Joy Techniques is composer/producer/virtuosic multi-instrumentalist Nate Mercereau’s first full-length album, released on July 12 via his own label, How So Records. It was recorded over the past several years at his studio in Echo Park, and created without any keys, instead relying on guitar, drums and a collection of rare ’70s and ’80s guitar synths including the Roland GR300 paired with the Roland G303 guitar, Roland GR500 and GR700s, the Korg X911 and a handful of others.
We asked Mercereau to take us through each of the tracks of Joy Techniques to better understand the inspiration behind each song, and some of the work that went into the making of this album.
“This Simulation Is a Good One”
“This Simulation Is a Good One” is about taking a moment to notice details of the world around you. Slowing down to appreciate the beautiful intricacies of everyday life. It’s a state of appreciation for the countless little events that had to happen for you to be where you are today. Everything from the spectacular to the mundane. Even if we are not the original beings, we are participating in the ancestor simulation – and it’s a good one.
“There You Are”
The farther you can zoom out on your life, the more the things we thought were so important don’t matter. All you’re left with is you. Living with that larger perspective helps me to act with the right amount of understanding about the ethereal nature of being alive.
“Of Course That’s Happening”
Sometimes, when I do something slightly out of the ordinary in my routine, I feel like I’m interacting with an alternate reality that I normally don’t see. When I take the long way to the studio or take a walk through the park in the middle of the day, I hear a bird I’ve never heard before, I see a tree I don’t recognize, a hummingbird stops and floats directly in my path. Of course, that’s happening.
“Joy Techniques” is a literal title. It’s about intentionally creating a space for the experience of joy to happen. This is the overarching theme of the album; creating purposeful space to consider and improvise within the context of what each song title means. I find joy in the discovery of new ideas, which is why there’s a lot of first takes on this album. On this track, in particular, the main chord progression and melody is something Terrace Martin and I came up with the first time we met.
“Righteous Energy” is the feeling you get with your friends or a loved one when your collective synapses are firing, and you reach for a moment of transcendence together. It’s conversational, musical, synergistic. “Righteous Energy” is the light sizzle of synchronicity, the clean-burning energy of inspiration. It’s about feeling good and knowing you’re sharing it with your people.
“Zalatwic” is a Polish term for the use of friends, personal charm or connections to get something done. Getting something done yourself as opposed to official means. Essentially, “I’ll deal with it, don’t ask any questions.” This word came up around the time I was talking with labels about releasing my music. I was getting the feeling that I needed to take matters into my own hands and call on my friends to make it happen in our own way. Such is the birth of How So Records, where I’m releasing Joy Techniques.
“Get Involved” has been my mantra for a few years now. It came up when I was feeling disengaged with life in general. I knew I had to get involved to make this place home, and it continues to be a two-word lesson I repeat to myself anytime I’m feeling left out.
“The Trees Are Starting to Have Personality”
“The Trees Are Starting to Have Personality” is about being alone in nature and appreciating the details of natural existence when humans are far away. The most immaculate intricacies reveal themselves when allowed time to be seen.
“See God, Bare Your Soul, Ascend Straight to Heaven”
The title of this suite is my goal with every performance. The thing I’m trying to do most with music is to connect with the source of life. You can call it God or whatever you want, the point is to get closer to it and have that be a shared experience that changes the atmosphere in the room.
Featured photo credit: Alyssa Rowatth.
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