Music Articles

Second Stage: Galapagos

Eighteen year-old Jacob McNaughton has been creating electronic music under the name Galapagos for only a handful of months. But the music blogosphere is already chiming with praise of his tropical cut-and-paste songs.

Jacob McNaughton prefers to promote his musical project Galapagos by collages of childhood photos because he says it's more interesting.

Jacob McNaughton prefers to promote his musical project Galapagos by collages of childhood photos because he says it's more interesting. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of the artist

Upon graduating high school this past spring, McNaughton purchased a used Macbook from eBay. He played around with piecing and pairing previously existing songs together and decided to put a piece up online under the moniker Galapagos.

He called the song "Gleaming." Seagull screeches play as much a part of the instrumentation as the glittering keys and muffled drum beats. Its December release was perfectly timed for the nice, ice-melting jam.



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The day after Christmas, the music blog Life: Aquatic featured the track. By the time Sounds Vol. 1 dropped about a month later, other Tumblr tastemakers had caught on, too.

Jacob McNaughton recorded Sounds Vol. 1 in about six weeks, but it sure doesn't sound like it. The seven-track record cranks like an unassuming dance party. It's a well-crafted alloy of bumpin' beats, soft-focus guitar and peppery sound samples. Some tracks like "Want It All" really threaten to spill your champagne with their damn-near clubby groove. Others, like the opening track "Changing" slow down but hike up the tinsel-esque ambiance.

McNaughton says when he gets the itch to produce, the process starts easy enough. "I'm always looking for new bands so pretty much when I want to sit down and make a new song, I just browse through my iTunes and see what I have and go from there."

Meaning, most of Galapagos' music to date comes from previously existing pieces. "I recorded some percussion on a few tracks (tambourine and shakers), and some backupish vocals on a few," McNaughton tells NPR. "I also did a field recording one rainy night here in the desert and added it to a reworking I did of Prince's 'Purple Rain.'" In fact, his only completely original recording comes from a cover of N'Sync's "Tearin' Up My Heart." Unfortunately, those last two covers don't appear on Vol. 1.

Currently McNaughton plans to move from his Phoenix childhood home to Austin. He's gotten about halfway through recording upcoming EP Miracle Child for Chill Mega Chill Records. Check out the video for the first cut from it, "Where I Am," below:

Expect Galapagos showing on several SXSW party bills, marking his first live performances. Not too bad for an 18-year-old kid with a secondhand Macbook.



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