AN INTERVIEW WITH AVID DANCER
You’re driving down the 101. Traffic is terrible and you’re starting to get bummed out when an Avid Dancer song comes on the playlist you have spinning. Your head starts to bob immediately and your mood went from shitty to absolutely amazing in a matter of seconds. You decide to spark the joint you were saving for you and your friends later on and you transcend into another universe, mostly because of the music you are experiencing. You can’t wait to get to your friend's place to show them Avid Dancer, but when you get there you notice they’re already playing through the speakers while everyone is dancing around the pool getting their buzz on. “Where have I been the past 5 years?” you ask yourself. “How come I have never heard this before?” “Am I as cool as I think I am?”. Probably not since you are just now discovering Avid Dancer… My point is, you need to listen to the music Jacob Summers is putting out. That is, if you do not already. Is it Pop? Psychedelic? It may be all of those things, but it's just Avid Dancer and that's what makes it so amazing. Check out the interview below to catch a glimpse of what Avid Dancer is all about...
TELL US ABOUT THE BIRTH OF AVID DANCER! IT SEEMS LIKE EVERYTHING FELL INTO PLACE AND WAS ALMOST A HAPPY ACCIDENT, IS THIS THE CASE?
I think things kinda fell into place in a way. I’ve only cared about music since I first picked up drum sticks in 8th grade ya know? When I look back on the decisions I’ve made in my life I realize that I have always been moving towards a life of making music. I think that’s the case for a lot of aspiring musicians. My big break wasn’t until I was 32 years old. A really great manager (who is now one of the main dudes at Apple Music) found my music while I was living in Alaska and he really made things happen. The next day I had a lawyer, booking agent, and labels interested in releasing my record. It did happen pretty quickly. That’s the way things seem to happen from my viewpoint. The hardest period for any musician is after you’ve gotten a bunch of attention. After the wave. Like with Avid Dancer I had some great tours and a lot of great press, but my music is indie, so it’s not like I blew up or anything you know? Now I have to maintain. I have to find my role in the industry as a 38 year old.
WHAT ROLE DOES CHRISTIAN MUSIC PLAY IN YOUR LIFE? DO YOU THINK IT SUBCONSCIOUSLY INFLUENCES YOU?
Sometimes when I go back home to visit either my family or my girlfriend's family (we both have a similar religious background) I’ll go to church to observe what was such a huge part of my life. It’s crazy. The preacher will be up at the stage asking if anyone has something weighing on their hearts while the choir is singing a beautiful song that starts out super quiet, then builds, then settles back down, then builds back up. It’s an emotional roller coaster. Of course you are going to be in the audience (thinking about your life) and get emotional. It’s “Jesus”. No, it’s just a really good arrangement of a simple song. I don’t know. I mean, yes, Christian music is a huge influence for me. I love tugging melodies and building them up into something that makes you have an emotional response. I think you can do that with any music.
DO YOU HAVE A GO TO RECORDING PROCESS OR JUST GO WITH THE FLOW AND FIGURE THINGS OUT AS YOU GO?
I record in a lot of different places so I’ve sort of figured out what I like to do for sure. I certainly have learned (or am learning) to get away with as little as possible. One thing changes on each section of a song - if there’s an organ on the chorus, it’s the same on all the choruses etc. I’ve been trying to get better as I go. I sit in sessions almost every day with someone who does things very differently but so well. It’s hard to imagine finding “the way” to do things. I try to stay open as much as possible but also try to keep a sturdy foundation of what I’m good at, and what has worked in the past.
DO YOU TEND TO WORK WITH A VARIETY OF DIFFERENT PRODUCERS, SONGWRITERS, AND MUSICIANS FOR EACH PROJECT YOU RECORD? IF SO, DOES THIS CONTRIBUTE TO YOUR SOUND?
