Say Hi

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Say Hi

When I first encountered the music of Eric Elbogen, the force behind Say Hi, he was busy layering one of the most striking synth tracks I’d heard in some time, “Northwestern Girls” on the incredible The Wishes & The Glitch. From there, he progressed to more of a guitar-driven sound on ensuing releases before returning once again to synthesized interests. For each and every step, the Barsuk artist says he’s just following the rules he feels like setting with each new release. And even then, he’s not beholden to any of them.

Endless Wonder is the latest Say Hi album, but even that is already in his rearview mirror. When we spoke, he was knee-deep in preparations for his next album, a process he says takes so much time that he needs to start immediately after the previous one is finished. He’s setting up new rules, but as we learned, it really doesn’t matter. It’s all about creating something he really feels in the end. Otherwise, he’s ready to start again.

Stereo Subversion: You’re not on the road right now, so what takes up your time on a day like today?

Eric Elbogen: Well I’m in the middle of a new record, so I’ve been spending a lot of time doing that.

SSv: Wait, you said another record?

Eric: Yeah.

SSv: That feels pretty quick after Endless Wonder, but I’m sure these songs feel a bit more distant than they are for fans.

Eric: Yeah, I guess that’s always the case. I spend a ton of time with a record and then sort of forget about it. Then it comes out and I end up talking about it a bunch. I have to force myself… well, it’s not forcing myself. I enjoy it. I always try to jump back into it, because it will take a while. By the time that I finish it, fans will be ready for a new one.

SSv: You corrected yourself there and said you enjoy it. Do you enjoy it as much as you did in the beginning?

Eric: The quality of the enjoyment is the same, absolutely. The type of enjoyment is different. The process is different. I’m a different person. I’ve learned stuff over the years, so I approach things differently. But this stage of a new record for me is still as exciting as starting a new record back when I was much younger.

SSv: What do you start with? Like on Endless Wonder or this new project, do you start with a challenge or set of parameters or just cull together the songs that come from whatever experiences you’re in?

Eric: Part of the reason that Endless Wonder took me much longer than some of the other records is because I do sort of spend a little time deciding on rules for myself. I think most of those rules end being about the actual production of the music, but in the past that has extended to the themes of the lyrics as well. In the case of Endless Wonder, I thought I’d decided on the right set of rules and I made a record according to those rules. I didn’t like the way that sounded, so I made up a new set of rules and made the same record with that set of rules. But that also wasn’t the record that I wanted to make.

It turned into this big, long process with me trying to figure out the right set of rules. In this case, it really had a lot to do with the production of what sort of record I wanted to make. It turned out that it was the very sort of synthesizer, keyboard-heavy record with the occasional live bass and live guitar. That ended up being the set of rules I needed to create to finish the record.

SSv: That’s interesting that you didn’t like your own set of rules. How do you create rules if you’re up for changing them?

Eric: A lot of it is based upon the records that I’m enjoying at the time. For example, I’ve gone through phases where all I want to listen to is the Rolling Stones. In that case, if I’m making a record, I want to make one that’s very guitar-based and rootsy and the vocal melodies are very bluesy. Other times, all I want to listen to is Robyn so in that case it’s going to be a lot of synthesizers and drum machines.

SSv: You mentioned changing the set of rules for this album away from guitar-driven and toward the synthesized sound you ended up with on Endless Wonder. Has there ever been a project that you followed the rules you initially set even if you didn’t like the end result?

Eric: Yeah, Impeccable Blahs is a good example of that. The rule was that every song needed to be about vampires. I should clarify though that I’d never want to release something I didn’t like (per the latter part of your question). In that case, I keep going ’til I like the end result.

SSv: You moved away from the electronic sound earlier in your career. Was it nice to come back to that or were you surprised where you ended up?

Eric: Yeah, it was nice! I’m having a lot more fun shaping synth sounds, as opposed to guitar sounds, these days.


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