Electric Leaves flea-market-found sound hits Jose’s right.
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Luke David and Art Emanuel – of the Santa Cruz electro-pop duo Electric Leaves, playing Jose’s on Saturday – have a longstanding Saturday morning tradition they’ll honor before appearing: going to the Capitola flea market.
A couple of David’s most invaluable scores include a brown reverb box, used throughout their new EP, Human Figures, and a couple of Jaymar pianos (toy pianos from the ’60s), featured on the bridge of “Soundings in Fathoms.”
“We’ve gotten a lot of keyboards and old drum machines,” David says. “Some are working and others are half-working. On Saturday we typically spend the day either playing music or writing music, so it’s kind of a nice start to the day.”
Human Figures intertwines the duo’s affinity for obscure, secondhand musical instruments, and sometimes toys, with computer-generated loops and beats. The result: seven straightforward songs that are retro-electronica hybrids.
On Apple, Electric Leaves’ debut LP, the songs are not so straightforward: The concept album is based on an article about a man who woke up in New York City and didn’t know who he was.
“It’s something that would be terrifying but also could be nice,” David says.
David cites ambient master Brian Eno as a major inspiration at the time he was recording Apple. He even incorporated some of Eno’s recording practices into the process.
“Before Eno starts recording he’ll make a stack of index cards with stuff written on them like ‘delete the last track you made’ and ‘use piano in the next track,’” David explains. “When he gets stuck, he pulls a card and does whatever the card says.”
David used index cards with rules like “Don’t use more than 24 tracks” and “Don’t do multiple takes.”
On “Electric Leaves,” David sings with a deep bellow reminiscent of Beck’s melancholic voice on “Everybody’s Got to Learn Sometime.” Though the existential concept of the album is noteworthy, it’s really the tone of David’s voice and the electronic intricacies – stacked together like a futuristic sandwich – that garner attention.
To create a Tron-like atmosphere, David relies on his trusty Gateway 459SX4 laptop, named “Hank.”
“[The laptop] is really a third member of the band,” he says.
But David still looks to the flea market as his ultimate sound source and inspiration. His most recent treasure: a melodica. Expect a keyboard-harmonica combo to make its way into future Electric Leaves albums.