ElectroChemical is a psychedelic progtronica duo from Asheville, NC. Their music is high-energy and danceable, but their melodies tell a deeper story. I had a chance to see them perform a couple months ago and was able to sit down with the founding of the band, Will Davis, to talk shop.
Andrew: Hi Will, I’ve enjoyed hearing your music and seeing you guys perform.
ElectroChemical: Thank you! Performing music is currently my favorite part of existence, so others enjoying it means a great deal.
Andrew: Correct me if I'm wrong, but when I saw you perform you said something to the crowd along the lines of, “We are ElectroChemical. You're ElectroChemical. We are all ElectroChemical.” What did you mean by that? And what can you tell me about the band name?
ElectroChemical: Correct, the specific snaz-zazzy way we say it is: “We are ElectroChemical and so are YOU!” What we mean by this is that your entire conscious experience of the world, what you might consider to be “you”, is some sort of hypercomplex pulsating blob of electricity and chemicals inside your brain and throughout your nervous system. Something about the specific arrangement of this blob creates a self-aware information-chomping emotion-machine. But the self-aware brain blob and the grass under our feet and a gas cloud in space are all made of the exact same stuff, there is no distinct separation between ourselves and the outside world . . . Everything is one.
Andrew: You're insanely good at the bass. Did you have any formal musical instruction? If not, explain to us how long you've been playing and how you got to the skill-level you're at.
ElectroChemical: I took drum lessons for about 4 years throughout high school, and picked up bass during that time as a lil' side piece. I never took her as seriously as she deserved. I learned to play “Brick House” and a couple Primus songs but mostly just messed around. I went to film school for a few years and living in the dorms required a not-insanely-loud musical outlet, so bass it was. The true eye-opener, however, was discovering jamming.
I had only one other person to jam with at that time, a drummer, which required that I be the sole producer of all non-percussive elements using the bass—hence the tenancy towards a more “busy” or lead style of playing. Untold hundreds of hours were spent in jam basements, often under the spell of specific perspective altering aids, were the fires that forged my fingertips and melted my forearms. So the answer to how I got here is by blindly flailing around in the dark over and over and over again for about a decade, using my ears to reinforce the muscle memory associated with the successful flails. I don't recommend it as a means to learning a skill, but it did ensure my music to be very much filtered through my own lens.
Andrew: I love your compositions. They're obviously well thought out and seem to always be dynamically correct. What's your process with writing ElectroChemical songs? Where does your head go during those times?
ElectroChemical: Everything starts with the bass. I try my best to never think “F*** ok geez I have to write the best song ever. Where do I start?” Instead, I just practice bass for fun, and if I stumble on something spicy I bust out Ableton and record it real quick. Sometimes that lick will beg to have a companion, so I think “Where can I go with this?” Other times it just gets saved and will rot away in harddrive purgatory with the corpses of a thousand forgotten funk slaps. Eventually a series of licks gets stuck in my head long enough that I bring in the drummer to get their take on it. We record some scratch drums to really give me the tools to build on, and I go back and try different orders and variations until a complete structure is built.
Then, over a much longer and more difficult span, I piece by piece build on the synths, sound design, etc. I am open to using all manner of sound generation for this, so I often get stuck under the weight of the question “What do I with infinite possibilities? And 99% of the possibilities sound like s*** for some reason?” The answer is again, flail around in the dark over and over again until it's done.
That, or I put on my magical inspiration-cap filled with heady crystals and present a blood sacrifice to the hungry god ZuKhan. Don't ever do this on the new moon, the meta-demons will know and will call you out for being a straight scrub noob about it.
Andrew: Tell me about your drummer, Collin. How'd you guys link up?
ElectroChemical: Collin is f***** awesome. Gotta lay that out first. This project has gone through quite a few drummers that didn't work out for one reason or another but Collin is in it for the real McCoy, the big nasty, the long-haul time-shlomp life-sacrafice. The project wouldn't be where it is without these previous drummers work and input, so ultimate respect to them. Now that we have this line-up though, I can't speak highly enough of Collin and what he brings to the table.
Him becoming half of ElectroChemical was a case of supreme cosmic timing. I felt the wobbly foundation of the prior situation about to crumble and reached out to him, right as his previous project had itself collapsed. I concocted an elaborate scheme to have TWO drummers filling different roles within the band, but that idea s*** the bed pretty quick and it became obvious that Collin was the one. Now we're just a blur of brotastic high fives, hard work montages, and touching post-show respect-hugs.
Andrew: You guys are clearly incredibly driven and down for the ride. Is there something in particular that fuels this passion?
ElectroChemical: My own inevitable death is def numba 1 motivator for me. Sounds morbid, but the way I see it, art, love, and expression are the antithesis of death and thus we must bask and roll around in it as much as we can, while we can. I have personally had the most transformative and important moments of my conscious existence during transcendent musical experiences. That feeling of completely losing control and merging the movements of your body with the vibration in the air, flowing alongside others oscillating in this absurd conceptual harmony. Feeling emotion in music is seeing the connected wavelike nature of everything, so I want to share that as widely and effectively as possible.
Andrew: Anything you'd like to share about future plans? Any new records on the horizon?
ElectroChemical: We are recording new music as we speak for an EP, and are playing as many shows as possible. We are building and honing the live experience to be something as unique and special as possible.
Andrew: Thanks for taking the time to chat. Anything else you’d like to add?
ElectroChemical: Thank you for your questions. I would like to add this: consider donating to the UN refugee agency (http://bit.ly/2kYiVgw). Much love to all.