Artist Spotlight: Feverkin

Don’t forget why you started making music in the first place. This basic sentiment is what led Atlanta-based multi-instrumentalist, Feverkin, to begin his Calendar Project, work that sees the composer and producer releasing one song and an accompanying music video per month.

Featuring his signature balance of intricate, ambient electronic arrangements and organic, natural recorded sound, the project has yielded five songs so far this year. This is a comparison he is quick to make to his output last year, when he released his first EP, From Your Window -- a five song record that was a year and a half in the making. In an effort to speed up his songwriting process with the self-imposed deadlines of one song per month -- while also giving a peek into his creative process behind writing a song -- the Calendar Project was born. And, we think it's pretty neat. 

We caught up with Feverkin as he was preparing his next song, “June,” to discuss the origins of the project, the challenge of striking a work-life balance and how imposing deadlines can help let go of perfectionism.

What made you want to become a musician? And when did you get your start?

Well, my mom made me do all sorts of things when I was a kid, and piano lessons was one of them. That was when I was 6. I took lessons, but I quit after a couple years. But, I got back into music when I got into electronic music. Like, you remember Limewire? I was using Limewire and I was downloading a whole bunch of electronic music I was hearing. I got into a program called Fruity Loops. That's where it all started and it kind of went from there.

So you have this project, Feverkin. How did that get started for you?

Feverkin. So, this would have been a project that's been going on for 6 years now. I didn't really start taking it seriously until a few years ago. But, it was basically just a fun thing I felt like I could run with to try to make a certain style of music I felt like I could call my own.

Your music is a really cool blend of electronic sounds and organic sounds. You use samples from nature sounds that you find around. Can you tell us about that?

Yeah, I like to record sounds that I feel belong to me. I think one of my favorite sounds is this piano that's at my parent’s house. It's out of tune and it's really old, but it just feels like a sound that sounds like home to me. It's really important for me to use sounds that I can attach memories or experiences to with my life -- even something as simple as crickets chirping at night, or wind blowing through the trees. If I was there recording it, it can put me in a place. So, I wanted to see if that transfers over to the music.

I like blending organic sounds with acoustic sounds, because it's hard for me to be inspired clicking my mouse all day on the computer. A lot of electronic music can be made with synthesizers but, conversely, you can also use software and program a chord progression to be played, or sounds to go in. But when you play a guitar, piano, or whatever wacky instrument you might have on my Aunt gives me this lily harp -- it's super hard to keep in tune. But sometimes you get these surprises, where the string goes out of tune and it plays this note you didn't expect. That's just not something that can happen in a very calculated environment like a computer. So, I like keeping the blend between the two. One I have a lot of control over, the other, a lot of surprises can happen. And I'll know when they come together, it feels correct to me.

You started something called the Calendar Project. Can you tell us a bit about it?

The Calendar Project is, basically, a self imposed challenge I put on myself. Last year, I released a five track EP and it was pushed to vinyl, which was a goal of mine. It was really exciting. But to make those five songs took me so long. It took me probably a year and a half to finish five songs, just because I was putting so much pressure on myself to make five songs that I felt would be really, really good. I think in that process, I lost sight of why I did music to begin with, which was basically just to have a dialogue between me and the listener. So, I was totally just having a conversation with myself. It wasn't fun anymore. I think that process left me a little exhausted and not creatively energized.

I started the Calendar Project as a way to just lighten up a little bit and just get songs done whether I deem them perfect or not -- which they never are. Every song I've released so far is...I could tell you exactly what I would have done to improve it. But that's not the point. It's been a learning process. Because if you want to say, "I love you," to someone, for instance, you wouldn't think too hard about what words can you say, the timing of the words, what context you would need to say it in. It's just something that's supposed to come out naturally when you want to tell someone that. With music, I feel it should be the same thing -- I shouldn't get in the way of myself. Self-imposing deadlines through releasing music, it's kind of made music fun for me again. Which is the point.

What would you say has been your favorite thing about this project so far?

I think my favorite thing so far is I didn't know just how much music I could create. I don't know if other artists can relate to trying to plan something out from start to finish before they even put the paintbrush on the canvas. But, I think, I had some creative dilemmas to sort through and one of them is I have a big, beautiful blank canvas, so I usually never start. This project has forced me to commit to a deadline, which I think is very important. It's like when you're back in school, you're gonna get whatever done, because it's due. I had no idea that I was capable of doing this. Because I've already finished five songs in half a year -- as opposed to last year, it took me a year and a half to finish five songs.

On the opposite side, what would you say is the biggest challenge so far with the project?

Probably finding a work-life balance. As I've gotten more into doing music as a career, it's been one extreme or another -- either I'm hanging out with my friends too much, or I'm just working so hard that I tune out reality, and people won't hear from me at weeks at a time. So, the biggest challenge is figuring out how to take a break.

