Evan Geesman's Songwriting Skills Aren't Limited By His Instruments
Andy Sebastian Guillen
This year has proven to be stellar for Evan Geesman's creative output. January saw the release of his album Coils, a gorgeous, textured collection of songs that merged the disparate sonic elements of electronic beats, acoustic guitar, vocals and environmental recordings into warm, vibrant odysseys. In October, Geesman released his Mattress Money EP, a definite dive into experimenting solely with electronic samplers and controllers. And as if those two bookending gems weren't enough, Coils was given the remix treatment and Uncoiled appeared in June, featuring artists Free the Robots, Technocrat, Repeated Measures and others.
Geesman's prolific output comes as no surprise, as he is a longtime musician and member of Orange County-based beat collective GRN+GLD. The duality of his styles—folk singer/songwriter and electronic producer—make for one exciting maelstrom when combined. "I still call what I do singer/songwriter music," he says. "I feel like I'll always have a whole idea in my head before I make something."
Born and raised in Santa Ana, Geesman picked up guitar and a bootleg of music-production software Fruity Loops in his early teens so he could emulate his musical influences, Radiohead, Bjork and, his main musical obsession, Beck. While he wrote, produced and even distributed copies of his music as a teen, his real breakthrough came as an adult. After getting laid off from his job, he decided to put a conscious effort into making music; three months later, he released the EP Lengua on Bandcamp in 2013. Geesman dropped the album link in a 4Chan open forum for creative projects, which sent his download count rocketing. Bandcamp head curator Andrew Jervis took notice and included some of Geesman's tracks into his podcast. Geesman followed up with numerous EPs and singles, signing with Ubiquity Records in 2014.
Geesman has recently been focusing less on computer programs to create his sound, and more on his OP-1 hardware—a synthesizer, sampler and sequencer all rolled into one. The limitation seems to nudge Geesman into a more creative songwriting process. "I feel more creative when I'm working within limited parameters 'cause, on the computer, you could literally do what you want," he says, "and sometimes, I think that's bad because you get bogged down choosing some effects rather than writing a song."
Mattress Money is an exquisite four-track album exploring house and electronica sounds through the OP-1, Machinedrum UW, Korg Minilogue synthesizer and a PO-12 drum machine. It's certainly a deviation from Coils and Lengua, but the tracks were mostly made for fun and to learn how to use the equipment. Geesman admits the title was an inside joke about releasing the album as a way to raise money for a new mattress, as well as a shoutout to Aphex Twin's 26 Mixes for Cash.
One can definitely expect any future musical output from Geesman to pack even bigger surprises. He works nearly two hours per day meticulously on music, and he has his eyes set on putting out new releases and improving his overall sound. "I don't know if there's a specific goal in mind [in making new albums], like I want this to be better or that to be better," Geesman says. "I want everything to be better."
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