Joe Corrales didn't have imaginary friends when he was little, he had imaginary songs.
In fact Corrales, who performs under the stage name Yppah (pronounced "Yip-pah"), was comforted by one song in particular.
"When I was younger, I would always make up songs in my head -- and this was before I was writing music," Corrales says over the phone. "Every once in a while, there was a melodic theme and I would hear it at different times of my life. I kind of try to remember back to that."
One of the memories that has inspired his music -- especially his recently released album Eighty One -- were the surfing visits he made in high school to the beaches of Galveston, Texas, a city close to his hometown of Houston.
"I like the feeling when you're at the beach near the water. It's good to think about it," he said.
Corrales liked the feeling so much, last year he decided to follow his long-standing dream and move to Long Beach, where he has resided for the last six months.
"I already wanted to move to California, but [those visits to the beach] gave me the push to move out here," he recalls. "It gives me the chance to catch some real waves and I like the climate better."
His first music video from Eighty One, "Film Burn," though, leaves the ocean behind for another iconic aspect of his new Southern California home -- two characters overlook and then roam through traffic in downtown Los Angeles, and the video echoes the isolation of car-centric L.A. It is one of four songs with Seattle singer and violinist Anomie Belle, whom he had the chance to meet while on tour with Ninja Tune labelmates Bonobo a few years ago.
The Texas native has made a name for himself as an ambient electronic rocker for the past six years, making sparse sounds into comfortable tunes for the audience under the tutelage of Ninja Tune records.
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Each of the 11 tracks on Eighty One shares a common theme of recreating memories. For instance, in the opening track "Blue Schwinn," the song begins with the sound of giggling and then manages to recreate the warm, shiny sound of adventure, interspersed with hip-hop beats.
In comparison to his first two albums, You Are Beautiful At All Times and They Know What Ghost Know, Corrales says that Eighty One reflects a more cohesive vision as an artist.
"With the first album and the second album, I felt like I was still experimenting and I didn't have a really solid direction, but [Eighty One] feels a lot different than the first two." Indeed -- it feels like an album he decided to make while he dreaming of moving to California to surf.
Yppah plays tomorrow night at the Echo.