In Conversation: Dollar Meek

In Conversation: Dollar Meek

Speaking With Dollar Meek over the phone, it’s simple to imagine him being in a rocking chair on a front deck somewhere, observing the mild drift of the world passing and providing pensive discussion to passersby as if he has all the time in the world.

He’s an old soul with a Texan twang, and he radiates a gentle heat and openness, underpinned with a modest wisdom. His phrasing takes care, though not safeguarded; his end of the conversation is marked by regular, thoughtful stops briefly, a workout in patient building and construction of significance instead of allowing platitudes to replace real lighting, the latter of which is undoubtedly easy to do in the midst of an album press cycle.

All this is to state, he’s an interesting person, and as a reflection of that his 2nd solo album ‘2 Heros’ is some of the most captivating folk music you’ll hear this year (a vibrant claim in January, but one made with certainty).

Meek matured in Hill Nation, Texas, and invested his teenager years playing blues and western swing at dances and Texan ice houses. He’s now best called the guitarist and backing vocalist of Big Burglar, perhaps the most seriously acclaimed rock band in the world today, which was substantiated of a musical partnership with his then-wife, Adrianne Lenker.

‘ 2 Saviors’ is partly the result of Meek’s meditation on the couple’s 2018 separation, yet it broadens into a spiritual, clear-eyed and typically humorous reflection on love and mankind that catches something higher than the sum of its parts. Recorded over a week in a New Orleans mansion, Meek and his partners fed off of spontaneity and instinct; they tracked every part live, without headphones and without hearing takes after taping them.

Talking to Clash, Meek explains the process and digs into his method to creativity.

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Just how much are you drawing from the canon of folk music and country music in your own work? Do you feel you’re creating something that is a continuation of that legacy, or is it coming from a different location entirely?

I think there’s a fundamental root to that music within me, ’cause that’s the music I was surrounded with maturing. I can’t assist however integrate those tunes, and that sense of syncopation and that lilt, and the humour and complex storylines and catastrophes that you discover in c and w – I think it’s all simply embedded in my psyche from being raised in that world to a particular degree.

But at the exact same time, as soon as I completed high school, I removed; I resided in Boston and after that I was in New york city for 8 years. And I was soaking myself in a far more experimental music community there, and playing in basements with all these wild experimental bands around New york city City.

So in some methods, I believe that my departure from Texas kind of catalysed my identity as a Texan; taking a step back from it, and observing my nature, helped me to comprehend it. As my spirit was guided to all these other places, and teaming up with numerous different sort of musicians – with songwriters like Adrianne Lenker, and Mat Davidson of Twain, and people from all around the world and from various teachings – I was caused adjust my work. At the very same time, I was able to take a step back and see the core, and make the decision to honour it.

Therefore, yeah, at this moment I enable area for that when I sit down to write. I try to honour that history, and that nature in me. However at the same time, to honour the departure from that, and try to alchemise them. I’m captivated by the prospective to rewire that sound in my own mind and voice. To see what occurs whenever I throw a curveball at country music. If I toss an odd time signature on top of that old American sensation, or a more obscure, oblique narrative; filtering in more abstractions into this form that feels so natural and organic to me. That’s absolutely a driving force in my writing.

How precisely do you think you pour yourself and your identity into your music?

I expect just the everyday intention to be as truthful as possible.

Do you feel you checked out that honesty in a new way with ‘Two Saviors’?

I think my last full-length [Meek’s 2018 self-titled solo debut] was more of an expedition of characters in my own life.

Whereas this record is quite the contrary. Composing these songs was a guide through a chapter in my life that was just kind of returning to my own independence, and my own identity in some ways.

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The record’s producer, Andrew Sarlo, had the idea to make the record with a number of constraints – you ‘d take no greater than 7 days, everything is tracked cope with no earphones, you can’t hear any reclaims until the final day. What was his thinking behind that?

I think the vital credo was just to simplify the process as much as possible, and to eliminate as much self-reflection from the recording procedure as we could. There’s so much we attempted to do to get rid of the physical reflections of that procedure, the idea being that we might tap into our instincts and into truthful and instant reactions, and adrenaline, and catching that beating heart that exists in playing a song for the very first time, and reacting to your pals in the space, and falling off the rails and then needing to pull yourself back on together … To catch that threat requires a particular quantity of simpleness.

If you have headphones, and an ideal mix dialled in for you, and you’re separated behind soundproof glass, and you’re listening back to every take, and attempting songs over and over once again to try to nail them perfectly – which is an absolutely valid and beautiful process in itself – there is a particular quantity of self-reflection that pulls you out of that unsafe minute.

And so yeah, it simply got rid of so much of the barrier of self-reflection. It’s simply returning to a simpler type of recording, similar to most likely the start of tape-recording innovation, whenever people just didn’t have time or money or the resources to dig too deep into it.

And you recorded it in this old estate in New Orleans – how much does the atmosphere of your physical area sink in when you’re making a record?

