Last time we talked with Demo Taped it was just before he head out on tour with Wet. Here we are one year later and a lot has happened. For instance, he dropped his debut EP last year and now gearing up for the release of his second one. In anticipation to this release, we were able to get a quick snippet of what we might be hearing more of with the latest track “Insecure” (premiered recently on NPR). Check out our interview below as we catch up with Demo Taped to talk about his new music, his ability to talk so freely about his feelings, and a bit about that EP we mentioned earlier!
The Young Folks: It’s been almost one year since we last chatted with you so for our readers keeping tabs, how have you been since we last caught up with you? How has 2017 been treating you?
Demo Taped: I’ve been well. I think this year has been filled with unease for a lot of people, given the current political climate, but I’ve been maintaining. I’ve really just been trying to take all of what I feel and release it through the medium of sound. I finished up my second EP since we last spoke so that’s something that has brought me a lot of joy. For the most part, I’ve just been creating new things and trying to just sit back, watch, and listen to the world around me.
TYF: I deeply respect you and how you’re so open/honest about your battle with depression to your thoughts on things shouldn’t always be taken too seriously. I was curious as to when you decided to be open with your feelings?
Demo Taped: Thank you. I really wanted to be open about everything from the start. Demo Taped started off as a sort of emotional catharsis. I wasn’t originally going to release my first EP. It was my way of dealing with what I was going through at the time in addition to what I’d been going through for years. I felt that if I were to never mention my depression/anxiety in a completely open way, I’d be disrespecting my own creation. I also realized that a part of being an artist is having a voice. I think artists have a sort of duty to uphold. We tell stories and entertain but the reason art resonates is because the themes are true to life. I figured if I’m singing about depression and anxiety, I need to be able to talk about it openly too. We have to keep stigma and misinformation from stunting the conversation. The only way to do that is to just talk openly.
TYF: We’re here to also highlight your latest track “Insecure” which you premiered on NPR. Love it. How did the idea of the song come about – from the lyrics to the thought of having parts of the song recorded back at your church?
Demo Taped: Thank you so much! I was in New York for three days working with Yebba Smith. She provided the incredible background vocals you hear in the track. I knew coming into the session that I wanted to write about something true to myself but at the same time universal. I starting chatting with Yebba about anxiety and how much it can blind you in certain cases like potential relationships. She loved the idea and we discussed it more and how lots of people go through similar situations. I came to New York with a sample from Frank Dukes and so I loaded that up and the next few days were spent recreating the sample completely with Yebba singing and Pete Cafarella on keys. The whole experience was new to me. A couple days before that, I’d been in my bedroom doing work on the track so it was kind of intimidating. During the recreation of the sample, I was fumbling around with lyrics and melodies and wrote the first verse, but didn’t have a solid chorus.
I remember calling Ben Abraham, who co-wrote the song, frantically from my Airbnb one night and the next day I had several voice memos filled with beautiful melodies. I came back to Atlanta with the song fully arranged with the recreated sample, my electronic elements, and full lyrics, but it wasn’t quite there. I asked my dad and the musicians in the band with him at my church if they would want to play and they were all happy to do it. It was really surreal hearing it all come together. I recorded the bass at my house with my dad and that was a special moment. James Roy Barrett Jr., the incredibly talented drummer, sent me several different rhythmic options and I arranged those. The last thing to go in was the organ. I toyed around with organ VSTs and sounds in my computer, but my dad reminded me we had a Hammond B3 at the church, so that was the move. Paul Anderson, another very talented musician, met me and my dad at my grandfather’s church and we recorded a bunch of different organ parts. Once I heard the organ, I knew it was done. It was a great feeling.
TYF: With this “new” sound you’re introducing to us, can we assume that you’ll continue to use part of your roots in more of your music whether it be using the organ again or your dad back on the bass?
Demo Taped: I think, in staying true to my mission of honesty and openness, I’ll subconsciously access my roots. However, I have to stay true to each song. If a song calls for organ or bass, it’ll get in there. I still consider myself an electronic musician, but you can’t stay home for too long without wanting to explore. You still keep pieces of home with you when you leave, but you evolve and grow.
TYF: Speaking of your dad, how has your family been responding to you making music and pursuing a career in the music industry? What’s the best advice you’ve received from someone close to you?
Demo Taped: My family has been nothing but supportive. It’s incredible. Everyone always wants updates. My parents love that I get to do what I enjoy most. The best advice has probably been from my grandfather. He always says “Keep your head above the water.” It’s advice that can apply to a lot. It can apply to the industry, depression, or just life in general. As long as you keep your head above the water, you can continue.
TYF: Little has been mentioned about your forthcoming EP but how is it going so far? When can our readers expect to hear it?
Demo Taped: I’m really happy to say that the EP is finished. It’s an EP about time, moments, and memories and the way those things shape us as people. I’m happy with what I have and can’t wait to share it with everyone. It will be out soon.
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