- Posted on Feb 28th 2011 10:05PM by Emily Tan
Gino DePinto, AOL
In 2009, when Colin Caulfield posted a cover of Deerhunter's 'Rainwater Cassette Exchange' on YouTube, he was surprised by the wave of positive responses, including one from the Atlanta band's frontman, Bradford Cox. However, it wasn't until Caulfield, a Loyola University student, went to Paris last year that he launched his musical project Young Man. After releasing the EP 'Boy' in August and the digital single 'Strangers' in December, Caulfield is currently working on a second EP, a collection he plans to follow with two full-lengths before retiring the Young Man name.
Before he moves onto other projects, the 21-year-old college senior will head to Austin in March for his first SXSW experience. Spinner had the chance to talk to Caulfield about why he almost dropped out of school, what he loves about Paris and why 'Catcher in the Rye' is so overrated.
What's the story behind the band name, Young Man?
The whole project is very conceptual. Originally, when I was thinking of what to call it, I was writing music for the first full-length, which will be two releases from now. I started to notice a trend of song subjects and everything was about growing up. There were also things I was going through at the time that had to do with this stage of being young and becoming an adult. 'Boy,' the first EP, is kind of an introduction to that. It's the simplest form of that concept, maturity and innocence of youth. It was really hard for me to pick a name -- and I don't know if I was totally happy with Young Man because it was overly general -- but that's the only thing that really fit. Because the project is so conceptual and so rigid, it was hard for me to think of a band name.
Are you relishing being young right now and not in any rush to grow up?
No, it's not that. The main idea of the EP is to value experiences you have while young but always try to be in the moment and relish this idea that things move quickly. Every part of your young life should be interesting. Writing 'Boy' wasn't holding onto something -- it was more about letting go of youth.
You are technically a solo act, but how did your band come together?
Everyone [in the band now] studied in Paris last spring. I was playing shows there as a solo thing and ended up finding a drummer. We started playing together, but he was French, so obviously he didn't come back. Before I came back, I mentioned to those guys that was I looking to put a live band together. Everyone was pretty interested and once I came back, it happened very naturally. I was friends with my guitarist, but I would say we were all just acquaintances.
What was it about Paris that encouraged you to get onstage more?
I was really taken out of an environment where I was comfortable in. I live around this park in Chicago that's kind of removed from Logan Square and these other neighborhoods where shows would always go on, so going to Paris removed me from this bubble and put me in this situation with people I didn't know. It was my first case of really being a musician because most of the people I interacted with outside the friends I made were people in the music industry and other musicians. I really loved it. It was really exciting for me, having that pressure and responsibility.
How did you get into music?
I started playing drums when I was 16. I've always been really into music, not with the same determination that I have now, but I have always listened a lot and sung stuff. Then when I got to school, I couldn't bring my drums because they couldn't fit in my dorm so I started playing piano and eventually bought a guitar. By the time I was a sophomore, I definitely had a lot more drive. When I was going to Paris last year, that's when I realized I really wanted to do it. I didn't really start writing music until three, three and a half years ago. Now I know I should have been studying music, but by the time I realized I was good at playing and writing, it was too late to switch my major [or else] I would have had to stay in school for about another year.
How do you balance classes with the music career?
It's really difficult. This semester, my workload is bigger than it's ever been because I'm taking four English classes and music theory. Last semester was more of a mental struggle. I was at the point when I wanted to drop out to be able to focus on music but it wasn't really realistic because I was so close to graduating. Then I took this course on literary theory and I wrote a theory on pop music. It was the first time I have been really able to combine what I know about music and what I love about music with what I was learning in school. It materialized into this thing that I'm really proud of, so now I have a perspective on being in school, because it's very connected to music. If it was viable for me to drop out without consequences, I would, but I'm being optimistic about the situation.
You share a last name with Holden Caulfield. Do you like 'Catcher in the Rye'?
I think it's a good book but it's extremely overrated. I don't know if part of that resentment is because people always like noting my name. It's an interesting book because it deals with interesting ideas about life, but the way in which it's presented is a drawback and limits it in its exploration. At the same time, Salinger's portrayal of Holden is convincing, in that he's not really, really intelligent, so these things he's discussing, he can't really explore. But I still think it's an overrated book.
Who are you musical influences?
My main influences are the Beatles, the Beach Boys, David Bowie and old pop standbys like that. Fiery Furnaces taught me a lot about melody. I'm really into Rufus Wainwright. He really inspires me to sing a lot more. When I first started writing two years ago, I was really into Beach House, Animal Collective and Grizzly Bear. Now that's probably changed. I'm pretty into Destroyer and really ambient stuff. I'm also really into Brian Eno, all his ambient music, which is like a gateway to all this ambient experimental music. That's totally changing the way I listen to music.
Deerhunter's Bradford Cox gave you props on your cover of 'Rainwater Cassette Exchange' and even said you did it better than them. How did you feel about that?
My friend texted me about it because I wasn't a regular reader of [Deerhunter's] blog. I was pretty much just shocked by it. I really respect him as a voice and someone who's doing something interesting, so hearing it from him was really cool. [The cover] wasn't something I really slaved over.
Catch Young Man's SXSW Set on Wednesday, March 16 at The Parish (214C E 6th St.) 11PM.
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