I think it can make a substantial effect on a recording if you’re open to it. I’ve always been captivated by the potential to open yourself to an environment in the recording process, to enable space for it to permeate into the takes. To a particular degree, there’s a decision in that. Since the studio environment can be very safeguarded, and even forensic at times.

I believe part of how we selected this area is we simply wanted to find a space with extremely thin walls and single-pane windows. We found this old house in New Orleans, on the corner of Royal and Desire, just a block from the Mississippi. It’s a space where you can’t neglect the environment, it’s right there with you. You can hear the train moving through from time to time, and you can hear the tugboats on the Mississippi River pulling their horns, and no matter how difficult you push the a/c, the heat makes its method through the doors.

And your house itself is definitely haunted, and likewise charmed, with a couple hundred years of magic there. So we definitely selected a place that would make an influence on our spirits that week.

– – –

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There’s a very dreamlike feel to ‘Two Heros’. Was that the mental location that you were in while making the album?

To be honest, the recording procedure itself felt extremely lucid. In some ways, more than any other recording I’ve ever belonged of, because we were just so present with each other, and there was no department. It felt very lucid, and loaded with happiness. We all trust each other deeply, as artists and as pals, and after that we simply put ourselves in a room together with no departments. So the recording procedure felt really lightweight, and quite awake.

However the procedure of writing the songs was definitely a journey through lots of realms of my own dreams, and layers of lucidity, and worlds of my consciousness. So I would think of that the tunes themselves being captured in the recording are in some way unconsciously representing the dream specifies that they were born from. It seems that discomfort is a heavy existence and influence on the album.

What was the process of feeling that discomfort and equating it into the songs on this record?

Well, the more I compose, I discover that writing a song or materialising an emotion in any type, any medium, is an effective energy transfer. You can externalise and eliminate that feeling from your chest, and after that into your hands, and you can hold it and take a look at it and turn it and see it in a brand-new light and put it on a shelf, and to a certain degree accept it. And so I find the composing procedure to be most likely the most recovery process for my own self-reflection, of any emotion.

So, yeah, this album was a process of externalising a lot of discomfort, on some levels, and likewise transforming that into a new sense of delight, and understanding. Due to the fact that at the very same time, I think that discomfort and happiness are extremely carefully related, and they feed each other.

Adrianne Lenker and I were wed, and we were separated, I think 3 years ago now. I was certainly processing that to a certain degree in writing these tunes at.

It seems your songwriting has this real connection to nature – are you drawn to discussing those ideas?

Yeah. For so many factors. Among them being I like the phenomenon of humans naming things in the very first place. There’s a superficiality to that, however there’s likewise a depth to it at the same time, since there’s a lot power in language, and so much power in the shape of sounds. It’s difficult to know if the sound empowers the things, or vice versa.

I’m fascinated by the concept of how humans have named nature; called birds, and plants, and that relationship. It can be so ridiculous on one hand, but also so deep, and so much of these names simply really make good sense. You could not imagine a various one. I definitely am incentivised by that, as a practice of my own. I attempt to call things myself, just to tap into that. I believe observing nature and trying to integrate it into my own human experience is in some way illuminating. I spend a lot of time in nature, and the observation and any minutes of stillness that I can find in nature, normally, offer me so much insight into my own self-centered, small and wild human experiences.

– – –

– – –

Just how much are you drawing from the canon of folk music and country music in your own work? Do you feel you’re creating something that is a continuation of that legacy, or is it coming from a different location entirely?

I think there’s a fundamental root to that music within me, ’cause that’s the music I was surrounded with maturing. I can’t assist however integrate those tunes, and that sense of syncopation and that lilt, and the humour and complex storylines and catastrophes that you discover in c and w – I think it’s all simply embedded in my psyche from being raised in that world to a particular degree.

But at the exact same time, as soon as I completed high school, I removed; I resided in Boston and after that I was in New york city for 8 years. And I was soaking myself in a far more experimental music community there, and playing in basements with all these wild experimental bands around New york city City.

So in some methods, I believe that my departure from Texas kind of catalysed my identity as a Texan; taking a step back from it, and observing my nature, helped me to comprehend it. As my spirit was guided to all these other places, and teaming up with numerous different sort of musicians – with songwriters like Adrianne Lenker, and Mat Davidson of Twain, and people from all around the world and from various teachings – I was caused adjust my work. At the very same time, I was able to take a step back and see the core, and make the decision to honour it.

Therefore, yeah, at this moment I enable area for that when I sit down to write. I try to honour that history, and that nature in me. However at the same time, to honour the departure from that, and try to alchemise them. I’m captivated by the prospective to rewire that sound in my own mind and voice. To see what occurs whenever I throw a curveball at country music. If I toss an odd time signature on top of that old American sensation, or a more obscure, oblique narrative; filtering in more abstractions into this form that feels so natural and organic to me. That’s absolutely a driving force in my writing.

How precisely do you think you pour yourself and your identity into your music?

I expect just the everyday intention to be as truthful as possible.

Do you feel you checked out that honesty in a new way with ‘Two Saviors’?

