The Blurry Tone Of 'Double Exposure'

Kelley Stoltz has been called the godfather of the hazy, washed out, poppy sound coming from the Bay Area. Host Rachel Martin talks with musician Kelley Stoltz about his new album, Double Exposure.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Over the last decade, a unique blend of music has emerged from San Francisco. It's sort of a meld of psychedelic rock and garage punk. Today, Kelley Stoltz has been called the godfather of that hazy, washed-out poppy sound coming out of the Bay Area.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DOUBLE EXPOSURE")

KELLEY STOLTZ: (Singing) It's a double exposure...

MARTIN: Kelley Stoltz has just released his first album in three years. It's called "Double Exposure." He talked to us from San Francisco and we started with listening to the title track from his new record.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DOUBLE EXPOSURE")

STOLTZ: (Singing) Double, double, exposure, exposure...

MARTIN: Let me, if I may, just kind of speculate about its roots.

STOLTZ: Go for it.

MARTIN: I'm thinking the age of Facebook and Twitter, people constantly posting photos of themselves. We are essentially always in the shot. How close am I? Is this the kind of thing you were thinking about?

STOLTZ: Interesting. Gee. No, but I wish I was.

MARTIN: Not at all.

(LAUGHTER)

STOLTZ: I mean - well, you know, my stepdad was a photographer, so I think "Double Exposure" came out of that. And I definitely heard you're in the shot, you know, as a kid watching him work. But I think that song, there's a line in that song about your little pocket mirror is covered in fingerprints. And the song was about maybe trips to the bathroom in a little dingy bar to do illicit things. And exposing yourself in multiple ways - who you are and who you are at certain times of night.

MARTIN: There's a lot of texture on these tracks.

STOLTZ: Oh, good.

(LAUGHTER)

MARTIN: How does that happen for you? How do you get such a rich, layered sound working mostly by yourself?

STOLTZ: I generally play piano or guitar and a melody will come, you know. I make a cup of tea, I go to my little studio room at noon or 1 o'clock and hopefully by 7 or 8 o'clock that night there's, you know, eight or nine instruments going and it sounds like a song.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

STOLTZ: (Singing) Life is struck, electricity rain, how I love (unintelligible) if you're whispering your name. Tell me, baby, soon...

You know, and then I revisit it over the next couple weeks or month and add a shaker here or a keyboard part there, and it just sort of grows that way.

MARTIN: There's a kind of sound coming out of San Francisco these days - this kind of lo-fi garage sound. You actually - I mean, it's kind of a cliche - but you really did record your album in your garage, right?

STOLTZ: I did really, this time around, yeah.

MARTIN: Just out of necessity or was there something really acoustically interesting about your garage?

STOLTZ: No. This was - I moved. You know, when I saw the place, I was like, wow, this is great. It's got a little room. Because I had always recorded in my bedroom. You know, and I had my tape machine next to my bed and a piano over there and dirty clothes piled up on a guitar amplifier and the shoes were hidden behind the bass cabinet. You know, I mean, it was really living with the music all the time. And that was 10 years like that. You know, and girlfriends either thought you were insane or super attractive because you were really into something, you know. Like, like, let me move this, babe, let me move this bass guitar. Lay down over here. You know, whoops. Didn't know about the - sorry about that shaker, you know. Yeah, it feels pretty good.

MARTIN: Let's finish up with a little bit of music and storytelling, if you don't mind. This song...

STOLTZ: Yeah, I love storytelling.

MARTIN: ...this song, "Kimchee Taco Man."

STOLTZ: Oh, yeah.

MARTIN: That's just kind of a crazy title.

STOLTZ: The "Kimchee Taco Man," the story...

MARTIN: Who is this mysterious kimchee taco man?

STOLTZ: Who is the - we are all the kimchee taco man.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG)

STOLTZ: (Singing) So, the kimchee taco man in the white sedan, the kimchee taco man...

I have a friend named James Kim. He was my drummer for several years. He's played in eight or nine groups around San Francisco. One year he came over to my house on a New Year's Eve and made kimchee tacos for, like, a treat, you know. And they blew everybody's mind. It was just this tortilla with kimchee and maybe a sprinkle of some kind of cheese or I don't know. So, he became the kimchee taco man in my mind. And there's a lyric in the song that says kimchee taco man, play the drum again. And I wrote that song at a time where James was really struggling with his job. They wanted him to focus more on his day job, and he wasn't able to go on tours as much. So, that was sort of my shout-out to him to play, play some more drums.

MARTIN: And how's he doing?

STOLTZ: But he...

MARTIN: Is he playing drums?

STOLTZ: Yeah, he's busy. He's real busy. And he also reminded me, he said, Kel, Kel, you know, they were actually kimchee quesadillas.

(LAUGHTER)

MARTIN: Kelley Stoltz. His new album is called "Double Exposure." It's out now. He joined us from San Francisco. Kelley, thanks so much for talking with us.

STOLTZ: Thanks for having me.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MARTIN: This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin. Happy Sunday.

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