We caught up with Eric Copeland on the back of his new release 'Goofballs' out now on DFA. Eric Copeland is a founding member of Black Dice as well as a prolific solo artist. Besides DFA, he has released albums on L.I.E.S., Post Present Medium & Paw Tracks.
Having the spent last year on tour with Animal Collective, Copeland returned to the lovely Balearic Island of Palma in Spain to compose the album. Recorded with a minimal setup, focusing mostly on bass groove Goofballs places its emphasis on playful melodies, ear worm hooks & vocals mixed with trademark machine funk rhythms that hit hard and land offbalance.
Tell me about the inspiration behind Goofballs?
Goofballs came about from my studio practice. I work daily on music so my albums tend to reflect a time rather than a set of inspirational ideas. That being said I was specifically trying to emphasize the relationship between the bass and drums. I have not always been the most capable with bass clarity so I was mostly working on a weakness.
You mentioned that recording and writing this album was a fast process – is this generally how you tend to work? Or does that change from release to release?
I work a lot. Sometimes it can be challenging and slow like polishing rot. But this time the songs all seemed to offer direction to each other which made it easier to finish. My studio is in my home now which also makes work somewhat ever-present and easy to chip away at.
Tell me about your production process - do you have an idea in mind when you step into the studio or do you just begin a track and see where it goes?
Very rarely do I have anything in mind when I write. I find that if you follow the sounds rather than try to inject some outside idea that I am surprised and much happier with the results. There's definitely a point where its more about editing than creation though and that's often where the tracks take real shape.
Do you have any unusual traditions for production?
Nothing unusual for me. Very small amount of gear so maybe there's something unusual to other people... It's very layered.
Where does most of your production take place, at home or do you tend to go into a studio?
My studio for years was in a warehouse in Brooklyn. I'd go for the full day, committed. Now my studio's in my apartment so instead of a twenty minute bike ride it's a ten step walk.
Tell me about the name Goofballs – is that inspired by anything in particular or was it just a name you picked out at random?
It wasn't random. But I'm also not one to sell myself really. So to me Goofballs as a title avoids the oft-abused arrogance and pomposity of many titles and replaces it with a little private humor.
Do you have a favourite track from the LP?
Close Encounters is the track that's held together by a prayer. All the components were made separately and the mere fact that they play in time felt like a huge hail-Mary.
So you have a homemade 'drum brain' – can you describe what it specifically does for you?
The drum brain is a box with two oscillators that can be triggered for sound. The oscillators can be tuned and shaped independently. It's really just another sound source.
Was there any particular reason that you decided to get it made?
I used to play a commercial version of a brain made by Simmons. My friend fusetronsound.com gave me that. Another friend, Barry London, found the schematics to build the brain and gave me a lesson in soldering. When I didn't finish, Barry completed its creation for me.
In terms of releases – what have you got on the cards in the next year or so?
I've got tracks building up. DFA is planning to release an EP at some point. But I'm always looking for new homes too.
Do you have any up and coming artists that you have your eye on at the moment?
I wish I could say yes but I'm not current on what's happening out there... Definitely nothing younger than five years old really.