Sweet Sweet Music talked to Young Lee about Doors to the City.
I think your music will get compared to the Editors and Echo & the Bunnymen (jangle guitars, beautiful melodies and this dark voice). And maybe to one of my 2015 faves Line & Circle. What do you think?
I think it’s great. I love the sound of jangly guitars mixed in with dark effected instruments to create a dark sound so those comparisons are spot on. What’s funny is that for the longest time, I felt very self conscious of my voice as it’s not what you’d traditionally consider a good voice. Originally, I had imagined a very different singer singing the songs but it just never worked out that way and eventually I started becoming more comfortable singing the songs myself. I still don’t like hearing the sound of my own voice but I think that insecurity has helped me focus a lot on developing melodies that grow with each listen and also putting in interesting harmonies that I think i might not have put in if I felt that I had a killer voice.
What was the biggest fun during the making of the last album?
It was when we decided to record the album ourselves and found an old church in San Francisco that was open to letting us use it to do a lot of the recording. It was an awesome experience first walking into the tall wooden chapel area and setting up the drums right in the middle. Hearing the drums in that kind of room gave it a boomy echo and reverb that we had always tried recreating in the studio using effects but never really quite could get the vibe. Spending those days figuring out how to best mic the drums and having the time to do a bunch of test recordings for a couple days before doing the actual recordings was a huge learning experience and gave us a new appreciation of the recording process.
If we want to know you, which song do we have to listen to? And why?
On the album? My Thoughts Are Brave. My Words Are Slow. The whole album is based on a story of a man who gets a chance to relive his important moments of his life and has the opportunity to change things so lyrics are mostly fictional but this particular song is more personal in nature. I think the title describes me pretty well in terms of my reaction in tense situations and the internal dialogue I constantly have with myself. Instrumentally, it has some of my favorite moments of the album. That chorus at the end is quite satisfying for me.
From any album? That’s tough. I’ve gone through so many phases and there are so many songs that defined me at those times. My favorite song of all time that I could listen to endlessly would be Sigur Ros – Sigur 8 (untitled). It’s an epic of a song that I wish I could write and pull off. The pacing of it, melodies, and epic ending is everything I want in a song. It’s ridiculously long at 11 minutes but I can’t imagine it any shorter.
The music industry has changed a lot (or so they say). What did it bring you? And what not?
It’s brought us the ability to hear music from all parts of the world and also let people hear our own music. With how easy it is to find music now, I’ve been able to listen to so many new artists that before I wouldn’t have even heard about before and I think that’s such a valuable experience. One big change that has bummed me out a little is how many people have shifted away from listening to entire albums and instead to only select songs from different artists. I get why it’s moving in this direction but for me, especially with working on this album, I truly believe that listening through an entire album was the only way to really get to know an artist. It gives you a view into how the band or the artist works and their mindset. So much goes into not only writing the songs but also choosing which songs go on an album, what order the songs should go in, how to transition from song to song, etc. Writing a bunch of songs in itself is no easy task but I think when an album is done right, it’s a very special experience listening through it. Listening to singles only gives you a limited view of who that artist is and again at least for me, it feels a little superficial.
She tells you she will decide on a 5-song-mix tape if there is going to be a second date. Which 5 would you put on?
I am terrible at dating. Actually, I don’t know that for sure as I’ve only been in two serious relationships including the one with my wife but I’m fairly certain that if I was not married and was in the dating game, I’d fail miserably. On that note, my songs would be:
Gallant – Weight in Gold
The National – Slow Show
I’m going to cheat and choose the three songs from the wedding
Moldy Peaches – Anyone Else
Cut Off Your Hands – Happy As Can Be (actually not a romantic song but who cares?)
An unreleased The Soonest track that I wrote for her and gave to her for the wedding.
What’s up for the next couple of months? How will you promote Doors to the City?
We will be doing some small shows around the West Coast and releasing some live videos! Being a very DIY band, we have to be a little patient with the pace of things so we’re hoping that the response to the album is positive and helps open some doors for us. We’re going to start writing some new songs as well as continue working on our other projects. I just wrapped up scoring a film (weavingshibusa.com) and hope to jump onto another one soon.