Oh ya man, a producer, or anyone else in the room while you’re recording is 100% going to be a huge influence on the sound. I’ve used 3 or 4 different producers depending on who I happen to be vibing with a lot at that time, or what I want the song to sound like. I recorded my first album with Raymond Richards (Local Natives, The Blank Tapes). He’s the king of 60’s psych. He is the only guy that I would ever let touch those songs. That was a huge part of my musical journey. We tried recording “I Want To See You Dance” two times and didn’t hit it out of the park. I ended up going to record the song for the 3rd time with another producer Dave Trumfio (Wilco, OK GO, Built To Spill) and he crushed it. Then I co-produced and recorded “I Feel It” and “You Only Like Me With The Lights Out” with my friend Bryan Lopez in his mom’s garage direct into an mbox or something. There’s definitely a way to record quality music wherever. Mostly the difference I feel from studio to studio is a change in vibe. Sunglasses and weed can fix most situations.
YOUR DEBUT RECORD 1ST BATH CAME OUT IN 2015 ON GRAND JURY. TELL US ABOUT THIS ALBUM! EVERY SONG SOUNDS DIFFERENT, YET THE RECORD AS A WHOLE HAS A COHESIVE, DISTINCT SOUND. IS THAT SOMETHING YOU TRIED TO ACCOMPLISH OR DID IT JUST HAPPEN NATURALLY?
I recorded 99% of my first record with Raymond. I wasn’t exactly aimed on recording a record at the time. It was kinda song by song for me. He was really clear with a vision of what my music was going to be. We used really similar instrumentation on every song. I remember every time we went in to do another song and we needed to add parts, it was no question -straight to bongos and Farfisa. It was good that I spent so much time working with just him. Once we got 4 songs in I was like… ohhhhhh. I see what you’re doing here. He really hooked it up.
AFTER 1ST BATH WAS RELEASED YOU ENT ON TOUR WITH BORNS. HOW WAS THAT? I'M SURE YOUR EARS HURT FROM ALL OF THE SCREAMING GIRLS EVERY NIGHT!
Well, there were certainly a lot of screaming girls haha. That was a good tour. That band man, fuuuck. I’ve never seen girls go so fucking crazy over a singer. There were girls straight up running into the green room areas trying to break through security like they didn’t give a fuck. It was kinda funny cause you know, these girls were mostly in high school, some younger. After shows you gotta go out and talk to people, so these super young girls would be there with their moms or aunts. I was getting hit on by cool moms.
I READ THAT YOU LIKE TO PRODUCE OTHER BANDS AND ARTISTS. DOES PRODUCING OTHERS TEND TO INFLUENCE YOUR OWN MUSIC?
Definitely. I do a lot of writing with and for other people. My publisher (Warner Chappell) has me out writing with other bands probably 3-4 times a week. So that’s 3-4 new songs I write in different styles a week. I produce maybe 4-5 bands a year if I have time. So I spend most of my time working with other folks. I probably learn at least 2 major things every time I work with someone new, then of course apply them in my own work.
YOU RECENTLY RELEASED A SINGLE TITLED "FAVORITE DREAMS." IS THIS A SINGLE OFF OF YOUR NEW RECORD? WHAT HAS BEEN A SURREAL DREAM EXPERIENCE YOU'VE HAD?
“Single” is a strong word, haha. I put out a song called “Silk” a few months ago and now I have “Favorite Dreams” out. Those two are both from a series of recordings I did over the last year with a guy named Andrew Herringer. They’ll be part of a record for suuure. I’ll probably put out another song next month then release an album in November?
I have a reoccurring dream that happens without fail the night before every show. I’m on stage, something about my guitar is wrong, like the neck is all rubbery, or the strings don’t play the chords when I play them. The stage is always slanted really far forward like I would fall off at any moment. My microphone stand will absolutely not stay up. I keep having to re-tighten it over and over. My drummer or someone else in the band is playing the wrong instrument or is just missing. It’s weird. How could this be happening? The worst Avid Dancer show ever. How embarrassing. Then I realize, oh right, I’ve had this dream before. It’s just a dream. Oh thank God it’s just a dream. Then I wake up.