The thought of an adventuring spaceman evokes images of daring travels and wild adventures. But in Zach Ellis’s world, the distance of space is an opportunity for some serious reflection. You can see the whole world from space, and at the moment, the world doesn’t look that great. That gives an ominous tone to The Adventures Of The Silver Spaceman‘s latest release, Electric Earth. It opens with the title track, a song that quickly gains momentum with rapid-fire lyrics and snaking guitar lines that feel as though they’re pulling you down a dark, twisting hallway. Well- placed dissonance creates a visceral sense of unease. But, the dark vibes are balanced out with gentler moments like “Expulsion,” a soaring, hopeful track with brimming space and self-awareness. We spoke to Zach about the recording process, how Electric Earth was inspired by the current times and, of course, space.
AUDIOFEMME: I really love the production on this EP, especially when it comes to the vocals. Can you give us some insights into the recording process?
ZACH: Thanks so much! The recording process on this record was by far the simplest we’ve ever done. You can partially thank Amy Schumer for that. We booked an all day session at Studio G in Greenpoint with my engineer Andy Swerdlow, but the session got turned into a half day because apparently, she needed to do a last minute voice over session for her show. So we ended up cranking out the whole EP in the latter half of the day thinking maybe we’d book another half day to finish, but we ended up not needing it. It took about 6 hours. We did it live. It’s really the antithesis of my earlier work… I used to record everything myself and add layer upon layer and get super anal about editing to sound just right. This record is super raw.
I did a few vocal passes into a U47 with a little slap echo in the monitor and that was pretty much it. It was so awesome recording into that mic. Andy, our engineer, says it’s the best mic in the world.
Andrew Bailey, who plays in DIIV, was with us during the session and I asked him if he’d want to add to the madness at the end of “Breath of Fire” and he was super into it. He’s since joined the band.
I sense a dystopian vibe to the whole EP, but particularly the first song, “Electric Earth.” Can you tell me the message behind the song, and what inspired the lyrics?
So glad you’re paying attention. Yes, Electric Earth is kind of my personal mantra for navigating a dystopian world. Things are so crazy right now. We’ve literally got villains in towers with henchmen. Money is controlling everything and in the hands of complete sociopaths who are deciding what we eat and how we interact with each other. It’s hard to navigate and real easy to lose touch entirely. It’s so easy to live in a bubble where the climate is controlled by corporate media and lose touch with the reality of what we as humans are meant to be experiencing. But, eventually, the bubble is going to pop. The music is about staying in touch with what’s important and real through it all… physically, emotionally and mentally remaining sharp and connected to mother nature.
Your release show was also a benefit for Standing Rock. Do you have any thoughts about the situation over there?
So many thoughts and feelings. This nation has been so unkind to its indigenous peoples. And after sweeping them under the rug by pushing them to the far corners of the United States, we now want to destroy the little bit of land we left them by installing a pipeline to transport a completely unsustainable energy source from one place to another? For what? So the filthy rich oil barrens can die alone in their mansions leaving their children a big house in a broken world. We need to learn from indigenous people now more than ever. We need to live in harmony with each other and with the land. I want to do what I can through music.
Your bio states that you’ve been compared to “Steve Malkmus and the Jicks, Nick Cave, and a millennial Neil Young.” Do these artists reflect your musical influences?
Steve Malkmus and the Jicks/Pavement are actually a relatively new trip for me, which a lot of people find hard to believe. Nick Cave as well. He scares me; I love it. Neil Young is a huge, huge influence. I learned a lot about how to use my voice through his songs and in my opinion he’s one of the most prolific, badass artists alive. As far as other influences, Fugazi sets me free [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][and] Gang of Four, Television, Explosions in the Sky, Nina Simone, Pink Floyd, Springsteen, Tom Waits, Antony and the Johnsons and Joanna Newsom.
I tend to listen to mostly friends music. They’re the real influence. Sir Kn8, Hila the Killa, Lost Boy, Sam Yield, Yairms, Pecas, Parnhash and Coe, Nic Lawless. There’s so many incredible artists just out there relentlessly making quality stuff outside of the mainstream. Listen to these artists!
If you could go to space, would you do it? Which planet would you choose?
Of course! Me and my dear friend Sir Kn8 are already planning a kickstarter campaign to record a record out there. Neptune would be cool because it isn’t made mostly out of ice!
Electric Earth was released on 12/2. Check out the EP below!