Children of Pop is more a statement than a name, pinning generation Y to a musical upbringing of force-fed pop music. Putting that belief to work, Children of Pop created an album entitled Fiesta/Drift, split into two sections, “one dedicated to the party and the other focused on meditation and relaxation,” infusing components from every stop on the pop spectrum into a coherent psychedelic indie-rock album. The opening track “I Know,” a whirlwind of phaser echo, and deceiving guitar tones, features a repeated and chanted refrain of “take control,” which is exactly what Children of Pop has done with a conceptual album that could have, at any moment, taken a turn for the worse.
The single from the album, and second track, “Breezin,” sets the tone for the first half of the album, offering listeners a fresh take on the retro synth-pop styling that has been beaten deep into the streets of Brooklyn. But what would a guy from Houston, TX know about that? Following an early theme of carefully and uniquely crafted guitar tones, “Breezin” features an energetic dance riff that sounds uncannily like a steel drum creating a breezy island vibe. Combined with airy 80’s synth tones huge textural vocals and a funky rhythm section, we get a sense that CoP wanted to make his own wave rather than jump on the crashing indie-pop swell.
At track seven, we get to the drastic but welcoming change from fiesta to drift. “All This Love” hits the listener like the moment after a 5-mile run or a double shift at work: a feeling of tranquility and accomplishment comes over the listener. Despite feeling like these songs were written in and for a different place and time, it supplements the first half creating something more coherent than I could have expected for an album split into two separate sections. We had a chance to catch up with the musician behind the project, and his thorough answers about the new output are below.
How did this proclaimed “astral voyage love affair” take form? Was it your intent to write two different groups of songs or did the record stem from two separate periods of songwriting?
Two different “applications” just seemed to suit a lot of what I had/have going on in my life. I was initially signed to the Lefse / Banter Media label / management and they really liked the slow jam “Charge”. So I was just milking that cow with some downer jamz. Then when I smelled that starting to spoil, I changed gears and started writing more straight-ahead bangers. When I teamed up with Chill Mega Chill for the album to be magnetized to tape, I had to solidify orders and a title, etc. It just made sense to organize the music with party jamz off the top and drowners on the flip. I’m either jamming with my friends; socially/externally, or lights out headphones loud; solitarily/internally. I guess, what I like is what I ended up with. Just made sense to clarify that by organizing the tape that way, and titling it Fiesta/Drift. Also, IMO will work great pressed to vinyl if any bankrollers out there want to hope onboard!!!
I came into the whole astral thing on two counts; analogous evolution. When Digital Ash In A Digital Urn came out, I had this moment where I was flying through space (1st person) and all the music was zooming past in radical shapes and colors that were so fresh to me. Then, when Conor started to sing, his head just, POOF, popped up and started to sing to me!!! That really changed how I listened to music and what I was doing with my own music. It’s like after you go to heaven or fall in love, or go to the beach for the first time, everything is inherently different afterwards. I reprogramed my game to create soundworlds and push for movement and freedom for “radical shape / color to zoom past.” Visions like that the placeholders of my life. To answer how I would get inspired for this album, I would imagine I was traveling through a stargate and let my imagination go wild and then realize what I experiencing musically. IMO the slow jam, “All This Love”, really nails that idea for me 1:1.
The other way I arrived at the astral adventure was probably due to the academic world. My first semester in college, I was introduced to the transcendentalist writers. Emerson and Thoreau were real game changers for me. The day I read Walden I straight up quite my job. I realized Thoreau wouldn’t be caught dead in a dairy cooler at Kroger. I put an ad in the local paper for guitar lessons, and I have been teaching as few lessons as possible ever since. But yeah, that is when I woke up and started living my own life; asking questions. I have been jamming the idea of transcending, ascending, lucid dreaming, astral projecting, and all that spirit science stuff ever since my awakening. Sounds so new agey but whatever, I am serious about pursuing these enigmas we all try and pretend don’t exist.
I used “Riding the Fence” as a motive throughout the record. I am in love with adventure, but I do realize all that stuff is outside of the “real” world. This love affair between what I see when my eyes are closed (opened) vs. what I see when my eyes are opened (closed). It is tough to choose one lover; they are both so beautiful. It is something most of us do all the time, maybe battling between the fear of success vs. fear of failure. Relationships . . . jobs . . . school . . . it is very rare for someone to really dive into anything all by him/herself and see it through till the end no questions asked. Once, I witnessed this guy put ten grand down on red in Vegas. I had never seen someone live so hard and so fast. He won and we instantly became brothers!!!
I see aspects from generations of pop come together in this album but ultimately it comes out as something that strays from conventions. Is that where the name stems from—do you consider yourself and your music children of pop?
You nailed it! After I graduated from music school, I had this really reflective 2 or 3 months period where I got pretty down. Overwhelmed with this “now what?!” feeling. I just wasn’t content with my output. So yeah, I started actively cataloging my values, micro and macro, with the intent of starting my own personal legacy. Pop music is so rad, and it comes easily. The idea of lineage and launch padding off of what preceded was there too. The “traditions of music” were so heavy inside the walls of academia, (I was just getting out of there and I was probably still a little brainwashed). So yeah, I for sure intended to communicate that with “children of pop.”
You refer to yourself as a “middle of the road pro grade Jazz musician.” There definitely is something jazzy to your guitar work. Do you consider yourself a guitar player at heart? Where do your roots lay in your musical foundation?