I think my last full-length [Meek’s 2018 self-titled solo debut] was more of an expedition of characters in my own life.

Whereas this record is quite the contrary. Composing these songs was a guide through a chapter in my life that was just kind of returning to my own independence, and my own identity in some ways.

– – –

– – –

The record’s producer, Andrew Sarlo, had the idea to make the record with a number of constraints – you ‘d take no greater than 7 days, everything is tracked cope with no earphones, you can’t hear any reclaims until the final day. What was his thinking behind that?

I think the vital credo was just to simplify the process as much as possible, and to eliminate as much self-reflection from the recording procedure as we could. There’s so much we attempted to do to get rid of the physical reflections of that procedure, the idea being that we might tap into our instincts and into truthful and instant reactions, and adrenaline, and catching that beating heart that exists in playing a song for the very first time, and reacting to your pals in the space, and falling off the rails and then needing to pull yourself back on together … To catch that threat requires a particular quantity of simpleness.

If you have headphones, and an ideal mix dialled in for you, and you’re separated behind soundproof glass, and you’re listening back to every take, and attempting songs over and over once again to try to nail them perfectly – which is an absolutely valid and beautiful process in itself – there is a particular quantity of self-reflection that pulls you out of that unsafe minute.

And so yeah, it simply got rid of so much of the barrier of self-reflection. It’s simply returning to a simpler type of recording, similar to most likely the start of tape-recording innovation, whenever people just didn’t have time or money or the resources to dig too deep into it.

And you recorded it in this old estate in New Orleans – how much does the atmosphere of your physical area sink in when you’re making a record?

I think it can make a substantial effect on a recording if you’re open to it. I’ve always been captivated by the potential to open yourself to an environment in the recording process, to enable space for it to permeate into the takes. To a particular degree, there’s a decision in that. Since the studio environment can be very safeguarded, and even forensic at times.

I believe part of how we selected this area is we simply wanted to find a space with extremely thin walls and single-pane windows. We found this old house in New Orleans, on the corner of Royal and Desire, just a block from the Mississippi. It’s a space where you can’t neglect the environment, it’s right there with you. You can hear the train moving through from time to time, and you can hear the tugboats on the Mississippi River pulling their horns, and no matter how difficult you push the a/c, the heat makes its method through the doors.

And your house itself is definitely haunted, and likewise charmed, with a couple hundred years of magic there. So we definitely selected a place that would make an influence on our spirits that week.

– – –

– – –

There’s a very dreamlike feel to ‘Two Heros’. Was that the mental location that you were in while making the album?

To be honest, the recording procedure itself felt extremely lucid. In some ways, more than any other recording I’ve ever belonged of, because we were just so present with each other, and there was no department. It felt very lucid, and loaded with happiness. We all trust each other deeply, as artists and as pals, and after that we simply put ourselves in a room together with no departments. So the recording procedure felt really lightweight, and quite awake.

However the procedure of writing the songs was definitely a journey through lots of realms of my own dreams, and layers of lucidity, and worlds of my consciousness. So I would think of that the tunes themselves being captured in the recording are in some way unconsciously representing the dream specifies that they were born from. It seems that discomfort is a heavy existence and influence on the album.

What was the process of feeling that discomfort and equating it into the songs on this record?

Well, the more I compose, I discover that writing a song or materialising an emotion in any type, any medium, is an effective energy transfer. You can externalise and eliminate that feeling from your chest, and after that into your hands, and you can hold it and take a look at it and turn it and see it in a brand-new light and put it on a shelf, and to a certain degree accept it. And so I find the composing procedure to be most likely the most recovery process for my own self-reflection, of any emotion.

So, yeah, this album was a process of externalising a lot of discomfort, on some levels, and likewise transforming that into a new sense of delight, and understanding. Due to the fact that at the very same time, I think that discomfort and happiness are extremely carefully related, and they feed each other.

Adrianne Lenker and I were wed, and we were separated, I think 3 years ago now. I was certainly processing that to a certain degree in writing these tunes at.

It seems your songwriting has this real connection to nature – are you drawn to discussing those ideas?

Yeah. For so many factors. Among them being I like the phenomenon of humans naming things in the very first place. There’s a superficiality to that, however there’s likewise a depth to it at the same time, since there’s a lot power in language, and so much power in the shape of sounds. It’s difficult to know if the sound empowers the things, or vice versa.

I’m fascinated by the concept of how humans have named nature; called birds, and plants, and that relationship. It can be so ridiculous on one hand, but also so deep, and so much of these names simply really make good sense. You could not imagine a various one. I definitely am incentivised by that, as a practice of my own. I attempt to call things myself, just to tap into that. I believe observing nature and trying to integrate it into my own human experience is in some way illuminating. I spend a lot of time in nature, and the observation and any minutes of stillness that I can find in nature, normally, offer me so much insight into my own self-centered, small and wild human experiences.

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‘ Two Heros’ will be launched on January 15 th through Keeled Scales – order it HERE.

Words: Mia Hughes
Photography: Josh Goleman, Chris Sikich, Robbie Jeffers

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