Q&A with Washed Out (a.k.a. Ernest Greene)

Ernest Greene’s moniker for his”nostalgic, hypnotic bedroom electro-disco pop” music, is steadily becoming one of the more popularly blogged-about indie-beasts on the internet, as demonstrated through the posts of such popular networks as Pitchfork, Gorilla vs. Bear, Stereogum, The Fader and now The Blue Indian. Yes!

With thousands of plays each day on his MySpace page, Ernest is seemingly enjoying his ever-growing success one play at a time. After having lived in Athens, GA, and Columbia, SC, for the past 7-8 years, he now finds himself back where he was raised in Perry, GA, as he is trying to find work.

With a couple of college degrees, including both a Bachelors and a Masters, it seems his addictive disco jams may end up being the bread-winner for he and his lovely wife-to-be, Blair Sexton. He spends most of his time locked up in his bedroom at his parents’ house creating new tunes, producing other artists’ records, and remixing music for his buddies. We interrupted him a day or so ago while he was doing his thing in his bedroom to ask him a few questions.

Blue Indian (Luke Goddard): Hello! Thanks for chatting with Blue Indian.

Washed Out (A.K.A. Ernest Greene): No problem…I’m a big fan!

BI: You’ve been an absolute hit lately with all of the attention you’ve received from PitchForkGorilla vs. Bear, and the rest. Have you digested all of this?

WO: It’s pretty surreal…The songs are only a couple of months old now, and the attention seems to build bigger and bigger every day…

BI: Your music has been described by PitchFork as nostalgic, hypnotic bedroom electro-disco pop. What??

WO: Haha…I guess its all there :)  I do record in my bedroom, and I also go for a dreamy nostalgic air to the songs…They are also put together in verse-chorus “pop” structure…so pretty good right…Not sure about the disco part…maybe slowed-down disco or pitch-shifted disco…who knows?  I’m always amazed at what people come up with to describe the songs…

BI: No doubt, the music is different, especially in a day of overly-produced CD’s. In what forms can fans of Washed Out expect your new release?

WO: There is a cassette tape release in a couple of weeks that will have a few new Washed Out songs (as well as 10 mins. of older hip-hop-ish stuff)…a 12″ with Mexican Summer (that will also be available digitally through the MS website and iTunes)…a 7″ for “Feel It All Around” with a really great remix by Toro Y Moi…then maybe another 12″ at the beginning of next year…I plan on combining everything eventually into a full-length…which will probably be released on CD and vinyl…

BI: Where do you record?

WO: I have a little home study in my bedroom…A few keyboards, guitar, piano…Everything goes into the computer and is arranged in Reason 4.0/Cubase SE…I mix and master everything my self too…

BI: I’m honestly curious how you’re going to make this happen live. Do you plan on putting a band together, or is this a one-man show?

WO: I plan on doing a few one-off shows down the road…More than likely they will be solo shows…It will probably mirror a DJ set more than anything, but with me singing over the top…I’ll also be able to add some keyboard parts live…I plan on re-arranging the songs a bit…keep the tempo up…and generally make it as fun as possible…

BI: You’re originally from rural Georgia. Now, you live in Columbia, SC. Plan on staying there?

WO: I actually moved back to Georgia temporarily while job hunting…most of the recent songs were recorded in the room I grew up in here in Perry… No real plans on where I’ll end up…

BI: If I plundered through your iTunes library, who would be the latest band/act you listened to?

WO: My friend Chaz just sent me the new Toro Y Moi album (which I think I’m the second person to hear outside the guy at Carpark Records)…it’s really good…great for late night headphone listening…I’m actually working on a remix of his first single…its a really great song, I wish I could share! I’ve got a Summer 2009 playlist that I keep adding to with stuff I find online…stuff from across the board…If you crossed this false horizon with this neon love you’d be pretty close to Washed Out…

BI: Where are you RIGHT NOW as you read this question?

WO: I’m in my bedroom in the middle of a peach orchard…

BI: Creatively-minded, no doubt. Eccentric? Yes. Athletic, yes as well. You were a star in your high school days. You still make room for sports?

WO: I wish…i played basketball everyday until about a year or so ago…Im in such bad shape now that I doubt I could hang any more…I went to UGA…so of course I love UGA football…It’s pretty safe to say that I’ll make a few games this year…

BI: Where do you find inspiration as an artist?

WO: Online mostly…I spend way too much time with my Google Reader…I probably subscribe to 30+ blogs and only probably 3 or 4 are music related…Photography blogs like Feaverish and “but does it float” are really good…I also have a long list of photographers on Flickr that I follow who continuously amaze me…

BI: In terms of music, who is a guilty pleasure? Be honest.

WO: I listen to abosutely everything…so its hard to pick…I like old-school country…they always have really good bass tones…I’ve been corresponding with Dent May…and he has this little side-project where he does country stuff that’s really great…I have a friend in columbia that does similiar stuff too…can’t wait to hear more from him…

BI: What is your favorite book of all time?

WO: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is pretty good – especially the second half…Letters to a Young Poet is pretty good too…It’s hard for me to really get in to something that doesn’t deal directly with what I’m going through…In college, it was Neitzsche…but I’m too lazy/old to get into that again…

BI: What can fans of Washed Out expect from you in the near future?

WO: Hopefully lots of hit songs!  Who knows…maybe a few shows down the line…

BI: Thanks for hanging out with Blue Indian. Much love.

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Washed Out is releasing a 12′ off of Mexican Summer called, “Life of Leisure“. He’s also releasing a cassette off of Mirror Universe.  He’s a man of many side projects, and his little photo blog is interesting.

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