It's been well over at year since we last spoke with LA electronic pop act Letting Up Despite Great Faults and, well, a lot has changed. New album. New line-up. New live shows -- like the one this weekend. Stuff like that.
So, good time to check back in w/ the band, right? Here's the transcript of our chat w/ lead Mike Lee from last Wednesday night. (The IM names have been changed to protect the innocent.)
RFSL (8:01:17 PM): Good evening! How are you doing tonight?
lettingup (8:01:30 PM): Hey, Joe. I'm good. How are you?
RFSL (8:01:52 PM): Pretty well. What have you been up to?
lettingup (8:02:42 PM): Just been trying to promote the new album
lettingup (8:03:01 PM): starting to play out more
lettingup (8:03:19 PM): We got a new member and with the new songs it's taken us a little while to get things straight
lettingup (8:03:38 PM): But things are falling into place okay, I think
RFSL (8:03:53 PM): I think you were just had one of the tracks from the album done then.
RFSL (8:04:19 PM): You have more of a song by song process than a lot of bands, if I remember correctly.
lettingup (8:04:26 PM): Yeah I definitely spent a good portion of the beginning of this year just writing
lettingup (8:04:43 PM): Yeah, I think that's probably right to say
lettingup (8:05:05 PM): I like really finishing an idea and moving to another story
lettingup (8:05:12 PM): both lyrically and musically
RFSL (8:05:17 PM): You usually release songs as soon as they're done, correct? And then collect later?
lettingup (8:05:52 PM): I don't think I have a set process
lettingup (8:06:29 PM): For a while there, there was a long dry spell for Letting Up so whenever I made a song halfway decent I would want to share it.
lettingup (8:06:54 PM): But then I got into a writing groove once I started working on In Steps
lettingup (8:07:11 PM): and then I just sort of put my head down and kept writing
RFSL (8:07:38 PM): I'm listening to that song right now, actually.
lettingup (8:07:57 PM): In Steps, Folding Under Stories Told, and The Colors Aren't You or Me all sort of flowed out together pretty quickly
lettingup (8:08:31 PM): and those made me confident that I could actually do an album
RFSL (8:09:24 PM): When was that? Early this year, like you said before?
lettingup (8:09:53 PM): Yeah, maybe around Spring
RFSL (8:10:00 PM): While "I Hear You Drowning But I'm Tied" is from quite awhile ago, right?
RFSL (8:10:18 PM): Or maybe I'm thinking of another track that you shared.
lettingup is offline (8:10:22 PM) Your IM will be delivered when the buddy goes online.
lettingup (8:10:31 PM): yeah that's on our only other release, an EP from over 3 years ago
lettingup is available (8:10:31 PM)
lettingup (8:10:50 PM): not sure if you got this - was kicked off:
lettingup (8:10:51 PM): yeah that's on our only other release, an EP from over 3 years ago
RFSL (8:10:58 PM): Yep. lettingup is offline (8:11:01 PM) Your IM will be delivered when the buddy goes online.
lettingup (8:11:08 PM): so our dry spell I was referring to was 3 years
lettingup is available (8:11:08 PM)
RFSL (8:11:10 PM): Bad internet weather?
lettingup (8:11:10 PM): Your IM conversation with lettingup will be saved in lettingup's IM history in Gmail from now on. Learn more at http://x.aim.com/gmail.
lettingup (8:11:34 PM): I just felt like I really needed some time to tell fresher stories
lettingup (8:12:00 PM): Also learning software takes a while...
lettingup (8:12:12 PM): so finally it all sort of clicked
lettingup (8:12:51 PM): I like approaching every song differently, which I guess can kind of be time consuming too
RFSL (8:13:02 PM): How do you feel like the new material is different? How have you grown?
lettingup (8:13:42 PM): I think it's more mature
lettingup (8:13:55 PM): There's a larger range of emotions involved
lettingup (8:15:06 PM): I think musically it's pretty different too - different arrangements, more complicated processing of individual sounds
lettingup (8:15:31 PM): I tried to really take my time, but not have it sound overworked too
lettingup (8:16:07 PM): This is the first time in my life where I basically created, edited, and mixed all in one software environment
lettingup (8:16:45 PM): It allowed me to really have a more natural conversation with the software of what I wanted to achieve and how to achieve it
RFSL (8:17:25 PM): You seem to look at software as an instrument. Is that fair to say?
lettingup (8:17:43 PM): Not just as instrument
lettingup (8:17:52 PM): but that element is very important
RFSL (8:18:15 PM): A way of conducting all of the instruments, perhaps?
lettingup (8:18:28 PM): Alot of the arrangements I make are simply using my mouse filling in spaces (notes)
lettingup (8:19:54 PM): Yeah, definitely. I can not only create in there, but I can modify/edit as well. And that means I can take a guitar riff and make it sound like it could never sound on its own.
lettingup (8:20:20 PM): If you heard the dry guitar riff on In Steps you would laugh and never IM me again
lettingup (8:20:57 PM): but after hours of editing and processing you get this weird little lo-fi riff that holds up an entire song (at least to me it does)
lettingup (8:21:30 PM): and then you can dissect it - play it however you want at whatever key and tempo you want it in
lettingup (8:21:43 PM): again, with the mouse
lettingup (8:22:14 PM): So maybe you're right in your conductor analogy - I'm telling the computer what and how to play basically. But it's very very precise
lettingup (8:22:37 PM): And takes up way too much CPU power which is a whole other story!
