TEEEL aka Jim Smith recently sat down with Cultbreak and kindly answered a few questions that needed some answers.
Cultbreak : You’ve had a busy year. Tell us what you have been up to and what you are willing to reveal about the new album.
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TEEEL : I’ve been extremely busy this year with work, life and writing music into the night. I also run a mobile DJ company so my weekends tend to fill up really quick. I recently set up my Live performance rig and have been practicing to play out future events. As for the new album, I’ve started compiling all of my comp song ideas, loops, etc. into sub-genres. Basically I’ll put together songs that work well with each other. Some nights I’ll write a really dancy track and other nights I’ll begin a synth melody, drum pattern, or guitar riff. And then other nights I don’t write music at all and just create synth patches or clean up my sound library. The new album will be across the board as far as genres are concerned, but it will still have Teeel’s signature sound. Same guitar, same synths, same vocals just a broader range of feeling and style compared to Amulet.
Cultbreak: And Otherworldly Mystics will have it out on tape!
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TEEEL: I posted about doing physicals on my Facebook page and they contacted me to do cassettes. We’re doing a limited run of 100. I’m really excited and should be pretty awesome.
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Cultbreak: You were recently quoted as a willing performer for some summer backyard parties. That tells me that it’s all about the good times and the beats. Is that a good assessment?
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TEEEL : Absolutely! Growing up, my friends and I put together some amazing shows from Backyard Bonfire Dance Parties with Trance and Drum and Bass to renting a Vietnam Vet Hall and having Hardcore bands play all day. Where I grew up, there were at least 2-3 shows a week in someone’s backyard or garage. It seemed like every kid in the neighborhood played an instrument. There were so many bands and places to play every week, it was so much fun. I love clubs and all but sometimes it’s nice to chill and have a good time with real people. No security. No insane drink prices.
I think it would be exciting to drive out to different cities, play and hang with fun people.
Cultbreak : There is great and unavoidable summery, nostalgic dept. in your music; a dept. that may escape someone younger that will simply discover something new and amazing. Still, how much of your music is part of the soundtrack of your childhood? Were were you in 1987?
TEEEL : I was obsessed with music as long as I can remember. In 1987, I was most likely watching MTV videos or a movie at my friend Gary’s. He was allowed to watch anything so I was able to see a fair share of Horror flicks at a young age. Whenever I my play synths, I just think about the 80s.
The movies, the music, the hairstlyes, the fashion. Everything seemed really fun.
Cultbreak : I guess we were too young to realize that the world could blow up at any moment. Do you think that we will move on and the next generation will be as nostalgic towards the music and aesthetic of the 90’s as we are towards the 80’s?
TEEEL: That’s a great question. The 80s were so unique and unusual so I think that time period will always stick out. Looking back to the 60s and 70s, they were very unique too. I think because we’re so close to the 90s and 2000s we don’t really focus on it now, In 10 more years 90s Hip Hop and Hard Rock could be stronger than ever. I guess we shall see.
Cultbreak: Is the chill-wave the right description of your work and is it really all about synth-pop nostalgia and a deep longing for exuberant haircuts?
TEEL : I’ve written songs that were dark with heavy metal guitar to really chill and light electronica. I think people hear reverb and they automatically think chill-wave. Genres are silly, in my opinion. I just write music and that’s what comes out. It’s the mood of what I want to hear at the time. I’m a huge fan of synth-based music and love the 80s so I’m automatically drawn to those sounds.
Cultbreak : There were some great synth riffs in 80’s metal / poodle-haired rock!
TEEEL : Oh yeah man. Everyone knows the Oberheim OBX synth in Van Halen’s “Jump”. I loved the 80s hair band videos more than anything. Unplugged neon-colored instruments, woman with ridiculous Aquanet hairdos and dancing on car hoods. Doesn’t get much better than that.
Cultbreak : I’ve read some really interesting and very positive reviews of your music yet they always want to compare you with something else, namely from the 80’s. Do you find that to be a burden or just a great compliment? Can you be summarized to just a few comparisons? Can anyone?
TEEEL : I’ve gotten some great comparisons. I think it’s funny though. Most of the time I write a song, I’m not referencing those artists. I then go back and listen and I’m like “Ok, I get it. The guitar sounds a little like New Order” Honestly, I’m just amazed how much thought people put into my music.
They can describe it better than I can. It’s awesome.
Cultbreak : Moodgadget and Ghostly International have quickly become unavoidable labels for fans of electronic music. How did Moodgadget and your amazing collaborations with Ghostly come about?
TEEEL : The first track I released under TEEEL was Goodbye on the Dry Waves compilation from Moodgadget and ISO50.From there, we did Amulet on Moodgadget Records. Recently, we worked on another compilation called UNDER THE MOUNTAIN featuring my latest song MOOGWAI plus a handful of other amazing Moodgadget artists. The compilation featured everyone that played at the Moodgadget Showcase at the Glasslands Gallery in Brooklyn. It was a truly amazing day and event. Everyone played a great set and it was nice to meet my fellow label mates.
Cultbreak : Vinyl is making a huge comeback. Will we soon find TEEEL printed in this oh so lovely and ever palpable format?
TEEEL : I’m really trying to. I want to do it right. I might actually fund the whole thing. If anything, I’m going to do a limited run of CDs that will have bonus songs. I also plan on designing a few prints and other fun stuff in the near future.
Cultbreak: Tell me about the other names you performed with or under; Would you re-invent yourself yet again?
TEEEL : I’ve played in bands since high school. My first band was hardcore/metal band called”Transgression” I got into DJing and electronic music in the mid 90s. That lead to the desire to produce my own music while continuing to DJ parties and jam with different people. In college, I was in a band McFly (Not the crappy boy band group from Europe) I played guitar on some songs and sang on others. I started writing dark drum and bass under my DJ name Agent Smith and then later Incision. I was still learning about production and got frustrated making such technical music. I decided to just love drum and bass and instead, write a bunch of melodic electronica. I used the name Mimeo for a while and even made hip hop beats under Dead Ringa and minimal electro tunes under Hoverboard. I also started a project with a co-worker called Silver Sea which is a hybrid of his guitars and my production. I feel each style I write needs it’s own identity and brand and concept. I don’t think I can just write one style all day and not try to explore something else. I’m investing all of my time into Teeel and I’m doing it on my own. I make sure to write back to every fan, every supporter, keep my websites updated, and most importantly, write music as much as I can.
Cultbreak : I don’t know of any active music makers that are not active music listeners. What have you been listening to lately?
Cultbreak: When will the new TEEEL Album be out on Moodgadget?
TEEEL : I don’t have anything on the books yet. Once I complete the album I have to work with the label to schedule the release and fit it appropriately into their catalog. For now, I’ll be continuing to push out new tunes, remixes and much more.
Cultbreak : Thank you so much for talking to us!
TEEEL : Thanks again for this interview. It’s been fun! Shout out to my friends family and fans. I love you all.