I try not to use the word 'beautiful' too often, but producer Arbour's music is exactly that. The third full-length album from the Bellingham, Washington artist is an eighteen track project of blissful daydreams, soaked by sea foam, sunbeams, and early morning drowsiness. It's an album that demands much more than one simple listen. To coincide with the release of the project through Inner Ocean Records, I asked Arbour a few questions about the LP, the music scene in his city, his band (with fellow producer and roommate fantompower), and how he's grown in the two years since his last album dropped.
How has 2018 been treating you so far?
So far so good. Happy to be playing music a lot.
How would you describe your new album to a stranger on the street?
It’s inspired by hip hop beats and beachy guitar sounds and minimal/electronic music, it’s kind of nostalgic sounding. I think it would be cool elevator music.
This is your first full-length since 2016, is that correct? Have you been working on this album for two years? How do you feel you've grown over the years?
Yeah it is. In summer of 2016 I made a song that I wanted to let inspire the feel of this new album, so that’s when I started collecting songs for sights & sounds. And I’ve gotten better at making sounds how I imagine them. Learning how to use microphones and recording live bands has sparked a lot of new ideas for me.
Do you think your sound has shifted in the last couple of years?
My last album, luv songs, was a transition for me towards making more all original music that still sounded like lofi hip-hop and since then I’ve just gotten more into recording everything myself and my inspiration has come from bands more like King Krule and Nick Hakim. When I’m not doing arbour-related music, I engineer for other people’s recording sessions or do mixing and mastering for friends or people who contact me online. I’ve been learning a lot from working in larger studios and doing work for other artists that’s definitely changed how I approach making music as arbour.
What's your typical studio setup?
I have a pretty simple setup in my bedroom with a pair of studio monitors, a scarlett 6i6, a 4-track tape deck, and Ableton. Usually my sp-404sx is in there and I have a couple casio keyboards I leave plugged into it too, one of which is just used as a midi keyboard for my micro korg with broken keys. As far as my instruments go I use a Reverend Jetstream 390 that I love a lot and more recently I got a 1966 Silvertone Bobcat that has a cool twangy tone. Sometimes my friend Samwise leaves his Rickenbacker bass at my apartment and I’ll record with that. I use a Shure SM57 to record my 1950’s Harmony tube amp with some pretty basic guitar pedals for almost all of my guitar recordings and an 88 key Korg keyboard for electric piano. My brother and I share a drum kit which lives in my garage where I’ve put together a little project studio that I can record drums and guitars in. That’s where most of the recordings for fantompower’s and my band, club mage, happen. And mood lighting, definitely. I like red lights
What's the rest of the year looking like for you?
I’m going to graduate from university and I want to travel. I want to put more energy into club mage and keep playing shows locally. My roommates and I are trying to move to a bigger place where I can setup our garage studio a little nicer, and I also to put together a cool arbour live set because I wanna go on tour.
What's the music scene like in your city?
It’s thriving! Lots of bands and electronic artists, there’s a growing lofi hip hop scene, bars and a couple houses that regularly host shows, and good local music press. It’s a pretty tight community; we’re all friends or have mutual friends with one another.
Outside of your own music, what have you been listening to / reading / watching as of late?
I’ve been listening to a lot of my old favorites like The Beatles and The Doors, also Connan Mockasin, Burial, Nick Hakim, King Krule, Puma Blue, tomemitsu…I watch The Office a lot and I like watching cooking videos and music reviews on YouTube.
Do you have any advice for artists working on their craft?
Let your own taste guide your development. Make music that sounds dope to you and trust your ideas and abilities. Learn an instrument and play music every day. Don’t settle too much into one sound or routine, approach every session as an experiment or an exploration and try to stay out of your own way creatively.
Do you have any final thoughts / words of wisdom?
Participate in your local music scene and try to take care of yourself mentally/physically. Be kind.