American experimental producer and chillwave pioneer Washed Out (Ernest Greene) has returned to drop a fresh bout of chaotically brilliant tunes wrapped up in the immersive visual album Mister Mellow. Hours before his Los Angeles official launch for the album, Greene spoke to SARAH DAY about his experience in bringing to life the intoxicating experience that is Mister Mellow.
For decades, the union of audio and visual has been a combination known to spark life and deeper dimension into the experience of music. Ushering the era to “watch” an album, Greene explores the concept of spontaneity and imperfection to capture the chaos and calm of life.
“The album’s visuals take you to a really wild and psychedelic place,” he says.
As a professional singer, songwriter, and producer, Ernest Greene — the electronic musician professionally known as Washed Out— has taken the last two years to put together an aesthetic and plunderphonic gem – his first for Stones Throw after moving over from Sub Pop – entitled Mister Mellow.
Eight years of professional experience and prominence in the music scene have passed since Washed Out released debut EP Life Of Leisure; Despite this, butterflies of suspense remain to be an unavoidable symptom for Greene in creating such personal work, as he states, “I’m a bit nervous for what people are going to think; it’s a little bit different for Washed Out so I’m more excited just to get it out there.”
The visual side of the album is inclusive of a variety of extremely hands-on art forms that were inspired by Greene’s fascination with visual art and experimental animation.
“A lot of these artists use collage and cut out things from magazines to recreate life, which is similar to the way I put together my music; I sample different audio and re-arrange it, so to me it made a lot of sense,” he says.
The distinctive work of artists such as Drew Tyndell and Winston Hacking pull you into a world of hyper-stimulative animation, collage, claymation and stop-motion. Visual artist Timeboy, renowned for his work with the likes of Prince, The Weeknd and Kanye West, has had a heavy hand in creating the aesthetic of Washed Out’s upcoming US tour.
“I was a big fan of the stuff he’s worked on particularly the Flying Lotus show he did. I had the aesthetic and all the visuals for the album and he took a lot of the direction we already had to translate it into something even crazier on the live end of things which I’m actually the most excited about because it feels the most unique,” says Greene.
Mister Mellow explores ideas and observations about the concept of life’s responsibilities, pressures, and day-to-day monotony. The motivations behind the themes that intertwine throughout the new album and the process in bringing it all together derived from a personal place of Greene’s own experiences.
“I think a lot of people just kind of imagine me sitting around smoking weed all day by the pool or whatever,” he laughs. “For the first time in the last couple of years I’ve experienced real adult responsibilities and had a lot more on my plate so its just about the transition towards being an adult.”
Washed Out came to Australia in 2012 alongside fellow chillwave ambassador Toro Y Moi, performing at Laneway Festival as well as a number of successful double headline sideshows. Greene spoke fondly of his time on Aussie soil and hopes to be back in the near future to perform his new music.
“This show’s so drastically different and for me because it’s actually finally capturing the vibe of the way the record sounds,” he says. “In the past we hadn’t quite sorted that yet. I felt that in a lot of ways we were sounding a bit like a washed up cover band. It’s taken a lot more experience now to capture that better.”