This post is long overdue as I’ve had this neat little compilation stuck in my inbox for a couple of months now. For this week’s Fresh from the Post, instead of an artist feature, we feature a couple of songs from A Cure for the Brokenhearted – a twelve-song compilation chocfull of unique indie gems care of our friends at the Edible Onion.
If you like DIY, this compilation is as endearingly DIY as it gets. Aside from the 12 heartfelt songs, the album also comes packaged in an artsy, hand-made accordion book, that features watercolor illustrations from Edible Onion founder Darian Scatton. For today’s Q and A, Darian, who mastered the art of making the ultimate mix CD (which puts my ultimate 80’s power-ballad songs mixtape complete with shooting stars illustrations to shame), tells us more about the dying art of the tactile musical experience and brings us back to what really matters most when listening to good music –
How did the idea of forming an album entitled ‘A Cure For the Brokenhearted’ come up?
The title has a lot of different meanings and purposes. I came up with the title before I collected the songs. I had already chosen who would be on the album, but I think the only song I had at that point was The Chord And The Fawn’s. It’s not a strict theme in the sense that I came up with a title and gave it to the artists in the hopes that they would make something that fit. I actually didn’t tell anyone the title until the songs were finished, if at all. It’s more of a constraint for myself so I could plan the artwork and I also wanted to place a weight on the album. I wanted to give it a sense of purpose, however unrealistic that purpose might be. It won’t actually cure a broken heart, but it might make someone feel better for a little while. The best music to me holds an inexplicable power… it has the ability to awe and entrance, and possibly to heal. The title matches the lofty expectations I have for music, and the kind of music I want associated with Edible Onion. It’s music from the heart that is thoughtful and sincere, and unfortunately is largely going unnoticed by the music consuming public. It’s Edible Onion’s job to facilitate in getting this music heard, and to do it in an ethical and meaningful way.
Can you tell us more about the Edible Onion? How did it start and what led you to create this collective – which, if I could describe it in my own words – is quite adorably DIY .
Edible Onion officially started about three years ago, but the idea was floating around in my head for a few years before that while I was part of another collective called Quantum Spine, which never really got off the ground due to lack of interest. Two compilations were made, but after that, it fizzled out. I originally conceived of Edible Onion as a way of releasing my own music under the umbrella of Quantum Spine, but once that was clearly over, I started trying to make it everything I wanted Quantum Spine to be, though, I’ll admit it’s not quite there yet.
The primary focus of Edible Onion is to do hand packaged releases. It’s a delightful act of defiance against the digital world. Edible Onion makes records you can hold in your hands, and cherish. There are flaws, and each one is unique in its own way. I’m still very much in love with the physical experience of listening to music and I am definitely not the only person who feels this way. I love holding the record, pouring over liner notes, looking at artwork, as well as listening to it on a good stereo, especially if it’s vinyl. I know that mp3s are not going to disappear, but I don’t think people should be wasting their money on them. I’d rather someone download one of our releases for free if it gives them an opportunity to fall in love with it, and then, I do believe people will support the music if they truly love it.
I’m also really interested in the process of making things. I almost enjoy the process as much as the end result. This translates to other aspects of my life, like cooking. I make a lot of my food from scratch because the process excites me. When I came up with the idea for the compilation, I knew right off the bat that I wanted to do a book. The fun was figuring out how we could realistically make 1000 books in my bedroom without having it take too long and cost a ton of money.
I’m not really the kind of person who does much out of convenience. I think the modern world’s reliance on convenience is one of the fundamental problems of this generation. Obviously there are a lot of situations where it is a great help to the world, but when it comes to culture (food included), convenience leads to sensory overload, and an overall flippancy that is really hard to overcome once it’s there. People are so inundated with music now because of the convenience of the internet that it’s becoming harder and harder to actually enjoy new music. Edible Onion seeks to release music in a manner that hopefully will help people to keep cherishing music.
The artists included in the compilation form an eclectic sound. They’re not your typical guitar bands – you can hear a myriad of instruments being used to make music, which makes it an interesting listen. How did you choose the artists and songs that compose the album?
Minus a few exceptions, the artists on the compilation are all from Philadelphia, and people I personally know. I have also played music with a lot of them in various bands. The liner notes list everyone who is involved in each song, and there is a lot of spillover between songs. That’s where the collective comes into play the most. A few people helping each other out with each other’s music projects. It’s a documentation of that experience.
