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- Posted on Jun 1st 2010 3:00PM by Kenneth Partridge
"I guess it's kind of a chill-out record," singer and multi-instrumentalist Dustin Payseur tells Spinner. "Really, it's just a record I feel like exposes a lot of who I am and a lot of my personality. Maybe [the relaxed feel] just came out in a way that expresses who I am. I definitely like to just chill out and take it easy. I'm sure that comes out in it."
Payseur, who moved to New York from North Carolina two years ago, started recording the album in the fall of 2009. New in town, he didn't know many people and hadn't yet enlisted guitarist Chris Burke or bassist John Pena, who now round out the Beach Fossils lineup. Out of necessity, Payseur worked solo, infusing the music with his unique musicianship and sense of spirituality.
"I take a lot of inspiration from Eastern philosophy," he says. "There's a lot of kind of relaxation and being by not being, doing by not doing, existing by not existing. I feel like it's kind of a nice blend because the songs are me doing something, but it's doing by non-doing. Or maybe non-doing by doing."
For much of the album, Payseur seems to be doing very little, indeed. The music is extremely elemental, with fuzzy, far-off vocals floating atop single-string guitar and bass riffs.
"Minimalism is very important because it can be very honest," he says. "It's stripped down and it's very exposed, and it makes you very vulnerable when you take away all the clutter and show just the meat of what's there. There's nothing you can hide. You can just strip it down and show it in its natural way."
Even the album cover, a close-up photograph of a wall, perhaps taken at a summer beach cottage, is an extension of Payseur's songwriting aesthetic.
"It's very simple," he says. "There's no writing on it. It actually just says Beach Fossils on the sticker, so it's about stripping everything down and showing how it is."
The record comes with a sheet of lyrics, which is helpful, since Payseur's words, even when audible, can be deceptively straightforward and difficult to interpret.
"I guess the words are taken from all over -- definitely inspired by Taoism, inspired by poetry," Payseur says. "Probably 80 to 90 percent of my books are all poetry ... I can hardly ever sit down and try to read a novel, because my mind just wanders away."
"Maybe that's the same reason I write songs," he adds.
Beach Fossils' debut album is available now.