Jorge Elbrecht’s introduction to the music industry came in the early 2000s with the success of his band/art collective, Lansing-Dreiden, which reissued its entire catalog this past spring. During its heyday, the group received two favorable “Art in Review” write-ups in The Times.
Following Lansing-Dreiden, Elbrecht went on to form Violens and earlier this year joined Ariel Pink’s band as their new guitarist. The Costa Rica-born artist has also become an in-demand producer, most notably making the new Au Revoir Simone record, whose single “Somebody Who” was released in June.
Elbrecht’s latest creative endeavor, out today via Mexican Summer, is a collaborative split 7” with Ariel Pink. Written and produced by both Elbrecht and Pink, the two songs, “Hang on to Life” and “No Real Friend,” were recorded over a single weekend in Brooklyn and include drum cameos by Will Berman of MGMT. The limited-edition vinyl comes with a poster featuring artwork by the duo.
Bedford + Bowery met up with the 35-year-old Greenpoint resident fresh off his month-long U.S. tour, for an afternoon stroll around the neighborhood. We discussed how to break into the music industry and whether or not we can expect a Lansing-Dreiden reunion anytime soon.
It was pretty fun. I never got tired of playing the music, which you’d imagine after 30 shows, one would. I’m looking forward to playing more. I’ve been a fan forever, so it was cool to learn the songs in such a detailed way–made me like them even more.
Ariel and I got together for a weekend in NY and wrote a song called “Hang on to life.” Actually, we worked on a bunch of different things and then decided to focus on that idea because we thought it had a good feeling to it.
Ummm, I guess I’m glad they took a second listen and thought differently? I don’t think most people like what I like musically, so I’m never surprised if critics don’t get what I make at first — or ever [laughs]. But it’s annoying that weak-opinioned people are greatly affected by sites like that.
There’s a 15-minute soundtrack we did for a Proenza-Schouler runway show. There’s also a series of soundscapes we did for some photographs a while back. We had a show called RF at Rivington Arms Gallery and it was five, black-and-white, grainy photos telling a story. We put foam core cutouts in the woods and photographed them. There was a musical piece for each photo that went with the characters, the landscape and the sonic elements. So if there were three people in the scene, for example, there would be three musical solo instruments intermingling.
I think everyone’s open to the idea, but it’s so much work. Making an art installation that portrays the idea in the right way is really expensive. Someone would have to be like, “Do you guys want to put together a show? Here’s a huge budget.”
It’s a similar thing to Lansing-Dreiden. We are really proud of the last record, and we’ll make another if someone asks us to. We don’t want to beat ourselves up trying to have a band–just do it when it’s fun. It’s getting harder and harder these days to have fun in a band; even for artists with great success, it’s a struggle. The fun’s got to outweigh the shit aspects for us.
Try to write good songs–be super critical of yourself. It’s better to let what you make dictate the need for a manger, booking agent, or even playing shows. Car salesmen are one thing, but a “song salesman” doesn’t make sense–the song should sell itself. If you make your music available publicly and it just stays there, then that’s fine. Put your ego in check and be able to be cool with that. You can make yourself feel better by considering the fact that most people like pretty shitty music. On the other hand, if you play it for a few friends and it starts this word-of-mouth wildfire and some terg is like, “I’d like to donate my time and manage you. I can get your music to some influential ears,” then maybe venture forth, but beware of the pitfalls there too.
The main problem is there’s too much bad shit everywhere. So please: If “The Doogans” are already making the music you want to play, just listen to their music. Redundancy creates bad culture. There are these trends people latch onto because they can’t find their own voice, or [they] see someone get signed, so they do something similar. It’s ultimately just a poor excuse to be on stage playing guitar in front of girls. Don’t do it. If what you want to listen to doesn’t exist, then challenge yourself and try to make it. I think that’s worth pursuing.