In March 2009, Caribou drummer Brad Weber released his first tangible evidence of embarking on a project of his own: a self-titled EP named Pick A Piper. Over the last few years, Weber has found time to pursue and channel his own personal songwriting abilities, while flexing his production skills.
“Caribou has been touring a lot, so whenever I have free time—often in the back of the tour bus—I find myself working solo on drum loops and bass lines,” explains Weber.
He has also delved into a DJ career, as yet another side project.
“Deejaying is something I like to do once a month to avoid mental blocks when I’m actually busy writing music for Pick A Piper,” says Weber. His multiple creative outlets extend and enhance his artistic freedom Caribou originally provides, as all have matured into something of notable substance.
Specifically, Pick A Piper erupted out of a desire to “take any interesting sound and incorporate it into a more electronic palette.” Juxtaposing acoustic with synthetic qualities came as a transition for the band.
“Our goal now is to create a sound that’s musical starting point is unidentifiable,” says Weber. The sound of their initial 2009 release ignored this goal, as it intensely focused solely on the raw acoustic aspects. The vocals were unresponsive and their songs musically limited, which led Weber to seek out new inspiration. Listening to more contemporary electronic music such as Bonobo, Four Tet, and Shlohmo, Pick A Piper’s aesthetic became increasingly sparse, achieving the analog vs. electronic sound they had in mind. Today, the band led by Weber are set to release their debut self-titled LP, stressing a perfect balance between prominent harmony, noticeable vocals, and interesting percussive sections.
To further enhance this approach, Pick A Piper worked with talented vocalists on this LP, including Ryan McPhun of Ruby Suns, and John Schmersal of Enon. Weber stated that a highlight track, titled “Lucid in Fjords,” gave him the most hassle, but the final product was worth the effort.
“I almost threw the track away!” says Weber. “The original instrumental was super basic in comparison to what it has evolved into now, and it seemed to not be going anywhere meaningful.” Once McPhun implemented his interpretation on the lyrics and melody, Weber was more than satisfied. There was that balance they so desperately needed.
The Pick A Piper LP, according to Weber, “combines dance-music structures, polyrhythmic percussion, and atmospheric sound design,” incorporating any and all sounds they find energizing. Toying around with anything from Moog patches to the use of a glockenspiel, Weber has surrounded himself with not only experimental band members, but great friends as well.
“I would describe the process as ‘sampling’ my friends. I ask them to record their own interpretations based on a song idea, and I piece everything together by manipulating each and every sound,” says Weber.
Released on Mint Records, the Pick A Piper LP has also been transformed into a live show, touring across the country in the next few months. Pick A Piper plans to wow the crowd with “spacious vocals and prominent percussion,” proving to reflect their musical style altogether: something simultaneously blissful and energetic.
Pick A Piper performs on Apr. 5 at Quai des Brumes (4481 St. Denis). Tickets $8.