Ian Maleney nabbed a quick interview with Sacramento producer Raleigh Moncrief whose debut album Watered Lawn will be released by Anticon later this month.
Raleigh Moncrief might be a name you’ve never heard before but you’ve almost definitely heard his sounds. The Sacramento, California native has collaborated on several projects with Hella‘s Zach Hill, tours in Marnie Stern‘s band and produced one of the finest experimental pop records in recent memory in the shape of Dirty Projectors‘ Bitte Orca.
After years of collaborative work, his debut album Watered Lawn is set to drop on Anticon at the end of the month. Marking a sea change from anything he has done before, the album proves Moncrief is his own man, a musician with an indelible identity entirely personal to himself. Working with a synth heavy sound, supported on a solid bed of sub-bass, Moncreif weaves his own delicacy throughout the tracks, with acoustic guitar forming an integral part of the equation. Beats range from the synth-pop style of lead single, Lament For Morning, to more distracted two-step shuffles. Moncreif draws influence from all over and winds up somewhere between Animal Collective’s hazy weirdo pop and Baths’ hyperactive sampling. In less accomplished hands, such a panoramic interaction with the disparate elements of electronic pop would be a total mess but with Moncreif it’s all charmingly crazy and there’s colourful melodies galore.
You’ve obviously been involved in music for quite a while with your production work so why did you decide now was a good time to make your own move? It just needed to happen. I’ve always made music on my own but I’d never really show anyone most of it. I think the songs on this record specifically need to be out there in the world, for my own sake. The record was a challenge to myself to make an honest work without self-enforced boundaries and most importantly, to share it.
There seems to be something of Marnie Stern’s manic sound on the album, especially on ‘Lament For Morning’. Have there been any particular relationships from your work to date as a producer or band member that have had a major impact on this album? Every single thing I’ve ever done has shaped me, given me a new perspective or inspired me in some way. Some work relationships are more profound than others, but they’re all crucial.
Is there any significance to the title of the album? It’s about finding happiness. A healthy, watered lawn is sort a symbol of that. Many of the songs are about searching for or finding those moments where everything feels as if it’s clicked into this euphoric sense of purpose.
Unusually enough for the kind of music you’re making, the acoustic guitar figures quite prominently throughout the album. Is it an important part of your writing? I usually write on guitar. As I was demoing the songs there was just something in the relationship between the acoustic guitar and sub bass that was really attractive to me, so I ended up sticking with it.
Do you think there’s a significantly Californian sound to the album? It must, I mean, I don’t really know… I’m not even sure if there is a California sound anymore. There are definitely regional sounds – the Los Angeles sound, the San Francisco sound, etc. Where I live, we don’t necessarily have one.
Have you set yourself any particular goals with this record? Either in terms of the creation of it or the reception of it. Is there anything you’re hoping people will get out of it? The only goal I had was to not have a censoring voice while making it. I tried to move quickly and not second guess things.