Æ: Aglet Eaters

Interview: Meet Drowner.

Posted in Discover by R on July 28, 2011

They’re a new band, but my gosh they’ve got some PR skillz behind them. Only a day or two after I received word of Drowner‘s existence (it’s called a Press Release), they were all over the place! And by ‘all over the place’ I mean ‘all over Facebook’ with links to their songs being posted left, right and centre by the Shoegaze Elite.

Ye gads! Who is this mysterious band?! Before I’d even heard the EP I’d made a list of all the questions I wanted to ask (you’ll notice we get into the swing of things quite rapidly). Anyway, there’s not much for me to comment on regarding Drowner and its components, since they’ll do most of the talking in a moment. I’m just going to take a minute to tell you about the music.

Drowner remind me a lot of this other band I wrote about a couple of years ago called The Vacant Lots. Both bands seem to have received some sort of specialist training in the finer aspects of Gestalt theory. The reason my first question is what it is is because I was hesitant to assume Drowner was a duo owing to their ability to generate a sound that was larger than themselves. I’ve asked then about equipment in case you, like me, were left a bit dumbfounded as to how they achieved such an enormous sound, and hopefully it helps out the more techy, geeky, musiciany among you. I’ve even asked them if it’s just them on the album! Subtlety be thy name. Their EP which is titled … *drumroll* … Drowner EP is out now on iTunes and elsewhere. If you click on its name you’ll be able to get it. Wow, modern technology, new media, virtualisation, marvellous. Now, not to detract attention from the peeps themselves, here’s your Guide to Drowner:

Hello there! I’m going to start with the most important question in the world: Who are you?

Darren: I’m Darren Emanuel. I mainly play guitar in the band and, for now, some of the other instruments as well. I was most recently in Swimming In and released a shoegaze/trip hop collaboration last year called Apples to Earth. I had written some of the Drowner songs by last year and worked on them with a couple of different vocalists, but nothing really gelled. I happened to mention this to Anna Bouchard, and she composed some lyrics and immediately brought a new depth and lyricism to the songs that turned out to be exactly right for the project.
Anna: Hi, I’m Anna Bouchard, and I am the vocalist for Drowner.

Have you been around long? How did you meet?

Anna: We’ve known each other for a long time but only last year did we talk about collaborating on a music project together.

Your songs sound very elaborate and professional. Is it only the two of you on all your recordings, or do you have friends or extra personnel show up now and then?

Darren: It is only the two of us right now. I enjoy playing a lot of instruments, but it will be nice to get input from someone who really knows what they are doing on drums and bass. We are talking about adding more people to the lineup, possibly by the time we get to the second E.P.
Anna: To Darren’s credit, we sound like a much bigger band than we are.
Darren: And Anna sings a great deal as well, sometimes contributing up to 35 vocal lines to one song.

There must be some fellow musicians and/or music geeks among us – can you tell me about your instruments and, if applicable, hardware and software of choice?

Darren: I use a great 8 bus mixer by Topaz made in the UK for all of the tracking, along with a Tascam 8 channel tape machine from the early 80’s. We make extensive use of the Roland Space Echo while tracking and even for reverb when we mix. It’s so much fun to use and always surprises us. We use a Fender guitar, a Wurlitzer 200A piano — Anna plays a bit of Moog synth on “Wildflowers” — a Fender cabinet on guitar and piano, and we use an obscure guitar amp called an ASI 125. It’s the only one I’ve ever seen, but I loved the way it sounded the first time I heard it. If anyone knows anything about it, let me know. I can’t even get a Google hit about it!
This is the first record I’ve done where I didn’t use Pro Tools or Cubase, but rather did all the tracking and mixing in Ableton Live. For mixing I use a Universal Audio DSP card with the Fairchild, 1176, LA2A, EMT, CL-1 and Pultec plugins.

What’s the story with you label Two Words Records? How did it come to be?

Darren: Tim Black and I started Two Words Records back in 2001 to release some downtempo electronic stuff. We eventually moved from CDs to digital downloads over the years and right now the label is mostly dormant with the exception of helping out a bit with Drowner’s release.

Have you performed live much? What are your favourite venues/haunts?

Darren: We are really focused on our sound and songwriting right now.

The shoegaze scene at the moment is pretty tight, I think; I doubt there’s more than 2 degrees of separation within it. Do you have any fellow shoegaze bandfriends? Do we know them?

Darren: We’ve made a lot of friends in the shoegaze scene since we released the record, and it’s been a very warm reception, but that’s a better question for Anna…
Anna: Well, I don’t know if I can call them friends in the traditional sense of the word, but I have had some great interactions online with some outstanding musicians in the shoegaze scene: Mikkel Borbjerg Jakobsen of The Foreign Resort, Matt Etherton of Presents for Sally, Andrew Saks of Sway, Paul Lopez of Spell 336, Perry Pelonero and Kim Welch of Morpheme and bliss.city.east, Francois de Benedetti of Data Unit, Danny Lackey and Barbie Watkins of Deepfieldview, Cory Osborne of Lightfoils, and, of course, Danny Panjwaneey of //orangenoise.

Album? Tour? Christmas Single?

Darren: We are mixing a new single for release later this summer and we’re very excited about it. We also have a video for “Written” that should be out in the next few weeks.
Anna: The single is just incredible! Can’t wait to release it.

Any favourite second-wave shoegaze bands?

Darren: The scene right now is just fantastic! So much talent. I’ve been listening a lot to Crocodiles, Daysleepers, Malory and Hammock, but my favorite second wave is The Sleepover Disaster. They really write great songs and have a big sound. I think they have a new record coming out soon, so I’m looking forward to that.
Anna: Besides some of the bands I mentioned previously — I second Darren’s choice of Hammock and Malory, and I also love moonbell, The Fauns, Slowness, Auburn Lull and port-royal.

Message for your fans? Have you noticed that you have QUITE A FEW?

Darren: Thanks for supporting what we do and keep in touch, there’s a lot more coming up.
Anna: Love to you guys! The energy we’ve been feeling from you is what keeps us going, day and night. You’re the best.

Disclaimer: No band names were edited for spelling, Anna just knows how //orangenoise and port-royal their name to be presented. #props

Reminder: In case you missed it the first time, Drowner EP can be picked up here.

2 Responses

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  1. » Drowner on Aglet Eaters Drowner said, on July 28, 2011 at 4:15 pm

    […] can read the interview at it’s source, here, on Aglet […]

  2. […] interviewed Darren and Anna almost exactly a year ago. At the time I was introduced to the band as a two-piece […]

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