Exclusive Slow Hands (live) Podcast and William Wardlaw Interview of Slow Hands

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In celebration of the release of his new album, I’ll Find Me, we’re excited to share Slow Hands (Live) from the AYLI Valentine’s Day Love Affair in 2014. Enjoy this exclusive recording of early versions of the songs and an interview with AYLI’s William Wardlaw. Join us for the next As You Like It at Mighty with the Pachanga Boys (Extended Set/SF Debut), Bells & Whistles, Mark Slee, Jimmy B, and Rich Korach.

William Wardlaw: On your new album, I’ll Find Me, you focused on writing songs rather than tracks. How does that perspective affect your approach to songwriting?

Slow Hands: It’s made it much easier. Writing music with the idea of the song needing to be DJed as a blueprint makes composing really difficult for me. Intro, outro, and whatever you want in between isn’t enough order for me. I am super OCD when i make music, so when i abide to traditional pop songwriting structure (verse, chorus, bridge, etc) it sort of straightens out the arrangement process, and allows me to focus on the musical idea, instead of meandering about trying to figure out where things should go.

Currently i am really inspired by the jazz standard structure. Bookending the tune with a head, and improvising over the chord changes. So we’ll see where that goes. I think that’s how I will perform live in “dance club” environments in the future.

WW: Was the Wolf + Lamb label it was released by open to all the jazz, folk, funk, and country influences you chose to include?

SH: They have always been really open to my experimentation. The relationship I long ago established with W+L was built on the foundation of, “I’ll make 10 songs of varying styles, and one might fit the direction of that label at that point in time”. It’s always worked for us, but certainly was the cause of a full fledged album taking so long to make. I’ll Find Me became more about capturing a particular moment/time of my life and recording it. This album is essentially a month of me making tunes put into an order.

The patience and openness of the boys (W+L) is incomparable. I truly appreciate their support and understanding of my artistic quirks.

WW: You have shows coming up with Miami Horror at Mezzanine in SF on 12/1 and El Ray LA on 12/2. Do you have plans to tour with other bands in 2016?

SH: I hope to! I am really trying to push the idea of the Slow Hands moniker and performance into being identified as more of a band, or live performance. I have become a bit obsessed with my live performances being incredibly dynamic in tempo, feel, intensity. I love playing an R&B ballad, and figuring out a way to transition that into a techno pop song, then into a folk tune. This has proven to work far better on a “live stage” than in nightclubs where the audience is craving a consistent rhythm and sub frequencies that makes them want to move.

WW: Will you be collaborating with Tom Croose as Worst Friends or One of Them as Male Madame again soon?

SH: I have a couple few things done with both of them that we have been sitting on for far too long. I do want to do more collaborative work with everyone I have done stuff with in the past, i just haven’t found the time. Releasing an album becomes such a self centered process! I feel like all I’ve done everyday for the last six months is try to figure out how to “get it all out there!”. I look forward to the new year, touring the album, wiping the compositional slate clean and working more on WFs and MM.

WW: You recently built a studio named The Sharn in Vermont. Would you describe the space and your plans for recording there?

SH: I have indeed! Pounding nails has been my sanity this year. The space is meant to feel like Vermont on the inside as much as on the outside. Somewhere between and sugar house, a cabin, and a hike in the woods.

I split my time between NYC and Vermont. Studio spaces in the city are pretty depressing to me. There is no amount of gear or flashing lights that will ever make a 10 x 10 basement room with no windows inspiring. New York is loud and expensive, so these are the only affordable, and (hopefully) quiet options. But hell, even most high end studios feel stale to me. They are functional, but most of them lack ambiance. The Sharn was built to feel the opposite of that, to feel less like a studio and more like a functional creative escape.

Next year I am planning to build an addition off the back that will serve as the isolation booth. It will sit on the edge of the woods, and i want one wall (or all walls) to be transparent, so it feels like you are in the woods, a literal glass house! Acoustic engineering will surely prove to be a challenge, if at all possible.

One of the walls is a barn door that opens completely, so i really look forward to recording and playing live music outside with my friends up here. Campfire house 🙂

WW: You enjoy purchasing guitar pieces on eBay. Any prize additions you’ve won recently? What do you look for in a guitar?

SH: It’s such a silly, but fun hobby/obsession. The problem is that i’ll buy a whole guitar just for the neck, then i have a body just sitting there waiting for a new neck – one that probably comes with a body that will need another neck! It’s a vicious, vicious cycle.

I look to piece together really common guitars parts into uncommon pairings. I was, and still am a total guitar snob (food snob, music snob, just a snob in general I suppose.) After years of being told by other Clapton fans what the “best guitar in the world” was (usually in the security line at airports), I realized that any solid body electric is pretty much a 2×4 with strings attached to it. Archtops, acoustics, resonators; these are pieces of self reliant art and science. Everything is put together perfectly for 6 strings to make sound in tune, it’s amazing!

Solid body electrics are a different art, more visual. Sure, there are minor changes in sound between different woods, blah blah, but it’s mainly due to the pickup and amp combo. So i like to take those “best guitars ever” and Frankenstein them into something that would totally piss off all the other Clapton fans.

My most recent guitar is a Telecaster Thinline Deluxe blonde body with a 60s Strat neck in the same color. It has a blue pick guard, and white knobs. My greek friends love it because it reminds them of their flag. It sounds a plays so, so rad.

WW: I enjoyed the music video you shot for “Phonographic Love“. Do you plan to create more for additional songs on the album?

SH: Thank you!

I could probably release I’ll Find Me twice over with different versions of each of the songs, it’s crazy. I get bored playing my songs live all the time, so i make different versions to perform live.

That has always been what excites me about seeing the bands i love perform live. To see them do their songs in a different way than how they are recorded. This is what i set out to do with my live show.

So yes, for sure I do!

WW: Your bluegrass version of “I’ll Find Me” with Gold Town in Vermont is great. Do you plan to record more with them?

SH: I do, yes. I actually am supposed to record with Will from Gold Town for this remix i am working on, but i have been so caught up with rehearsing and programing the live set that i haven’t had the time!

All of those guys are so insanely good. Recording and playing with them just makes you so much better. The day that was recorded was one of the best days of my life without a doubt!

WW: Who in the NYC house music scene are you excited about these days? Any favorite producers or events we should know about?

SH: Cameo Culture, of course, John Camp is brilliant. They are doing stuff together that’s super cool. I love the Kaviar Disco boys, Beto and Travis, they do amazing parties, play great music, and are just awesome dudes. Beto also has this project called FBI Warning that is seriously one of the most inspiring live shows i have seen in years in the city. It reminded me of the first show i accidentally snuck into when I came to NYC when I was 16, so sick!

I also have to give a big shout out to The Deep crew. I recently had this show outside in Santo Domingo where it started pouring rain. When the rain calmed down the sound guys were fearful to put out the equipment again, so I plugged my iPhone into the house mixer and started using DJay to play. LucaSonOfWolf was hanging and got a turntable, and we went back to back for the rest of the night. His vinyl selection was so good it made me want to go back to only playing vinyl when I dj!

WW: Who would be your dream musician to work with on a future project?

SH: Since her Wolves EP came out two years ago I have had an insane musical crush on Valentina. Through social media stalking (you know you do it too), I know she sings backup for Kindness (also amazing). Her music is so damn good, it’s unfamiliarly familiar, like something you’ve heard a thousand times before but never heard. I think that makes for the best music out there, when you feel like you’ve heard it before. That’s how I would describe Multiply by Jamie Lidell, or Young Folks by Peter, Bjorn and John. Pretty damn good company if you ask me.

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