A month ago LA’s own Tomemitsu dropped his new album Loaf Eye and with it came its leading single “Vacation.” We were lucky enough to get some time with this dream pop artist who sat down and explained where he comes from lyrically, his time spent making his sophomore album, what the rest of 2016 holds and more.
Kendra: Who were some of your early influences that shaped not only your music, but your approach to writing lyrics as well?
Tomemitsu: A clear memory of epiphany I had growing up was when my dad played me a Thelonious Monk CD. The recording quality was very poor, live recordings from the 50’s and 60’s, and the songs were short bursts of energy and intersecting melodies. Thelonious Monk has a way of sounding beautiful, sad, and confusing all at the same time. Some of the chords that he plays have this dissonance that is so perfect. I think it was the first lo-fi kinda music i heard. It affected the way that I appreciate lo-fi music and the fun that accompanies the challenge of listening to a recording and finding out what you like about it. I would say that my lyrical approach really varies based on the challenges I’ve put on myself during my songwriting session. Sometimes I force myself to write the bulk of the lyrics before i’ve picked up a guitar, sometimes the lyrics will follow a melody that I’m humming over an idea I’ve got. I like to think that I picked up a playful way with words from listening to a lot of Tim Kinsella of Cap’n jazz and Joan of Arc. He really has a neat style that makes me laugh and think when I listen to his various projects. In general I just try to tell a story or explain feelings that I’m thinking through, but I do consciously try to inject humor into my words.
Kendra: It’s been a few years since your last record. What growth did you notice between your last and your latest when all was said and done?
Tomemitsu: Since recording modes I listened to a ton of my bloody valentine and joined the band So Many Wizards. I think that playing in a dreamy punk band and listening to a lot of shoe-gaze had an influence on this album. It’s a bit darker, less about love, and even more self-reflective. I really enjoy the diversity of songs I have on Loaf Eye while I remain faithful to the aesthetics on modes. It was fun recording my friends playing on this record. Recording is such a great experience and you learn a lot about a friend when they have to do something repetitively but with emotion.
Kendra: Your sound is described as “bedroom dreampop.” With that, do you believe dreams have deep meanings?
Tomemitsu: I’m not the sort of person who has a dream about snakes and then says oh I’m stressing out about work or whatever, sometimes it’s just my mind wrestling with all the different ideas that passed through during the day, but to me dreams are one of the best escapes from reality. The meaning of dreams isn’t as important as enjoying the experiences in them. Daydreams, fantasies, any REM goodness is a glimpse into another world that is dynamic and unpredictable.
Kendra: Your single “Vacation,” makes me have to ask about your worst trip ever…
Tomemitsu: I’m lucky enough not to have had any really horrible trips but…My younger sister is a really amazing basketball player and she was on a touring team in high school. I celebrated my 16th birthday in muggy Florida videotaping her games for my dad. My family is really supportive of my music now, but I just wanted to be with my friends on my birthday and I was probably a punk about it at the time.
Kendra: Loaf Eye may’ve just dropped a couple months ago, but where do you hope to be with the next record?
Tomemitsu: I have a split EP coming out with Forged Artifacts alum, Alexei Shishkin, hopefully at the end of summer. It’ll be six songs that are even deeper into the shoegaze/dreampop realm than Loaf Eye. I also have about 2 more albums worth of songs that I’m fleshing out for the next couple releases, some are more folky some are more electric guitar driven.
Kendra: You’re based out in LA, and anyone there knows the cost of living is getting a little out of hand. Because of that, have you thought of packing up and heading elsewhere? If not, what’s keeping you there?
Tomemitsu: I’m fortunate to be in a rent controlled property so my rent isn’t insane, but yeah I think about it more and more. I could not afford to live here if I didn’t have a full time job, so the idea of living somewhere cheap and focusing on music crosses my mind just about every morning commute. I do love my friends and the family of musicians i have out here. They keep me inspired and on my toes and really push me to be a better musician and songwriter.
Kendra: Lastly, what do you have planned and ready to go for the rest of the year?
Tomemitsu: I’ve got so much planned! In addition to the split EP with Alexei Shishkin, my song “In Dreams” has been given the remix treatment by RSS Disco in Germany. The label Mireia Records in Hamburg is putting it out as a 12″ vinyl with art by Stefan Marx. I’d love to visit Europe again and meet all the people who have shown me support out there. I’ve just dropped a tune with ETA called “Dyin'” featuring Eddington Again. Producing with Erik (ETA) is a unique challenge. He’s not a musician but has ideas about what he wants and I get to translate his thoughts into actual beats and melodies. We are finishing up his debut EP, Post-Hype, and I’ll be releasing a separate track with Eddington Again later on as well. I play lead guitar in So Many Wizards and our sophomore record, Heavy Vision, is out on Lolipop Records late this Summer. My soda punk alter ego Seaweed Salad is finishing up a three song EP we recorded courtesy of Converse Rubber Tracks that I’m really excited about. It’s a fidelity above and beyond the first album, GYM GEMZ. I would love to put out one more Tomemitsu album by the end of the year to make up for the time lost between Loaf Eye and Modes. I have about three albums of material in the works and it’s tough to have it all sit on my hard drive.