Broke-Ass Band Interview: Carter Tanton, Show Tuesday at Cameo Gallery
Carter Tanton, formerly known as Tulsa, has been generating quite a bit of critical buzz lately – Rolling Stone dubbed his “indie-seraphim voice… not of this world” and Nylon Mag declared his upcoming album, Freeclouds, an “indie gem.” You’ll be able to get Freeclouds – which feels like the aural equivalent of a warm cup of cider on a cold morning – when it’s released on Nov. 15th on Western Vinyl. But, if you don’t want to wait that long to hear his music, then you’re in luck! You can preview two songs here and see him live at Cameo Gallery tomorrow, Nov. 8th, with Boy King Island, Boy Without God, and Ryan Lee Crosby for just $5. Below, Carter tells us about his eclectic style, the story behind “Fake Pretend,” and how he keeps it cheap on the road.
How would you describe your sound?
I’m still trying to settle on a sound for my solo stuff. It’s hard to say. I like playing psych ambient electric guitar but I write pretty straightforward songs…and I’m way into dance music and using beats and samples. I think all this will show itself a bit more on subsequent releases.
Tell us about the transition from Tulsa to recording and touring under your name, Carter Tanton.
It’s nothing drastic. Tulsa was, for most of it’s time as a band, really a solo project.
Tell us about the name of your debut solo LP, Freeclouds.
I was going to call it “wild eyed boy from freecloud” but a friend I trust dissuaded me from choosing that title. Freeclouds is a compromise, I guess. To tell you the truth, I’m not crazy about the title which is bothersome because that’s one of my favorite parts of the album process.
The title of your single with Marissa Nadler, “Fake Pretend,” can be interpreted many ways as a phrase – can you elaborate on the meaning of the song?
It’s intentionally infantile or juvenile, you know. Like saying “I like LIKE her…” I wrote that song six years ago and I was living with someone a little younger than me and that kinda reflected her attitude.
What do you want people to take from your music?
That all music is part of a continuum…there’s a lineage, undeniable and much broader than anyone’s aware of.
What’s your favorite makeshift instrument?
The car steering wheel makes for good air drums.
Who are you listening to right now?
Teebs, distal, the luyas, lake, Onra.
You’re from Boston; do you ever get to hang out in NYC? How do the two cities compare to you?
I’m from Baltimore and that’s where I currently live. But I did live in Boston and it doesn’t compare too well to NYC I’d say. There’s not much a place for true freaks there. There’s a conservatism that even runs through art and music scenes. A little too precious for my taste.
How do you like to spend your downtime?
I hang out with my cat. I record music. I hang out with my dad. Pretty chill stuff.
What’s your favorite NYC neighborhood?
Your favorite cheap bar in NYC?
I don’t go out to bars.
Your favorite cheap meal in NYC?
Oasis. The falafel place near the Bedford L train.
Your favorite cheap place to shop? – whether it be for clothes, records, equipment, etc…
Yardsales. Baltimore yardsale season in the spring. Amazing.
Tell us about one of your brokest moments as an artist?
Hah. No thanks. Trying to forget them.
How do you save money on the road – domestically and internationally?
I don’t drink much. That helps a lot. My food taste is pretty cheap too.
What’s your pre-show ritual?
Don’t really have one.
What do you refuse to spend money on?
City buses. L-A-M-E.
What do you think a musician should spend money on?
What was the most expensive thing you’ve ever bought and why did you make the purchase?
A tape machine or a van. Both were used for years and years. Great purchases.
What’s up next for you?
Touring Europe for a few weeks and then I’ll work on a new record this winter.
Any parting words/wisdom/advice?
Yes, if you don’t root for the Celtics you won’t go to heaven.