For what we described as “one of the most important albums of 2017”, Feather Beds’ Blooming isn’t an album of great immediacy or instant power, rather the sort of delicate, achingly ethereal release that effortlessly stirs up an emotional response. We chatted to Michael Orange, the architect behind the project, about influences, hometowns, and what’s next for such an intriguing musical prospect.
It’s often that artists find most of their inspiration from their hometowns, but Blooming was recorded over two years in Canada – did that separation from your home, living in a ‘strange’ place, shape Blooming‘s experimental and edge-pushing sound?
Michael: I’m sure it had an influence on the album. In terms of experimentation, I’m always looking to push things, to try and go somewhere new and interesting for me. Living in Montreal was nice in a lot of ways, it was a good change and I had time to try lots of ideas with the songs. It’s mostly a trial and error effort, blank canvas, see what sticks and feels right.
Speaking of hometowns, how much of your identity comes from where you grew up? Do you find that you use parts of your experiences in Ireland in your music?
Michael: Yes, definitely. I think where you grow up and your formative years have a large part to play in your adult life, regardless of whether you’re an artist or not. I grew up in north Dublin, about 25km from the city, a coastal, fishing town right on the sea. I think that environment lends itself to an escapist, dreaming mentality. At least, I think it did for me. Ireland is a strange place with a complex history, a unique irreverence towards everything and a wit and sense of humour like nowhere else. It’s a place that can frustrate you, but when you spend time away from it, you definitely miss that irreverence and sense of humour.
Blooming has a unique sound making it hard to pin down what sort of things you’ve used to create it – which is rare as with many albums you can sort of see who the influences are. Have you taken inspiration from other artists for this album?
Michael: Thank you, that’s nice of you to say. I tried to get creative with production techniques with this album, there’s a lot of non-musical, textural, home-made samples in there. A lot of which you might not notice first time around. There are so many artists that I’ve taken inspiration from in my life, we would be here all day. The last while I’ve been listening to a lot of Broadcast, The Notwist, Cornelius, Liars, Caribou, that kind of thing. That first Caribou album, Start Breaking My Heart, when he was under the Manitoba name is always a regular go-to album. I don’t know, to be honest, I don’t sit down and have a clear picture in my head when it comes to making music, it’s really the subconscious at work, I have no idea where it comes from.
It may be like asking to choose your favourite child but do you have a favourite track from Blooming? A certain song that you’re most proud of?
Michael: I’m proud of the album, as a whole, but if I had to choose one song then I’d probably say Play Dead. I think it’s a good marker for where I’m at now.
What’s next for Feather Beds?
Michael: We’re working on the live show at the minute. It’s myself and two friends, Mike from Mail Order Messiahs and Colin from Bouts, two great Dublin bands. We’re looking at getting out for some live shows next year in North America and Europe, so we’re just spending some time working that out. It’s a totally different process, trying to make these songs translate live. When I was writing and recording them, I didn’t really think about this. Apart from that, the album is out now and there will be a video for Play Dead in a few weeks, so keep an eye out for that.
Interview by Conor Tollan
Feather Beds’ new album ‘Blooming’ is out now on Moderna Records.