I consistently get mixes and tracks sent to me from DJs and producers, which I love, but I never usually get music sent over to me like this. Music that is reminiscent of the type of pop-electronic music that came before the EDM boom, recalling the sounds of groups like Owl City and The Postal Service.
I recently spoke with Genesee, an emerging electronic musician and producer from the Los Angeles area, about his style of writing, his newest single "Always" and the EP that accompanied its premiere, and how he transitioned from starting off on the guitar to moving into the digital age of music.
Your EP reminded me a lot of Owl City, and a few other solo artists I had listened to growing up in the music scene. When did the idea for you to first do solo work come about, rather than create a full band project?
I am a control freak. (laughs). I really like to have full control of the songs. I definitely like working with people; I have some more collaborations coming out. But [working solo] just cuts out all of the bullshit. Bands are a lot of work. (laughs)
Thank you talking about Owl City, by the way, and giving that comparison! I’m definitely a digital guy.
When did “Always” come into the creative process for you? Walk me through a little bit of the writing process, if you’re able to.
“Always” came into play because my girlfriend has a tattoo that says “always”. There’s just something about it that makes me feel, especially with her. It’s a song about my love for her, and how I will always love her. Everything she does always comes into my head. “Always” is a very strong word, but she’s constantly, always in my mind.
In terms of the music, I wanted more of a chill song on the EP. I have a lot more songs coming out, but this was going more of the steadier paced, “chill” songs. There’s not a lot of crazy EDM stuff going on in it. I just wanted it to be really chill, and a little romantic.
When did “1993” and “Black & White” come into play, subsequently turning the single release into an EP?
Well, it was always going to be an EP. I wanted to release around three or four songs to really get Genesee going. I will, after this EP, start releasing singles.
“Black and White” was a song with an artist named Tony Ferrari, whose a really cool, soulful singer here in Los Angeles. We were mutual friends, and said ‘hey, let’s collaborate on a song together.’ I wrote all of the tracks. He came in, and just sang. He has a lot stronger of a vocal quality than I do, so that’s what’s cool about doing a collaboration, because I get to work with an artist like Tony. “Black and White” is about seeing things in black and white. It’s almost supposed to take place ‘after hours’, when you’re really sort of messed up. (laughs) You start seeing things in black and white, you know? You can’t really see much, but you can see a little bit through the cracks.
Yeah the song was definitely a bit trippy-er. What you described makes perfect sense.
It’s funny, because I’ll play that song for friends, and guys like that song better. All of my friends that are guys like that song better, and all the girls like “Always” better. Maybe it’s because of the sonic tones of the song. I don’t know!
As a multi-instrumentalist, what came first for you? Do you remember the first instrument that you picked up?
Yeah! I started playing the guitar when I was little to overcome my Attention Deficit Disorder, so that I could literally have something to ground me. I guess that’s kinda what music does for me. It’s very soothing and gets me out of my anxiety.
When did the discovery of digital music come into play for you?
I think it’s from artists like Postal Service and Owl City. I remember being at Coachella in 2010, and I heard a Postal Service song at a party, and I thought, ‘man! This is like a rock dude, but they’re putting him on the DJ set!’ That was what I really dug about that. That’s what I wanted out of my music. I guess it has a band tonality, with the Owl City and Postal Service-type vocals, but then it can be played on the dance floor, or through an electronic production device. I really wanted to hit that concept into the ground, because that’s where I wanted it to be.
From there, I was like ‘ok, how do I get those sounds?’ I started picking up all of the electronic gear you could get. I’ve been learning every single MIDI controller and thing you can imagine.
I feel like The Postal Service and Owl City both seemed to be like gateway drugs into that kind of [electronic] music for a lot of people, if that makes sense.
Ooh! I like that a lot! I think you’re completely right, that’s awesome! I’m stealing that from you! (laughs)
(laughs) Go for it! Last questions of the interview: what kind of message, if any, would you like fans to walk away with after listening to your music?
(pauses) Hmmm. I’m actually going through this because I’m writing right now. A lot of artists write things self-indulgent. I definitely want to start having a message for the world to listen to. The message I’m giving away is honesty and truth. Be honest and truthful with yourself.
What does music mean to you?
Music, to me, is a way to calm anxiety. It’s something that’s really…it’s almost like the form of a drug. It’s this healthy drug that you take, you listen to, and make. It definitely takes all of your fears, anxiety, and problems, and takes them way.