– featured image courtesy of paulina isaak –
jamison isaak has been recording and releasing music for nearly a decade as teen daze, a moniker he almost hung up a couple of years ago. after taking the last year to breathe and reflect, isaak has approached teen daze in a rejuvenated state of mind, crafting the eight songs that appear on his forthcoming album, bioluminescence, outside of some of the confines that dictated previous efforts.
on “endless light,” the album’s closing number, isaak explores some of that freedom through the vessel of a six-minute enveloping, meditative dance number, its percussive pulses felt more so than heard, its glimmering synth motifs pinballing through glassy soundscapes. we recently caught up with isaak via e-mail to discuss his new album, self-releasing music, and the genesis of “endless light,” which premieres below.
press play on the track and then scroll down for the full transcript, which has been lightly edited for clarity.
2018 seemed like somewhat of a year of recalibration for you, especially with the release of two extended plays under your own name. did you glean anything from the experience of writing and releasing those particular songs that has transferred over into your latest work as teen daze?
it certainly was a year of recalibration. i think i had exhausted a lot (if not all of my) energy over the course of 2017, and i needed to spend a substantial amount of time to regroup, and address some of the things that i had neglected in my busy previous year of touring. this applied to both my creative life, and my personal life, and both were healed immensely by taking the year to refocus.
honestly, when i started writing and recording those releases under my own name, i was ready to move on from teen daze. i thought i had accomplished as much as i could with it. if both themes records were the last thing i were to ever release as teen daze, i would certainly feel like i was going out on a creative highpoint.
but as the year progressed, i was (gently) presented with the idea of doing another teen daze record by my manager, and i’m so glad that she did. i began to take a lot of the sounds i was working with for those releases as jamison isaak, and look at them through a teen daze lens (sorry for so much third person use).
the result is a collage, rather than an album with a clear concept, which felt very stretching for me. i usually like to give myself a theme or a narrative to work within. this album simply doesn’t have one. even the narrative of how it came about isn’t really that endearing, if i’m being honest. and yet, i think it’s my favourite album of mine to date.
you’ve released music on your own label, FLORA, for the past few years now. has taking control of your music’s distribution changed how you approach making and releasing projects?
it’s been an incredibly rewarding experience to self-release my music, in huge part to two factors: my fanbase and the team of people i work with.
if it weren’t for the people that continue to listen to, and purchase my music, self-releasing wouldn’t be nearly as beneficial for me.
and if it weren’t for the team of people i work with (my manager – dina young, the people that handle FLORA‘s physical distribution – the business in anacortes, WA, and my digital distributors – believe digital), i wouldn’t have the infrastructure to have self-releasing be a financially viable option. because i have security in those areas, i feel like i have so much freedom when it comes to what, and how, i release my music.
i don’t really think it’s changed my creative process in any way actually. i’m thankful to have worked with labels in the past who never pressured me into creating something specific for their agenda. still, it feels amazing to not be bound by those types of constraints.
we’re premiering “endless light” on the site today; without divulging too much about bioluminescence, can you share a bit about the track’s origins and its place within the album as a whole?
at the risk of sounding cheesy, i have to start by thanking y’all for premiering this song. i feel like you have had my back for a long time, and i love that we can team up in this way!
“endless light” is one of the catalysts for this whole album. the idea for the song was inspired by the jon hopkins episode of song exploder, actually. he discusses the idea of creating a collage of single piano notes, panned to different spots, which was meant to create the feeling of having these twinkling notes play all around you. being surrounded, or enveloped, by the sound. so the sounds your hearing at the start of the song are my version of this! the album has a very aquatic feel to it, and i feel like those notes are like drips of water happening around the field of sound.
sequentially, it’s the last song on the album, and i did this because i wanted to leave the listener on a hopeful note, because it feels like a pretty positive song to me. also, my trend has always been to have my albums finish with an ambient/drumless track, and i loved the idea of finishing this one off with a more straight-ahead dance track. there’s plenty of slow, quiet ambient music on the album, but it felt appropriate to end in a place of positivity and energy.
when i think about where i was, creatively and personally, at the end of 2017, and where i am now, “endless light” feels like a great place to end this record, and most likely lead into the next.
bioluminescence is out april 26th via isaak’s own label, FLORA. pre-order a copy here and check out teen daze’s spring tour dates below.
may 16th – abbotsford, BC – TBA
may 17th – seattle, WA – central saloon
may 23rd – san francisco, CA – neck of the woods
may 24th – los angeles, CA – el cid
may 30th – toronto, ON – baby g
may 31st – montreal, QC – casa del popolo
june 1st – new york, NY – le poison rouge
june 2nd – washington, D.C. – songbyrd
june 3rd – chicago, IL – empty bottle