Bassist Tim Lefebvre (Tedeschi Trucks Band, Empire of the Sun, David Bowie) and keyboardist Jason Lindner (Now Vs Now, David Bowie, Lauryn Hill, Meshell Ndegeocello, Matisyahu) released a bold new project on November 18th, the self-titled EP sedatø, featuring their mutual foray into Electronica, as well as releasing the single and very retro video for “ovrcnfdnt”. Having known each other for many years, but more recently brought together by both working on David Bowie’s Blackstar album, an experimental project was born out of their passion for analog synths and a number of Electronic influences. They recorded the project at Transmitter Park Studio in Brooklyn with Producer Abe Seiferth, another mutual friend.
I spoke with Tim Lefebvre and Jason Lindner about the genesis and development of sedatø, why it’s their Squid Game, and also what they think of live music possibilities for Electronica these days.
Hannah Means-Shannon: When people say that you know each other well, they don’t really seem to take in the full scope of your decades-long knowledge of each other. In all that time, did you never think to do a personal project together before now?
Tim LeFebvre: There was no time and space for it until recently, really. We were playing with beat music for a long time, since the mid 2000s, but after that, Bowie happened and we toured pretty hard with Donny McCaslin. We were both constantly on the road and didn’t have time to make records and think about stuff. But we’re really happy to do this one, and we got it in before Covid. We recorded this in fall of 2019.
HMS: What have you been doing to keep sane through this period of being off the road?
Jason Lindner: Projects like this, more recording. It’s more insane for me being on the road, honestly. It’s more sane being off the road and being home.
HMS: So this time has been kind of a gift for you?
Jason: Not in terms of making a living, but maybe in terms of starting to figure out how to make a living not on the road.
HMS: Did creating this project lay any groundwork there? Are you now thinking more about personal projects?
Tim: We’re already sort of doing it. Jason is already doing solo gigs. I live in Arizona and he lives in New York, and though we have plans to tour this project, Jason has been doing Electronic music. I’m not as skilled in setting up Electronic shows or I’d be doing it. I’m not really naturally a keyboard player, and it would be hard to set up an Electronic show playing bass or guitar. But I am planning on doing it.
Jason: It’s very hard to play solo with Electronic and machines, trying to figure out how to keep it interesting and keep it flowing.
Tim: The other thing is that, from my standpoint, some of the people who would come to see us would want us to play musical instruments, whereas the true Electronic music fan doesn’t give a shit about that.
Jason: Yes, they do all their work at home or in the studio, and when they are performing, you’re hearing the work they have already done.
HMS: More like a DJ?
Tim: Yes, exactly. We’re in this trap where we’re supposed to shred. With this project, we’re trying to find a new audience since that’s not the point of this music.
Jason: That’s a really good point.
HMS: Is audio-visual setup a requirement for Electronic events? Would you want to do lights and screens?
Jason: That would be really cool. Ultimately it’s the sound system set up, which is really important to the music. Then people do incorporate a lot of visuals because it’s not really interesting watching someone turn a nob. [Laughs] There are a bunch of new venues in New York where there’s starting to be more of a cross section between performing Electronic DJs/musicians. There’s a need for venues like that now with good sound. There’s a new one in New York called Public Records with quadrophonic sound. It’s like a high-fi audiophile room and a very cool space. Hopefully there will be venues like that popping up more now that musicians are doing more and more Electronic and experimental stuff.
HMS: How did you end up recording at Transmitter Park?
Jason: Well, I live across the street from that studio, and I’ve become friends with Abe Seifert. I love working with Abe. He’s a phenomenal engineer and has a great studio. It doesn’t hurt that it’s across the street from my apartment! I’ve done shows with Abe. I used to have a weekly live Electronic residency that Tim played on when he was in town. I used to have different musicians who could play synths or electric bass with pedals, drum machines, stuff like that, back in 2015 and 2016. Abe joined me a lot on that. It was a no-brainer working with him and I’ve worked with him before when I have to Produce things. He was trained by James Murphy in the DFA studio and has that experience under his belt.
HMS: Has anyone in your life been surprised by you taking on this project? To an outsider it might seem like a big shift, but based on what I’ve heard so far, it clearly wasn’t.
Jason: Just more excitement and enthusiasm.
Tim: No, because we’ve been talking about doing stuff like this for a long time. Every time I do an interview of a general kind, I mention that I’m delving into Electronics very hard. Now we have a tangible product at the end of it. It’s almost two years old now, since we sat on it.
Jason: That’s okay, Squid Game was ten years old!
Tim: This is our Squid Game. I sent this to a guy who handles some business stuff for me and he flipped out for it even though he’s an Americana guy. Anytime someone says they like a record, I’m always surprised and happy about it.
