Mutual Benefit is the brainchild of songwriter Jordan Lee, a flexible moniker that acts as a sort of umbrella for the rotating cast of players and friends that pass through the the recordings and performances–trailing behind a patchwork of strange flourishes anchored by Lee’s distinct vocals. Since last year, Mutual Benefit has released like three EPs (available on his BandCamp and his own label kassette klub) and now he’s got a split “12 that just dropped with like-minded outfit Holy Spirits. I exchanged a few questions with Jordan about his crazy music, wanderlust, and why he likes cassettes so much. Enjoy!
Your music really satisfies the line between pop and experimental, there’s always a hook to latch onto among the barrage of super eclectic instruments and sounds. Do you have a particular set up that acts as the baseline to the music or an instrument you usually gravitate towards, or do you just work with whatever is most accessible?
Our set up is no set up, but that’s okay because great sounds will find their way to you if you have an open mind and a portable microphone! I think most of our tracks start their life as a simple pop song and slowly get corrupted and dismantled into a more emotionally specific and textured song-mutant. A lot of the time the inspiration for the part comes from not knowing how to play the instrument well and learning it on the fly. I recently told another blog that we are professional amateur musicians.
Since I’ve been following your project if seems like Mutual Benefit has moved quite a few times, hitting up Texas, Ohio, and Boston is it? Do you have a town you consider home base or is relocating important in any way to you?
There’s definitely an allure of moving around a lot. Its easier to stay inspired and not get stuck in routines. I’m not sure exactly what I would call home these days but I’ve got some gnarly beefmaster tomatoes growing in Ohio that I can’t wait to eat, so maybe there?
You’re the man behind the very awesome cassette label kassette klub. What prompted you to get that project up and running? Do you have a particular bias towards that format, as in like accessibility or sound?
My (post childhood walkman) love of cassettes was born when I bought a karaoke machine from the thrift store that made amazingly weird recordings straight to tape. Since then everything about the medium made sense to me from the ease of production to the imperfect analog sound to the subcultures that elevate it. I started kassette klub when I was idealistic and ignorant about the music industry but its turned into an awesome little family of artists whom I deeply respect.
I’ve heard fantastic Mutual Benefit covers of Pavement and (the very awesome) Wanda Jackson–do you have any more songs in the queue you’re interested in re-working?
We don’t usually feel too compelled to make covers unless someone asks us to though we played a really fun version of “Big Sky” by The Kinks at our first couple shows. That Wanda Jackson song has the first mutual benefit hot guitar solo!
Your split 12″ with Holy Spirits just dropped (congrats!) on Father/Daughter Records, and a number of tour dates with you guys teamed up–where did that relationship begin? Your music really compliments each other.
Thank you! We are so excited about that record. Holy Spirits and us met through this great artist named Nathaniel Whitcomb because he had done motion collages for both of us. They asked us to play some dates in California with them and we became really good friends. They are such great people who make such beautiful music. Since then we’ve played together in Texas for SXSW and will soon be again in New York thanks to you guys.
Get yr tickets HERE