Ernest Greene knows how to have relax and have a good time. Well it seems that way, at least, when looking at his musical catalogue over the last several years. His signature brand of dreamy, laid-back dance jams about beaches or hanging out is the perfect soundtrack to a summer evening. The 34 year-old has become a force since bursting onto the scene with his EP, Life of Leisure, eight years ago. Him and his counterparts have proved that electronic music doesn’t always have to be loud and club-friendly. Greene goes by the alias of Washed Out, and has proven to be one of the finest and most underrated producers to come out of America in the past few years.
Along with artists like Neon Indian and Tycho, Georgia-born Greene helped pioneer an emerging subgenre of electronic music in the 2000s, disappointingly coined as cringe-worthy “chillwave.” Chillwave became popular across the globe for its easy-going/synth-based musical nature and fuzzed out, space-y vocals. Despite the brutal name, Chillwave was hugely popular and allowed these ambitious multi-instrumentalist musicians to rise to the top of indie and electronic circles alike. However, the scene was short lived thanks in large part to the over-saturation of like-minded producers who quickly helped wear out the genre. Not one to wear a label on his sleeve, the ultra-creative Washed Out was able to persevere after the death of the movement he helped create.
Washed Out’s style has certainly pivoted since the release of Life of Leisure. The brilliant EP and his first full-length debut Within and Without were prime examples of the stoned, electro-pop Chillwave aesthetic. The vocals are fuzzed-out and relaxing, the lyrics simplistic and equally easy-going. Album #2, psychedelia-heavy Paracosm, marked a slight shift towards a more traditional sound with more recognizable guitar and standard instrument sounds. Green’s third full-length album Mister Mellow, which dropped last week, showcases a departure from his earlier sonic roots. Mister Mellow is much more sample-heavy then the first few albums, and the result is a dance-friendly record in the vein of Aussie dance rockers The Avalanches. Disco-ish at times, Washed Out’s third record is their most up-tempo to date and would be very fitting for a late night, post-concert apartment party. (Thank me later)
Nearly ten years in, Greene has found his groove. As happy and euphoric as his Washed Out songs may be, even he has dealt with his fair share of melancholic times in his life. The former librarian and parents’ basement-dweller has always been more of a producer than a guitar-player or songwriter, and is proud to prove that introverted studio nerds can make it in the music world. Greene’s experiences as a figurehead of an up-and-coming genre and its subsequent disappearance also undoubtedly shaped his current mindset – just make good music. And he’s killing it! Mister Mellow has some serious jams and I am stoked to see Greene and company live in August at the Metro in Chicago. I’ll see you all there!
Washed Out is currently on tour. Check out the dates here.
Suggested Tracks: “Feel it All Around” “New Theory” “All I Know” ”
Oddities: Green’s wife Blaire performs in the live touring band … Washed Out’s “Feel it All Around” is perhaps best known for being the theme song to the hit TV show Portlandia
Photo Credits – subpop.com, consequenceofsound.net