Is your songwriting process for this project the same every month? On the first day of the month are you like, "All right, I'm gonna sit down and start on this," or how does that work?

Yes, at times it's just like that. I'm trying to take the first week off to just soak in the month a little bit. Just drive around and check out spots that maybe I've never seen. Or hit up people I haven't seen in a while to just soak in life outside of the studio, so that when I do come into the studio, I can work, and it usually rolls around the second or third week of the month. Usually, by then, I start putting brain power towards what I'm going to do. And as I start working, the ideas come and then usually wrap it all up by the third or fourth week of the month.

Is that similar at all to your usual songwriting process outside of the Calendar Project? Or is it different?

Yeah, I guess you could say it's different, especially considering how fast I'm finishing these songs. I think if I were to give myself a longer time per song, I could come out with something a little bit more, I don't even know the word...intricate. I don't know if you're familiar with a song I've put out some years ago -- It's a song called “Sinking,” and it's got a vocalist named Nori on it. This might be embarrassing to tell you, but that song took me probably a year to finish. And it’s like, "Dude that's not good." I was doing other things too, but to get that song from its creation to its release, yeah, probably a year. I think it's because I didn't have a deadline, I didn't have a goal, I didn't know what intention it would be for. So I think I just went in circles pretty much for the most part of the year.

I know myself better now and I know my sound better. And I think I know how to stick to a scene better -- especially, since I've already released a body of work once before. And, like I said earlier, the work-life balance, getting out of the studio to soak in life, so that when I come back, I actually have something to say.

Awesome. So you also release a video with every song each month, too. Do you ever think about the video when you're writing the songs? Or think about how it will accompany the music?

Sometimes, the video idea comes to me before the song. And then, vice versa. This month, I think, the video idea is happening before the song, because I have a location I think I want to film it. Usually, I'll get a hunch or I'll just get this idea of something I think would be cool. That gets me excited to work on the project. And then I just go ahead with it. So right now...I was actually gonna do it today, was drive out and check out the location and just chill there for maybe a half hour. Just kind of soaking it in, seeing how it feels. And then if it feels right, I'll try to write sounds or a song that I think could match it. But sometimes the other thing happens. I got lucky in January -- it snowed and I was walking around with my microphone.

What is the best piece of advice you've ever been given?

Aw, dude, I've got journals. I'm looking at a stack of five right now of just wisdom I've received over the years. So if I had to boil it down to one … it's something like, "The world doesn't need another perfectionist, it needs people who get things done." As a rule. If you get tied up in how things should be executed, you usually forget your intention, which is the reason why we do things to begin with.

Posted on June 22, 2017 .

New Music Mixtape: Lyrical Themes - Empowering

Some music is perfect for summer -- fun, upbeat pop anthems inspiring adventure or mellow, ambient beats perfect for a party with friends. Then there is some music that lasts all year -- emboldening, confident lyrics and prominent beats that leave an impression even after the sunny days have gone.

Ranging from the upbeat soul of "Here I Come" by Soul City, to the stirring, anthemic message of MUNNYCAT’s “Just Watch Me,” this curated mixtape, centered around the theme of empowerment, will stick with you, year-round. 

Posted on June 20, 2017 and filed under Music.

Anchovies + “Iris”: A Sandwich Session with Dan Sheron of Balto

At Marmoset, we are continuously amazed by our artist community, made up of incredible, hardworking musicians from all over the world. Dan Sheron is one of them, constantly playing, touring, and creating music with his roots/rock band, Balto. A friend of Marmoset since 2013, we’ve gotten to know Dan pretty well over the years. But little could have prepared us for his answers on the latest Sandwich Session, which sees the singer and guitarist construct the fishiest, brine-iest sandwich we have yet to come across -- and casually nod to his connection to the ‘90s remake of Village of the Damned. Learn more about Dan, his karaoke song of choice and his favorite Balto song below.

Posted on June 16, 2017 and filed under Music, Sandwich Session.

New Staff Spotlight: A Q+A with Music Supervisor, Amanda Patterson

Welcoming Amanda Patterson to the Marmoset team.

With nearly a decade of work under her belt as a music producer, Amanda has learned every angle of the original music production process, working closely with both composers and clients, dissecting creative briefs and managing tight deadlines for projects with the likes of Geico, Toyota and Xbox.

It’s only natural that Amanda wound up at Marmoset after moving to Portland in 2016, following an epic RV adventure from her hometown in Virginia. Here, she has stepped into her new role as Music Supervisor, where she puts her extensive musical IQ and project management superpowers to work on the daily.

