Leave The House: The Raw Return Of Porches

Aaron Maine on the construction of his fascinating new album...

Porches – real name Aaron Maine – knows that sometimes simply letting things lie can be a tough skill to aquire.

It's easy, in an artist sense, to endlessly re-loop, to go back and tinker with recordings and layer fresh ideas on top.

It's a form of over-thinking, a kind of creative anxiety that come sometimes help, but more often hinders, an artist.

So Porches elected not to do this. Writing and recording at his home in New York, he decided to simply let the songs breathe, crafting some of his rawest and most powerful material to date.

New album 'The House' is a joy, with Aaron Maine's fluid creativity evident at every turn.

With the record soundtracking our January, Clash decided to track Porches down and find out a little more…

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We’re told it took around 18 months to actually make this record, is that right?

Yes that’s about it. Maybe a little less for the writing process. But I think between when I started writing it and when I finished mixing it was about 18 months or so.

Can you write in the studio? Do writing and recording happen at the same time?

I recorded it all at home, so it was all happening at the same time. I was writing and recording it as I went along, trying to capture any aspect of the song that I could the day I made it, or as close to the conception of it as possible.

I felt in the past that I found it hard to recapture that initial feeling or excitement in the sentiment of the song if I spent too much time away from it before going back to record it. I was at home… writing everyday and recording as I went along. We mixed it in Los Angeles, but by that point everything had been recorded.

It feels like a raw record in many ways – it feels like you’ve avoided overthinking each track.

That was a thought going into it. I was writing everyday and it didn’t feel urgent in the sense that I needed to pop these things out, but it did feel like the flow was fast and important and diaristic and raw. I did make a point to keep the songs as bare as possible.

Obviously, there are aesthetic decisions to arrange it in a certain way, and that takes time. But I tried to keep it pared down to what felt like the minimum the song needed to hold up as a two, three minute thing. So it was in line with the urgency, the rawness of it.

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Leave The House: The Raw Return Of Porches

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Do you keep a journal, at all, or does music literally fill that function in your life?

Yeah. I think it’s becoming more and more that. In the past there have been specific moments that I felt inclined to write about, the more dramatic things that were going on in my life and I was thinking about. I don’t know, maybe as I get a little bit older, a little less… maybe not calmer, necessarily, but having a different way of dealing with everything.

So I just write everyday and I find it just a good practice to question everything. As small as it may seem, I do think there is some sort of underlying connection to the larger fabric of life just touching on subtler scenes. To create a better picture of what’s going on.

Lyrically it feels like a record of transition, with point that feels almost as though you’re saying farewell to aspects of your life.

I think specifically with this one I was writing it after I’d spent a lot of time touring, and the time that I had back home to write and record and spend with the people I had around me all of a sudden felt more precious, and fleeting.

I knew that a certain point I’d be leaving again and I wouldn’t be able to live the life that I was happy to be living in the city and seeing people I loved. In that sense my time there at home and my day to day things in general just felt much more important, or I appreciated them with a new perspective.

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I just write everyday and I find it good practice to question everything…

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Is writing a strictly solitary thing for you?

Yeah. I mean, I definitely treat it like a serious practice; it’s regimented, and I feel best when I stick to that. I like to wake up early, drink coffee, and sit alone for a couple of hours and just write whatever has been going on: dreams, anecdotes, thoughts.

If something pops up that feels appropriate to put through a song then I’ll do that. Perhaps someday I’ll release some sort of poetry or prose, a strictly literary thing aside from the music and the songs that I write.

Dev Hynes contributes to the record, how did the two of you first get in contact?

I’ve been a fan of his for a while. A mutual friend – this guy Ethan, who put out the first Blood Orange seven inch on Terrible Records – I got in touch with him and he ended up releasing two Porches songs. It was through him that we started spending time hanging out, and naturally would show each other what we were working on, and maybe add something to each other’s tracks as he came to my spot, and I went to his studio. It was pretty organic.

Dev frequently looks beyond music to fuel his own art, is that something you share?

I think we more connected through our obsession with music in general – how we treat it, and how we live in it. It’s hard to say. But I think he’s a genius, I’ve always admired his ideas, musically and in other things. It’s just as you would imagine any friendship.

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Leave The House: The Raw Return Of Porches

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The finished album is wonderfully raw, were you tempted to go back and add overdubs, or were you quite strict with yourself?

No, I definitely went back and worked on the arrangements a lot, and tried some different things out. I did try and commit to the vocals because I did feel like that’s the main part of the performance where the energy can be hard to re-create if you go back too many times.

Even if the quality of the vocals weren’t that great or there were some errors with tuning I would try and be strict, and not be too much of a perfectionist when it came to the sake of having that initial excitement on the final recording.

At what point did you consider the record complete?

Well, I think – for me – when I start something new… It’s more when something is finished, and when you start working on something after that you kinda wanna grow, or I wanna force myself to grow, so I will try endless things completely out of my comfort zone… and then maybe 10 songs in, six, seven months later finally something will appear – the visions become that little bit clearer, the palette and the sounds you’re using in a lyrical context all start to come into focus.

It’s exciting. It’s all pretty exciting but it’s great when that happens because you start to write songs with precision, and you go back and start to write songs with the same treatment as you’ve just uncovered.

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There’s a feeling where it becomes time to collect them.

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I think at a certain point I’ll have maybe 15 to 20 or 30 songs and there’s just this feeling where it starts to become a little bit overwhelming and you know that you have to document this period of songs. Stuff seems to get lost if you get too far away from it – at least for me – so there’s not really a time limit, but there’s a feeling where it becomes time to collect them. Or the collection becomes good enough.

You piece it together and once it’s pieced together the production could go on forever, but for the sake of keeping it moving I think it’s important to not treat anything as being too precious because my ideas and tastes are constantly changing. I think before I feel really restless within this body of work I think it’s nice to try and wrap it up before you start moving on to something else naturally… because you do get tired of making a certain type of song or thing.

It’s been pretty apparent, I guess, when something is done and you start giving yourself deadlines to help for a little while.

Is that sense of the unexpected what you’re seeking out on these recordings?

I think it’s becoming clearer with the past few releases that it will constantly change and I’m glad that’s part of the conversation around this one. And less, 'why did you decide to go in a different direction?' Which is, for me, a pretty natural thing to do as a human as perspectives and tastes shift.

I feel like I can do that. Some people fuck with certain stuff and not other stuff, but as long as it feels fresh to me it’s going to feel fresh and exciting to some other people.

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'The House' will be released on January 19th.

Words: Robin Murray Photography: Rachel Lipsitz

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