Interview: Freeze-Tag

The neo-soul evolution of Marcus Alan Ward has always been immersed in experimentation and contrast. His earliest works toyed with croons drowned in pulsing blips and an ambiance that danced the boundaries of menacing and chillwave-induced haziness — the result, no doubt, of an R&B love affair by way of a prog-rock upbringing. By his second EP, Eskimo, Ward’s vocal prowess floated above the electronics, and his newest reveal, “You Do”, finds his coos fully intertwined in shimmers of otherworldly organic instrumentation. Stream Freeze-Tag’s “You Do” below via its recent debut on Pitchfork.

“Live instrumentation is definitely playing a larger role on this album than my previous work. I’ve been having lots of fun recording guitar and using it in different ways.” — Freeze-Tag

You've hinted you're working on a new album. Can you tell us more about material you're working on now?

The material I’m working on now is very noisy, and much more layered than my previous work. This is the first full-length album I’ve been able to create so I’m putting much more time and architecture into it. You all should be hearing new material by late January.

I see pictures of you on guitar and piano. How is conventional instrumentation part of your work and how will that be part of your future work?

Live instrumentation is definitely playing a larger role on this album than my previous work. I’ve been having lots of fun recording guitar and using it in different ways. I’m spending most of my time on sound manipulation for this record. As far as the future, I can definitely see conventional instrumentation playing a larger role.

Art of different mediums has always seems to have been a huge influence of yours. How has that affected your material over the past year and anything you’re currently working on?

The material I’ve been working on the past year has been greatly influenced by science fiction, literature, philosophy, and mainly quantum physics. Fine art and visual art did not have an influence at all on the current album, but definitely served well as a reference point for the Eskimo and WLDFLWRHNY _EPs.

What have been some of your most memorable gigs?

My most memorable show was probably my very first live show as Freeze-Tag in Canton, at Buzzbin record shop. It wasn’t even an official show, we just knew some guy who knew the owner and had keys to the place. He let us in and we just kind of set up, no staff was there. There were like five people there, and it took so much work to setup the “sound system” that we had. I remember we had to tape a microphone onto like a video camera stand because we didn’t have an actual mic stand. Despite the set-up though, it was just great performing the material live for the first time and I remember thinking to myself, “This is going to work“, and I was very happy about it. Playing with Toro Y Moi, Lunice, and Theophilus London were definitely standout shows as well.

What’s your favorite material to play live?

Currently my favorites to perform are songs “Dog Days”, “Hours”, “Eskimo”, and “Kiss, Kiss, Kiss”. Those leave lots of room for vocal improvisation and effects manipulation, and have a good live energy. I don’t really perform much of WLDFLWRHNY_ anymore. I really think this new album will be a blast to play live though, I have lots of plans for Freeze-Tag live version 3.0.

What do you find always making its way back into rotation?

The records that always make it back into rotation for me, most of them are ingrained into my being at this point, and will always be musical references for the rest of my life both consciously and unconsciously. I’d definitely say The Mars Volta (Deloused in the Comatorium, Francis the Mute, Amputechture), Jimi Hendrix (Electric Ladyland, Axis: Bold As Love), Marvin Gaye (I Want You, Whats Going On), TV on the Radio (Return to Cookie Mountain), Caribou (Swim), Thelonious Monk (Live at the 5 Spot with Coltraine), Circa Survive (Juturna), Bjork (Homogenic, Vespertine), The Deftones (Self Titled), Stevie Wonder (Innervisions), The Blood Brothers (Young Machetes), Miles Davis (On Green Dolphin Street, Porgy and Bess), Stan Getz (Getz/Gilberto), Ahmad Jamal (But Not for Me), just to name some. I’d have to say ‘Deloused’ is my favorite album of all time though. Recently I’ve delved into music by Led Zeppelin, Santana (Abraxas), Stan Getz (Another World), Dizzy Gillespie (Groovin’ High), Sonny Rollins (Vol. 2), and Dave Brubeck (Time Out).

Brite takes place every winter. What’s your favorite thing about winter? Favorite winter memory?

I love winter, in fact it’s actually my favorite time of year. I always say that December, January, and February are my 3 favorite months. All the best things that have happened in my life thus far, especially musical and creative advancements, have been in the winter time. Also my birthday is in January. I love the beauty of the snow, and how the everyday pace of life seems to slow down. It’s an isolated and introspective time for people, and forces us to recognize our place in nature a bit more.

Find Freeze-Tag at his official website, keep up with him on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter.

Select interviews will be printed in the Big Guide Book and CD samplers of  Brite artists are available as a Kickstarter reward. Get them both with the Music Lovers Pack and support Brite Winter on Kickstarter here. // Interview by Nikki Delamotte