On the eve of the duo’s debut album release show at Mercury Lounge on Monday, April 4, we caught up with (In)Body, a new alt-pop project made up of singer/songwriter Ryan Amador and producer Daniel Weidlein.
As individuals, the two have a wide range of accomplishments under their belts, with Amador winning the ACAP Robert Allen Award for Songwriting and Weidlein reaching the Billboard Top 50 Jazz Chart and playing with jazz luminaries like Joshua Redman and Frank Wess.
How did the two of you first cross paths, and why did you decide to work together?
Hey Highway 81. Thanks for having us. How did we meet? Ryan had a gig in Venice Beach and needed a piano player. A number of references pointed Daniel’s way. The gig went well, and Ryan shortly learned about Daniel’s home studio “The B(ea)t Cave” and subsequently his producing chops. We started slow, with only three tracks (this is like a dating game, you know?), and over time a sound and full-proof sonic partnership was born.
What types of influences, both shared and differing, did each of you bring into this project?
Ryan’s writing started with a pretty clear dichotomy of influences. The early songs were spinning around in fragments and landed either in the realm of early 2000s pop or riffed off of the Mumford & Sons faux-folk that was going on when he started writing. But he wanted the tracks to do a better job referencing his favorite albums at the time: “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill,” Outkast’s “Speakerboxxx/The Love Below,” Janelle Monae’s “The Archandroid.” When we first met, Daniel heard all of this and started dreaming up how he could bring these influences together and started scheming how to achieve a sound that captured the feeling and soul of these records without necessarily having to sound exactly like them. The music began to grow into an eclectic mix of electro-soul and alt-pop that combines the live instrumental world with the electronic space. A lot of this came from his own major influences, artists like James Blake, Frank Ocean, Tune-Yards and Radiohead. We had our doubts that the sound would find a cohesive focus, and some songs had to be omitted from this collection, but gradually over the last three
Tell me about the writing and recording process for your debut album.
Most of these songs started as drafts Ryan wrote with some simple chords underneath. A lot of this initial writing took place during isolated retreats on the New Jersey shore and a three-week stint in the California desert. Daniel took these drafts and transliterated the content into complex musical phrases that made up the underscore of the songs, and then we both edited, reworked, and re-imagined them to be accessible and inspiring to our audiences. Like I said, we didn’t really know where it was going — we just built them up, brick by brick, ’til we could step back and see its identifiable architecture.
How do you approach your live shows? Do you try to perfectly replicate the recorded versions of the songs?
Given that we’ve spent so long crafting this sound, we didn’t want to give it up in the live space. We definitely strive to get close to the sound that you hear on the record, but the energy definitely changes. Daniel combines live production skills with pre-recorded tracks lifted straight from the record, as well as a smorgasbord of live instruments to create the bed for the live show. Then, Ryan gets to play with the audience and react and respond to their energy in the moment.
What can people expect from your release show at Mercury Lounge?
Our hope is that, at this show, people will hear something they haven’t heard before and find themselves wanting to feel and move their bodies in any way possible. That’s the goal. To feel these songs “(in)body” so you can’t help but move through your emotions. You’ll certainly see that we do!
In addition to the live dates, what will you be doing to promote the album? Videos? Special events, etc.?
We do have some videos in the works, so stay tuned for that. If you’d like to support us in making them, we’ll be launching a Patreon early next week; just go to our website for the link. We’re also about to head out on a Yoga & Art Gallery Tour through the U.S., mostly hitting up the Southern states. It’s going to be modeled after the wave of house concert touring that has picked up recently, but almost exclusively in yoga studios and art galleries. We’re very excited for that. More info will be on our website by the beginning of April (www.getinbody.com).
What are your goals — both for this album, and long-term – for (In)Body?
For the record, our goal is for people to listen to the music and want to listen again. And again. And again. We strive to create music that has layers — that needs a second and third listen to ingest and process emotionally. Recordings that you can still find a cool new harmonic or production gem in on the fourth listen through. And then the goal is to bring that music to people “(in)body” and shake the hand of each and every one of our listeners. Long-term goals are just a scaled-up version of the same thing. The idea is to play for people all over the world, and share this music with as many people as possible in live interaction. Playing huge stadiums of course would help with that, so we often see that as a major goal. That would also mean we’d have the resources and means to keep producing music at this level without constantly freaking out about the bottom line. It costs a lot and takes a lot of time when you don’t have any money to make it happen.
What bands or artists do you consider to be your peers or kindred spirits? Who would you like to tour with?
We just made a hard attempt to open for Young Fathers. Not saying we sound exactly like them, but they get our energy and our vibe. We also think it’d be pretty cool to open for whatever Gaga is about to do in music. She’s constantly pushing boundaries in this alt-pop sphere like we are trying to, so the styles would merge well we think. Other than that we seem to mention Jack Garratt, Imagine Dragons, and Kimbra a lot.
What is the best album you’ve heard in the last year?
“To Pimp A Butterfly” we say unanimously. And I don’t think we’d just limit it to this year…that record takes on such a clear, powerful voice both lyrically and musically. Kendrick is truly a once-in-a-generation kind of artist.
What is the best concert you’ve been to recently?
Ryan: I just saw Reggie Watts & Karen perform their extremely long set at El Cid for the second time. It’s probably the most incredible thing I’ve seen a person do with their voice and body. It’s an endless song of absurdity and emotion intertwined. The man’s a genius and an inspiration.
Dan: Man, it was just a house party, but I keep coming back to this show I saw with Jacob Collier, Louis Cole and Sam Wilkes. It was very impromptu but those guys are such incredible musicians, and it was so much fun watching THEM have so much fun playing with each other and getting to know each other through music. Jacob’s another one of these guys that really doesn’t come around often as he’s the rare breed of genius where you can see the wheels turning in his head every time he plays, but it still feels good and has soul rather than just sounding meticulous.
Is there anything I didn’t ask about that you’d like to mention?
This is the very beginning of what we hope is a long and constantly evolving journey for us. There’s nothing we enjoy more than connecting to individuals through our music, as we both often have an easier time expressing ourselves through music than anything else. So don’t be strangers! Introduce yourselves, ideally in person, but through the webosphere is fine too. We just want to know who we’re making music for and what’s resonating with you. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for listening!