Andrew H. Walker, Getty Images Nine days after the deadly tornado that touched…
- Posted on Dec 21st 2009 12:30PM by Jenny Charlesworth
"It's naive electronic," Reed tells Spinner during a recent visit to the Vancouver Art Gallery. "I don't come from an electronic music background or dance or hip-hop -- it's always been sort of punk for me -- so I try to compare the way that Babe Rainbow has happened and the attitude that I've taken towards producing and distributing the music to that background.
"It's pretty DIY and maintains a punk aesthetic in a way -- you know, record it and get it out there."
Now Reed finds himself on the legendary Warp roster and grappling with the chain of events that took him from laptop amateur to Grizzly Bear labelmate. "Warp contacted me in the summer to see what my plans were and after talking a bunch, they ended up offering a seven-song EP," he recounts. "I am beyond excited about it -- not in my wildest dreams did I expect this!"
Babe Rainbow employs futuristic flourishes and glitchy accents to engineer a sound that hovers somewhere between ominous dubstep and atmospheric lullabies. It's a woozy aesthetic that feels as though you're wandering through a cool mist, liable to stumble upon any number of aural treasures as you forge deeper into the murky abyss.
"In previous bands, I'd wanted to make music like this but it's a bit more tough when you're working with other people," Reed says. "I've taken advantage of the fact that it's just me [in Babe Rainbow] and I'm able to make the music that I want -- the dark, ambient, cinematic music that's always sort of been in my head."
Armed with a laptop, midi controller and the expertise amassed from months of tooling around on Ableton Live, Reed is poised to become a prolific producer. One need only peruse the buzz-worthy tracks currently making the rounds online -- most notably remixes for London's Comanechi and Melbourne's Midnight Juggernauts -- for evidence.
"With GarageBand, or whatever, it's just so easy to record something and put it out," Reed says. "When you make it big, then you can go into a studio. In the meantime, there's no point on spending tens of thousands of dollars on studio time when you can just try to be as creative as possible and expose people to your music."
As for remixes, Reed believes that reworking another artist's material is an effective way for emerging acts to get their name out there. There's no question that this has been instrumental in bolstering Babe Rainbow's profile and attracting label attention.
"Remixes are a major part of the new music economy and it's an awesome cross-promotional tool," he explains. "Some people can probably find problems with that -- I'm sure those are the people who probably have problems with people doing cover songs -- but I think it's awesome. There are a lot of artists I'm inspired by and who I think make cool music. If it's a good fit, then maybe I'll do my own little interpretation."
When it came down to finding a muse for his forthcoming EP, Reed found himself sticking close to home, choosing to rework the sounds of fellow Vancouverites, dance-pop darlings You Say Party! We Say Die! "The song ['Like I Give a Care' off of 2007's 'Lose All Time'] sounds absolutely nothing close to the original," he remarks. "What inspired the tone and the way my song took form, though, were these couple snippets of vocals melodies -- essentially the only thing taken from the original -- and I built a song around that."
With a cornucopia of genre-splicing sounds to draw from, it's anyone's guess how Babe Rainbow's sound will progress over the next batch of recordings. While Reed isn't entirely sure what's in store for the experimental project, the producer is certain that his bittersweet pop will retain some of its particular calling cards.
"I'm learning as I go so it's definitely going to evolve. But the tone will largely remain the same," Reed says. "I listen to music across the board, but I've listened to a lot of rap my whole life so there's always going to be an element of hip-hop production in there, even if it's buried beneath creepy, scary, sad sounds."