by Mira Dayal
We don't often hear music described with terms like "spectral beauty." When we do, it's because Plums has launched a new album and its silvery dream-pop guitar riffs have captivated fans and critics alike.
But the best introduction to our new favorite band, Plums, is below: a full stream of their debut EP, Jen.
You've recently been working on your first album release as Plums. How have you drawn on your previous experiences with music to create this album?
A few of us have made music together in the past, and each of those projects have been great learning experiences. With each new project we discover new production techniques and we find more sources of inspiration. When you make a new album, all you can really hope to do is to build upon these insights and make something that improves upon your previous work.
How would you describe your music in terms of colors (hues, saturation, tone) or images? How do you think listeners would describe your music?
The saddest brown of all time.....
What is your process of collaboration like while writing and producing your music? How do your diverse experiences as musicians enrich or complicate production?
Typically one of us will come to the band with an idea for a song, and then we'll work together to complete the arrangement, write new sections, and finish the piece. Working as a group helps in that it gives us more perspectives and possible directions to take the music. Music production can sometimes be a bit of a puzzle – you can tell pieces are missing, but you're not sure exactly what they are. Having multiple people involved in the writing process makes it much easier to fill in those spaces.
Some of you are also jazz musicians. Does the structure or composition of jazz play a role in your process of creation?
Jazz really is an interactive and improvisational form. While we don't typically write music from a primarily jazz perspective, certain jazz processes influence our music in various ways. This includes compositional jam sessions, dissonant harmony, and dialogic patterns between instruments.
What have you learned about production through this album, and which tracks were the most interesting or creative on your end?
During the production of this album we became very interested in analog recording technology, such as tape machines and cassette recorders. The drums were recorded onto cassette before being transferred to digital recording software, and many of the guitars were put through tape machines. We love the depth and distortions created by the tape – qualities that you hear in older music (pre-1980s) but get lost with modern all-digital production.
In an increasingly digital and connected world, how do you see music being shared, performed, or distributed in the future?
With digital recording software and the internet, it's easier than ever to create and disseminate your own music. Of course, we also have illegal downloading and the rise of music streaming services, and so revenue from record sales is declining and will likely continue to do so. This is bad for record labels but might not be quite as bad for musicians. Traditionally, musicians have made very little off of record sales (the standard royalty rate is about 15% for the artist), while their primary source of revenue comes from concert ticket sales and licensing. Because of social media, it is easier to connect with others in the industry (we found our record label through surfing the internet and sending them an email) and to build a following that will hopefully attend your shows. That said, it's a very complicated picture and it can be difficult to locate the exact effects of these big changes in the music world.
Which artists do you find most innovative and interesting today? Are there any artists you tend to return to or feel most influenced by?
As we work on our full-length album we've been listening to a lot of 70s greats - Stevie Wonder, Steely Dan, Elton John, Jackson 5 - and we're hoping to place a greater emphasis on rhythmic elements.