“What I’d like is for Thank You Rosekind to be an ever-expanding project, one that doesn’t always require or need to take the form of pop songs… I’m ready for some surprises. I want to surprise myself. And I hope this project surprises people too.”
In 2009, artist and musician Michael Bauer dreamed up a musical project based around the idea of gratitude, a concept that lead to the creation of the dreamy electro-pop group Thank You Rosekind, named, in part, for his mother. In an age where the musical spectrum ranges radically between overblown party anthems and lyrics bogged down by ennui, TYR’s heavily layered and melodic music is infused with a rare, non-eye roll inducing enthusiasm you can dance to. Since adding vocalist Joel Chartkoff, TYR continues to thrive off of Bauer’s thoughtful, and occasionally off-beat, ideals about art and music. On the eve of the release of their second album ‘Attention Intention!,’ I talked with Bauer about his musical past.
Have you been in other bands or done solo stuff before TYR?
MB: I’ve been in a few bands. Probably the most, the other most significant project, was VOY. It started out with Tom Holmes and Oscar Santos in Los Angeles in 2002. We were together for a few years. It was really, in terms of the sound that was generated, not so dissimilar. I had a large part in producing the sound, which was very melodic, a lot of layers. [TYR is a] very different animal, but definitely that was a really formative project for me.
What elements have you changed from VOY?
MB: I think the Rosekind stuff tends to be more of a grounded sound. [For VOY] I felt like some of those songs were a lot more atmospheric; the way I played the keyboard was kinda wishy-washy, sloppier in a way. I think now things tend to be a little tight,er but simpler… I don’t think any specific project is either better or worse, but definitely this tends to be often more of a minimal kind of approach to what that was, that’s my impression. Bass lines are much more simple, drums often are not complex beats- the types of sounds I’m using like *tiara? 909 or 808* sound kinda generic in some ways. The unique quality comes from the unique unity of everything, the combination of everything, versus the distinctive elements.
What sparked your desire to express gratitude through music?
MB: I decided at a certain point, well, I had this conversation with someone years ago that was really pivotal in certain respects- it was about, as an artist, what role we should be playing. And what I got from the conversation was that it’s extremely important to talk about things that are very important to you in life, that are necessary. Or at least that’s been my approach. I am interested in doing projects that are about the inherent- just about the things that are simply very important to me. Expressions of gratitude and trying to create works that disseminate a positive disposition. That are about sort of facilitating a space for positive exchange, even if it’s through music or through drawing or performance or whatever it is.,, it’s like a lens: a lens to talk about the world, viewing through a rosy lens. Maybe that merits some sort of criticism too, not everything needs to be always rosy or really positive. I almost think of it as a sort of intervention, in certain ways, because things are fucked up or things are difficult, but if you can push this certain element, it hopefully has sort of has some sort of effect, in some very vague way.
When you started TYR, where did you place it in the musical scheme?
MB: I think that’s a great question. A lot of my approach to music making is just experimenting with the tools that I have and that, I think, ends up generating a lot of the sound, that determines a lot. So in terms of the musical scheme, I sort of found myself coming to age in Los Angeles where there were a lot of bands that I was playing with, like Rachel Mason, the Bushes- these were UCLA kids, and hearing about bands like Indian Jewelry, Aerial Pink. So I was around a lot of that stuff and I’m sure that by default that has an effect on what I’m creating. And I’ve had some interesting conversations with Rachel Mason, who’s a close friend and musician, I play with her a lot, about community and how that effects sort of the ability for a musician or a group to prosper. Usually people fare pretty well when they can figure out where they fit in.
You’ve reference your live shows, how they’re a very unique experience, what are you trying to create for your audiences?
MB: It’s continuously a work in progress but the ideal situation is to create an environment that is just so incredibly fun, beyond belief, that people just can’t help but express themselves the way they want to- hopefully in the form of dancing and an all around good time. But that’s hard to do sometimes, depending on the circumstances or even the lighting or environment. And it’s happened sometimes, where you know a show just works out really well because people are feeling it. We’re going to be incorporating more act developments, inviting some dancers to choreograph some stuff to certain songs, so that will, hopefully, create a more open, immersive experience. That’s the ideal. I think a lot of bands and a lot of people are interested in this, even people like Dan Deacon: they’re breaking down that forth wall by asking people to do things or open up a sorta scenario that’s not all about ‘let’s watch this person perform.’ Which is fine with some kinds of acts, but I think there’s a real need for music to act as a mirror.
Thank You Rosekind’s self-titled debut album and a preview of their second album, Attention Intention!, are available on thankyourosekind.com.
TYR’s Summer 2011 Tour: (updates found on thankyourosekind.com)
15 Assemble Gallery, 5125 Penn Ave Pittsburgh, PA 15224, Pittsburgh, PA
16 Mexicans sans Frontiers ,120 S Division #226 , Grand Rapids,
Michigan, Grand Rapids, MI
17 Co-Prosperity Sphere, 3219-21 South Morgan Street, Chicago, IL
20 Charleston Inc., 2076 N Hoyne Ave Chicago, IL
21 Park Bar, Detroit, 2040 Park Ave. Detroit, MI
24 Hamilton Arts Collective, 5440 Harford Road, Baltimore, MD
17 Human Resources, 410 Cottage Home St, Los Angeles, CA