scaresthedaylights is this lovely project from neil lipuma, a musician/songwriter from brooklyn, nyc. some time ago marc cantone (the city and horses) told me about neil's project and sent me his album... beautiful, beautiful unpretentious music!
the story of how most of the songs were created is pretty awesome but i'll leave it to neil explain it during the interview. enjoy it!
01. first things first... tell us about the origins of the project and the name scaresthedaylights. i read on your myspace that comes from your fear of sharing your music with the world. Is that right? what's that feeling like?
the band name is derived from how fearful I was of outing my work to anyone other than myself. it scared the daylights out of me, so to speak.
the origin of the project began after i parted ways with a long-term girlfriend and pretty much suffered an early midlife crisis that led to me quitting my day job and taking a job as an assistant engineer at sear sound in nyc. I got the opportunity to observe a lot of great artists like richie havens, the killers, lykke li and bjorn yttling and sean lennon and yuka honda. this experience just inspired me to begin writing my own songs but i was very much closeted about it. i just wasn’t confidant that the songs were any good. i think I believed that they weren’t technical enough. then I played the songs for stephen of the exeter popes, katie and greg of twice as bright and marc from the city and horses. to my surprise, they really enjoyed them and gave me the confidence to keep writing. katie and marc would eventually join me on what would become 'burn then bed'.
02. a recurrent question that people love: do you get to live off music or have a 'real' job?
oh, i very much have a real job. i left sear sound and am back again doing my day job in insurance. it is where I belong. as you know, it is very difficult to make a living as a musician. i prefer the comfort in having a day job.
03. what about your creative process? do you believe in inspiration?
i absolutely believe in inspiration. i have always kept some kind of journal throughout my life. i record conversations I overhear and small details about people I meet. i jot down a quick description or a phrase and later develop it into an idea. sometimes it can be one word. i used to write poems, then short stories and now, writing a song is just another way to tell a story or express an idea or feeling.
04. 'burn the bed', your debut album, was released under white shoe records. how's your relationship with them? you knew them before or they approached you?
well, my relationship with white shoe records is an interesting one. i started the label myself in january 2006. i first released two eps from the exeter popes a band that my brother stephen formed. then we worked with a japanese psychedelic-pop band called water fai that my brother and I met while vacationing in osaka. next came, twice as bright, which was the latest project from a very prolific musician, engineer and producer named greg hoy. then came the city and horses’ record. marc and my brother stephen are the two biggest supporters of my music (not including my mom!). we don’t view white shoe as a record label but more of an independent music community. we play with each other, we support one another's musical endeavors and we just plain have fun together.
05. marc, from the city and horses - who also lends his multi-instrumentalist skills on your album too - said that took you 3 or 4 days to record 'burning bed'... talk a bit about the making of the album: song choices and stuff.
yes, we recorded the record over 2 days in brooklyn at the bunker studio with aaron nevezie who is simply incredible. we then took half a day to mix the record. aaron said it was the shortest amount of time he has ever taken to record a record. the song choices came from a little project marc and i started called one minute music whereby we would challenge each other to write songs in a short amount of time. in the tradition of the danish film movement dogma 95 we adhere to very strict guidelines. basically, we allowed ourselves 20 minutes to write, perform and record a one minute song. the song could be recorded on any device but could not exceed four total tracks and it had to be written and recorded alone. with the exception of “shirley maclaine” and “divorces,” burn the bed is essentially extended versions of what were one minute music songs I had written. I highly recommend this writing exercise to your readers. it is amazing what comes out of you when you don't give yourself enough time to over-think something.
06. personally, your lyrics are pretty awesome... i mean, your universe seems to be pretty unique (well, one might say that each person has an unique universe, but some are more interesting than others). i'm curious to know about your references and influences not only in music.
wow, you are too kind. thank you. I have always been taken by thought provoking artistry. as I kid it was the lyrics of rem., the smiths and live. in college, it was the poetry of sylvia plath, elizabeth bishop and charles simic. I adore the films of the late, greats like john hughes and billy wilder. I love the fiction of haruki murakami and david schickler. I love the paintings of piet mondrian and michael x rose. I love the films of vincent moon and marc cantone. each of these artists inspire me to write music. i think the key to songwriting deals with trusting your own voice and “universe”. It took me a long time to do so, but once I did the songs just came. I am lucky to be surrounded by so many incredibly talented friends.
07. any song you'd like to cover?
lately, I dream of covering “only you” by yaz. don’t laugh.
08. if you could give a place and hour to hear your songs, what would they be?
that is an interesting question. I think while getting dressed in the morning or while driving, either before work or right after. let’s face it, my record isn’t the one you put on when you are getting ready to go out on a saturday night.
09. finally, recommend something you've been listening lately...
the new shout out louds record “walls” and “weathervanes” by freelance whales finally replaced my incessant regina spektor listening. although, the new full-length by the exeter popes “deep sea treachery” is sure to overtake the number one spot when it comes out on march 16th.
10. anything else you feel like saying.
thank you for your interest and support! we love what you do. the city and horses are hard at work on their next album and I’ll probably get in the studio again this summer.
don't forget to check scaresthedaylights':
white shoe records
and his 1 minute music project with marc cantone
oh, and don't forget to get 'burn the bed'!