Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Botany to release full-length album this summer
This just in: Spencer Stephenson is also dropping a new song with two members of Fleet Foxes.
Although Spencer Stephenson is now the one-man group named Botany, his story begins with the beloved Denton band Sleep Whale. Sleep Whale was Stephenson's favorite band, at the time a duo band called Mom. The band then changed its name to Sleep Whale, added vocalist Paul North, and also added big-time fan Stephenson.
“They were the only ones doing sample-based, field recording elements; they were my favorite band,” Stephenson said. Yes, this was one of those rare occasions where the admiring fan was asked to join the band.
Stephenson's work with Sleep Whale also helped him get Botany a record deal: Sleep Whale was signed to Western Vinyl, and Botany was picked up by the label months later.
Botany’s sound is similar to Sleep Whale's, but it delves further into the instrumental journey between a dreamlike state and reality. It adds more electric and bass guitar and uses old record breaks from early hip-hop samples. The result is an orchestrated collection of mixed percussion and fading melodies that create a gentle yet cascading wave of calming segments that will challenge even the trendiest chillwave artist.
Botany — “Monk Rock Version 1, Chapter I”
“Botany is an ever-evolving form of therapy, a blank canvas for me to pour my mind onto,” Stephenson said. “It’s so personal; when I try to think about what it’s about, I get a rush of images and things that are really important to me. Some of it is strange images from my childhood, or a video game that I played when I was a kid.” He went on to explain that some music is based on colors he sees in images, notably purple and green. It’s as if he makes music to a non-existent music video that’s playing in his head, instead of the other way around.
He’s released a five-song EP out of the year-and-a-half endeavor entitled Feeling Today, and is currently working towards a full-length. Stephenson’s mom passed away 9 months before the release of Feeling Today, which he said had a big impression on the mood of the record, and eventually became a tribute to her. Stephenson wrote and recorded the EP in the house he grew up in with his mom, in Weatherford.
He still lives in the Weatherford house, and he says there aren’t many artists doing what he is in North Texas. Stephenson has debated leaving Texas to follow his music, but says he wants to focus on releasing his first full-length first.
He'll release the album this summer. He describes the sound as lush with texture-oriented elements, but be prepared for a hazier and perhaps more melancholy record than his EP. Stephenson says his EP was cheery, upbeat, and maybe a little naïve due to his mom’s passing.
“I didn’t want to make any more songs that were dark, paranoid, or lonely, because I was already surrounded by it. The cheeriness was a natural transition at the time,” he said.
Stephenson will also debut a new song featuring Josh Tillman and Casey Wescott of Fleet Foxes. Tillman’s side project, J. Tillman, is one of Stephenson’s label mates on Western Vinyl. The song was written and produced by Stephenson and is currently untitled; it should be out by summer.
By then, Stephenson hopes to be touring with his new music. “I’m really looking forward to putting my time into playing shows. I’m still new to it and really want to do it,” he said.