From misty-eyed love ballads to sunshine-soaked piano pop, Tex Crick, the first artist signed to Mac DeMarco's new record label, has created a world of kaleidoscopic wonder on his debut album Live In… New York City.
The Australian-born, New York City-based artist Tex Crick is getting ready to release his debut album this Friday on Mac DeMarco's new record label. Even though he's been a bit under the radar since appearing on the Aussie music scene back in 2013, Crick holds a modest reputation as an adaptable collaborator, working with Iggy Pop, Weyes Blood, Kirin J Callinan and Connan Mockasin. He also had an incidental encounter with DeMarco on the streets of Greenpoint, Brooklyn, while wearing faux silk pajamas. This odd encounter led to a strange invitation several years later, when DeMarco offered to mix Crick's debut album.
After Crick emailed an early version of his album to his friends, DeMarco quickly responded asking if he could have a go at mixing it. As a result, Crick's debut found a home on Mac's Record Label.
"I've known Tex for maybe seven years now," DeMarco said in a press release. "I’ve always loved the music he's sent me and released over those years, and now I'm able to lend a hand in sharing his newest joint. I helped mix this record, and have heard it probably one thousand times at this point, and still love it."
Crick wrote and recorded his debut album Live In… New York City entirely on an 8-track recorder within the walls of his NYC apartment over a span of four weeks in the winter of 2018. Crafting a world of kaleidoscopic wonder with a delicate approach to instrumentation, Crick's versatility shines over the quirky and sentimental soundscapes that also embrace the organic sounds of the bustling Big Apple.
We caught up with Crick ahead of his new album, who tells us about hauling junk pianos off the streets of NYC and what it was like working with DeMarco on his debut.
What's your earliest musical memory?
Tex Crick: Shakin' my rattle in the crib.
What was your involvement growing up around the Australian music scene? The music is really vibrant there right now, especially in Melbourne and Sydney.
Crick: I grew up in Coledale, a little further south of Sydney. I'd catch a train up there after school and sneak into venues to see bands play. There was always great music getting around... still is. Something in the water.
Are you working on any music with your friends from Australia?
Crick: Not at the moment. From time to time, I'll lay some keys down for friends. I worked a lot with Kirin [J Callinan], though I was mainly just hanging around the studio. I've played with a bunch of other bands, but had no real input in writing. It's just me right now. I enjoy writing alone, but open to anything if it feels right.
From your music, I get a mixture of Syd Barrett, Kevin Ayers, Juan Wauters and Traffik Island. Especially Zak's music, I could totally see you guys doing a split 7" in the future. Lay on me some of your biggest influences.
Crick: I actually played piano on "Sunday Painter" from Zak's Traffik Island record Nature Strip. I like Zak's music, he’s a sweet guy. I respect a lot of artists, new and old. The people I'm closest to are the most influential. I'll always hear what they have to say.
How would you describe your approach to making music?
Crick: Long-winded emotional rambling
On your 2017 collection of songs Between Cruel & Tender, you took listeners on an adventurous psychedelic detour with your bittersweet brand of piano-driven pop. What was it like recording that one?
Crick: I had a lot of fun making that record. I'd just bought a baby grand piano and Alex [Cameron] had given me the mixing desk he used for his first solo record. We loaded up my gold '85 Cadillac and I was headed to build my first home studio. I'd planned on making an instrumental record with that release, thought some of the tracks ended up with vocals—it's all over the place. It was also recorded on a 8-track and I learned a lot from recording that one—wouldn't be where I am without it.
You wrote and recorded your upcoming album Live In… New York City entirely on an 8-track recorder with a junk piano you found and repaired in your NYC apartment. What was the recording process like and how was it different from your previous projects?
Crick: I love that 8-track, I take it everywhere. The piano was real junky, but cleaned up pretty good. The recording process was essentially the same: write the parts, press record, if there's more than eight instruments, I'll bounce them down to two, then I have another six, and so on. I can do this process all with my eyes closed. I couldn't do that with a computer.
How did you land exactly on Mac's Record Label? There’s definitely parallels to your guys' music, especially from his minimal and hazy 2019 album Here Comes The Cowboy.
Crick: That's a great album, I respect what he does. Mac and I met on the streets of NYC years ago. We kept in touch and I sent him an early version of my record and he offered to mix it. Later on, he asked if I'd want to put it out on his label. I'm grateful to be the first artist signed.
What was it like mixing the album with him?
Crick: We mixed it all via email. It was a little tricky with the time zones, but he's up all night anyway. He's got a good ear and understood my vision. He really glued it all together and that’s how you do it
What song (s) stood out the most during the recording and why?
Crick: I tried orchestral arrangements over the whole record. Strings, horns and everything. Changed my mind last minute and scrapped it all. Except the horns toward the end of "Sometimes I Forget." Tree [Palmedo] improvised that trumpet solo first take and it really stuck with me.
I know a lot of musicians have been recording or playing virtual concerts during the pandemic, but as a musician, how have you been handling these unsettling times?
Crick: I'm really just in the attic writing and recording most days. There isn't enough hours in the day.
If people could take away one thing from your music, what would you hope it’d be?
Crick: Live, laugh, love.
Live In... New York City is out March 26 via Mac's Record Label. Pre-order the album here.