ackerman are an experimental pop trio based in Brooklyn, NY. Over the last few years, the band has shown a serious ability to meld progressive and challenging soundscapes with pop-centric hooks and vocal deliveries. We’re happy to premiere the highly psychedelic video for “In Flux” off the bands most recent full-length The Orion Pact
ackerman play Zone One at Elsewhere on Friday May 17th with Frida Sundemo and Asha! Ahead of the show, we sat down with Jordan and Bernardo of ackerman to discuss the video and what inspires the band.
Tell us a bit about this video and who you worked with in creating it. How much of an artistic vision or framework did the band provide for the animation?
J: We worked with Eli Ayers, an incredible animator and very close friend of ours. We met Eli on our first ever show in Baltimore, which is now one of our favorite places to play. He was running projections for the show. I had always wanted an animated video for In Flux, and he connected with what I was going for.
B: I think Eli & Jordan just hit it off and we all had crushes on his animation talents.
J: What we’re really into is finding talented people who connect with the songs, and give them an open field to flex their vision. It was hard to let go of what I thought the videos should be, especially considering The Orion Pact has such a strong narrative. But it’s always rewarding to see what talented people like Eli see when they hear the song. So with all of our videos we try to give the filmmakers as much creative control as possible. We sometimes give input, but it’s always a collaboration. It’s turned out really well so far.
B: What you see is all Eli’s artistic musings, ackerman just provides the sonic backdrop.
How did ackerman come to be? what were the musical touchstones when initially conceptualizing what ackerman would sound like?
J: ackerman started in 2014 as a pseudonym for my personal music I was doing at the time. I was working on an EP while studying abroad, with only a USB mic and Logic to create songs. I ended up recording instruments lying around people’s houses wherever I was and sampling a lot. That ended up really informing how I wrote music from then on. Then I recorded the first LP which was when Matti first came on, to play the drum parts I couldn’t. I like both the solitary and collaborative nature of music, and with so many musical friends, there was always people ending up on songs here and there. But with Matti and Nardo it was impossible to let go of working with them. We have such disparate influences that when we come together there’s inspiration from places I would never expect.
B: We like to draw from all over the place. Recently, Jordan & I listened to Bill Wither’s “Lovely Day” when thinking about vocal direction for a new recording. We were also all obsessed with “Came So Easy” by The Weather Station for a hot sec this year. Back when we were recording The Orion Pact, we were hooked on Here We Go Magic’s A Different Ship especially “How Do I Know.”
J: And that’s just the surface. We’re always trying to challenge ourselves and each other when we work. And it’s super fun.
Your most recent full-length The Orion Pact was released in 2017. What was the recording and songwriting process like for this project?
J: Well, I had always wanted to record a solid narrative album, one that was very concrete in it’s subject. I was very interested in mental illness and intrusive thoughts from my own battles with them. In Flux was very important in the development of that idea, as it was the first track to get finished, by a long shot. It ended up being the hinge of the entire record. There were a few more electronic-y tracks that spilled over from Sleep Songs that didn’t really fit that record at the time. I loved Nardo’s work in his project Panther Hollow, and was especially in love with the timbre of his voice. Later, we were writing (Matti, our friend Dom, and I) and had a instrumental of what would become 5/7 (TOP’s first single and the closing track), and I asked him if he wanted to record some vocals and lead guitar on it while we were hanging out. It was really organic. Nardo basically didn’t leave our house for months. I gained like 15 pounds because that’s all we were doing. The album just solidified out of all that work.
B: We did a lot of listening and sitting in a basement thinking about how to write together. A lot of guessing, a lot of growing. A lot of yerba matte, a lot of mario party on n64, a lot of cooking together.
J: We don’t just get together for a few hours a week and rehearse. We love hanging out together, and music was just a happy byproduct of that. I think that really shines through in our music.
What does the future hold for ackerman?
B: Well we have this awesome Popgun show on MAY 17TH THAT YOU SHOULD ALL COME TO AT ZONE ONE, THE BEST VENUE IN NYC, and then we’ve been putting together a small collection of songs that we’re excited to share with the world real soon that we’re aiming to finish up this month 🙂
J: I’m couldn’t be more excited about the future of this band, and we’ll be having a blast the whole way. We’ve got a couple new EPs we’re finishing up (which is some of our best stuff yet, if I do say so myself), a tour planned in the fall, and THIS POPGUN SHOW NEXT WEEK! Nardo got a pressure cooker for tour, so if anyone has any recipe ideas for us, let us know!
Interview by Shane Stroup
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