Hunter H. Keegan
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Hunter talks about the background and production process of "Pickard's Silo, 2013 - 2018." The good, the bad, and the ugly. Audio and full transcript below.
Hi this is Hunter from Last Known Images doing something a little different this time ... usually after we make a new release I do a little write up on my website, hhkeegan.com, where I talk about, you know, the background and production process behind our music and some of the behind the scenes stuff, but I thought I would just do an audio installment for this one and then post a transcript of it online, just to mix things up a little bit.
So this one is about Pickard's Silo, which is the... I would, I wouldn't call it the most recent release because it's actually a compilation album of material that I recorded independently and then also, that was you know remastered and remixed with Last Known Images.
It ranges from the years, approximately 2013 through 2018, with a couple of brand new tracks that were recorded and written in 2019 so it spans about six years, which is really crazy. And it's a 17 track album and it features just a plethora of different, you know, styles and just all this diverse range of output.
Some of it was recorded and when I was in college, being a degenerate at Penn State University.
Those tracks would be, "Fred the Potato," which certainly was not written, while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Um... What's another one that was recorded or written at least when I was at Penn State? Umm ... "Typewriter" is a song that I wrote, shortly after graduating Penn State, that's when I was going through this phase that I still haven't really let go of which is that: I love taking sounds and noise that wouldn't normally be considered musical, such as the clacking of a typewriter and turning them into, you know, centerpieces of a song.
There's this band that I always, always mispronounce the name of, it's something like [Einstuerzende Neubauten], I just called them, "EN," and they're a German experimental group. And they utilize all of this, just, you know, like throwing nails against a concrete wall or like using an air pressure thing to like create percussive sounds and stuff in their music and it's just so fascinating to me, and I so anyway, the point is that I really liked the use of unconventional instruments in music, and some of that is definitely reflected and Pickard's Silo.
Another track where that can be found, is the song "Drought," which was recorded. I think last winter, but that song, all of the percussion on that song It's actually me shaking a metal can full of ice cubes and also tapping against a tin box with my fingers. And that's how the percussion for that song was created so I just love experimenting with all these different sounds and these different ways of just coming up with stuff that you can throw together in a musical way. And I mean, honestly, like, I won't get too much into it but that goes back to, like, all the way when I was like a little toddler just like banging on pots and pans and like driving my parents fucking insane and shit.
Yes... So, Pickard's Silo. It's a compilation album features a lot of different material. A lot of it is very lofi material, there was recorded kind of off the cuff.
If you listen through the tracks you'll notice that there are natural inconsistencies or -- even some would argue -- "mistakes" or "errors" that can be found that, I think, to the discerning listener would be pretty obvious, but again, man I just I love that kind of raw energy behind recordings.
Something that influences me a lot in my own writing process regardless of if it's, you know, with Last Known Images or it's my solo shit or whatever. I really like stuff like Montage of Heck, the Kurt Cobain album, that's just a bunch of stuff that he recorded while you know he was in his basement, you know, just like strumming on guitar and just doing all this weird experimental shit. Also, on that note, the Meat Puppets album. It's just called "Meat Puppets II," which was also a big influence on Kurt Cobain ... stuff like that where it's just really raw, emotional, you know, kind of like stoney just lofi recordings man, it just, it sounds great to me and I mean ... fucking, I mean Neil Young is another great example of that. I mean, the album Rust Never Sleeps it's just it's so abrasive, and it's not like ... I mean it sounds phenomenal but it's so ... you can tell it's like they had a sound that they liked and they just went for it. I mean that fuzzed out tone on... [groans] I can't believe I'm blanking on the name of the song.
What is it -- "Hey Hey, My My?"
I have to look this up right now. ("Hey hey, my, my, rock and roll can never die.") Yeah, yeah, it is "Hey Hey, My My."
Okay... anyway, so glad we confirmed that
Anyway. The fuzzed out guitar tone. It's like: "Do you think they sat around and like worried about how much it was clipping or what the exact compression or like EQ settings on it were?" I mean, it really does sound like they just like walked into a studio and like cranked up the amp and cranked up the distortion and we're just like, "fuck it," and it you know it sounds so great. So I draw from all these different influences I try to incorporate them into my own music, sometimes in a successful way, sometimes in a non successful way.
One of the things that, in my opinion is not successful about Pickard's silo. Is that it, it has a lofi aesthetic that I love, right? But one of the problems with putting together this compilation album, especially considering that it covers about six years of material that was recorded and completely independent settings with. In some cases completely different equipment and completely different recording software and things like that. There was an issue with the track volumes were in certain tracks were coming out quieter than other tracks and so there were there, these weird volume jumps in between. Some of the tracks on the album and -- I was -- I'm not stoked about that I mean just from a listening experience you don't want to have to be fucking adjusting the volume the entire time you're listening to the album.
So I sent it to this guy who I've worked with for a couple of years now he's an audio engineer, I'm not going to say his name, but he sent it over to him and I was like, "don't master this don't like mix it or anything I want it to sound exactly the way it currently sounds, but can you just level out the volumes between the tracks, so that on Spotify and other streaming sites it sounds
at an equal volume throughout the entire album?"
And so I paid this dude some money and he fucking, you know, allegedly put it together he sent it back to me.
