cool early stuff in the mid-70s that’s straddling the line between jazz and rock. So I’ve been using some ideas from that, but I still haven’t figured out what the record can be. We finish this tour and we’ll have only one-off show in the next month or so, then we’ll have an extended break, so I look forward to getting home and working through it a little more.


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