RFSL (8:22:45 PM): It sounds a lot more exacting and time intensive that I think people realize.
lettingup (8:23:26 PM): I think it's safe to say I rarely went "out" this year before the album was released
lettingup (8:23:38 PM): Once I sent it to mastering I felt like a free man
lettingup (8:24:13 PM): Plus every song is a different adventure - I try not to do things the same way R
FSL (8:25:04 PM): You like to reinvent the band with every song? Or at least reexamine the process?
lettingup (8:25:05 PM): In the Colors song, it took me days to find the right mix of distortion and reverb on just the guitars alone
lettingup (8:25:53 PM): Yeah that might be a little extreme, but I think each 'technique' is really unique to each song for me
lettingup (8:26:28 PM): It doesn't feel right for me to repeat the same process and just replace certain things like lyrics or something
lettingup (8:27:32 PM): Plus it's fun
lettingup (8:27:43 PM): I'd get bored if it was the same thing over and over again
lettingup (8:28:09 PM): There are so many possibilities to explore
lettingup (8:28:38 PM): I think if maybe I was super into one genre/type of sound, then that'd be okay
lettingup (8:28:49 PM): But I'm a little ADD I guess
RFSL (8:29:10 PM): You've clearly gotten good results that way.
lettingup (8:29:21 PM): Thanks Joe
lettingup (8:29:28 PM): I never really know
lettingup (8:29:34 PM): It was hard for me to put this album out
RFSL (8:29:50 PM): Just saw that Pitchfork gave it a good review. They can be... hard to please.
lettingup (8:30:36 PM): That was a relief b/c they shot me an email out of the blue asking if they could use the song for a review and I was like I hope they don't give it a 2!
RFSL (8:30:48 PM): Ha, ha.
RFSL (8:30:53 PM): Why was it hard to put out?
lettingup (8:31:35 PM): I'm sure most musicians tell you they're never 100% sure about their songs. It's hard to put it all out there, especially after working so hard on it.
lettingup (8:32:01 PM): Luckily the reviews have been nice so far, but the bad reviews are out there...just waiting to be unleashed
lettingup (8:32:19 PM): Also it was a self-release so there's a financial burden as well lettingup (8:32:27 PM): Then all the little things
lettingup (8:32:35 PM): Distribution, CD Art, PR
lettingup (8:32:49 PM): I had to take care of everything
lettingup (8:32:53 PM): which is a bit daunting
lettingup (8:33:29 PM): But I've found some great companies and people/friends to contribute and it's been very rewarding, personally
RFSL (8:33:38 PM): Daunting? That sounds Herculean.
RFSL (8:33:49 PM): You mentioned that you have a few new members?
lettingup (8:34:19 PM): Yeah, we got Rachel from Automatic Drawing
lettingup (8:34:26 PM): You can hear her voice on Our Younger Noise
lettingup (8:35:00 PM): She's a permanent member in our live band, playing guitar, MPC and vox
RFSL (8:35:16 PM): Yeah, she mentioned that. I hearted Automatic Drawing.
RFSL (8:35:19 PM): Excellent.
lettingup (8:35:52 PM): We got Chris (who is still in The Littlest Viking) and he's an amazing drummer from Berklee
lettingup (8:36:12 PM): You hear him on Release and he's also a permanent member of our live setup
lettingup (8:36:28 PM): And we still have Kent, our bassist who also plays keys on stage
RFSL (8:37:46 PM): You have a few live shows coming up.
lettingup (8:38:26 PM): Yeah, playing this Sat @ Mr. T's Bowl.
lettingup (8:38:35 PM): with our buddies the Rhone Occupation too!
lettingup (8:38:45 PM): Jon Hershfield's throwing it
RFSL (8:38:55 PM): Like that band. Good guys.
lettingup (8:39:05 PM): PLUG: Isgoodmusic.com
lettingup (8:39:35 PM): We have a couple dates in December as well - 3rd @ The Prospector and 13th @ Spaceland
RFSL (8:40:02 PM): So what's next for you? Beyond December?
lettingup (8:40:12 PM): The Spaceland show will be a Buzzbands.la Xmas show I believe
lettingup (8:41:21 PM): Well I just got word we broke into CMJ's Top 200 (#189) so I want to try and continue doing more promotion. We have a tour in the works for mid-March. We got invited to play at a SXSW day-party so we want to build a trip around that.
lettingup (8:42:26 PM): In the meantime, I've been working on some remixing.
lettingup (8:42:55 PM): I just did one for Tape Deck Mountain (Lefse) - they just released their new album today I believe
lettingup (8:43:33 PM): You can hear it at our myspace page.
RFSL (8:45:05 PM): Nice. Well, that's all I have for you.
RFSL (8:45:07 PM): Except.
RFSL (8:45:15 PM): What's stuck in your head right now?
RFSL (8:45:52 PM): [Listening to remix...]
lettingup (8:45:57 PM): Well, the XX easily gets in there but I've been loving Bibio's new album
lettingup (8:47:24 PM): Washed Out is so good too - can't get stop playing that.
RFSL (8:48:52 PM): That's all I've got.
lettingup (8:51:07 PM): Thanks, Joe. the support means alot