Washed Out gets fleshed out

Washed Out, the laptop-based music project started just three years ago by Ernest Greene, will perform a free show at Opolis on Friday.
BY GEORGE LANG glang@opubco.com Modified: October 4, 2012 at 4:13 pm •  Published: October 5, 2012
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While Greene took piano lessons as a child and gravitated to guitar, he said his greatest influence was DJ Shadow, the San Francisco Bay Area sampling artist whose 1996 album, “Endtroducing ...” is frequently credited with broadening the stylistic palette of collage-based recordings.

“That was a really big turning point for me,” Greene said. “I discovered that (“Endtroducing ...”) around the time I started making music on my own on the computer. My dad had a pretty decent collection of jazz recordings and instrumental music from the '70s, and I was into that kind of stuff, but I had never heard that kind of music recontextualized in a modern way like the Shadow record.

“For the longest time, I was trying to be DJ Shadow, I think. But I slowly developed my own style,” he said. “It was trial and error, for sure.”

Signing to Sub Pop in early 2011, Greene worked on “Within and Without” with producer Ben Allen, who mixed Animal Collective's “Merriweather Post Pavilion.” While “Life of Leisure” was constructed using the DJ Shadow template — almost completely from sampling — Washed Out's higher profile prompted Greene to create more of his own sounds rather than warping and transforming samples.

“So that was different,” he said. “The other thing was, it was the first time I had mixed in a real studio.”

Having recently contributed a cover of the 1982 Fleetwood Mac song “Straight Back” to the tribute album “Just Tell Me That You Want Me,” Greene is now working on new Washed Out material for release next year. He said his touring experience with guitar, bass, drum and synthesizer could impact the sound of the next album.

“I do have the personnel that we use in the back of my head when I'm working, but I also don't want to limit myself,” he said. “I know of some guitar-based rock bands that refuse to record anything that they can't play live. But some of the best stuff I come up with are studio-based performances — bringing out whatever accident I had in the studio and building a song around that.”