Brian Engles is a local talent whose creative output includes a short documentary, a novel called “Wildball” and most recently a new indie pop album called “Ocean Moods” from his music project, Racing Days. It will be released on all major streaming platforms today. To celebrate he will be performing a free concert at The Woods Hole Public Library Wednesday, August 14, at 7:30 PM.
I caught up with Brian over the phone to talk about this new project.
When did you write the material for this album?
It kinda got started when I was waiting for the new Tame Impala album to come out. They said it was going to come out last summer and I got bored waiting for it and thought I might as well make an album while I waited.
The sound on the album is a little different from your last one. There is some really cool production and electronic sounds on it. Were they inspired by the Tame Impala album you were waiting for and what you thought it might sound like?
A little bit. I wanted to incorporate electronic sounds with guitars, which is something that band does but it was also just the fact I didn’t have a drum kit or as many guitar amps as I would have liked. I was working within my limitation. I had a laptop, a guitar and a mic.
Did you play all the instruments?
Yeah, this time around I did.
What was that like?
It was different. For the most part, all the drums loops were prerecorded. I think the old me would have been a little disappointed and would have wanted to record a live drum track, but this time around I said, “Hey it’s easier and sounds a lot better to work with the loops.” I just had to make peace with that and work with a different sound that can hopefully lead to new creative places.
What’s behind the title “Ocean Moods?”
The kid I babysit asked me one day, “How do you make an ocean?” (laughs) and I wasn’t sure how to answer. It just stuck in my head. Another day we were hanging out, and the conversation led to me telling him, “Let the ocean decide.” It was just one of those things about being in this environment. Growing up here everyone has that connection. I don’t know if you’ve dealt with this moving away from here, but when I was in New York I really missed it. I mean, of course, there is water there but it’s different. Coming back to this environment, I felt reconnected to it.
Tell me a little about the release show you have planned.
I’m going to be doing a mix of singing and dancing along to backing tracks for half it of it; then I’ll be doing live instrumentation with me and drummer Matt Liles, so it’s sort of similar to the album.
Is that new for you, performing that way?
Yeah, it is, and I wanted to do it that way because it felt like a new challenge to see if I could hold a room and hold an audience in that way, having to use different skills. I hired Rafe (Sanger) to do lights, so hopefully that helps.
Is there a song on the album that is a favorite for you?
I think the two that feel like the singles are “Huraches” and “Crumbs of Comfort”—which feels like the most pop song I’ve ever written. It’s about that moment when you see the opportunity to tell the person you have feelings for about it, to lay your cards on the table and you let it pass. That moment when you’re kicking yourself for not seizing the moment. That’s what I was going for. I hope that’s a relatable thing.
As someone working in this era of releasing music and trying out a new style, what would you like to see as the trajectory of this album?
It’s hard to answer that because I know if you’re doing it for some outside reception of validation, then you kind of set yourself up for disappointment if it doesn’t land the way you want it to, but I want it to connect with people.
I’ve been making these cootie-catcher things—like you used to see in school back in the day. On the front they ask, “What’s Your Ocean Mood?” Then, inside, it has the information about the album. I know everybody has so much stuff coming at them all the time now in this age of content, so if I can get someone to engage with it for a second, that’s all I can ask for and hopefully people will listen.