The first two releases for The Fundamental Sound, Dan Klug’s lo-fi instrumental project, focused on the familiar: a collection of Christmas songs in 2021, and his take on Grateful Dead tunes in 2022.
The newest release, a self-titled one, draws from a different well: Klug’s own songs.
“I had a lot of this music already done, but I struggle, like every independent musician, with promotion,” said Klug, a Brooklyn-based multi-instrumentalist and producer. “The Christmas and Dead albums were kind of natural to put out first.”
While the releases were spread out — the original record came out in April — Klug worked on all three simultaneously.
“The way that I record, I have a drum tracking setup in my apartment, and I have to set it up and take it down,” he said. “So in that world, it was funny, I needed to rehearse and prepare the Christmas stuff and the Dead stuff, but with the original stuff it was more automatic because I wrote it. So I would do a Dead tune or Christmas song then do an original song.”
Klug said he writes on piano, drums or bass.
“There’s no method to the madness. That’s what I like to play. I wrote a lot on guitar when I was listening to The Meters exclusively for many years and still do. As I became a better jazz pianist, I think I began composing more on the piano as I had more utility and moving around on it. Typically I’ll play something on the piano or the guitar. Some of the favorite stuff I’ve written” has been on the drums, he said, especially with another one of his projects, the funk band The Consecutives.
One of the challenges of creating the new material was coming up with titles for the tracks without having the benefit of lyrics to pull from.
“Over the years, I’ve come a long way. Back when I was composing partially on the piano, I only really composed in a few keys, so I couldn’t be like this is the one in C sharp or C minor,” he said. “So I came up with numbers, like beat number one. I had a couple hundred beats. For me, when it comes to naming, I think it’s really important because it kind of compartmentalizes and gives the songs more of a space and identity. I like to visualize the feeling that music gives you, I think that’s why I like soul music so much. As long as it ties to the music and where my head is. It takes me a while, and when I don’t like it I change it immediately. Some were mixed under different names but then I changed them.”
Minimalism is a hallmark of The Fundamental Sound. Asked if getting better on various instruments and having more musical options has made it harder to keep things simple, Klug said, “I don’t want to say difficult, but like your tatstes change with TV, wine or sports or whatever. I think I noticed that more than anything else. Stuff I composed when I was in my early 20s is different than what I do now. But I think these are parts of maturing as a musician. Tastes change and so does the way you compose.
“As a musician, I value minimalism and I don’t think complexity means better and potentially be more confusing.”
While Klug considers The Fundamental Sound primarily a recording project to be promoted online, there have been live shows. Next up is a trip to Nashville for a Sept. 28 show at Cheekwood and possibly another show in town that Friday.
“It put a lot of thought into [booking],” he said. “Metal bands don’t book cocktail bars for reasons. Same with any band. I’m open for anything. Any place that has that improvised groove feel kind of works, it can be anything from jazz to funk, and so would the jam world. People show up for that and there are a lot of passionate music lovers in that space. We typically play cocktail bars because it’s a seated, have-a-drink kind of vibe. I’m open to most anything as long as it would work. But if a metal bad approached us and said we want you to open for us, I’d listen to see if it could work.”
Because of Klug’s background in jazz, he said there is some room for going off script at the gigs.
“I’m a jazz musician by training, and improvisation is definitely a part of what we do. Some songs on the album don’t have solos intentionally, and I think that goes well with a show too, I don’t need a solo on everything. The idea is for a live performance to be a living, breathing thing. I can hire guys on short notice who do this well and give them a compass and a map, having a form and a model. But I don’t want it to be rooting. It’s OK to mess up as long as you come back.”
Klug said he plans to work on more music this year with The Fundamental Sound and might focus on his takes on two of his other favorite rock artists, Led Zeppelin and The Beatles.