John Roberts will release his second album, Fences, on May 27th through Dial Records.
The 10-track LP arrives three years after Glass Eights, Roberts's remarkably assured debut that landed at number five in RA's top albums list for 2010. In the time since that release, the American has busied himself with work as co-editor of The Travel Almanac, a magazine that looks at travel through the eyes of artists and has featured interviews with the likes of Will Oldham, James Murphy and David Lynch.
Although Fences was mixed in New York, the sounds that make up the album have been drawn from across the globe, with Roberts taking a tape recorder on the road to document his experiences as a writer for the Almanac. "With this album I really wanted to consciously attempt to channel the feeling of certain experiences from recently visited places that stuck with me for one reason or another," he explains. As with Glass Eights, Fences will come out through Hamburg label Dial.
You can listen to an eight-minute preview of the album over on Roberts's SoundCloud page. Chatting via email, Roberts elaborated on the inspiration behind Fences:
When and where did you produce the album? Were all of the songs made for this record specifically?
I've been traveling pretty frequently over the past couple of years and bought a tape recorder to document certain moments. I recorded waves on a beach in Cannes, a parade in Tokyo, synthesizers in Berlin, tourists in Versailles, a cedar soaking tub overflowing in Kyoto, etc. Toward the end of last year I took two months off in New York to finish the final sequencing and mixing of the album, which was a really great experience. I loved revisiting all of the recordings and trying to remember where they were from (some just sounded like white noise), re-recording them, EQing, mangling and combining them. With this album I really wanted to consciously attempt to channel the feeling of certain experiences from recently visited places that stuck with me for one reason or another, so all of the tracks were produced for this record specifically and are meant to be listened to in the order in which they appear.
How would you say it differs to Glass Eights?
I feel too close to both albums to be able to compare them objectively, but I do know that I was in two very different places both physically and mentally while working on each one. With Glass Eights I was pretty statically in Berlin, working everyday in bed, and with Fences I was traveling basically every week for one reason or another to a number of places I had never been before. So I think with Glass Eights the narrative of the album was based much more in a sort of fantasy, while Fences combines free-associated fictional elements with the recollection of particular memories.
The LP is again being released through Dial. Was it an easy decision for you to stay with the label?
Absolutely. I love working with Dial because they've always given me complete freedom musically and aesthetically, and have never been anything but encouraging. I feel really honoured to be able to release music among such a sweet and talented group of people.
You seem to have been keeping busy with your work as co-editor of the Travel Almanac. Can you talk us through some of your more interesting interviewees and adventures?
Yes, we are actually just about to release the fifth issue of the Travel Almanac. The interviews are always interesting for me because I wouldn't consider myself the best conversationalist in the first place, so it can be quite nerve wrecking. But I feel really fortunate to have gotten the chance to feature people like Will Oldham, David Lynch and Harmony Korine, whose work I've always really loved.
Everywhere we've been lucky enough to visit has seemed like an adventure in some way, and I think that that is really the essence of the magazine. Yesterday I stayed at an Ayurvedic spa in Iowa where I had a really intense synchronized oil massage given by two people, and today I had biscuits and gravy in a truck stop during a snow storm.
Dial will release Fences by John Roberts on May 27th, 2013.