Yes In My Backyard is a semiweekly column showcasing new and emerging MP3s from local talent.
Brooklyn’s Glass Ghost are throwing their tilted hats into the ring of bands like Dirty Projectors and Deerhoof and Dodos–you know, that irresistible, disjointed mix of pop hooks and Beefheartian abandon. But underneath Eliot Krimsky’s wavering falsetto and mashed keys lies a funky center–drummer Mike Johnson’s crisp drum beats (a mix of live and programmed), which echo J. Dilla’s perfectly imperfect productions. Krimsky and Johnson both did time in New York’s mellow art-flutter crew Flying, and after the break-up they have seemingly let their funk flags fly. Their debut album, Idol Omen (due October 27 on Western Vinyl) has the same naive lilt of Flying, but puts new emphasis on broken grooves and hip-hop-centric beats. First taste “The Same” starts as Brooklyn art-warble but quickly dives into a Shawn-Lee-ready funky calliope and the type of ill-tempoed drum breaks that the Dust Brothers could sample–but, of course, with a sensitive soul somewhere underneath. We recently spoke with Krimsky and drummer Mike Johnson about the song.
What is this song about?
Krimsky: The song came out of a feeling that it is hard to be an individual in our society. Media often tells us who to be, and that has been a source of anxiety for me. There are the same chains and the same symbols everywhere we go, and that can feel isolating and claustrophobic. The narrator of the song is aware of the “sameness” in everything, and by the end of the song he is breaking out of it through a communal celebration.
How did you develop your falsetto?
Krimsky: When I was in college I made some four-track songs. Each song was titled for a different day of the week. This was pretty much the first time I sang my own songs. I sang them in falsetto, which immediately felt right to me. Those songs were very close to me and I was shy to show them to people. When I was in Flying, I sang in many different ranges. When Flying stopped playing, I felt an open space. One day I was sitting down at the piano with a new feeling of freedom. It dawned on me that these particular notes felt very natural for my voice.
What do you guys look for in drum sounds?
Mike Johnson: When we were recording the initial drum tracks for the album I was listening obsessively to J Dilla’s beat CDs. His sounds are incredible and I was doing a lot to mimic what he does. I’ve also always really loved Ed Blackwell and the way he makes the drumset sound African. And I tried to bring in some of that. Working with [producer] Tyler Wood was incredible. He really made the drums sound better than I could have imagined. He used an amazing variety of miking and re-amping techniques that made the drums punch and speak in a way that I haven’t been able to get on any other recording I’ve done.
What was the vibe you were going for at the end of this track?
Krimsky: We were going for a dense parade vibe, a feeling of communal celebration. We wanted there to be a lot of sounds brewing in a pot. I was thinking about the denseness of Public Enemy’s Fear of a Black Planet. In those recordings there are so many sounds that you cant identify. I was also thinking about the beginning of Marvin Gaye’s “Whats Going On” where there are a lot of people talking, clapping, and celebrating throughout the song. Some of the elements of the “brewing pot” are real crowd noises, sampled crowd noises, a marching band created to sound like it’s happening across the street, piano, pipe organ, moog sounds and percussion,
What’s your favorite place to eat or hang in Brooklyn?
Johnson: Lately I’ve really been enjoying a place called Cody’s Alehouse and Grille on Court St. It’s kind of an older crowd but it’s really the perfect place to overload on greasy food, drink beer and watch thirty screens of sports.