Washed Out On His New Summer Album & Official Ice-Cream Flavor

washed-outPhotographed by Shae DeTar
Washed Out (a.k.a. Ernest Greene) is the man behind some of the catchiest summer jams of the last few years. Over time, however, the scope of his music has expanded, moving from so-called "chillwave" to a wide palette of vividly produced pop. For his new album, Paracosm (which means, fittingly, a "detailed imaginary world"), Greene has added a host of new instruments, moving his work from a mostly electronic project to one filled with acoustic guitar, analog synths, and live instruments of all kinds. Included in his host of new tools is an Optigan from the early '70s, live drums, and even standup bass. The effect is an album that feels more lush and fully realized than ever.
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New sounds, though, haven't changed the mood at the heart of Washed Out. Greene's band is still a summer project through-and-through, with hazy melodies that recall days spent at the beach or local swimming hole. To celebrate the release of his new album on August 13 via Sub Pop, Greene is throwing an "Ice Cream Launch Party" at OddFellows in Brooklyn today from 4 to 8 p.m. (the album will be played continuously throughout the day). He's also DJing a pool party at the Thompson LES Hotel. Sounds like Washed Out. We caught up with Greene to talk the new record, the official Paracosm ice-cream flavor, and his perfect summer day.
So, tell us the new album. What's changed since the release of Within and Without?
"The last record was a lot more electronic. It had a lot more textures happening. We toured for a couple years promoting it — which was great — but we definitely got tired of just [being] stuck behind synthesizers for the entire show. I feel like the live side of Washed Out has become more and more important, so I wanted to serve that in a lot of ways with the new record. It made sense to start experimenting with more organic sounds and instruments."
What sort of instruments did you add to the record?
"Acoustic instruments, in particular, were really important for this record. There's a lot of upright bass and acoustic guitar. They just have a lot of natural warmth to them that added a lot of the rough conceptual stuff that I had starting out. That's definitely the biggest change — that there are actual human beings playing instruments. So, with that, there's just a little bit more groove happening."
Has adding the acoustic instruments changed the way you approach your live show?
"We had our first show last night here in L.A. It was kind of a stripped-down acoustic-y performance, so it wasn't a full-blown show. But we've been rehearsing for the last couple weeks with the band for that, but I think it's going to be much more entertaining for the audience. You know, from song to song we're picking up instruments. It's not just me standing behind one keyboard for the entire show. It's a lot more dynamic than that. We're into it."
Was there an overall vibe that you wanted to bring to the record while you recording it?
"I think one idea that I definitely had in mind was that I wanted the record to have a daytime feel to it. For me, that [means] very optimistic, major-key kind of songs. And also more acoustic, kind of warm sounds were really important. So, as far as my work space, there's a big window in my studio with a view of a garden. And that was always sort of a rough inspiration: What sort of music would I want to listen to on a walk-through the garden on a beautiful summer day?"
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How did the idea for the pool party at the Thompson come about?
"We came up with the pool party idea kind of early on. I've been doing a lot more DJ sets over the last year or so, and it's always really problematic getting booked at these big dance clubs at two in the morning. It doesn't really suit my style to play for a bunch of drunk people late at night. My style is way more mid-tempo, very 'pool party.' Playing in the daytime suits what I do better — playing slower more upbeat stuff. So, I'm really excited about that."
And how about the ice-cream launch party? That one definitely seems to fit the mood of the band.
"It's just a different way for people to hear the record. There's actually a Paracosm ice-cream flavor that they're going to be giving away that day. [Laughs]"
That's awesome. What does "Paracosm" taste like?
"Well I don't know if you've seen the artwork for the record, but there's a lot of vivid colors. A lot of floral motifs. I think it's going to be very colorful, for one. I believe it's a raspberry. I think it's going to be great."
What's your favorite memory of summer from when you were growing up?
"I grew up in Georgia and a lot my fondest memories are on July 4. There's a lake not far from where I grew up where we'd all kind of hang out. My friends had some boats and jet-skis and all that, so that's something that sticks in my mind as a highlight. Just being on the water."
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