Getty|WireImage|Getty The word "reinvention" comes to mind when you consider…
- Posted on Dec 20th 2010 3:00PM by Kenneth Partridge
"A few years ago, I got really into the Casio '80s keyboard, and I started to think that sounded really fresh compared to things I was hearing," Kolenik tells Spinner. "That was the first instrument I ever had, so I was kind of getting back to my roots as a musician. Doing so, I just fell in love with that sound again -- the gloss of an '80s pop song that most of the time I don't even know who the artist is. I've heard it so many times walking through the grocery store. You'll hear them on the radio now and you can still sing all the words."
Nostalgia plays a major role in Small Black's music, but the '80s memories it conjures are hazy at best.
"You're trying to latch into that feeling of familiarity but at the same time hopefully bringing something new to the table," he says. "I don't think our music is revivalism in any way. It's trying to take a lot of the tones we're using and being different with them. Especially with technology, there's so much more we can do than someone in 1987 could. We can take a little cruddy keyboard and with equalizers make it match some ridiculously huge drum sound. The interplay between those amateur elements and professional sounds is the intersection where we really like to work."
It's become a popular intersection. Small Black also draw on dance music and '90s hip-hop, and those influences have placed the band at the forefront of the "chillwave" movement, a loose confluence of artists that also includes Washed Out and Neon Indian. If their stylistic similarities are somewhat tenuous, Kolenik admits many of today's group's are doing the hazy-'80s thing. He says it's more the result of technology than any cultural factors.
"Kids now have grown up for the last 10 years with the ability to have a Pro Tools system or have some kind of digital recording," Kolenik says. "It makes sense at some point you're going to delve into the first material that was made with that sort of software. And I don't know -- I think everyone predicted there'd be some big grunge revival, because it seems the way it works is 20 years after anything, it just comes back in some other form. In the early '00s, it was all the post-punk stuff. But maybe [the '80s] was the period people were mining more and more interested in, and maybe it hadn't been as respected or taken as seriously as [grunge] was at the time."