Interview and photos by Winnie Surya. Back in June, we chatted with California based producer Will Wiesenfeld of Baths prior to his NXNE showcase and discussed producing struggles, video games and collaborating with beloved Canadian producer with Ryan Hemsworth.
Since you’re not touring or anything, did you fly out here just for this showcase?
Yeah, we’re spending three days here just hanging out and stuff.
Are you planning to check out any other NXNE showcases while you’re here?
We’re going to try to see Health, but we might also be doing a DJ afterparty at the same time so we might not make it. The band No Joy is a friends of ours so we’re going to check them out.
You haven’t release an album since Obsidian in 2013. Any plans to release a new album soon?
Yeah, we are working on something right now, but the timing depends on how things go when we’re finished with it. It’s still going to be another 6 or 8 months after we’re done for it to come out, so 2016 maybe.
Is this upcoming album going to sound particularly different than your previous ones?
I think so. It’s going to be more dance-y and brighter and pop-ier, but not like Cerulean. It’s kind of hard to explain but it’s going to be really fun, [laughs] that’s all I know.
What’s the toughest part when it comes to producing?
That’s an interesting question! I think its striking to balance between all the things and it’s like, you can make a great drum part or a great bass line or great vocal or great lyrics… any of those things you can hit really magically, but getting everything to work together at the same time – which I guess a lot to do with mixing – that can be really hard. It can take a long time and you can second guess yourself super easily; I would work on one song for a really long time and just hate the way it sounds. All the parts were right and I know they’re right, but it just doesn’t feel right on my ears so I have to work on it for a lot longer. It’s the thing that takes the longest.
Is it because you listen to it again and again on repeat and you started to get sick of it?
Yeah, totally actually! That’s actually a test for me whether I should use a song or not; it’s like the test of time. If I could listen to it a hundred times and still enjoy it, basically it’s worth putting on a record. You have to listen to it a thousand times, like the songs from Cerulean – playing it as much as we have, I probably heard each of those songs almost a thousand times – making them, touring them, and hearing them in different contexts; it’s insane. I’m very done with that record and I’m very excited to work on new stuff.
It’s pretty cool that you write, produce and sing on your own tracks! I don’t think that’s the common majority among electronic artists these days.
I’m glad you think so! From the beginning I always wanted to do all the things. I didn’t actually know what a producer was until much later. I was making the electronic stuff and lyrics and singing and guitar and piano all at once, and I thought that was how people did it. I literally didn’t understand that in pop music, it was like a person and the other people who work with them and make all of their shit all the time. Or I was just slower to realizing that. I was very naive starting out but it works to my own benefit because in my head, I had to do everything. I don’t have to rely on the others.
So you took the one man show path?
Yeah, I thought everybody was doing that so that’s why it happened. Had I known, it would’ve been so much easier for the most part. I would probably would’ve slowed way down for a bit.
You’ve collaborated with well-acclaimed Canadian producer Ryan Hemsworth before for “Still Cold”? planning to do any more work with him in the future?
I don’t know. It was fun, certainly. It’s always fun to work with other people but I’m much slower doing that because I like making my own shit way more. Collaboration is fun but it’s not my realm of music making. It’s not my most comfortable and most exciting or most liberating field; it’s just a fun exercise for me. I enjoy it and there might be more in the future but I’m way more excited to work with my own record. That’s where my heart is 100% at and where it’s going to be at.
Some of your music has unique sounds reminding me of video game music. Where do you pull influences and inspirations from?
Probably a lot of video games. I like video games a lot, but I can’t help getting inspired by all of the different things in the world. I watch a lot of anime and play a lot video games and watch a ton of movies and TV but yeah, I can’t help being inspired by those, whether it’s to my music or not.
So speaking of anime and video games, what are some of your favourites?
Probably Evangelion, just because the weight of it. It’s just so unique and bizarre but I love different things for different reasons. That’s a good one to start with. Silent Hill 2 is probably one of my number one video game ever; I’m obsessed with it. I’ve been playing Dragon Age Inquisition a lot, I really enjoy that. Journey is also one of my top video games ever. I cried twice from that, from positive feelings.
Do you get a lot of video game down time when you’re on tour?
Sometimes. It depends on the tour. I have PSVita and a Nintendo DS and I’ll play stuff on tour, but usually it’s harder to enjoy it because I’m all over the place with touring. Especially when I’m touring in the States, I have to drive everywhere and I don’t get a lot of time to do that. Reading and playing video games are the best thing to do on planes.
What’s your guilty pleasure song?
Lately it’s that song “I Love You Always Together” by Donna Lewis but I don’t think it’s a guilty pleasure because I’m very open about how much I love that song. I’m playing a DJ set and it’s literally on the set.
Out of random curiosity, where did your name Baths come from? Did it come to you while you were bathing?
Yes but not in the literal bathtub sense. It’s something that came to me cause [bathing] is where I mostly get all of my ideas. It’s a nice place to think. The idea of it, it’s like the good place to come up with things creatively.