INTERVIEW: Electronic Alt-folk artist Dogwood Last

Hi Kory, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Thanks for having me! Been doing well. Excited to be talking with you guys.

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Clearwater/Queens”?

For sure. “Clearwater” was mostly written and recorded during the time we were working on our record, Time Follows. By the time we were finishing Time Follows, however, the track wasn’t really done — and overall, it didn’t really fit within the context of the album. Didn’t really feel like it needed to be there.

So we just kind of tabled it. Earlier this year, I came back to it and fleshed out some parts that weren’t yet recorded / written. Since then, it’s just been a matter of figuring out the right time to release it. Feels good to finally be sharing it.

Did any event, in particular, inspire you to write this song?

I’m not sure if there was any particular event. I suppose the song more-so centers around a time period in 2015 when I was moving to New York. I was working through the collapse of some important relationships. Trying to sort out living and working in NYC. At the time, I was traveling a bit to midwest, trying to see some new places, clear my head, figure out what was important. Overall, just kind of battling poor mental health.

I think “Clearwater” is about navigating the culmination of all that.

Any plans to release a video for the single?

Not currently, but we’re working up some ideas for some of the other songs from Time Follows. More to come on that for sure.

How was the recording and writing process?

This one starting as more of an a traditional folk thing — just vocals and acoustic guitar. But past that, it was very much kind of pieced together out of sessions of trying stuff, playing with new sounds / new gear, messing with some editing.

I remember it being right around the time Dirty Projector’s 2017 self-titled record released; In my opinion, one of the most ingenuitive records of the past 5 / 10 years. It’s so weird and glitchy, while still being cohesive and accessible. I remember listening then and thinking how interesting and wild the editing and processing was / is, and how everything had a very sampled feel to it. So I think a lot of “Clearwater” was influenced by that sound.

Why did you choose to release this unreleased track at this moment?

I think it just feels like the right time. Our band has been playing a bit lately, which has been really energizing and inspiring. The song feels strong.

We’re also going to be donating all proceeds from all our digital sales and streaming over August, September & October to the JED Foundation. JED is a non-profit that works with colleges and educators around the country to build programs that help teens and young students navigate mental health issues. As we continue the conversation about mental health, I think it’s important that we ensure we provide the next generation with the tools and knowledge to better take care of themselves and each other.

What was it like to work with Daniel Holter and how did that relationship develop?

Yes! So happy I get to talk about Daniel.

I met Daniel through my friend Tom Wincek. Tom played a significant part in the production, recording, and engineering of Time Follows. While him and I were working on the record, his band Field Report actually started working on their latest record “Summertime Songs” with Daniel.

When it came time to mix Time Follows, I’d heard the impressive work that Daniel did with the Field Report album. Daniel and Tom were working pretty closely together by then, so Tom recommended I reach out to him.

So I called Daniel up and talked to him a bit about what I wanted to the record and the songs to feel like — what I was hoping it would achieve. Sent him the tracks. We worked through some mixes remotely for a few weeks. And then I flew out to Milwaukee for a weekend in March 2018 to finalize everything. Been working with him ever since.

Daniel cares a lot about making records. Outside of being an excellent mixing engineer from a technical standpoint, he approaches mixes artistically. He makes emotional choices, not just purely technical ones. He tries ideas, he takes risks / chances —  and asks the same of the people he works with. I think the music is ultimately way better for it.

Daniel and the rest of the crew at their studio, Wire & Vice, are also just really hardworking people that give a shit. I’ve learned a lot from working with them over the past year or so.

How much did he get to influence the song?

Everything I send to Daniel he makes sound and feel better.

Have Bon Iver and Flume influenced your writing, if so, how?

I actually haven’t listened to much of Flume’s newer music. I really liked the EP he did with Chet Faker a little back. And the track he did with SOPHIE on his last record was great.

Bon Iver has been a big one for me for awhile. When I first heard the self titled record from 2011, I remember feeling like it unlocked music for me in some ways. Felt like i had permission to think a little bigger with music. Dig a little deeper. Be a little more. Feel more.

Honestly, I think beyond their music, I’m most inspired by the community & culture they’ve built around and within their Midwest scene. I actually had the privilege to work with some of the Bon Iver crew on Time Follows. And there’s something undeniably ineffable about what they’re creating.

I think they’re a leading example of musicians, artists, and a community doing important work with their art.

Does the new single mean we can expect a new material – how’s that coming along?

We’re slowly working through a body of new stuff. It’s a bit more expansive — more people, more voices, more / different sonic zones.

However, our primary focus right now is our live show. I can say that if you come out to our shows, you can expect to hear some new songs.

Any tentative release date or title in mind?

Not yet. But I don’t expect it to take 4 years years like Time Follows.

Any plans to hit the road?

We’re looking at potentially doing a tour Spring, 2020. In the meantime, we’re playing quite a bit throughout New York & Pennsylvania in the fall. We’ll be announcing those dates in the upcoming weeks.

What else is happening next in Dogwood Last’s world?

Lots of shows coming up! We’re also working with NYC based choreographer / dancer Corinne Shearer, writing music for a piece of her’s that’ll be performed early September.

Several of us are also heading to Chicago for the first two weeks of September to work on our good buds’ and guitarist’s band’s, Black Tie Stereo, new record (you’re going to want to hear that one when it comes out).

Otherwise, our next show is August 30th at Pine Box Rock Shop in Brooklyn!

Listen here

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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