Central Tokyo, 3:35 a.m, 43rd floor: An anime animator for the movie Ghost in the Shell 4: Cells for Shirasagi sees his wife's face in a frame he's been rendering for 16 hours. Snowden's "Keep Quiet" plays through his headphones on repeat. The movie's mob-lord antagonist has a Jackson Pollock painting hanging in his glass-walled office. The face of the animator's wife floats inside the frenetic lines of the impossible-to-digitize Pollock. She's been dead for seven years. When the animator takes his headphones off, her face vanishes. But she's keeping him company, so he puts them back on and starts the song again. Solemn tom drums begin. Voice and bass follow, falling in together.
Snowden singer/songwriter/guitarist Jordan Jeffares has a forlorn Stone Roses crux to his vocals. He breathes long, placid notes repeating, "Is it so much for me to ask?" Something seems pained, yet masked—anesthetized. Around the beat, Jeffares enters, centers, and cuts out his phrasing over and under the one. It's an impetus/impulsion that bobs and weaves. Guitars fade in as angled sentinels. Jeffares continues, "I love how you ride, with your bed empty at night, even god can't get inside." The song is off Snowden's second album, No One in Control, due out May 14 on Kings of Leon's label, Serpents & Snakes. Not long ago, Snowden's music would have been called alternative, but for now we'll say rhythm and drone driven by staccato piston guitars and distorted luster-bass. Touches of '90s Brit-rock thrive. Jeffares spoke from his home in Austin, Texas. Anime films were not discussed.
The word "texture" gets tossed around to describe music. I hear and sense textures with your music. What is texture to you?
The music that I love tends to be able to stand alone, without vocals. Instrumentally, it would still be rich and interesting to listen to. Whereas on the other side of the spectrum, there's not really any texture on a Strokes record, but it's still brilliant in its own way. Then there's the kind of music I'm aspiring to make. Technically, I'm trying to be a little bit innovative. British rock in the 1990s was a great time for new studio techniques. Bands like the Stone Roses, the Fall, Blur. I find it really hard to just take a guitar and an amp and make something interesting—I always end up piling things on top of each other, because we've been listening to a guitar in a traditionally recorded format for 60 years. So trying to make something sound more interesting ends up meaning more toys and more screwing around with things.