HMS: My reaction when I listen to this is that it does not feel like a first collection from you all. There’s not a sense of trying to find your way on this, though there might have been from your perspective. That could be because of your level of interest and background in looking into this kind of music. Or maybe it was terrifying from your perspective!
Tim: Basically, what we did a lot of was laying foundations, and Jason is amazing at layering stuff, finding cool sounds and melodies. That was totally familiar territory. None of it was intimidating. What’s intimidating is seeing if people like it. Making the music is the easy part to me. Getting ears on it is really the challenge.
HMS: There’s so much amazing music out there and it is a struggle to get it to the right people. Did that impact your decision of how to release the EP? I see that you’ll be putting out a video, single, and the whole EP on Bandcamp on the same day.
Jason: Yes, we want the fans who really want to purchase it and have it right away to be able to do that. And then we’ll just tease the rest of it to everyone else. Just dropping the whole thing on Spotify right away feels too easy. Bandcamp has really been a friend to recording artists throughout the whole pandemic.
Tim: Plus, some of our favorite Electronic artists and DJs have released sample packs through Bandcamp, which is amazing.
HMS: How did the very retro video for “ovrcnfdnt” come about?
Tim: I work a lot with a guy from Atlanta named Jason Kingsland, and one of the guys he works with, who is a keyboard player/mixer/engineer, Zach Pyles, also happens to do analog videos. It’s all VCR. That video is basically Jason playing a video game.
Jason: It’s a real game called “Road Rash”. It’s from the 90s.
Tim: He played the game and sent the footage over and Zach put together a video for it. For the Electronic genre, this really fits the bill since it’s hyper-active and edgy, and the motorcycle guy is pretty apropos.
Jason: I think Tim and I both thought of motorcycles for that song, the idea of motion and being on the road. Because it’s such a forward-motion song, a banger.
Tim: The melody is super Blade Runner to me. You can think of it visually as well as musically.
HMS: Yes, I listened to the song before I saw the video and my first impression was that it felt very cinematic. The video really fit what I was thinking. But it’s funny, psychologically, when you watch the video, because you start to feel really concerned about the character when he begins to go off the road or veer!
Tim: We threw in medical footage, too. It needed that edge because there’s edge in the sound, especially the bass sound. How do you get that from just a video game? We needed a little bit more. Zach really did a great job adjusting the color and oversaturating everything, too.
HMS: How seriously should we take the titles on the different songs? Are they more about a feeling or more specific than that?
Jason: I would say that they are more of a feeling and you don’t have to take them too seriously. They are very abstract.
HMS: I was most surprised by the track “sleeep” because it has a softer approach than the others. It’s still pretty eerie in its own way and it builds up as it goes, becoming more adventurous.
Jason: That’s definitely a favorite among people I’ve played the record for. That was built on the sound from a new synth I had gotten. It’s a reissue of an old synth, the Rolland D-50. This was a Rolland D-05, which they’ve reissued in a smaller version. I think it’s a preset from the Rolland D-50 that they threw in. It’s a music box-like sound that can sound kind of eerie because we’ve heard it in a horror film context. But it can also be pretty and soothing, like a lullaby, and that song kind of sounds like a lullaby.
HMS: What about “mycelium takeøver”? That’s got a very doomy, dramatic opening to it. I guess it has something to do with mushrooms? But there’s an alien feeling to the song, suggested by the sounds.
Jason: That one had a working title of “the mountain” because it sounds ominous.
Tim: Also, I kind of thought of a bassline and was hearing those specific notes, like Nine Inch Nails. Then, again, Jason channeled some really cool Blade Runner-like stuff. It had that epic build to it. I like that track, too.
Jason: I’m playing the Yamaha CS-80, which is a very coveted synth that just happened to be in the studio at that time.
HMS: I feel like there’s a relationship between “mycelium takeøver” and the first track, “insaie”, with a haunted kind of feeling.
Tim: There was a documentary on mushrooms and how that’s the internet of the biological world. They interconnect everything on the planet. So the idea for the song is, “What if the mushrooms decided to take over the planet?” So the feeling of the song is just growing and getting bigger and bigger.
HMS: Wow, I thought that was just science fiction! On Star Trek: Discovery, they use a mycelium spore drive. There’s a lot more to that than I thought. Regarding the song “so numb”, because of the title, I thought there would be a vacancy or void-type feeling to the song, but instead it’s almost uplifting.
Tim: That one’s been remixed and released already by Nick Whittemore from Empire of the Sun. A bunch of people have done remixes. We knew Whittemore would do something interesting. He actually changed the key, sang lyrics over it, and called it “Before the End” on the project Teenager. It’s like a whole other song now.
Photo credit: Alex Urquia