We chatted with Amanda in between searches to learn more about her gaggle of old lady animals, which records are her ride-or-die LPs, and how pizza gives her life. Be sure to say hi if you see her around the office!

Tell us about some of your past experience. When did you know you wanted to be a music supervisor? Why?

I’ve worked in music-centric advertising for nearly a decade, spending most of that time at Black Iris Music as a Senior Producer. When I relocated to Oregon this past summer, I was ready for a new job adventure. I’ve always been interested in music supervision and I wanted to continue my work in the creative community. Coming from producing, I understand both sides of it -- the client side and the music side, and I can be the translator speaking both languages.  

I knew it was time to cut my teeth on something different than original music, and the transition to supervision was the clear next step for me. It’s a dream to have the opportunity to work with music all day long. I couldn’t think of a better-suited role for me.

 What’s your favorite part of music supervision?

A song can breathe new life into a film. It's a new perspective. Music can take it to the next level. I'm a big believer that music can make or break a film. I’m probably the most annoying person to watch a movie with -- so many opinions.

Plus, I send around a massive amount of Guy Fieri gifs to my coworkers, so that’s really bringing it to the next level. 

Do you have a favorite moment of supervision in film or TV? What is it?

I’m a big lover of scores. There are films that I love simply because the supervision marries so well with the score, which I find really fascinating. Like I love Nick Cave and Warren Ellis -- anything that they do is incredibly cool and very interesting. I remember the first time I saw a movie and heard a score that caught me and I was just like “Whoa, it just completely stands out on its own but elevates the film.”

The brilliant Moonlight was a master-class of music on both levels -- score and music supervision. The feeling of the strings lent a really haunting quality to the film and helped develop the characters in an unspoken and emotional way. Moments like that, they’re just burned into your brain. It’s like a scent memory.  

What album has had the biggest influence on you and why?

I can’t pick one! I would have to say Mogwai, Rock Action and/or Built to Spill, Keep it Like a Secret. I’m very much a single-song person, I’m not a full album person always. That takes time. They grow on you. But these are the two albums I have to listen to, start to finish -- it’s more powerful as a whole than any one piece. And these two are like a touchstone -- on one listen, I feel like I’ve really zeroed in how I feel about it and what the album means. To now, five years later, I feel like they have a completely different meaning. It’s a rare record that grows with you.

On sad songs in general, I love them. A sunny day equals Jason Molina songs. Down-tempo heartbreakers soothe my spirit.

Favorite adventure you’ve been on so far?

Driving across the country from Richmond, Virginia all the way to Portland, Oregon in an RV last summer. It was the only way we could get our animal crew out west with us. We spent time in Yellowstone, Glacier National Park, and so many smaller secret spots. Definitely spent a few nights crashed out along the side of the road or in a gas station parking lot. Such is life. It was a ridiculous traveling circus with all of our animals in tow and I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Outside of work, where can someone usually find you?

Probably in the kitchen with my partner, trying out a new recipe and drinking a really mediocre but satisfying glass of wine. I’m down for pizza 24/7 -- it's the perfect food. We have pizza wars where we each cook our own pizzas. I always win. He’ll disagree, but I definitely always win.

Posted on June 15, 2017 and filed under Marmoset.

Folklore Meets Synthesizer: Welcoming Artists of ZZK Records

Not every synth line floats surface-level without telling a story, and not every dance beat needs to exist without a little darkness underneath. This blend of mysterious sound and distinctive rhythms is exemplified in the music of South American label, ZZK Records, which features artists based in Argentina, Ecuador and Peru. 

Marmoset couldn't be happier to welcome nine ZZK artists to our community, each who find unique ways to mix the tradition of their culture with the addictive Cumbia beats and folktronica instrumentation that the label has cultivated. Learn more about the artists and listen to our ZZK mixtape below.

Posted on June 14, 2017 and filed under Music.

Bringing Back the Funk with Sly Stone

After disappearing from the music scene for more than two decades, Sly Stone reemerged in 2011 with a brand new album, I’m Back! Family & Friends. With such a fitting title, we’re transported to the height of early 1970’s funk, complete in its synthesis of R&B, soul and jazzy rhythms.

A musical prodigy, Stone is a master at keyboard, guitar, bass and drums and has led a long career as musician, songwriter, and record producer. He is most celebrated for his role as frontman for Sly and the Family Stone, a band which pioneered early funk and soul, and later inspired artists such as Prince and Rick James. I’m Back! features revamped Family Stone singles and three new originals, including “Plain Jane,” which is just as amazing as Stone’s ageless 1970 hits, heavy on bass grooves and infectious vocals. We are happy to house “Plain Jane” in our Vintage Collection for a blast of feel-good energy and funk. Listen below and enjoy. 

Posted on June 13, 2017 and filed under Music.