Sunday, January 5, 2014

PT004 - Cody Yantis, "Resonant Memory" cs

After some ups and downs, a delay here and there, Planted Tapes is back with a late-2013 (or early-2014, depending on your perspective) release that we are incredibly excited and honored to have had the chance to work on. Cody Yantis is a Colorado native who's spent the last several years both in study and travel before returning to plant some firm roots right back here in Denver. Primarily a guitar player, Yantis has previously collaborated with Joe Houpert and Nathan McLaughlin as Tilth and recorded with longtime friend Seth Chrisman as Saguache. He's also amassed a modest discography of solo work under the C. Yantis banner and with his first name presented in all its full, two-syllable glory. Cody has become an integral part of our ever-expanding scene of Colorado experimental artists. He recently agreed to continue his work with electric guitar and tape loop experiments for us in a brand new work called Resonant Memory.

The album combines a multitude of textures that include recordings from the field and home-studio instrumentals—banjo, electric guitar, piano, percussion and more—all of it run through tape machines and effects to place the music in a surreal environment that feels as self-determinate as it does hand-crafted. Although there is a mechanical element at play here, Yantis' approach naturalizes the process; a performance of him performing, a record of him recording. And the results give familiar voices new sonic depth, rich in supple and brittle feelings, breathing and flowing arrangements evocative of hazy imagery and cool colors. Banjo melodies drift among the creaks and cracks of a wooden floor settling, guitar lines cough and stutter their way through a scraping sluice, and piano chords flutter through the leaves on a windy Autumn day.

These solid blue tapes were home-dubbed with the love and care of our friend Joey Wiley's gracious help, outfitted with photography by Yantis himself and hand-assembled by team Planted. We don't mind saying that they look and sound terrific, and would now like for you to listen to some samples and purchase a copy if it strikes you. We made 100 of them and they go for $7 with postage. Scroll down further below for an exclusive Q&A with Cody Yantis executed in true Planted fashion, and get familiar with this brilliant musician and artist. And hang with us through 2014 too, huh? We have lots planned for the new year — thanks so much for supporting our efforts!

• Edition of 100
• Tapes ship 1/6/2014
• $7.00 postage paid in the US & Canada

***International customers: Get in touch for shipping rates to your area!

I've read in other interviews you've done that a lot of your music is inherently tied to setting and location. What can you tell me about the places represented in the photographs that you gave us for the J-card insert and how they relate to the music of Resonant Memory?

Cody Yantis: Yes, I'm a very place-oriented person. I'm not sure if being an Earth sign has anything to do with it, but environment has always had a huge impact on me. That said, the role of place in my art isn't quite as direct as I think I often make it seem when speaking to my motivations. Rarely am I trying to actually represent or recreate a particular environment in my solo work; rather, what interests me is  examining the visceral effects that places have on us--those experiences that are often difficult to articulate yet manage to shape us in fairly profound ways. Or, at a more basic level, just taking sonic cues from a space or place. This is foggy terrain, to be sure, but I like that it's something that requires processes that are more about dialog and consideration than issuing definitive statements.

Speaking directly to the J-Card, the photos were taken in Cambodia last Spring. I was between jobs and moving out of the mountains and back to Denver, so I took the opportunity to travel through Southeast Asia for a month with my brother. I spent a lot of that time reflecting on my previous year of leading a fairly isolated life in Southwest Colorado as well as preparing myself for my move back to Denver, which is where I grew up but a place I'd been away from for a decade. All of this was set against a chaotic and humid backdrop that couldn't have been more different than cold, dry, and quiet Colorado. It was a wonderfully dislocating experience, made all the more so by my reading of Karl Ove Knausgaard's My Struggle en route, which is a deeply personal and devastating examination of time, place, and memory (set in decidedly un-tropical Sweden and Norway). All of this provided a foundation for Resonant Memory.

In addition to thinking about your music in relation to place, can you also talk about Resonant Memory with regards to a certain time? What do you imagine that might be?

It's not really of a certain time (just as it's not of a specific place), but it's certainly about place, time, and memory, all of which are intertwined. Memory, in particular, is such a product of place. You know that feeling—not quite déjà vu, not quite nostalgia—that you get when you unexpectedly recall a past experience? For me, these recollections are usually gestural and murky and likely quite inaccurate, and yet they evoke powerful responses. It's this kind of thing that I was working through in this project, and the recycling and reworking of tracks and sounds via compromised magnetic tape seemed a good way of realizing this.

You've sort of bounced around the country a bit in the past few years... what has been your favorite place to live so far, and why have you chosen to settle back down in Colorado?

The life I'm carving back out here in Denver is really great, thanks in good part to the wonderful community of friends and fellow artists here. It never ceases to amaze me how supportive people are in this town—there's a lot going on and a lot of people doing wonderful stuff. I do still feel tied to the Pacific Northwest where I lived for a decade during my formative college and post-college years, and my two rounds of living in Dublin, Ireland also had a really deep impact on me.

Dream vacation spot?

Atop my list of places to visit, I'd love to go to Namibia. Starting out in Cape Town, trekking up the coast, and then heading on into the mountains, deserts, and national parks/preserves sounds amazing to me.

Desert island situation regarding equipment: What do you feel like your crux instrument is, what one thing could you absolutely not make music without?

My Telecaster has certainly been my primary instrument over the last 5+ years, though I've been letting it take a back seat more and more in recent projects. I spent a lot of time with the banjo this past year, and I'm continually amazed by the range of sounds one can produce with it. So, something with strings, that's for sure... although I do really love my H4N field recorder as well. Maybe that and a pair of headphones? I failed this question, didn't I?

Please give our friends out there some insight into the making of "Resonant Memory" Was your setup very different from what you've done in the past? How do the two sides of the tape differ from each other?

In terms of instrumentation and my approach to playing and recording, Resonant Memory is definitely an extension of my Starvation Winter tape for which I recorded guitar lines that Josh Mason then ran through magnetic tape. I loved the results of those types of sounds so much that I tracked down an Akai GX-4000D reel-to-reel tape machine for myself. This turned out to be the crucial component in Resonant Memory, as it appears on nearly all of the tracks.

In terms of my compositional process, it was mostly improv. I would record a music line and then, often, run it though tape. Syncing these lines up and then panning them created an interesting dialog—technically they were the exact same musical line, but there were wonderful aberrations thanks to the tape. It can be jarring at times, but there's a lot of melody, too, which creates a fun counterpoint, I think. Loud, jarring, but (hopefully) beautiful.

Not every line was run through tape, though, and I'd also fill in or subtract sounds as I saw fit—silence, space, and pacing are all really important to me. I don't like any excess in my music, so I often rework a mix, paring down until I've arrived at what I think is the essence of a piece.

Favorite book?

Totally unfair question, ha! Honestly, I take nearly as much inspiration (in art and life) from reading as I do music. I will say that, with memory and place being such a current preoccupation for me, authors like Knausgaard, W.G. Sebald, and Thomas Bernhard have really affected me this past year or so. They are all concerned with memory—not just personal, but cultural as well—and, thus, I've found them to be wonderfully rich resources.

I should also mention Richard Hugo, John Haines, James Welch, and Joan Didion, too, as I'm so impressed with the ways in which they use sparse yet beautiful language (be it prose or poetry) to examine our complex relationships with place. All of these writers have deeply impacted how I process my environments over the past decade.

Favorite plant?