Brooklynite Kyle Bobby Dunn‘s fifth album, Ways of Meaning, will be released on Monday by Desire Path as an LP and digital download. Wikipedia categorizes its genre as “ambient, drone, classical, minimalist, slowcore, indie rock”. We asked the 25-year-old Dunn if that was accurate, and about how Vinegar Hill compares to DUMBO, and he told us he wants to play more shows in Canadian forests.
Some listeners might have trouble finding an entry point into your music. Is there anything you could say to help them?
If they have trouble why force it? I suppose the Young Person’s Guide to Kyle Bobby Dunn from last year was both a joke and an honest title for those looking for some bare essentials to my work—so I suggest that, but I don’t know if there’s any one way to listen to it. I hope there isn’t.
Could you describe the kind of music you write and play, for people unfamiliar with it?
I hate doing it. I’m sorry, but I probably make a fool out of myself trying to talk about it in most conversations before or after a concert. It’s kind of quiet, spacey, emotive, reflective and bassy music that should make your heart race and your stomach sink.
What’s your new album like, compared to your work in the past?
More direct. It’s less stagnant and has more movement—yet strangely more space—even among the shorter songs. And for the most songs there’s a sense of just giving in and going rather than dwelling and waiting for nothing. They embrace the nothing more and try and work with it—but still fail emotionally and miserably.
What music have you been listening to a lot lately?
Been more into the piano music recently. Lots of Chopin, Satie, Debussy. Anything soothing or light. On a new music level, I liked some of the new Julianna Barwick album and have been into lots of older, campier soundtracks recently.
Do you like living in Vinegar Hill?
I like being in a quiet place that not many people are drawn to or just don’t know about but is also in the city. It’s also close to many other good neighborhoods and places, trains, and the river. It’s also got one really good restaurant that I frequent often. If only their coffee was a bit better…I like it a lot though. Even the name of the hood is good. It’s also a nice departure from Crown Heights, where I was a few years ago.
How does it compare to neighboring DUMBO?
The yuppies don’t seem to be frolicking around here as much…yet. It’s a more quiet neighborhood with an air of spookiness that might keep people out and pull them in at the same time. Kinda like I want my sounds to do…
Does living in Brooklyn affect your work at all?
Well I’ve been composing and recording here since 2008, but I don’t really write songs with Brooklyn in mind. Or at least I don’t feel that I do. Maybe the song “Movement for the Completely Fucked” on the new album reflects some feelings and observations of Brooklyn—but also everywhere. I record mostly in small spaces that nobody knows about. I thought about recording this last album in a church or just within a proper studio someplace—but I just work so much better on my own and don’t have to deal with the clock and the pressure of others.
Are Brooklyn audiences different from those in Manhattan? Or elsewhere in the world?
I can’t really tell. I have my back turned towards them for almost all my performances. I like the spaces I’ve played in Brooklyn over the ones in Manhattan, for the most part. I need to get out of New York completely soon, though. Europe and Canada would be nice. More exotic and unheard of places would be great to play.
What are some of your favorite local venues?
I just played Galapagos in DUMBO. That was an all right space and nice sound. Their piano was interesting as well. It may be a new favorite. Earlier this year I played at the St. Augustine Church in Park Slope, which was fantastically huge and, I thought, perfect for my sound. I’m really not suited anymore for the smaller clubs or more lounge like settings. I’d like to play the Brooklyn Masonic Temple or some vast outdoor place, like a forest in Saskatchewan.