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Washed Out: "I've Always Been a Huge Fan of Disco"

When New Times spoke with Ernest Greene, the mastermind behind the chillwave act Washed Out, he was as adept at conversation as he was at creating a relaxed melody.

Whether he was discussing how the TV show Portlandia jumpstarted his career, the transition of recording an album solo versus sharing the live stage with a band, or the blessings of being able to make music and tour with his wife, he was open and thoughtful about every question shoved his way. Here is some of the conversation we had with Greene before this Saturday night show at Culture Room. The rest of the article, you can read here.

See also: Washed Out's Ernest Greene: a New Breed of Southern Music Man

New Times: How is it touring with a band when it was just you playing all the music on your last album Paracosm?

Ernest Greene: It's a fun process seeing the songs come to life. I've had the band together for about three years now. My first record, I felt like I learned a lot. That's how I sort of had the band more in mind when I was recording Paracosm. I was trying to write parts that would be easier to translate live. For the most part, it has worked out. There have been a few songs we changed around a bit. Overall, I think it's a lot stronger because I think the guys in the band are much better musicians than I am.

Did you have any musical training?

Not much. I took piano lessons when I was younger for four or five years, so I can read a little bit of music and have a basic idea of theory. I quit and started playing in a rock band and from that point forward, it was making things up by myself. As far as production and recording goes, I figured out my own approach by doing the complete wrong way of doing things. It took a long time, but I think that gives my records something unique that sets them apart.

Was there a particular song or band or genre that made you want to bring in the guitar?

Yeah, I've always been a huge fan of disco music, the late '70's stuff. I like it more for the electronic side, the drum sound, the driving beat. There's an era of rock that was influenced by disco and things were crossing over. The stuff was poppy like the band America. It's hard to draw a direct line of influences. It can be the tiniest thing.

How is it touring with your wife as part of the band?

Overall, it's great. We got married as we both sort of graduated from college and we were transitioning into what we were going to do for the rest of our lives and Washed Out sort of fell into our laps.

I had been doing music for a long time and had no ambition of doing it professionally. I didn't know anyone in the music business and it didn't seem like a realistic thing to happen. I put a song on-line and it took off and now we have a small business to run and we've always done it together. I couldn't imagine doing it without her. It would be too hard travelling. We've been touring the record for a year and have been gone eight months. It would have been a lot of phone calls.

Are you working on new music now?

We had most of July off which was our longest break and I went home and worked on new music. That's generally how it is. There's never any writer's block or wanting to take a break. The entire time we're on the road, I get ideas. So when I get time off, I dive in. Nothing's fully formed, but I should have new music out early next year.

Washed Out. With Small Black. 8 p.m. Saturday, September 13, at Culture Room, 3045 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale. Tickets cost $27 plus fees. Call 954-564-1074, or visit cultureroom.net.

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David Rolland is a freelance writer for New Times Broward-Palm Beach and Miami New Times. His novel, The End of the Century, published by Jitney Books, is available at many fine booksellers.
Contact: David Rolland

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