It has been quite the start to a new year for Taryn Miller of Your Friend; With the recent release of her debut album Gumption via Domino Records and gearing up to hit the road on a slightly extensive tour around the US with Alex G and Porches.
Your Friend’s album Gumption made our list of 15 albums to look out for in 2016. After listening to the opening track “Heathering”, you will realize why she made that list. What can we not say about this album? It’s beautiful! It weaves itself through loops of sound that help create a feeling that you find yourself yearning for. Taryn has that ability to hook you in like Thom Yorke; you become mesmerized by it in such an easy free flowing way. It begins to relax you and bring you into a trance of wonder and creates this ambient imaginative world. Your Friend doesn’t just create music; she’s creating art that you can visually paint a picture of in your mind through the sound of the album.
With Gumption finally out for the rest of the world to partake in listening to, it won’t be long before the remainder of the world becomes entranced by it, and begins to paint their own pictures of the beauty that lie within.
We recently had the opportunity to ask Taryn a few question to give us some insight into what went on during the process of making Gumption.
– Firstly, Congratulations on the upcoming release of your new album Gumption.
Aw, thank you so much. It feels so nice to have it finally out in the world.
-How would self-describe your music to someone that has never heard of you before?
I’ve been working towards being able to answer this question. Based on the way reviews have gone, it’s most easily described to having elements of bands like Beach House. With that being said, there is definitely a more pop-like approach to this record but I have this appreciation for the avant grade and try to implement in ways that I’m drawn to. It’s a bit ethereal, almost a wall of sound at times. It has dark moments as well. Hah!
-I have read that you consider making music more of a hobby. Let’s say you hit it “Big” how will you balance being a musician and working full time? Or is this something you can see as eventually being your “full-time job”?
That may have been a past thought or comment, haha. If I’m being honest, I live and breathe it every single day. I work in a record store and am completely immersed in it and with the vintage clothing store gig, I am allowed to jam records all day in the back while I work. I listen to a lot of interviews and Fireside Chats as well. As far as seeing it as a full-time job, frankly, I fantasize about it. The ability to devote all of my time to creating and honing in on refining as well as digging into things I’ve wanted to explore for a long time energizes me. Pipe dreams!
-Since the success of your EP, Jekyll/Hyde, what did you find to be the most challenging thing going into writing your new record? What kind of mindset did you approach it with?
The success of the EP was definitely milder/softer in a way that wasn’t overwhelming. I think the hardest thing was after seeing how things can be received in media and on a larger platform, I was worried about how much influence that had on my decision making. This new awareness of the larger market and that it would get a larger push in press definitely encouraged some anxiety within me. It was also really challenging to center on what I wanted to make. My vision and taste has a wide range so it was really difficult to narrow it down. Ultimately I feel like I had a lot of freedom once I entered the studio and it started falling together organically.
-Starting at the beginning, what ultimately got you passionate about making music?
I was talking to a friend recently that made a comment that not many art forms can elicit goosebumps from you like music can. I feel like that accurately portrays my response and draw to it. It moves me, physically, mentally, and emotionally. It’s so essential in my day-to-day and my environment. By writing/performing, you get to experience it first hand. It’s visceral and feels real. It’s grounding.
-Do you feel that working in a record store helps inspire you while writing new songs, or poses a challenge?
As far as a timeline basis, it’s really helpful in “post-production,” if you will. In that I have this period of time where I’m soaking in everything that I’m hearing and noting the things that resonate with me. As I got closer to really writing/going to the studio, I found myself listening to more abstract and drone-like records that in a way, cleared my mental pallet so that I could approach the melodic element without that subconscious referencing that can often plague the process for me.
-The ambient, avant-garde sound of Gumption seems to be a departed from your folk filled EP Jekyll/Hyde, what was the reason for the change? Will you continue down this path with future albums, or keep pushing yourself in a different direction?
