Tanlines discuss their ‘Mixed Emotions’

Having spent years in the bands Professor Murder and Don Caballero, Jesse Cohen and Eric Emm respectively came to join forces as Tanlines during a few run ins at a mutually used studio in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Their first singles were instantaneous, with the band posting them to the Internet shortly after their creation, usually with an accompanying video made from found footage. Their first EP, “Settings,” saw release in 2010 and after some extensive touring with bands like Delorean and HEALTH, the two took over a year off to work on their first full length record.

The result is the breezy “Mixed Emotions,” a record that pleasantly balances the groove of sun kissed dance pop, with driving postpunk. Emm’s vocals are strong, confident, and longing, while the musicianship between him and Cohen is tight and never short on hooks.

Over the past year or two, an unexpected interest in Balearic pop has found its way back into a lot of new bands’ output. In the case of Tanlines, the influence is entirely accidental. “I’ll be completely honest about this,” says Cohen as he rides shotgun in a Suburban on its way to New York’s Bowery Ballroom. “The word Balearic was not a word we had ever heard in our entire lives until we went to England to promote our first single, and it was a word that was sort of thrown at us in an interview. We had no idea what it was and we still pretty much don’t know what it means.” Whether intentional or not, the airy synths and ping-ponging percussion on songs like “Yes Way” and “All of Me” are what give the album a hearty bounce, like a jog through the beaches of Ibiza.

During our discussion we talked briefly about some bands they liked like Talking Heads, Beach Boys (whose “I Know There’s an Answer” is quoted specifically in “Lost Somewhere”), and New Order. While vocalist Eric Emm drove the car, Cohen shed some light on the unconscious nature of influences, paraphrasing something Emm had previously said in a recent interview, “Writing music is like a dream. Every part of your brain makes a dream and when you’re asleep, your dream comes out of your experiences from your entire life. It’s the same thing with writing music. Everything is in there, at least with us…You cant make up a dream if you wanted to. If I made up a dream for you it would sound contrived. It’s never as good as the real thing.”

No matter the way in which they ideas are configured, Tanlines are a band that care tremendously about their work. Having spent an entire year playing no shows, they spent their time making sure every last nuance of the album was tailored to perfection. With that came the outsourcing of production legend Jimmy Douglass for the final mix. “You work alone and you work in a bubble and you hear the songs a million times, and it’s nice to work with somebody that’s hearing it from a different perspective. Jimmy Douglass was a guy who we had just known based on his reputation and we were like ‘let’s send it to this guy and maybe there’s a chance he’ll want to work on it.” Douglass, whose resume features production and mixing work for a roster of artists ranging from Gang of Four to the Rolling Stones, accepted the band’s request, having the two come down to his Miami studio for the final mix. “It was pretty much the opposite of how we had been working for a year and a half…It was a really interesting way to finish the record.”

Now with more confidence in their work than ever, the duo is set for a smattering of dates in the US and Europe. For Tanlines, “Mixed Emotions” is possibly the biggest achievement the two have made in their music careers, and they’ve shown their work. “We wrote songs in a lot of different ways,” says Cohen. “Writing this album was more intensive and deliberate than anything we’ve done in the past. We had enough time to be experimental and do everything that we wanted.” The ballad “Nonesuch” which closes out the record states, “And when you get what you want, it’ll all be better.” That optimism sums up the patience and ultimate payoff of the record as a whole.

Check out the interactive video for opening track “Brothers” below. Directed by the collective Weird Days, it features a unique 360 degree camera technique which allows you to move the image at will. “Mixed Emotions” is currently out now on True Panther Sounds.

Tanlines — “Brothers”