Going Deeper With Baths
Published February 17, 2011
PHOTO COURTESY OF BATHS
Will Wiesenfeld doesn’t just take water for granted—he actively adores it; he even wrote a lengthy article on the topic once, and it’s been a key component of his newest musical project, Baths. After recording four albums and three EPs under the name Post-Foetus, Wiesenfeld’s debut album as Baths, Cerulean, represents a new chapter in his musical life.
The California native is no stranger to the recording scene; he has been creating music since he was 14 years old. His music sounds more complex than it really is, something he accomplishes by using basic around-the-house sounds (like a computer cable), a guitar, synths, and a piano. The beauty of his music is in his innate ability to create a song based on one second of sound. The result is a transient, Björk-influenced, nostalgic electro-pop gem.
KAPLAN: Would you consider your music poetry in some form?
WIESENFELD: Well, I’m glad you think so. I don’t know. It’s sort of been that lyrics are important to me and I have that rooted in a lot of the music I make. Even if a song doesn’t have lyrics, it’s still sort of about achieving emotional atmosphere. So, the song “Aminals” is maybe the weirdest example, but I wanted that song to sound like you were six years old, that’s why the song is “Aminals” as opposed to “Animals.” It’s really goofy and childish and that’s sort of the whole point of that song, whereas a song like “Plea” is very heavy. The nature of the lyrics are very heavy and so is the subject material, but it’s told through a sort of positive lens.KAPLAN: One of the things that fascinates me about your music is the sound production, so can you tell me about that?
WIESENFELD: I produce everything on my own, like at my house in my bedroom. I’ve never done it any other way, I don’t think. I don’t know… It’s a natural sort of process that’s evolved over the past 7 or 8 years. I started recording music when I was like 14, so I’ve had to figure a lot of things out myself and figure out my own shortcuts and whatever.
KAPLAN: What kind of sound effects do you use in your projects? How do you use them?
WIESENFELD: Well, in terms of getting things that sound otherworldly or different than regular guitar or piano, it’s often from those types of instruments. Have you heard the Daytrotter Session that I did recently?
KAPLAN: I haven’t heard it yet, but I saw it posted.
WIESENFELD: Well, there’s a song on it that I did live, it’s called “1149K,” and it’s a very weird sort of digital beat-sounding song, but the entire song is from one audio clip that’s less than a second long, of me pulling a cable out of a computer. That’s the only recorded sound that I have. Then I took that sound and manipulated the hell out of it and put like a ton of effects in all these different places, and cut some tracks with that sound and made an entire song out of it. If you hear the song and then go into it knowing that, I think gives more of an explanation for the way I make music. I have a bit of income now, so I can have more resources for what I’m recording—not that I’m moving to a studio or anything like that. I could gather more musicians or get more instruments for myself and get a different aesthetic going and everything. So, I’m excited about that.
KAPLAN: Why did you choose Baths as a band name?
WIESENFELD: The name itself sort of came from a love of water. I had the name Baths sitting around as maybe an album title or a song title or something. When I changed over from Post-Foetus, and I wanted a new name, it just made perfect sense to use that and attribute that to my music. It’s something that’s always been important to me as a word.
KAPLAN: Why Cerulean as an album title? Does it characterize you?
WIESENFELD: The reason the album is called that is that cerulean is not a specific hue. It’s more like a spectrum of blue hues. It’s more about the intensity of the hue, which is kind of cool. I liked that idea as an encompassing concept for the album.
KAPLAN: What category does your music fit into?
WIESENFELD: It’s a mix of a lot of things. I know that with the next album it’s probably going to switch genres again into something weirder, maybe dancier. It sort of fluctuates a lot of the time. When people ask how I describe my music, I like to say it’s songwriting from an electronic perspective, because that’s sort of what my roots are in. I’m obsessed with Björk. The genesis of me making music was from listening to her music, so it starts there and branches outward.
KAPLAN: When I listen to your other project, Geotic, it reminds me of Explosions in the Sky. But when I listen to Baths, it reminds me of Ratatat, RJD2, and Washed Out all combined. That’s what I really love about your projects. It’s such a great mixture.
WIESENFELD: I’m glad that you think so. That’s why I’m so excited to record the next album, because I think it’s going to be already very different from those types of things. It’s looking to be a lot darker and a lot more, sort of, insular and… creepy. I have a lot of ideas for songs that I already have sketches for recordings that I’m really excited to actually turn into full songs.
KAPLAN: I read your article in Out magazine, and I was wondering how has being an openly gay artist had an effect on you musically.
WIESENFELD: It’s been a much more liberating thing. I told you I’ve been recording music since I was fourteen or fifteen. I wasn’t out that entire time. I came out in tenth or eleventh grade. So, music before then was a certain thing: it was still fun and I was still learning a lot, but I think there wasn’t as much honesty to my music. It was a lot more aloof and doing different things. Once I came out, I actually started writing about the things that I cared about. I became three times as passionate about making music and going into making music and making lyrics. It’s been the best thing, I think, for me musically, has been being open about it.
KAPLAN: What was 2010’s CMJ like for you?
WIESENFELD: CMJ was incredible. I had never been to CMJ. That was the first time I saw BRAIDS. That was why they are opening on tour for me. I freaked out at that show. I was so blown away by them.
KAPLAN: If you weren’t a musician, what would you be doing?
WIESENFELD: I would probably be doing something in animation. I’m not a good artist. I can’t draw for shit. It’s my obsession. When I’m not making music, I’m watching or pretty much researching artists and cartoonists or animation in general. I probably would be doing something with that. There’s still stuff I want to do with that. The girl who did the artwork for stickers that I’m going to be selling on tour, I hopefully want to approach her with the idea of doing a graphic novel and maybe start there. Even if I can’t draw, I love to tell stories in that universe, in that realm of creativity. I have to be doing something creative.
BATHS IS HEADLINING A TOUR WITH BRAIDS AND STAR SLINGER THROUGHOUT THE REST OF FEBRUARY AND INTO EARLY MARCH. FOR MORE INFORMATION, VISIT BATHS ON MYSPACE.