Featured Track: “Unravels” by Theo Sage
Well, I gotta say, for my first time listening to your work, this is quite impressive! I most responded to how fully fleshed-out and layered everything sounded. It’s a fairly accessible/traditional chord structure (not in a bad way), but you really manage to build upon it to make a whole that’s greater than the sum of its parts by the end. What were you listening to the most when you made this track?
A lot of Dumbo Gets Mad as well as a lot of Porches, although at the time I wrote the track I was listening to three-to-five albums a day, so my influences were all over the map. My biggest inspiration, though, is my big bro Rick Irby’s solo project Jau Ocean.
What interests me the most (who can really be surprised?) are the brief dashes of noise and feedback we hear. What is behind your decision to include these sorts of things, and what do you see the reasoning behind their presence in songs to be on an artistic level?
I was honestly pretty tentative to include those in the final mix because they felt sort of random, but when I ran the track by my friend Neil, he recommended that I add the bird sample to the beginning and end and the cacophonous sounds started to sound like thunder and make it feel like I was listening to the track in nature, which is cool because a lot of the track is inspired by spending time outdoors and seeing the world in a way I never had before.
What’s your songwriting process like? In what rough order does each track come to you?
I had the lyrics for a few months before actually recording the song. When it came time to bring the track to life I started out by sequencing the drums through Native Instruments Maschine, then recorded bass, followed by rhythm guitar and lead guitar. I did the vocals and the sound effects last because I always get pretty nervous about singing, so it helped to be able to have as many layers on top of my vocals as possible before I recorded them.
As listed here, all writing, recording, and performing was done by you, and the lyrics seem to confirm the fact that this is decidedly personal. Mind telling me what inspired this in general?
This song pretty much just came to me one night in a crazy, intense release of pent-up creative energy. I had been spending a lot of time driving around the desert, meeting crazy artists, and falling in love. I was experiencing intense sensory overload, but in a really amazing and inspiring way. “Unravels” is pretty much just everything I had to say at a crazy and very special time in my life condensed into one song.
What was behind your decision to do everything yourself as far as this song goes? Do you have any thoughts on what benefits solo work provides that group work does not? Any negative effects or elements you noticed?
Solo work is really difficult, but is also incredibly satisfying when it goes well. I’ve been in a number of bands through the years, but also have a few previous solo projects that are floating around the Internet as well. Solo work is basically sharing the most unfiltered and authentic version of yourself with the Internet, so it’s as cathartic as it is nerve wracking. Being in a band is definitely more fun, but when it comes to a song as personal as “Unravels,” doing it solo seemed like the only way to go.
Can you tell me a little about the cover art? I love the visual aspect, as the pink, wave-like patterns really capture the sort of lazily drifting, late-summer atmosphere you achieve.
Thank you. My friend Lucien Conradt (known to many as Walfex) did the cover. In one of the song’s verses I talk about pink ripples and swimming pools, which seemed like words that would yield cool visuals, so we went with a swimming pool texture on the cover. I’m really inspired by the art Boys Age uses for his albums, so I asked Conradt to add some of the lyrics in Japanese on the side of the cover in the same way you would find Japanese on a vinyl import.
I think this is a large step toward a bright career for you as a musician. Have you ever played this track live? Any unique challenges or differences you’ve noticed in that regard?
Yeah, I’ve played the track live at a few house shows this summer. It can be super daunting to play the song in front of a lot of people who inspired the lyrics. It’s a pretty odd feeling making eye contact with someone as they sing along to a line in the song that’s about them.
Thanks, Ted! Hope to hear more of your music and read more of your writing soon .