Interview with Joseph Sant

Joseph Sant

Joseph Sant

Brookyln-based dream-pop singer-songwriter Joseph Sant graciously replied to the following interview questions a week before the release of his project’s debut EP, Sea White Salt, on January 14th.

It’s so good to catch up with you right before the release of your debut EP, Sea White Salt. How are you doing and how are last-minute preparations going?

I’m thrilled! Everything’s ready to go with the record. We’re going to be playing a record release show next week and putting the last few pieces in place for that. I have been really gratified by the response so far to the single, “Nor’easter”. I hope it is an indication that people will connect with the record.

I love the dream-pop sounds of the 4 tracks on Sea White Salt. What drew you to this style of music as opposed to straight-ahead rock or pop or another musical genre?

My favorite songs tend to have a conversation-like quality to them. I like music where the human voices, the melodic pieces, the atmospheric elements, the rhythm, the negative spaces, all possible components are in dialogue with each other in a natural way. When a song doesn’t privilege any one element, like the way pop music does the human voice, I think that this tends to create ambiance and songs with a soft focus. I tend to go for that.

Your name is Joseph Sant, but you’re also calling your band/project by this same moniker. Who is in the band and what instruments does each member play?

There are five of us for the full-band set-up for shows: I play guitar and of course do the main vocals. Stirling Krusing plays lap steel, and Gabe Galvin plays guitar. Both played on the record, and Gabe produced the record. Those two operate really well together, both in the studio and live. Tyler Graham is on drums, and Georgia Tan is on bass. These two are also locked in and just play really well together as a rhythm section.

Why did you decide to just use your name and not tack on more words like Crystal Bright & The Silver Hands?

To me, it makes sense in a convoluted, roundabout way. I think in music or in a lot of endeavors, really, we can get swept up in thinking a work is our own when in reality it is deeply indebted to others. I don’t just mean where a collaborator writes distinct parts, like a guitar line or such. When writing a song I may delude myself into thinking I had a bass idea just sort of jump out of my brain, but the vocabulary for that part probably came from something I heard Tyler do when we were playing together when he was on bass. In ways like that I am indebted to him and the time we put in together for my own creativity. So when Gabe gets on stage and says “We’re Joseph Sant”, I like how jarring that is. I think it is destructive of myth, and connotes more collaboration than would “Joseph Sant and the Rick Rudes” or the like.

From what I’ve read, the EP was recorded relatively recently in a few long-running sessions at Four Foot Studios in Brooklyn. What was the process of putting the EP together like in that studio?

It was amazing to record the EP with Gabe as producer. There were no distractions, lots of open-minded experimenting, nobody shooting down ideas out of hand, nobody becoming too invested in any one element and digging in their heels, none of the things that can make collaboration so fraught. The conditions were pretty right on for us to bring the songs to fruition. And that’s not luck, either. Gabe is a very deliberate producer with a unique philosophy about how to actualize songs.

Joseph Sant - Sea White Salt EP

Joseph Sant – Sea White Salt EP

You’re originally from Seattle, Washington, but are now residing in Brooklyn. Was your cross-country move music-based or did you have other reasons for uprooting from the West Coast and transplanting on the East Coast? Have you adjusted yet to the city/coastal differences?

I didn’t move because of music, but definitely a factor in me staying here and putting down roots has been the community I have here in New York. I love both coasts. The East Coast is relatively unforgiving in a lot of ways, but that can be helpful in a wicked, self-regulating sense.

The West Coast has a paradisiacal feel to me. It’s where family is, where I grew up, and when I dream I am at home, I’m there. It’s a place of rejuvenation for me.

How much do the natural and city environments shape the music you create? Do you see those two ‘worlds’ as being in conflict with one another or can they co-exist in harmony?

They’re immensely influential on me. I’m not sure I view urban and natural environments as especially in conflict, but that’s because I tend to view a lot of things through the lens of conflict. Both environments are at times serene, at times at war within themselves, with each other, generating change and frustrating it at the same time. I view people the same way a lot of times, and that’s I why I find these environments to be a natural source of analogy.

Were you immersed in the music field when you were residing in Seattle or did you life have a different direction at that point?

Sort of. I kept to myself more then, and when I wrote music, I wrote in isolation, with maybe one or two people who even knew what I was up to. I was much more reclusive back then. I read a lot of philosophy tracts, classic poetry, and spent more time figuring out how to think and how to write than actually trying to create anything.

Are you currently working on a full-length or another EP?

Yes! There is a lot more on the way. Folks who come to our shows will hear a lot of these new songs. I’m aiming for another release sometime in 2016.

What/who are your musical influences?

Probably the all-time most influential album on me is Psychocandy by the Jesus and Mary Chain. Roxy Music’s Avalon is a big one, too. I am listening a lot to the Blood Orange catalog these days.

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