INTERVIEW 65. patrick mcintyre (HOUNDSds)

Music often invokes journey. In HOUNDSds case, the opposite is also true.

HOUNDSds music sounds vintage, futuristic, organic and incredibly warm.
With dreamy melodies, Patrick McIntyre - the Brooklyn based multi-instrumentalist behind the project - creates songs with subtle references from the past 40 years: there's 60s pop, 70s psychedelia, 80s new-post-punk-wave and 90s jangle pop...
But don't get me wrong. It isn't just a look at the past. And that's exactly why his music deserves our attention. Patrick manages to own his references while looking ahead (and probably to the sky, due to the light, dreamy and effortless aesthetic of his songs).

Phone Thou (2012, Chill Mega Chill) is his third release: a soothing and original collection of 7 songs that moves away from the experimental and electronic vibe from his previous releases.

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Our interview with origins of the project's odd name, aesthetics, music nowadays and future plans is right after this...

01. What time is it now? Where are you and how's your day so far?
I'm answering these questions from New York City on the afternoon of Saturday March 30th. Today is the day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. I'm at work, but It's an absolutely gorgeous Spring day. I rode my bike here this morning and I have a few outdoor tasks to do, so I will be able to enjoy the weather some. All in all, it's been a great day so far.

02. HOUNDSds. That's a very peculiar name. What does it mean? Where did the idea come from? 
 "HOUNDSds" is certainly a unique looking name. I've always considered the extra "ds" at the end (which is silent when spoken) to be a visual echo, or a tail if you like, that mimics the meaning of the word itself; something that hounds also haunts, follows, and urges. Another reason I like the graphic alteration is because it stands out. These days, at least in my experience, it's more common to see a band name written somewhere in the ether of the Internet before one hears it spoken (if one ever hears it spoken...), so I figured it would be wise to adapt to that situation. There's no grandiose meaning to the name beyond this other than a few subjective associations. For instance, I was listening to Kate Bush's Hounds of Love a lot when I started the project, and it's undeniable that there's a fine pedigree of bands named after animals in all eras of rock music.

03. Your music is often described as a dreamy combination of 80s guitar pop and synths surrounded by echoes and reverbs. If you had to materialize your music into a planet, what would it look like? What's HOUNDSds' aesthetic?
While it's true that my music is often described as dreamy, which I take as a compliment, I don't really use tons of reverb, echo, and delay. Certainly some, but just not a lot, in my opinion. There is reverb on
the vocals, but not a whole lot on much else. I think people would be surprised at how little of those effects were used on Phone Thou. In the recordings I'm working on now, there's barely any reverb on anything but vocals (that could still change, though). I think what's being perceived as "dreamy" in my stuff has more to do with EQ and harmony. I don't dislike reverb, but it kind of makes my ears tired after awhile, so I tend to avoid an excessive amount of it. I do use a fair amount of chorus effect these days, which is technically a kind of delay.

If my music were to materialize in the form of a planet, it'd probably look like my parents' basement, where I grew up playing drums and guitar, and smell like stale pizza and sweaty teenagers. Scientists would probably downgrade it from planet status at some point in the future, just like they did to Pluto.

The HOUNDSds aesthetic is always changing. It started out as a keyboard and synth driven melancholy pop project, something I wanted to be in the same spirit as chillwave, but it didn't take me long to realize I was an utter impostor in that genre. I think all the think-pieces in the music press on hypnagogic pop around that time got to my head somehow. Around the time of Los Dos, I gravitated towards using more guitar and live drums. On Phone Thou, I just wanted every song to be as catchy as I could manage and have soaring synth harmonies and a stereotypically 80s feel to the overall production. On what I'm working on now, I'm really just trying to concentrate on developing a unique guitar playing style; in general I've sort of morphed into a more serious guitar player. I'm hoping to utilize some wah and fuzz effects on this new material as well. I'm also concentrating on having solid, simple grooves with the bass and drums too.  

04. How do you create your music? What inspires you? And, where do you record your music?
 These days, when I write, I tend to write on guitar, but writing a song for me is inseparable from the demoing process. So even if I lay down a chord progression on an acoustic guitar as my first step, if I find an interesting bass line, for instance, I always double back and re-do the other instrumental tracks to play better with that interesting bass part; so there's a constant looping motion of revision. I imagine it's similar to writing fiction.

I'm inspired for the most part by other music. Lately I've been listening to the Ocean Blue's new record, Ultramarine, which is very good, as well as Veronica Falls' Waiting for Something to Happen. Tamaryn's records have been on constant rotation for the past few months. As far as older stuff goes, I've been digging a lot of old Ska and Rocksteady, Jefferson Airplane, and I just watched Ken Burns' Jazz documentary not that long ago; all very inspirational things.

I share a very tiny, cramped practice space in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn with another band. It is in the basement of a condominium.

05. Phone Thou is your latest album and seems more upbeat and bright than your previous releases: The Technology of Love (2010) has a cold, Kraftwek-esque feeling and Los Dos (2011) has a more experimental, trippy vibe. Phone Thou (2012) has a sunny, popish, and more accessible quality. What were your ideas creating it? Was the difference between these albums a conscious effort, a natural evolution, or pure empiric experimentalism?  
Phone Thou is definitely slightly glossier than the previous EPs, but I think the main reason for it's poppier qualities stems from the fact that it's songs are faster; so they are literally more upbeat than the earlier stuff. The slower tempos on Los Dos allowed me to stretch out some of the sounds and carve an illusion of depth that scanned a bit psychedelic. The colder vibe of The Technology of Love is due mostly to the fact that each song is built on top of a sparse drum machine loop and has more keyboard parts than guitar. On Phone Thou, just to change things up, I didn't force myself to slow anything down and it resulted in a more driving feel. It seemed like a natural evolution at the time. I was just shifting the variables slightly because that's what an artist is supposed to do.  

06. Apart from the sold out Phone Thou cassette released via Chill Mega Chill, your releases are available on your Bandcamp page for free or can be bought under the "name your price" option. That said, what are your thoughts on music distribution and consumption nowadays? 
In all honesty, I don't think it matters very much whether I charge money or not for my songs, I just want people to hear them. I'm not Arcade Fire; I'm essentially just a serious hobbiest. I don't really have much of an opinion about music distribution because I don't have that much experience with it other than posting my stuff on bandcamp. Phone Thou of course came out on cassette, but as far as I know all the tapes were sold either from the label's website and bandcamp page or purchased from me personally at a show. As far as consumption goes, I purchase a lot of mp3s, some vinyl, a few cassettes, and I also see a decent amound of live music.  

07. Are you a full time musician or do you have another job?
I have a full time job at a museum in New York City.

08. Perfect time and place -- or moment -- to listen to HOUNDSds...
I usually listen to my stuff in a very analytical frame of mind and sort of critique myself. That usually happens either on my way to work, or it's the last thing I do before bedtime. I'm quite embarrassed to listen to my music with other people present, and in fact prefer to avoid telling people I'm a musician altogether if possible. There's something about small-talking with a stranger or a new acquaintence about my creative endeavors that I find almost vulgar and do my best to avoid. Talking seriously and critically with friends about it, or in the context of an interview, are different matters that I quite enjoy.

09. What are your plans for this year?
At some point, hopefully this summer, I'll be digitally releasing a 10-song full length album, unless there's any interested labels out there who'd like to do something more with it.

10. Anything else you feel like saying?
I have a few shows coming up: April 26th I'll be playing at the Ho_Se with Honeydrum, and May 22nd I'll be at Shea Stadium with Orca Orca and Grand Resort; both shows I'm extremely excited about.

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