On January 27, Eric Copeland will be playing at Oro ( attend ) with a very exciting lineup of supporting artists. Check our event listings for details, coming soon. Airick Woodhead from Doldrums reached out to Eric to chat about what he's been up to. We're very excited about this show.
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Eric! So stoked you’re rolling through and love the new sounds. 'Boogieman' is one twisted track, like very cartoonish. Do you have a favorite cartoon or any visuals you like to throw on while you're jamming?
I somehow have slightly cartoonish tendencies but have little real interest in them. Same thing with comics. I like the subculture of those worlds, both within the cartoons and amongst the audiences. But I haven't really kept up on those worlds since I was a kid. To be honest, when I get a little discouraged I often will watch Harry Smith's "Heaven and Earth Magic" that isn't officially a cartoon but is animation. Not that I can follow it but I'm always in awe. What I'd to find is a copy of what still exists from Smith's Oz project-- I've only seen the Tin Woodsman section once (the only surviving section?) but have yet to track it down again...
Having such a large catalogue of music, your sounds have changed over the years, from those gnarly early records to the more rave-y recent releases. Has this just been a natural progression for you, or was there a point where you decided you wanted to lean into the dancier side of things?
There have definitely been many points along the way where I reconsidered... And I've made decisions to use easier sounds, or not to try to challenge the audience. But I think much of the changes you bring up are pure learning curve. And change of gear as well. I mean, I have so many songs where just getting the instruments/sounds to fit together was the accomplishment, using just a delay looper. I just this year have started making samples from a computer. But it's how my brain works; start at the beginning and figure out your own lessons. So to be making what I do now feels more precise to my ears, but not a careful move towards dance culture or anything. I don't even know if my tunes would work on the dance floor...
Your new releases are out on the LIES label - I saw Ron Morelli play in Poland and he played mostly slower stuff that wasn’t exactly dancable, some really shredded grooves and dense soundscapes. It was awesome. How’d you link up with them?
Ron and I both cut our teeth in more hard core mid 90s tri-state scene. So we actually met at ABC No Rio in '98? '99? Then we were both in North Brooklyn for years and we'd see each other at bars and parties. But when Ron started to DJ more he became the guy Black Dice always got for our gigs... So we've known each other for years now and he's been kind enough to release a bunch. Good guy I see less of now unfortunately
I kinda think of your tunes as inseparable from NYC, with the density and layers of stories and voices going on, and the humour, too. Since you’ve been chilling in Spain recently, do you think that has had any effects on the tunes?
Hmm the biggest change in all of that is I now work in headphones as opposed to my 4x10" speakers. Maybe to most that doesn't matter. But to me it felt like someone gave me a very small paint brush after years of only using a broad brush. I can hear things I couldn't before. I am also using a very very small amount of equipment these days as opposed to the garbage-dump vibe of the old Black Dice studio
Another label I’ve been pretty into is Principe Discos out of Portugal - there’s something about those rhythms that drives me nuts. Its so like, janky and kinda shroomy. U ever listen to that stuff? Your tunes have their own, unique jank - phrases that seems to exist out on their own orbits (does that make sense?) Are there records that’ve influenced those rhythms? Anything you’re currently listening to?
I'm not super familiar with their catalogue but what I've heard I have liked. Dice just played a festival outside Lisbon with some of them and I liked that too. But I'm pretty unaware of what's goin on out there these days. I listen to a lot of older music but as for new shit, I like Image Man, the new Black Lips record I listen to often... But I'm always trying to top Daft Punk's Homework, a seminal album in my life.
I find it really encouraging that you put out a lot of work, it seems what you do is more of a natural stream than like, taking 10 years to build a damn. Like, If you didn’t release the jams think it would flood your system? Any words for jammers out there who struggle building tracks out of jams? ‘Rip It’ and ‘Fuck it Up’ from Black Bubblegum seemed liked you were singing about that, maybe. Just doing it, going for it.
I've been lucky to have label support for many years. Real lucky. I've definitely put out a lot too. If I didn't release music on the indy-music level I'd still share it somehow. Honestly I pretty much feel like I just want to impress the dozen closest people in my orbit. Besides that it's all into the unknown for me. Regarding advice, I'm a big fan of keeping yr head down and doing it. I'm a big fan of liking your own work before justifying or contextualizing it. And I'd also say there's no shame in the jam if that's what you do. If you stand behind it someone else will too. Unless you want to be rich and famous then I can't offer any advice...
Ok this’ll be my only nerdy recording question but I gotta ask - how much do u edit after you’ve laid down a jam? Is it usually all one go or does a lot change during making a track?
I edit quite a bit and in fact i very rarely compose or record in a live take. With Black Dice it's all live but very rarely alone. In recording it means I can do more with the pieces than in a live take where they may be restrictions. I also work pretty blindly so often I'm just trying to navigate this idea that I'm ensnaring a listener, trying to keep them in the tune
Any plans for 2018 so far?
I've got a 12" called Beat It coming out on DFA hopefully in the spring. I've got another album recorded but trying to find it a home and finish it up. Some gigs alone, some Dice gigs, living life. I'm hoping for an improved year over last for the planet. It's time.