Sympathy Points & Backtraveller meet 3rd
By Steffen Armstrong
It's a Collab
Vacation Songs is the collaborative EP between myself, Backtraveller, and my literal brother Sam, who produces as Sympathy Points. We both have sort of been doing our own thing musically for a while. I make kind of sad-dad Rock and Roll music and he produces more experimental electronic stuff. We figured that given our siblingship, we should probably work together at some point. And that is this. We made the music while were on vacation over the course of a spring break a summer break and a fall break. We don't really see each other much except when we're on vacation so that's all the time we have to work on stuff.
It depends on the song. I would get a song idea or recording from Will and expand on it and sometimes I would completely take it apart and make a new song using samples. And then we would both get together and flesh it out. For example with Other, I sampled a short recording of Will's guitar playing and this toy Casio synth and then made a beat out of that, and then Will recorded vocals and we made it more full.
A lot of times I feel like we both had absolutely no idea where something was going to end up. We were kind of just throwing samples back and forth, recording different layers and seeing what materialised. Most of the songs are taking live or acoustic instruments and putting them into a digital music-making context.
We started recording this in late July on a family trip to the Adirondack mountains. We were staying in one of those Kozy KOA Kabins and had the tiny Casio keyboard, an acoustic guitar and a Blue Snowball mic and that was it. Kind of a limited set-up but it was good to have the restrictions. Doesn't really sound like a "cabin in the woods-type" album, but that's what it started as Cascade Mtn. is about how we accidentally hiked one of the tallest mountains in the Adirondacks.
*(A man who meandered into the room while we were answering this question): Water. I need water*.
Oh and this About the last 60 seconds of the final track Moth Wings: You wake up in a place you know of as home but it is painfully unfamiliar to your senses. Sitting up in bed it is morning, and there are strings of light drawing in through the window, but it feels like the end of a day that may have lasted years, decades. You may leave this room but you choose to stay, you may look out of your window but you choose to shut your eyes because you can see everything clearer that way. Paper butterflies flutter about outside the window, asking not to be let in but rather for you to come join them in the flight you always dreamt of. Their wings sing a tune that you have tried to remember your whole life and now here it is. You can go back to sleep now, this was only a memory for you to have tomorrow.
It's odd because the term "experimental" rarely denotes what experimental actually should stand for. In this case, the merging of two brothers, one with electronic sensibilities, the other a bit of a solo mastermind, spending time isolated on a mountain lodge with not much more than a mini Casio keyboard, a guitar, and their wits. The result is the record Vacation Songs, pieces of music rather sweetly named after the only time the guys can spend together. This is truly experimental music. It's best described as six tracks of sun-bathed day dreams. beware, though, it isn't music to listen to and appreciate immediately. t requires time, yes, a good bit of time to brew in your ears. But then something will click, and this will make the perfect soundtrack to your summer. Slow, lazy, melancholic, nice, and intelligent.