Another reason (again minus some exceptions) this is my favorite music in Philadelphia, at least that I know of. There are a couple I left off because early on in the planning stages, I had a specific idea for the kinds of songs I wanted on it and I didn’t think certain artists would fit. The fun of choosing the artists is kind of the same as making a mixtape. I kept the number of songs relatively low so I could make sure it came out sounding cohesive, which is hard to do with a compilation. The next one I think I’d like to do the opposite and have a lot of songs and try and include more people.
The Chord And The Fawn and Hedia are the only ones not from Philadelphia. They are people I had met over the past year and whose music I really respect. I hope to bring in more artists who aren’t from Philadelphia in the future.
Can you share one or two songs off the album and let us know a little bit more about them- like what the song is about or a little bit more about the artist who made it?
I’ll talk about two of the artists on the compilation who haven’t gotten much exposure yet. They are similar in the ways that their music reflect their own personalities. Both artists make music that is very true to themselves.
Fields by Snow Caps
The first is Snow Caps, who is Andrew Keller. He plays guitar in another band in Philadelphia called Hermit Thrushes. Snow Caps is his songwriting project. His music is very understated, much like his personality, but he also subtly messes with the pop song formula with odd bursts of dissonance, strange chord progressions, and very idiosyncratic lyrics that don’t come off as insincere in the slightest. He also writes some of the most beautiful guitar arrangements that I’ve heard in recent memory. The song he has on the compilation is called “Fields” and it is more sparse than some of his other music, but is a good example of his use of esoteric imagery and odd song structure.
No Cigar by Brian Reichert
The second artist is Brian Reichert. Brian is your classic record-a-holic, who has probably written upwards of 3000+ songs over the past five or six years, often changing project names at the drop of a hat. Here’s a few: Tummy, The Singing Idiot, Happybear Kaboom, Space Sluts, Brian Reichert and the Thomas Jefferson Airplane, The Evildoers, Alien Beings, The Nervous System, Microwavable Dinners, Psychedelic Vagina, RuPaul Bunyan, Sports… the list goes on. His songwriting represents many of the extremes in his personality, unhinged, psychedelic madness, to lush, heartfelt, colorful pop songs. It’s completely unpredictable, exactly like Brian. I’m just going to give you a link to the Brian Reichert Admiration Facebook Page, where you can download a ton of his records, most of which only a handful of copies exist, if any, probably as tapes or cd-rs in his friends’ bedrooms. At some point, I’d really like to release a large collection of his best music, but for now it’s really only available digitally.
There are links to his music in the left column.
I always ask this question to everyone I feature – what for you is ‘indie music’?
This is a hard question. I grew up with the preconceived notion that indie music was somehow different than mainstream music and that it was done with a set of ethics in mind, ethics that probably came out of the punk world, but that really doesn’t hold true anymore. Maybe at one time, the independent music world functioned based on ethics, but currently, there is not much difference between the way a lot of “indie” labels and bands work, and the way the mainstream music world works. Not that mainstream artists can’t have ethics, but I definitely don’t think it’s exclusive to one large group of independent artists. That doesn’t exist. It’s more of a case by case situation, where some people have it, and others don’t, and they can be working anywhere in the music world.
Indie music is less popular than the mainstream music, but works much in the same way. Artists on indie labels have pr companies that are trying to sell you their music the same way major label artists do. Indie bands pop up out of nowhere now, just like major label bands do, and they become successful because music journalists listen to what pr companies are selling. It makes sense because if there was no way to filter the music world, it would be really hard to organize what to write about. It’s just unfortunate that it is really difficult to get exposure without paying for it. My plan is to be relentless, and slowly develop good relationships with the people who are interested in what we are doing.
I don’t know if I answered the question, but I think maybe that’s because for me, the term indie music doesn’t really mean anything to me anymore. I’d rather just focus my attention on music that strikes a chord with me. It could be a pop song on the radio, or a song someone I know wrote. A lot of us (Edible Onion) grew up with punk rock and I definitely think what we are doing is about as punk as it gets, even if the music doesn’t sound like it anymore. We all book our own tours, set up shows in our living rooms and basements, produce and make music the way we want to, say what we want to say… That’s more important to me than worrying about categorizing music, I guess that’s why I’m not a music writer.
If you want to check out more music from the Edible Onion’s A Cure for the Brokenhearted compilation, you can visit their site at: http://edibleonion.com/