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Washed Out: Intimate Electronica

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Washed Out: Intimate Electronica

Washed Out: Intimate Electronica

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, host:

A few years ago, Ernest Greene could be found in the stacks, working in the reference department of the University of South Carolina library. But in the back of his mind, he was writing songs. Like this one...

(Soundbite of song, "Eyes be Closed")

KELLY: Greene just released his debut album, "Within and Without."

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

He records under the name Washed Out. His songs belong to a genre that's been dubbed chillwave - electronic music influenced by 1980s pop. In his spare time, Greene is also an amateur photographer. He says he borrowed the name Washed Out from a photography term.

Mr. ERNEST GREENE (Recording Artist): It basically means that a shot is over-lit, just a little blown-out looking. People say that my music's like that.

(Soundbite of song, "Amor Fati")

INSKEEP: This is a song called "Amor Fati."

KELLY: Greene writes his songs at the tiny cottage where he lives, in Perry, Georgia.

Mr. GREENE: I normally start at the computer with something really simple, like a four-bar loop of drum sample or a bass line. And then I just start adding layers of synthesizers.

INSKEEP: A time-consuming process, an obsessive process in which Greene plays a small phrase of music on repeat, for hours on end. For better or worse, his wife is there to hear it all.

Mr. GREENE: She's there the entire time in this small, little house. So the idea is if she likes something after hearing it for that long, then it's probably a pretty good song.

(Soundbite of song, "Amor Fati")

KELLY: Greene's lyrics can be a little hard to make out. He buries his vocals under layers of electronics, and the words themselves are often a surprise, even to him.

Mr. GREENE: I just sort of make up lyrics off the top of my head. And a lot of times, there's a phrase that I really like, and I'll kind of build the song around that.

KELLY: The result is an album more focused on mood than on any particular storyline.

INSKEEP: Greene recorded every song, except one, at a studio in Atlanta. That last one didn't feel right, so he went back to his cottage and wrote a new final track, called "A Dedication."

(Soundbite of song, "A Dedication")

KELLY: It turned out to be one of his favorite songs on the album.

Mr. GREENE: I'm not a very confident solo singer. And for most of the song, it's just my voice and the piano, so it's quite different.

KELLY: That's Ernest Greene. His band is called Washed Out. They're currently on tour in Europe. And you can hear songs from their album, "Within and Without," at nprmusic.org.

(Soundbite of song, "A Dedication")

KELLY: This MORNING EDITION, from NPR News.

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