Dave and Victoria: Teen Daze

October 20, 2011

Jamison does NYC

Blogger Dave Sutton and photographer Victoria Masters return to the Converse Blog, this time with their stories from a big week in New York City. First up is a Vancouver artist by the name of Jamison who doubles as rising electronic act Teen Daze, and the more ambient, guitar-based dreamer Two Bicycles. He arrives in NYC as a very busy Teen Daze (and full disclosure: he’s sleeping on their couch, and posing in front of their man-wall).

We had a moment to jam over a pot of coffee just before the madness really got going Tuesday afternoon. Jamison touched on what it’s like be a solo performer, booking his own shows, and the influence of art and literature on his sounds.

This is your second festival, so far how do they compare?

Maybe it’s because I’m playing more showcases this year, but I feel more focused on performance. Last year, it was such a new experience I wanted to go to every show and see every band that I could, and that’s not to say there aren’t a ton of ones this year I want to see, I just know that if I try and do that, I’ll wear myself out quickly‹there’s a lot of 4am nights. I also feel more comfortable in the city. And there’s less pressure. Last year was the first time I’d ever been to New York, and I felt like everyone watching like, wrote for a blog or worked for a label, you know. And now, it just feels more fun to play.

You sound more confident.

Totally. I’ve come into a position where I really love performing this set.

How about the showcases themselves, have they changed? It seems like a natural progression, you’ve moved onto some larger bills, you’re an “official” artist…

I feel really honored to know that the people putting on these shows see me in that way, to play later in the night and all.

It must be gratifying to see. You worked really hard here last year, and in Austin too…

Yeah, it’s good to know that work is paying off. Even looking at it in terms of career. There’s that initial buzz, and artists can either do something with it or not. And then it can suddenly be a year later. It’s nice to see that big start leading to something‹I didn’t want to it to be like “oh that was that one summer…now on to real life”

That summer when I was a buzzband…

(Laughs) Yeah. I would of never of pictured myself here, graduating from college a year and a half ago. If I was able to do this for the rest of my life, that’s the best life I could ask for.

Could you tell me about the behind the scenes of how these showcase opportunities come together for you?

I learned really quickly having a booking agent at these festivals makes a huge difference. These bands playing 10, 11, 12 shows, and great ones, and they’re often working with an agent. I’m still booking my own shows, and was able to book six this year, I felt that was the right amount. Not having an agent, it kind of makes for a more personal relationship with the people organizing these shows.

There’s almost two things happening: the official and the unofficial, the Manhattan and the Brooklyn, industry things and more community driven events. It feels separate, but also overlaps in talent, and I think you’re right in that crossover point. You’ve found the balance…

Yeah I really cherish that direct contact. On the industry side of things, these are really great opportunities. Community is still really the main goal though. I love the unofficial shows, they feel really free and welcoming, and are still so in-tune with what’s happening musically. A great example is what FMLY did at Shea last year, it was very DIY and friend oriented, and if you look at that lineup now, so many of those bands have made big moves too.

You’re an Internet generation artist who has primarily grown through blogs while genuinely becoming friends with many bloggers. Just like it was in Austin, this week strikes me to be almost just as much social as it is about music. Thoughts?

This whole trip has really been half vacation. I’m playing a show every night, and beforehand, just going to day shows, hanging with friends, many of which (like you), happen to be in the blog community. It’s funny to think of me approaching this in any networking sense‹that’s the furthest from my mind, it feel so strange.

Okay let’s talk about both of your projects, how do Teen Daze and Two Bicycles represent different sides of your background and stylistic goals as a musician?

I started doing Two Bicycles because I would get sick of working with strictly synthetic sounds, and the idea of writing songs on a guitar was really appealing. And over time it became a more song-based, folk project. Then I started experimenting with instrumental music and making dreamier stuff, but still based in guitar song structures. I wrote The Holy Forest, and since that it’s become a more ambient project. Funny because it’s far more formless than the A/B verse/chorus way that it started, almost closer to Teen Daze. And my last Teen Daze released moved closer to song structures, so those two releases are the most similar. But it’s sort of a pendulum effect‹they’ll be polar opposites at one time, and then suddenly cross paths. Though right now, moving forward, it’s moving to polar opposites again. The next Two Bicycles will be more aligned with folk, and the next Teen Daze record is definitely more obvious electronic‹there’s only one song I’d consider vocally driven at all. That said, there are some more sampled, cut-up vocals on it. I’ve been really inspired by some artists on Ghostly. They tend to let the synths act as that vocal line, it carries the melody, like a guitar riff.

I can hear some of that in your recent Teen Daze sets. You’ve turned the performance aspect up, with more flair, while remaining a one-man setup. We’ve talked about Baths’ physical presence there, and then also the more stationary acts that let the huge sound do the moving…

Yes, I’ve been inspired by a lot of current live electronic acts. Much electronic comes out of a bedroom situation, but the live show can still be a big, full experience, beyond a laptop, but without a band. Any good electronic performer is dynamic, and that doesn’t mean charismatic necessarily. Sometimes guys can be stoic, but the tunes can get so powerful. The performance aspect was something that I struggled with at first, some people were saying “yeah that works for a bit, but you should probably get a band…”. And it was a challenge to get go against that idea, to have the confidence as one person.

And you are an interesting case where you have the capacity to add instruments to your set, you can play guitar…

Yeah, you know if the right opportunity comes along to play with a band, it could work.

You cite some famous science fiction literature as influences for your most recent Teen Daze release A Silent Planet, and there’s been some really cinematic connections in all of your work, would you ever want to score a film or a story of sorts?

Yes I think so, writing music to go along with mental images was a really fun experience. Doing an actual soundtrack project, it would have to be the right situation. With A Silent Planet, I wanted to write a record that had a certain celestial feel, and drew inspiration from a story that had such vivid writing. I remember thinking this would make such a good movie, and then wondering what that movie’s soundtrack might sound like. And the last Two Bicycles record, The Ocean, had a really clear concept in my mind too, and it’s visual accompaniment. Guess it has to be one of those moments.

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