Well, that is kind of truth in gest. I’m just making fun of myself. I am a full time musician right now, and I do play in a few Jazz trios and musical theaters to pay bills. Wherever the spirit leads me ;). I dig Jazz, sure, but I’ll have plenty of time for Jazz when I am old. Now is the time to relate to with others, and jam pop bangers/downers till I run out of questions. Yeah, technically speaking, I graduated with honors in music theory, and studied Jazz guitar. So yeah, technically I am a middle of the road pro grade Jazzer. I thought about going anon and doing a Jazz guitar Christmas album last year just to get some $$$. There is definitely this love affair I have with the guitar. I tried so hard to get away from it at the beginning of this record, but I ended up tracking guitar as a literal “instrument” / tool to realize ideas and then spending a ton of time making it sound like it wasn’t a guitar. Kind of cheating. I am inspired to do some more traditional guitar on my next record, think Califone or the new Dan Casey. Generally, less cheating on my guitar haha. Oh, but for live shows, we have been tumbleweeding on guitar jams without any reservations. There is something very in the now / happening about a live guitar solo. Touring the US in November, come tumbleweed with us!
What was the recording process like and what was the hardest part of putting together an album like this?
Well, I definitely work children of pop as a studio project first of a live project second. Once I get a song idea, it can be pretty malleable. Really into getting coffeed up, trancing out, and letting my stream of consciousness work for me. I do have all these things I juggle in my dome . . . I will try and explain: I judge the quality of a work based on the subconscious gymnastics one will have to undergo when listening to it. I try and shoot for maybe ?100? but haha I actually never really count them all out. I always chant to myself, “moving music is good music”, to push that priority to the forefront. This X factor idea; A tune must have an identity. I sit back and defined the work in one word. Sometimes it takes maybe . . . 80 hours to really solidify a tune and find its grip before it starts moving / solidifies an identity. But yeah, easily the best 80 hours ever spent. My friend Marshall and I always jam on some dope ideas about music and creativity and the process . . . he told me, “If you want to ride waves, you have to go to the beach.” Like, you can’t be chilling at home on your couch, if you want to be riding waves all day. You have to get out there and do it. And you know what sometimes you put in your work and drive out there, and when you get to the beach the waves are trash. If you really want to ride waves, then you do it again tomorrow and then next day. Another wave metaphor/simile coming your way: I think of making music a riding a wave that never reaches the shore. So yeah, to me yeah it is highly rewarding when a song comes together and really starts cooking/moving but that in itself is fleeting. I just enjoy riding the wave that is creation, and getting in that zone / dimension where time just doesn’t exist. Being in the moment. Yeah, maybe a little esoteric but yeah that’s life.
I had a lot of friends help with recording process. Whether small input or larger input / advice or buying / letting me borrow gear. I would really use my friend’s ears to bounce mixes off of. I do owe them a ton.
The hardest part to was mixing and mastering. I knew nothing about sound engineering before I started this project. It took me a while to get it all figured out, but now it feels really good to just get an idea and then realize it. Mixing is still hard; I don’t know what I don’t know.
Oh and drums lol. I wish I played drums. I would have all these drum fill ideas to blur lines and create real seamless flow between cycling ideas, and I would get drummer-buddies to come over and either jam the fill on a machine or a tom or something. Most of time haha they had no idea what I was asking for, so I would try new ideas. So yeah, blurring phrases with fills and what not turned into blurring phrases with some outsider weirdo sounds like sweeping filtered delays… ect. Cus I can record those for days haha! Now, It is a thing I did on the record you know? Eliding lines and phrases with these wacked out wobbly sounds. I like how it came out.
Your Tumblr is filled with page upon page of vibrant psychedelic art. Are the pieces yours? Does visual art inspire your music or vise versa?
Yeah, I made all that wacked visual stuff haha! I see the children of pop music and the visual art coming from the same place yeah, very similar end result too. Tripp from Chill Mega Chill did the stellar work he did for the album / singles / 7 “ arts. A true OG.
“Children of pop is in love with the idea of life and terrified about the realities.” I think that quote from your album description on Bandcamp speaks a good deal about this album, care to talk a little more about the quite?
Hey, thank you! Yeah, I am big on the idea of consciously living life. “Best Day Ever”, everyday. I constantly seek things that will allow me to transcend the time dimension, or at least create the illusion of such ascension. Simple things like getting on my skateboard and just going, bball down at the park, and of course music help me get out of bed everyday. My friend Chase told me I am a self-realizer, and the term was a foreign term to me at the time, but basically I think it means you create your own reality based on what you desire / attract towards you and then you drive to see “it” come to fruition. Coming from an outside source, hearing that was big encouragement for me to keep on doing what I am doing. But then yeah, sometimes I get so down it’s hard to look at myself without bias. Big things. “Do we actually know what is governing our outside world or our every internal decisions?” “Who is in control of me / you?” Sometimes, the heavy is too scary to dwell on. Some might find that to be a little paranoid, but IMO it feels good/bad to reflect and push thoughts out there every once in a while. Yeah, I try to Will Smith everyday! haha Yeah, #veryjazzed to be out touring through November, and also trying to pretend things like money, food, and shelter don’t really exist haha!
Fiesta/Drift is out now on #VeryJazzed and Chill Mega Chill.