The EP came out of the fact that at the time, I was writing/playing with just a guitar and myself. I think it came down to tools and the knowledge of equipment/techniques over the time following that. I feel that inherently I’ve wanted to make records like this one, it was more about how to reach that and I had more resources for that on Gumption. As far as what’s coming next, I’m exploring different things that I’ve wanted to do that might not fit under the umbrella of these last two. I’m enjoying that right now so that I can hopefully have enough different material that I’ve put together to follow what feels most natural to me at that point.
-What do you attribute to the inspiration behind Gumption?
I wanted it to be moving, as in emotionally-moving. in a different way than the EP did, that was maybe a little less “confessional,” in some regard and called upon different elements of sound to reach that. The time during this record was, in all honesty, more intense and emotional than the EP, but it’s translated in such a different manner.
-This is the first album you have recorded signed to a label, has it added more pressure than recording independently? And if so, how have you handled that added pressure and what have you learned from it?
This question really ties in nicely to “the most challenging,” aspect of the new record. When I wrote and recorded the EP, it was seen as more of an archiving process and I wasn’t in the mindset that a lot of people would even hear it. The most important thing I really did was make attempts to “check in” with myself and recenter when I found myself being influenced by that. I also had such a supportive group of people to reference and aid in that process. I’ve learned that the team I work with is genuine and will be straightforward with me in a way that’s really validating. I would get positive feedback when I was being most true to myself, which was really comforting to have when I was questioning those things.
-You have a pretty extensive tour coming up with Alex G and Porches. Any particular stop you are most looking forward to?
I don’t think I realized how extensive it was. Ha! I’m looking so forward to it. Every stop is exciting to me. We’re playing a lot of places that we hadn’t on the last run. It will be nice to spend my birthday in Michigan with Austin (former bass player/played on the record) and see him. He will have then spent three birthdays in a row with me! We all miss him so much.
-If you had one piece of advice for someone who was in your position when you started what would it be?
Don’t be afraid to trust your instincts. This was the best advice I’ve been given in the recent years.
TOUR DATES (w/ Porches & Alex G):
Wed. Mar. 9 – Washington, DC @ Rock & Roll Hotel
Thu. Mar. 10 – Richmond, VA @ Strange Matter
Fri. Mar. 11 – Carrboro, NC @ Cat’s Cradle – Backroom
Sat. Mar. 12 – Savannah, GA @ Savannah Stopover Festival
Sun. Mar. 13 – Orlando, FL @ Backbooth
Mon. Mar. 14 – Tallahassee, FL @ Club Downunder
Sat. Mar. 19 – Dallas, TX @ Spillover Music Fest
Mon. Mar. 21 – Denver, CO @ Lost Lake
Tue. Mar. 22 – Salt Lake City, UT @ Kilby Court
Wed. Mar. 23 – Boise, ID @ Treefort Music Fest
Thu. Mar. 24 – Portland, OR @ Analog Cafe
Fri. Mar. 25 – Seattle, WA @ Vera Project
Sat. Mar. 26 – Vancouver, BC @ The Cobalt
Mon. Mar. 28 – San Francisco, CA @ Rickshaw Stop
Tue. Mar. 29 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Echo
Thu. Mar. 31 – Santa Ana, CA @ Observatory – Constellation Room
Fri. Apr. 1 – San Diego, CA @ Che Cafe
Sat. Apr. 2 – Phoenix, AZ @ Rebel Lounge
Sun. Apr. 3 – Albuquerque, NM @ The Co-Op
Tue. Apr. 5 – Omaha, NE @ Slowdown
Wed. Apr. 6 – Minneapolis, MN @ 7th St Entry
Thu. Apr. 7 – Madison, WI @ UW Student Union
Fri. Apr. 8 – Grinnell, IA @ Grinnell College – Gardner Lounge
Sat. Apr. 9 – Chicago, IL @ Bottom Lounge
Sun. Apr. 10 – Detroit, MI @ Majestic Cafe
Mon. Apr. 11 – Toronto, ON @ Horseshoe Tavern
Tue. Apr. 12 – Boston, MA @ Middle East Downstairs
Wed. Apr. 13 – Brooklyn, NY @ Music Hall of Williamsburg
Thu. Apr. 14 – Philadelphia, PA @ Union Transfer
Fri. Apr. 15 – New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom
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