And I was listening back through what he had sent me on my laptop and also on my car stereo while I was driving to work. Because I, you know, didn't really have the time or inclination to go through and individually meticulously listen back through each track, I kinda just trusted that this dude had done it properly -- which was a mistake on my part, I should have run it by one of the last known images collaborators I'm sure Amberly or fucking anybody --
Anyway, the point is, I like basically realized after releasing this album that on hifi stereo systems, it's not as obvious if you're listening like on your phone or through a laptop speaker whatever but I was listening back through the album on my full stereo system that's in my living room. And there are noticeable volume drops and there's also tracks that are just in general like way quieter than they should be. So, the audio quality is exactly the way I want it -- like, the actual quality of the tracks and the mixing and everything is fine. But like, the just overall volume jumps around and it really pisses me off and I, you know, I'm really frustrated about that it's probably the key issue that I have with this release. And it's just such a simple thing that I should have caught and it really bothers me. Maybe at some point in the future, I'll rerelease it with the volume levels corrected.
It's not going to ruin your listening experience it's not going to ruin the album or anything but it's just like one of those like small things that really pisses me off. Anyway, that's my rant about that.
Let me talk a little bit about the, I guess the actual content of the album in a little bit more detail than I already have: So a lot of the songs on Pickard's Silo were actually solo works that I did over the last three years. I had released them under different names. Originally, "H. H. Keegan." And then eventually under, I think, "H. Keegan" and now "Hunter Keegan" which is my, I guess, professional music moniker ... "creative moniker" ... that I've been using for the last couple of years.
Anyhow, there were all these different recordings and they were floating around on Spotify and other streaming sites, and it was like scattered between slightly different artists names and it was really confusing for people to, like, find and follow my output. So I wanted to condense it under Last Known Images and just credit it as "Last Known Images" so that some of the best songs from those earlier releases would be included as part of this compilation album. So those include tracks, like "Drought" that I talked about earlier. It also includes tracks like "Crickets," was one of them... "Montana", "South Dakota 3:00 AM," "Wyoming," "Twisted Oak," those were all recorded as solo projects.
The ones that were recorded with Last Known Images are "People Like You," "Alien Friend," "Grey Sea" -- which is actually a live recording that we did in the studio -- it was like, we just kind of dialed in the mixer and we laid down a synthesizer track and you know some drum machine shit, and just kind of improvised -- I improvised -- the lyrics on it. So that was kind of interesting.
And, you know, it's a lot different than our other LP, Nocturnal. Nocturnal was a very overtly electronica album that focused a lot on ambience and long tracks and really immersive kind of stuff, and Pickard's Silo is a collection of much much shorter recordings and it's like the kind of thing that you can kind of like skip around and like, you know, jump back into. And I think that really the goal behind it was to showcase that we're not just doing these heady long, you know, primarily instrumental projects. It was also to show that we have a wide range of styles that we incorporate I mean there's elements of like country western on this album, there's elements of doom metal, in some ways, there's elements of grunge, and of course electronica. And, you know, just all all sorts of different shit and I think it kind of showcases that in a cool way.
Moving forward, I don't think I'm going to be doing a whole lot of other releases quite like this one, I think that we're definitely going to be moving back more into the more ambient electronic kind of meditative mellow but dynamic and interesting type of music that was on Nocturnal, I really really enjoy writing and recording and producing that and I mean so do the other cohorts who I work with, and it's um ... it's really really relaxing to work on those types of songs.
But, you know, Pickard's Silo it's, it's like, I mean that's the kind of stuff that I play at least when I'm just you know sitting around my house, you know, trying to come up with song ideas, I'll just sit down with an acoustic guitar or an electric guitar and just, you know, fuck around and come up with these weird little songs and the songs often are a starting point for projects that become broader in scope and that turn into things like Nocturnal that have, you know, wider concepts and things like that behind them.
Anyhow, I've been speaking into this recorder with my eyes closed, I don't know how long this recording is exactly, but I feel like I've been talking too much, and I don't want to bore people to death. So that's the background on Pickard's Silo. Listen to it, enjoy it.
One new thing about Last Known Images is that we recently were approved to be on the music rating website, Rate Your Music, which is a really cool website ... it caters to kind of like music snobs, such as myself, I've used that website for a long time. And it's a really cool way to, you know, rate and review music that you're into, especially more underground stuff. So if you like anything from Pickard's Silo or if you liked anything from Nocturnal, and you want to go on there and drop us some reviews so we can start getting some more visibility that would be awesome. I think a couple of people have already done this. Anyway that's, Rate Your Music. It's a website,
Go on there. Leave your thoughts.
And you know, of course, be sure to check my website hhkeegan.com that's kind of the central hub for every, every project that I've been working on.
I actually have a book coming out sometime in 2020.
That is, that's a whole other story though.
So there will be more to come on that.
Fuck, what else? Okay we're on twitter @LastKnownImages. We have Facebook page you can like us on there we post our music on there too. And if you want to follow me on Twitter, I'm @hhkeegan.
Alright guys, hope you dig it. Check it out, get some of those indie alternative. Non-mainstream, super underground, Washington DC, fucking dope music scene up in your life.
And yeah man. Thank you so much for listening and thank you to all the people who've listened to our stuff over the last six months as we've started releasing it it's like super cool and, you know... we love you.
Recorded and Transcribed 12/16/2019.
(c.) 2020 Hunter H. Keegan