Origins is a recurring new music series in which we task a band with detailing a handful of the influences behind their latest release.
Small Leaks Sink Ships got off to a rocky start back in 2007, the year the Portland art pop outfit dropped their debut LP, Until the World Is Happy; Wake Up You Sleepyhead Sun. A cancer diagnosis, a near-fatal motorcycle accident, and a broken collarbone ensured it would be eight years before the release of their second full-length. The good news is that the band hasn’t stopped since, cultivating a palpable momentum that picked up speed with last year’s Golden Calf and, now, a brand new, four-track EP.
Titled Polaroid People, the EP took on a multitude of iterations before SLSS found satisfaction. “We originally spent about six months in and out of the studio working on these tracks, only to get to the point where we collectively felt unsatisfied with the finished product. It seemed as if we had over worked the songs,” they tell us. “At first we were bogged down by our own disapproval, but inevitably picked ourselves up and, within two weeks, ended up re-writing two of the songs, squashing the other two, and wring a couple new ones from scratch. We went back in the studio and really let it all out, had fun, and took our hands off the wheel a bit.”
Its first single, “Prism” is a cinematic, stargazing track that opens the EP. Its celestial synths quiver with a bright-eyed whimsy before evolving into soaring sounds that evoke a choir of angels, soon taking on new, glitchy textures that overwhelm the straining vocals. The lyrics could be a chronicle of a crumbling romance, but the band says they’re actually born from the frustrations that accompany modern discourse.
“[It concerns] the current social climate of trying to get people to see your side of the argument and the frustration of when someone doesn’t see your point of view,” the band explains. “Its a self analysis of our own behavior. Ultimately, we want to be heard, but it takes listening to one another before we gain any type of understanding of the situation.”
Hear it below.
For more insight into what SLSS put into “Prism”, the band has taken Consequence of Sound through the track’s Origins. Read on for thoughts on this diverse range of artists — Phillip Glass, WebsterX, Young Fathers, and Forest Swords — crystallized inside the band’s signature vision.
Phillip Glass — Einstein On The Beach:
The first time we had ever heard of Phillip Glass was while watching the movie Koyaanisqatsi. We were so mesmerized by the combination of scenes and the score that he had built around them. I remember thinking, WOW, I have never heard what chaotic patience had sounded like until then. Glass mastered minimal repetition without it becoming redundant. That movie ended up becoming a daytime ritual we would inevitably fall asleep to.
WebsterX — “Daymares”:
More often than not, we write parts of songs at different times and one of us will take what another started and run with it. That was definitely the case with “Prism”. I had come into the studio one day and saw that Judd had written this opening section of the track and I was immediately inspired to follow it up with this immersive style chorus. I had the hip-hop artist WebsterX on repeat at the time, and I was just infatuated with how he would create these hooks that felt like they were bursting at the seams and accompanied with these raw yet stylized vocals. Once we got the whole band back in the pad, the track just kept getting more and more layers to it.
Young Fathers – “Lord”:
These guys are by far one of our favorite groups. I have yet to be let down by one of their albums, let alone a single track. The song “Lord” has a way of using these low tones to really elevate the intensity of the song, not to mention the combination of the three singers just belting their lungs out with pure emotion. That’s what can really get me in a song; when someone has the courage to let go of all their inhibitions and let it fly off the handle. The music community at the moment is also experimenting with “low end” and it is inspiring to hear how, as a whole, we are reshaping how we use “low end” in modern music. This is our take on that expedition.
Forest Swords — “War It”:
I’ve listened to this track way too many times. So much ambiance, tons of melodic layers, and a beat that sounds like a percussive prequel to a devastating storm in the rainforest. This is definitely my favorite track on the record, but all of Compassion is nothing less then beautiful.