Exclusive Track & Interview: Hidden Speaker

hidden-speaker-buzzbands-laPhoto From buzzbands.la

Evan Dickson might be better known to long-time Austin music scenesters as the frontman for Hidden Speaker, an Austin band from about a decade ago that featured most of what went on to become the Octopus Project. After a 10-year hiatus, Dickson is coming back with another album – this one’s called Wet Recluse under the Hidden Speaker moniker. It covers a lot of interesting ground, and he was gracious enough to allow us to exclusively feature one of its tracks – “Purple Flesh Car” – for download here on OVRLD. This shimmery slow-burner features Toto Miranda from The Octopus Project, and you can check it out at the Soundcloud link below. After that, you’ll find a brief e-mail Q&A I conducted with Evan recently about his life, the album and the song. You can buy Wet Recluse on iTunes. – Carter Delloro

Q: I’m really interested in the move to LA. Did you leave Austin for music reasons, or did something else bring you out to LA? How has making music there differed from making music in Austin?

A: I actually moved out to LA to work in film, which I find really rewarding in many ways. I still feel like Austin has the best music community and that Austin and Houston are really the only two music communities I’ve ever felt a part of. I’m sure LA has some sort of corollary, and I’m friends with a lot of musicians here, but I haven’t really felt like I was part of a larger scene or anything. Maybe once I start doing shows for this record that’ll change, but I don’t necessarily need it to.

Q: What prompted you to get back into releasing music after a 10 year hiatus?

A: I just really missed it. I’ve been busy, and I had a great knack for putting it off! It’s weird because I used to be super driven. Back when Hidden Speaker was an Austin band I think I was probably very hard to work with because I was so driven, and I was probably too young to communicate that drive to the people around me in a pragmatic way. I never put out anything I didn’t want to put out and I was always trying to make my favorite record – but there was also this immense pressure I put on myself to “be successful.” I’m not sure if the work suffered because of that or not, I still like a lot of it, but I think the experience may have suffered.

Now, there’s no real concept of “success” that I’m dangling in front of myself. Not only is the industry completely different, I’m completely different and don’t necessarily need to be validated in the same ways. I think that opened me up to the idea of doing this record the same way I did 4 track demos in high school. Of course the equipment is totally different, but I could just record stuff and be as wild and “out there” as I wanted and only put it out if I liked it. The idea of that made it fun again. It also probably didn’t hurt that I totally changed my songwriting process for this one.

Of course, now that I know I like this record (and like making music again in general) I want it to at least find a small audience so I can keep putting stuff out from time to time and know at least one or two people will listen. But that’s a less overbearing goal to work under than “conquering the world” or whatever.

Q: How did you get Toto from The Octopus Project involved on “Purple Flesh Car?”

Josh, Yvonne and Toto [from the Octopus Project] were in Hidden Speaker back in the early years and we’ve remained really great friends. They’re easily some of my favorite people on the planet. I knew I’d need some extra ears on this since I’d be recording 85% of it alone in my closet so it was always the plan to go down to Austin in December to finish it up at their studio. They did some overdubs to some of the songs and we played a couple of new ones and recorded them live.

“Purple Flesh Car” used to be an acoustic song and was based on a chord progression and melody that has since been omitted. Basically I wanted to only keep the melodic distorted delayed guitar lines I had overdubbed and wanted to create a new base under it. So I gave my laptop to Toto and he plugged a keyboard into it and messed around for about an hour while Josh and I were in a different room mixing another song. When I came back in he had completely given it a new identity. That shimmery almost sci-fi stuff near the beginning and then the way it just opens up at like 1:18 – that’s all him. All in like 45 minutes. He’s an unmitigated genius. Even if you don’t like the song. If you don’t like the song, that’s my fault.

Q: Do you have plans to come tour through Austin at any point?

Most definitely. I’m not sure if it will be acoustic or with a full band, but I’ll be playing there in 2014 without a doubt.