Animal Collective’s Avey Tare has just released a new solo album.
Titled Down There, it’s – as you might guess from the title – not an easy listen, a record that’s clotted with ghostly layers of sound and weighed down by emotional depth. Inspired by swamps, dubstep and crocodiles, Down There doesn’t give much away, but it’s one of the most cryptic and fascinating records in the Animal Collective lineage. We caught up with Avey for a short interview about the album.
How long did Down There take to make?
“About two years. I spent most of the time writing the melodies and working on the production. About two months of it was spent recording and mixing it.”
What’s the title a reference to?
“For the me the title changes its meaning everyday. But for the most part it signifies being bummed out or sad. Also it makes me think of a hellish place or a forbidden haunted swamp that you might get lost in.”
Rhythmically, the album seems to try and balance the quite-stretched out, almost house-like grooves of Animal Collective with a kind of bumpy, off-kilter hip-hop feel… almost like Dilla, or Rustie. Was that something you were going for?
“I feel like I try doing something different rhythmically with every track. Truth be told I’m a huge Dilla fan but I wouldn’t say I was going for something similar to his production style. Hip-hop does influence a lot of what i make.”
You mentioned swamps in reference to the record when talking to Pitchfork recently. Do the aesthetics of nature inform your music a lot?
“Yeah. I think it has a lot to do with growing up and listening to music and being very aware with what was around me as i was listening. Whether it be the Maryland country side, or a Florida beach or even New York City. The experience of music has never been purely internal for me. I’ve always let my outer surroundings influence listening and creating.”
You also said there are a lot of ghosts in the album – could you expand on this?
“I feel like there are subtle textures I’ve added to give the music an almost subliminal or haunted feeling. I also wanted it to feel something like an abandoned town.”
Are there any other experiences or aesthetics that you find cropping up in Down There? In both the lyrics and the music?
“What I’m singing about and the emotions I’m trying to convey basically dwell on a lot of what I was feeling during making the record. Some sadness, some confusion, some guilt. Questions about what I spend my time doing, how much time I give to myself and to the people close to me. In that sense the music has a lot to do with internal struggle. That’s in part why I wanted the record to have a swampy feeling – because it’s as if I’ve been stuck in the mud of a swamp.”
There’s obviously a strong electronic element to this record, do you ever have a desire to make straight dance material? Do you think that side is coming more to the forefront of you and Animal Collective ? You’re big fans of Zomby, obviously…
“I don’t think it’s a style I want to push to the forefront. though for sure I’m a huge fan of Zomby or Burial and Floating Points. I think it’s been nice letting our electronic influences surface a bit in what we do but we will probably try and move away from sounding totally electronic in the future. Mostly because it’s made playing live a bit calmer and we want to sweat a bit more, but it’s also always more exciting for us to try out different textures. I can’t say for sure though. For me personally it’s made more sense to make songs with sequencers and oscillators cause I’ve been doing most of the Down There stuff in my bedroom, so to speak.”