Interview: Derek Ted Discusses ‘Hourglass Sand’

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Indie-folk artist, Derek Ted, recently released his latest EP, Hourglass Sand and took some time to elaborate on the recording process, his influences, and finding himself in Los Angeles. Recorded and mixed by Ben Burney at Primitive Ears Studio and mastered by Keenan Grawe, the four-song mix is a perfect slice of serenity. Take a listen while you read along below.

Can you tell me a little about Sunroom Recordz & Salon?

Derek Ted: It was started living back in San Francisco at Kitty Kastle in the Excelsior District –  Kevin Patrick (Field Medic) came up with the beginning concept as more of an art cult and kinda like emo breh gang. We recorded all our records on a shared Tascam Portastudio 424 and threw renegade acoustic house shows. It was a way for our crew to feel empowered making our art and creating our own little world to live in. $RZ&$ !

Do you prefer independently releasing? What are some of the benefits?

I like releasing independently because it’s nice finding your own way and not relying on others. I think it’s important to just keep creating, crafting, and releasing your art to figure out what feels best. It makes you stronger and know what works/doesn’t for yourself. I’m still looking forward to the day when I can work with a bigger label though.

What advice would you give someone who is looking to start making music but doesn’t feel like they have the resources they need?  

Don’t trip about resources. Just craft and focus on what you do have, and what feels good! Honestly, in my experience, it’s best to record a ton on your own before even stepping into the studio. Make your art and craft it ‘till you like it, even if people tell you it sounds weird. If you like it- that’s what’s important. You will find yourself in the studio or buying expensive gear when the time is right, but it’s definitely not a necessity. Pretty much everything I have is broken in some way but it gets the job done.

What was the recording and mixing process like for this release?

It was a long process of experimenting. I hadn’t done anything solo in the studio yet, so I felt like it was the right time. My good friend, Ben Burney, and I made it at his studio (@primitiveears) in North Hollywood. We spent many many nights ‘till 6 am fucking around with vintage preamps and gear and smoking too much weed. I am very happy with how it turned out! Each song had a completely different approach and were all started on a 8 track tape machine. For example, “Where I’ll Stay” started out as two live takes to a metronome and instantly stuck while “Weeks” was multi-tracked and took about three different approaches to find the right feeling.

You seem to run in the same circle as many popular indie musicians, do you think that affects your music? If so how?

It’s pretty cool to see your friends making art that you love and also having success. I think it inspires my music big time. Not only just the actual songs I’m writing, but also to like keep trying and to stay focused on pushing it to the next level.

What was the main motivation behind doing solo work as opposed to keeping up with Owl Paws?

I think the main motivation was feeling it was time for some change in motion. I write so much, so it felt nice to just do whatever I wanted. I’ve been touring a lot lately and want to be touring even more! I feel like it’s most practical to go on tour solo at this point because my budget is very small and I can just fling myself ‘n guitar anywhere fairly easily. I love my brehs in owl paws (Timothy Vickers, Lucas Siobal and Wayne Mills) and am currently finishing up my next LP with them backing me.

Who were some of your biggest inspirations when recording?

My biggest inspirations when I was making this EP were all like old Motown and Beatles recordings. I love the sound of the analog gear mixed with the great songwriting and weird limitations of a pre-digital era. I was using a lot of similar gear and approach when making this record and kept joking that it was E-Mo Town.

What is unique about this release in particular?

This release is special to me because it was very much everything I was going through the first year moving to LA from San Francisco; and trying to make sense of what my life even was – the rollercoaster of hope and loss was very extreme at that time. I think these songs and the approach taken to capture them was very pure.

Would you say that chasing time is a theme among this EP?

Yes definitely. I think when moving to LA I was putting a lot of pressure on myself to make something happen for my career, and not able to see the bigger picture and the progress I was actually making. I’m 29 now and been writing songs nonstop for the past decade, so sometimes I feel kinda old and worried there’s some sort of clock ticking on living my life like this.

Finally, in light of some of your tweets, I have a wildcard question: If you could cover any MySpace era scene/emo band, who would it be?

Oh wow! Well I would have to say Kev and I have been discussing doing a Beauty In The Breakdown cover by The Scene Aesthetic. All those super classic, overly compressed, emo myspace acoustic ballads were always my favorite songs growing up so maybe it’s time to pay homage.

Follow Derek Ted on social media: 
Twitter // Instagram // Bandcamp

Hourglass Sand is available now on bandcamp for “name your price”

Emily Kitchin | @deathnap4cutie

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