Feature: Art d’Ecco gives the lowdown on new album ‘In Standard Definition’

Out now on Paper Bag Records is the new album, In Standard Definition, from androgynous neo-glam art-rocker Art d’Ecco. It’s a concept record about entertainment and how it affects our everyday lives. Of it, he says “No matter where you live or what language you speak, there’s an entertainment god for you. Whether on TV or writing the books you read, it’s an odd sense of purpose we allocate to these humans whose talent is in distracting us from the doldrums of daily life. We’re constantly searching for something… glued to our phones… consuming various forms of entertainment. We feel less close with each other, and closer to the strangers who make us feel good.”

More than that though, we were transfixed here at Backseat Mafia by the albums styles, taking a little bit from (as far as we can tell) everyone from Bowie, to Duran Duran and A-Ha to Suede to Marc Bolan, with its beautifully crafted melodies and myriad of accompaniments. Art d’Ecco spoke to us about each track in turn. Here’s what he had to say

DESIRES: With ‘Desires’ we are watching the fortunes and fame crumble for an out-of-touch entertainer. I was thinking of that old show business trope you see in dramas where the protagonist struggles during the twilight of their career – the pain of seeing yourself slowly phased out of the public eye, replaced by the new talent and younger faces. We recorded the song with two drummers panned left and right.

TV GOD: TV God is what captivates us with celebrity. We tune in, we obsess. We feel close. Nothing can shake it. Every era, and every culture has their very own TV God. They come and go, and leave us reminiscing – longing for that escape to distract us from our daily lives. When the world is crumbling around us we look to entertainers and load up on celebrity super powers to rock our world and give us hope. It’s all very sad, and all too unavoidable in today’s day and age. I’m guilty of it, and so are you. 

BIRD OF PREY: A love song inspired by onscreen romances.  Bird of Prey is a rom com about a writer falling in love while battling writer’s block.

NOTHING EVER CHANGES “A song about letting go and severing ties. Maybe it’s our character from ‘Desires’ coming to terms with the fact that they must leave the business, or maybe it’s about a relationship. Either answer is correct. There’s an old version of this I made for this lost album a few years back (Day Fevers, 2016) so I figured I’d revise it – NEC is the Hollywood remake on the album”

I AM THE DANCE FLOOR “I was picturing this alt version of Saturday Night Fever where the lead is this aging loner obsessed with dance, who every weekend shows up at different clubs around town and just murders the dance floor, and then disappears out the back door. Musically I wanted it to sound if the CBGB punks crash the gates of Studio 54 and hold it  hostage for the night”

HEAD RUSH : The feel good summer movie. Picture yourself as a teenager on the last day of school. Warm summers, riding your bike to the park to meet your friends. Going to the movie theatre. BBQing, road tripping… you get the picture. I wanted to channel that feeling into one place for 3 mins. 

CHANNEL 7 (PILOT SEASON): If this album was a TV station, this song would be the TV guide menu on channel 7, that scrolls down the screen in an endless loop. 

IN STANDARD DEFINITION: The title track on my last album (Trespasser, 2018)  was an instrumental and people thought that was a strange move, from the perspective of summarizing the vibe of the record. I felt like using words this time, so ISD is really about our relationship with entertainment from the perspective of the user – two people who fall asleep to the glow of the television each night.

GOOD LOOKS:The dangers of online dating. Be careful who you swipe with – you might get a shallow, vapid connection.

THE MESSAGE: A conversation with oneself.  I can’t remember what foreign film I was watching in the studio when I had demo’d this a few years ago, but you can hear it bleeding in to the mix (quite deliberately) during the bridge. I wanted that section to feel as if you were in a motel room somewhere far away from home, and the sound of the TV in the room next door is bleeding through the wall as you lay awake in bed.

CHANNEL 11 (RERUNS): I had recently moved to a house underneath a small airport. The constant sounds of jet engines and small prop planes whooshing overhead starts to imprint on the brain. This is a reprise of the title track (same chord progression), but of course in the context of this album it’s the “rerun”.

I REMEMBER: I  feel like the album closer is sometimes the hardest decision to make when sequencing. Why is it so easy to pick the set list closer (“Climax! End with a bang!”) but on albums, we deliberate on the best way to wrap things up? With this album I finally decided that wanted it to be a come down – end credits, cue the orchestra!View more

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