we caught up with dntel for an intimate interview

  • question: We are loving your new album, ‘The Seas Trees See.’ Can you tell us a little about the backstory of the album? When was it written and recorded?
  • answer: Thanks! I was doing some live shows in the second half of 2019 that were more ambient/experimental so I was making material to use in that setting. I made the reworking of Kate Wolf’s “The Lilac and the Apple” and it worked really well in the live show, and from there I started making songs that fit with that. At the time I figured this stuff would just be for live shows, I felt like the Kate Wolf song was the key song but I figured I wouldn’t be allowed to use it legally. It samples a good portion of the original song and manipulates it a lot, it felt pretty disrespectful to try and release it without permission. The pandemic hit and playing shows ended but I kept making songs. Eventually I decided to just try asking Kate Wolf’s family if there was any chance of using my remix on a release. Once I realized that it was going to be possible, I started to think of the songs in terms of an album and finished it pretty quickly.
  • question: What has been your favorite part about living in Los Angeles? If you had to move to another city, where would be your next destination, and why?
  • answer: I’ve lived in LA since 1993 and almost immediately started doing radio. First at KXLU during college, and then at Dublab since 99. Most of my friends, musical projects and any sense of community has come out of those places. I’ve enjoyed traveling but I don’t think I’ll ever move somewhere else, I’m too bad at making new friends.
  • question: What are some of your go-to albums? What is one of your most memorable listening experiences you can recall?
  • answer: The Durutti Column is my go-to band for home listening, all of those records are good! I remember in high school I hosted a chill out night at my house with a few friends. I had a 5-Disc cd player that you could put on shuffle. I loaded it with electronic music (the only thing I remember for sure was Aphex Twin, Selected Ambient Works 85-92) and we got in sleeping bags and drank tea. Even being such a big music fan, it’s still pretty rare for me to just be with friends listening intently to records, it’s nice when it happens.
  • question: What has writing ‘The Seas Trees Sea’ taught you? Which album that you have produced was the most enjoyable experience?
  • answer: Maybe nothing! I can barely learn anymore. I just did collaborative album with Brin and More Eaze that was really fun, even though it was all remote. I didn’t know either of them that well before but the creative process was really natural and positive. It felt like we were all really excited with what we were making from the start. Plus More Eaze volunteered to mix everything which was a relief for me, mixing is where I struggle the most.
  • question: Do you listen to your own music for pleasure after you have finished it? Is there anything you would go back and change in your music career if you had the chance?
  • answer: I listen to my own music A LOT while I’m working on it, but by the time I turn an album in to a label for production I don’t want to hear it ever again. The mastering process is usually painful because I need to listen all the way through a few times on different speakers in order to approve the master at a time when I never want to hear it again. After a record’s been out for a couple years I can listen again and enjoy it with some distance. But I get the most enjoyment out of listening to whatever I’ve just made, before I worry about figuring out how to finish it.

we wish we could’ve attended the chill out night in sleeping bags drinking tea as well, and we want to say thank you for the interview

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