Aos. Hello Jimmy LaValle aka ‘The Album Leaf’ and a very warm Welcome to ‘Architect of Sound’. Firstly i would you to tell us a brief introduction about yourself?
Jimmy LaValle: I’m a musician, producer, composer mostly known for my solo music released as ‘the Album Leaf’. I’ve spent the last 20yrs touring, scoring films, remixing and making records.
Aos. At what age were you first drawn to playing music Jimmy? What Instruments did you choose to play? Did you have a musical family growing up?
Jimmy LaValle: I’m told I was 4 when I started playing piano. My family wasn’t musical per se. But my brother played piano and guitar. He was 6 yrs older so I definitely looked up to him.
Aos. During the days of playing punk music in bands such as ‘the locust’ could you imagine yourself laying down such sophisticated arrangements, layering textures, a palette of tones and counter rhythm in the name of ‘The Album Leaf’?
Jimmy LaValle: For sure. I was making mellow tunes on my 4 track during those years and discovering ambient music.
Aos. When did you start to notice the ‘the Album Leaf’ growing internationally? I’d imagine it was quite an exciting time for you as a musician once you signed to Seattle based record label ‘Sub Pop’?
Jimmy LaValle: Well yes. But I had already seen some international acclaim with my other bands. Tristeza and the Locust had toured internationally so it felt great to get the same recognition as a solo artist.
Aos. ‘In a Safe Place’ was recorded in the Sigur Rós Sundlaugin Studio, Iceland. There have been many fantastic music albums created at Sundlaugin Studio along with your own stunning composition. Did you find the location, environment and folk having an influence on your work particularly on these albums?
Jimmy LaValle: Actually only the bulk of In a Safe place was recorded at Sundlaugin.. Into the blue was mixed there, recorded at Bear Creek Studios outside Seattle. But the environment definitely had an effect on me. I was able to relax and focus. Thats very important in recording. I recorded a lot of violins and rhodes parts at my house in San Diego, which was also good so i didn’t waste anytime while out there.
Aos. I was fortunate enough to visit Sundlaugin studio first-hand three years ago. What was it like working and collaborating with members of Sigur Rós, Birgir Jón Birgisson and the quartet Amilina in the studio during your 2004 album ‘In a Safe Place’?
Jimmy LaValle: I mean, it was great. Collaborating in general is great. i’ve collaborated with many artist throughout the years and its all been great. These people are friends so it was a very natural collaboration experience. A lot of improv and before recording this record, I had toured opening solo for Sigur Ros with members backing me during my set.. So they had some ideas dialed in already. I get asked this question a lot and I feel like people are looking for a kind of star struck / rock star / answer which i don’t have. These are my friends and they helped me make a record i’m really happy with.
Aos. ‘Between Waves’ is the first record release in six years since 2010’s ‘A Chorus of Storytellers’. It’s the first full length album to be recorded with the band’s current line-up. This album showcases a confident, inventive and upbeat ‘Album Leaf’. How did this album come about and what was the creative process behind this record?
Jimmy LaValle: I had begun writing for Between Waves back in 2013. Essentially, I had too much time on my hands to write. It really helped for the band to come in and make sense of my ideas and addd their flavor. I had most of the record writing already, but having the drummer play his parts with his feel, having the bass player do his thing, the violinist etc… Was very important on the outcome.. it would inspire me to go in a different direction or try a different melody. I didn’t want to make the same record. I wanted to do something different and having them chime in definitely helped push me in that direction.
Aos. ‘Between Waves’ is a sonic journey built around a strong group dynamic, driven soundscapes, flourishing melodies, meticulous sound design, rhythm and composition. What musical software, hardware and equipment did you use to record this great record and collage of sounds?
Jimmy LaValle: This record came about with mostly analog gear and ableton at the heart. I used a lot of Juno 60, Arturia Mini Brute, Elektron Machine Drum and a ton of sampling. I created a lot of custom Instrument racks of simpler or drum racks within ableton and used lot of midi driving of my analog synths. I also cut up a lot of drums and converted the drummers take to midi notes where i could add electronic elements to his beats underneath.. Really this is an ableton record. When we play live, I use ableton as our main engine which i am controlling the entire time. It allows us to play freely and not be confined to the recording of the song.
Aos. ‘Between Waves’ consist of eight tracks – five of which are instrumentals and three containing lyrics. All songs written and arranged by Jimmy LaValle. Are your lyrical subject matters on this album close to you personally? Any sources of inspiration?
Jimmy LaValle: They always are. Im a husband and Father so that should let you know.
Aos. ‘Between Waves’ is the band’s first release on ‘Relapse Records’. How come a change of record label from ‘Sub Pop’ records to ‘Relapse Records’?
Jimmy LaValle: Well, my contract with Sub Pop was up and they didn’t renew.. So I looked elsewhere.. Not many labels bit in this climate.. Most labels are focused on new bands, or massive older bands.. Thats not me. Relapse showed a lot of interest and really wanted the record.
Aos. You have been exploring the world of film, scoring horizons of sound, textures and composition for award winning movies. What has your been your favourite film score to date and do you approach scoring a film differently to say creating an album with ‘the Album Leaf’?
Jimmy LaValle: The last film I did ‘The Endless’ is definitely my favorite.. Behind that, It’d be the ‘Ovarian Pyscos’ doc. Really I like what i’ve done most recently as I’m always discovering new inspiration through film scoring.. I’ll be scoring an upcoming TV show called ‘Valor’ and I really like what i’m creatiing for that.
Aos. What records do you enjoy listening too Jimmy? What is your favourite film?
Jimmy LaValle: Always a tough question. There are too many. I have a very wide taste in music and I feel like I’m alway listening to something different.. Film wise, same thing, i’m a fan of many but always fall back on my old childhood classic like the Goonies, Stand By M.. I really can’t wait to share those films with my kids. Composer wise, Cliff Martinez and Max Richter are always blowing my mind.
Aos. 2017 has seen the release of the film ‘The Endless’ scored by yourself along with ‘the Album Leaf’ touring USA, Japan etc. What can we see from Jimmy LaValle / The Album Leaf for the remainder of 2017 and how do you challenge yourself after dynamically delivering ‘Between Waves’ last year?
Jimmy LaValle: I’ll be reissuing my first two records on my own label, ‘Eastern Glow Recordings’ (EGR) and should be doing a handful of shows playing only those two record.. I’d like to go back to basics. The Album Leaf has become very technical in the way I play. It would be nice to go back to a more typical band performance and loose some of the bells and whistles!
~ Many Thanks to Jimmy LaValle / The Album Leaf ~
To follow 'The Album Leaf / Jimmy LaValle' click on of the following links below: