Festival Fast Talk
with Luxury Liners

Over the years, it’s become a trend with 6-string aficionados to try their hand at the laptop-laden genre of digital music. These artists tend to embrace a romance with sound, often tied to a warm analog aesthetic.  

One such artist who sat his guitar on its stand to pursue computer bloops and bleeps is Carter Tanton (formerly of Tulsa) with his latest project Luxury Liners.

In April of this year, Luxury Liners released They’re Flowers, a collection of beat-driven electro pop, full of big melodies and catchy choruses. Currently, Carter is halfway through a tour while laying the groundwork for his next release. We got the chance to speak with him shortly after his set at Bonnaroo a few weeks back.

Hey Carter, How are you?

Good, good.

How has 2013 been?

Good, so far—I released the record in April and now I’m on my first tour in support of it.  I’ve also been able to do a remix for this great band out of Philadelphia called Night Lands and compose the soundtrack for an independent movie called Nervous Person.

Could you tell me about that? How did you get involved?

I’m friends with one of the movie’s producers. They were having problems with the film’s composer because he was slow on revisions, so I took over and the revisions seemed to be one thing I liked about the process. When I do my records its just me and my take. Sure, a label will discuss which songs to keep or remove from the album, but there’s no talk as far as rewriting the songs. I was into the whole process of having to collaborate with directors and producers. It took the isolation out of composition and was very rewarding.

Did it affect your music for Luxury Liners?

I think it really informed the way I was approaching the live show—there’s just a whole new way to work without vocals being up front.

I’ve read that you crafted a lot of material featured on They’re Flowers from chord progressions written on guitar. Did some of the songs come from other places?

There’s a few songs that never left the computer and are really collages I made from samples. “Day Glow” was built out of samples from the Nico album The Marble Index. I would grab my favorite parts out of songs and create this tune out of that. “Memphis Alex” was made in a similarly manner with samples from Big Star’s Third.

Why did you decide on electronic instrumentation?

It came from getting my first computer. I was a little bit of a hold out to anything digital. I was working with tape machines for years—lugging them around performance spaces and carrying them with me wherever I went. About 3 years ago I got a computer, and it was inevitable that I started writing songs on it.  Now it’s gotten to the point where I still like electronic music, but am moving away from laptop music.

With hardware instrumentation, what are you using?

I got a MPC 1000 and an Octatrack.

Where did this decision come from?

I’m uninspired when I see bands with a computer up on stage—it makes me skeptical as an audience member and I didn’t want that for my live show. I began including hardware into my set and then it snowballed where now I want to make a record without a computer entirely.

What is your biggest influence with Luxury Liners?

An exhaustion with conventional methods of writing a song. I’m obsessive with compositional deconstruction.  The songs for Luxury Liners were written and then probably deconstructed 4 or 5 times over. I think it was a result of just being burnt out on the more traditional ways of representing a song. Sometimes it felt blasphemous, but it was fun. I still make solo records that are very singer/songwriter, but this side project makes me embrace the simplicity of picking up a guitar and writing a song—which I still think is the hardest thing to do.

They’re Flowers was released on vinyl. Did you have any personal stake in that?

My label, Western Vinyl, always presses LPs and I’m happy with the result. I think the artwork is really great—they went an extra mile. My Friend Dan Gordon contributed to the art and the whole thing came out gorgeous.

What does 2013 have in store for you?

I’m on a tour that ends in late July then I move to England. After that I’ll be working on putting out the next Luxury Liners EP which will consist of new material and songs from They’re Flowers that have changed over time due to touring.

You can keep up with Luxury Liners on Facebook.

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