Hey! Have you heard? Single Frame have gone digital!
If that means nothing to you, then you’ve pointed your browser at the right website. Let me explain: Single Frame are a very good band from Austin, Texas who at the time of writing have been active for around eight years. Their diverse creative palette merges energetic, synth-riddled indie rock with less lazily definable sonic experimentations. Saying they’re a bit like Xiu Xiu channeling post-hardcore probably won’t be much help, but if those words don’t render you completely bewildered, they might at least point you in the right direction.
Sadly it’s fair to say Single Frame haven’t reached the level of recognition here in the UK that they deserve. This could have a lot to do with the general unavailability of their records in our highstreet entertainment chains, but now, thanks to this new thing scientists are calling ‘the internet’, distribution shouldn’t be such a problem.
In what’s becoming an increasingly familiar story, Single Frame have parted ways with their label to return to their (not inconsiderable) DIY roots, self-releasing the new and imaginatively titled SFep as an iTunes Plus download – along with, at 50 units, a very small run of limited edition CDs.
iTunes Plus is of course Apple’s vaguely insulting new iTunes Store ‘innovation’, the ‘plus’ being that the MP3s are encoded at a higher quality than the regular store and provided DRM-free – surely as it should have been in the first place. But this does mean reasonable pricing and international availability, and now wherever we are, we can all enjoy a little bit of the Single Frame musical action-pie.
So I bought that EP from iTunes, and I loved it. Then I thought “I really don’t know anything much about this band”, and then I thought “maybe I’ll ask them some questions” and then I did and they responded and now I invite you to listen to the EP and read what I asked and see what they said.
superproduct: Hello Single Frame! Who are you and what do you play?
Richard: I’m Richard. I play keys and samples and mess up Adreon’s drums.
Adreon: I’m Adreon Henry – percussion/vox/samps.
Jason: I am Jason, and I play keyboards and sing a little.
superproduct: What do you do when you’re not making music in Single Frame?
Richard: I go to school for film, I am a father and I intern at Super! Alright!, a video production company in Austin. I also work at Austin State Hospital – go see The Devil And Daniel Johnston if you seek further info on ASH.
Jason: I work the registers at the local Taco Bell.
superproduct: What were the differences in your approach to 2003’s Wetheads Come Running and 2007’s Body/End/Basement, which were each quite distinct in feel?
Adreon: Well, for Wetheads we basically took all material we had – be it four-track recordings, studio tracks, live tracks, etc – and constructed an album from this selection. Money was tight and so we had to work with what we had. When material is brought together from different sources you get different moods and vibes. For Body/End/Basement we had a budget, and could focus on recording techniques and work with selected producers (John Congleton, Frenchie Smith). As a whole B/E/B was a more serious recording process/album, where as with Wetheads the actual process of making an album wasn’t really a definable goal.
Jason: I think the approach to both records was somewhat similar, while the overall feel and style of the records were somewhat different. Body/End came out less poppy and had a darker appeal to it, but at the time was an angle we were shooting for. The recording techniques and experimentations were present on both records – and they still are with our other records.
The digital audience
superproduct: While the songs on SFep are as full of catchy invention as I’d expect, you’ve dropped the short sonic detours that characterised earlier records. Were you conscious that each track might be bought and downloaded individually when you were deciding the format in which to present the songs? Or was your music heading in this more ‘pure’ direction anyway?
Adreon: For an internet-only release we thought that it was important to focus on individual tracks (since they are bought individually), instead of a whole album. Honestly, I think that the interludes are an important part of any Single Frame full-length album, because they bring different moods and dimensions that might not be prevalent in the studio tracks or ‘pure’ tracks. I guess you could say that the interludes fill out the spectrum, emotionally.
superproduct: Why release multiple EPs instead of one EP and one album?
Jason: We’re big teasers.
Adreon: Actually, we are kicking around the idea of fleshing out this EP into a full-length album. It is a lot of work, time and money to put out releases – EP or full-length.
superproduct: Have you considered producing other digital media downloads (such as video) to follow on from projects like the Body/End/Basement companion DVD?
Adreon: Yes, Richard is currently working on a video for Taxidermy Heads ’07 and I just got a few treatments from local directors for other songs on the new EP. We will probably release these through iTunes etc. as well as have them on YouTube and the like. Also, I want to find out more about releasing albums on flash drives.
People Are Germs – one of the videos included on the Body/End/Basement DVD
Going it alone
superproduct: Returning to a DIY methodology is quite a romantic notion, but despite all these advances in technology, isn’t it also quite daunting to go it alone?
Jason: That’s how it began, and we seemed to manage. It allows us more control over how our music is made and marketed.
Adreon: It has taken a little adjusting. I think the main thing for me is the realization that the internet has shifted within the last few years. A while back it was easy to get mentioned on blogs and websites, now however this is a difficult task because these outlets are being bombarded with corporate releases and money. Once it was realized that the internet was making and breaking bands everyone shifted most focus there.
superproduct: Could you tell us a bit about SlackElectric and its connection to the band?
Adreon: Basically, SlackElectric is the umbrella for all creative endeavors. It is the website where all Single Frame merchandise is for sale, as well as other (future) releases and clothing, art and more. Check slackelectric.com for more info.
superproduct: What are your plans for 2008? Will you be coming anywhere near the UK?
Jason: I think at the moment we’re going to focus on making music and expanding on the EPs.
Adreon: We are in the process of shifting our focus to a full length album with proper press and radio servicing, coupled with an extensive tour of the States in the fall. Unfortunately we do not have plans to return to the UK for a bit. We really had a great time playing the Brille Records / Vice party in London last summer and can’t wait to return!
More From Austin
superproduct: Ignoring the fact that Austin just hosted SWSX, are there any local bands we should check out?
superproduct: Thanks guys! Blimey. Listening to all those new bands will keep me and my reader busy for quite some time.
So now we’re all slightly better informed about Single Frame. 2008 is likely to see more major changes in the music industry as highstreet CD sales continue to drop, and no doubt more publicity stunts by establishment acts who can afford to take expensive risks. But let’s not get distracted by these last desperate cries of the dinosaurs: here’s a chance to support smaller, independent artists on what is finally becoming a more level playing field.