Download: Duchess Leo’s “Bloom,” An Indietronica Jam Inspired By Karate Kid 2


Yes In My Backyard is a semiweekly column showcasing MP3s from new and emerging local talent.

Since the middle of the ’00s, the two members of Brooklyn ambient indietronica blearmasters Duchess Leo have been traveling decidedly different paths: Vocalist Dan Ryan spent years fronting atmospheric indie-rockers the Station Myth, while producer Todd Buchler was pressing up hectic drum ‘n’ bass dubplates as elusive headknocker Todd Buckler. But together, they are a decidedly cohesive Drizzly Bear, a pair of rainy-day swooners obsessed with churning melodies and bliss-drenched textures. Their debut full-length, Golden Gray (out January 25 on Whale Heart), collects 10 melancholy window-gazers full of uplifting Moby loops, Radioheady hooks, and the sleepytime strum ‘n’ drone antics of Kranky artists like Benoit Pioulard. First taste “Bloom” is a late-night creeper in the Chris Isaak vein with shivering guitars and drums calling from a cavern of reverb.

Q&A: Duchess Leo on “Bloom”

What is “Bloom” about?

Dan Ryan: I guess it’s about a dude who feels like he’s constantly bargaining. Seems like he quarrels with faith. It was written really fast, so I don’t know.

Todd Buchler: “Bloom” was an instrumental for months, and I kind of wanted to keep it that way. Dan was saying he wanted to sing it but didn’t know how to attack it. I would tell him “Like this” and then beatbox. Then I’d find him scribbling lyrics on a pad. He’d say, “What was that rhythm you wanted the lyrics in?” And I’d beatbox and dance and he’d get it. On the last night of recording he wrote it.

What inspired it musically?

Buchler: The end of Karate Kid 2 when they start using those little drums to remind Daniel how “the best defense for straight forward kick, no be there.” It worked on the track and in the movie.

Ryan: It was assembled out of a couple parts. A drum loop and an arpeggio, I think. The music was written very quickly and easily, and it was crazy fun. I don’t remember knowing what we were working on. Todd went to church on that beat.

How did the two of you meet?

Buchler: We grew up a few blocks away from each other in Randolph, New Jersey. We met somewhere around eighth grade but didn’t grow close until high school. We first bonded over movies and girls. We were in the same video class and began making movies — usually I wrote and Dan acted. I listened to jungle and some hip-hop until he started making me mixtapes. We’d always be bouncing ideas off of each other. His opinion on my stuff has always been influential to me. In 2007, Duchess Leo was conceived over a series of lunches where we would talk at length about these huge projects we had inside us. We have a 50-year plan. This is year two.

What’s the most memorable show you’ve ever played in New York?

Ryan: The Station Myth, North Six, which is now Music Hall of Williamsburg, in 2006. At no show has the room felt so good.

Buchler: A chichi party at Steiner Studios. I think the mayor was there. They hoisted me up on a decorated forklift and I spent the night 40 feet in the air, smoking weed, playing hip-hop and Michael Jackson records. I think people enjoyed it, but can’t say for sure.

What’s your favorite place to eat in Brooklyn?

Ryan: Commodore in Williamsburg.

Buchler: Grazziella’s in Fort Greene.

Duchess Leo, “Bloom”

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 6, 2011

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