Friday, 23 December 2016

Feature: Modern Inventors (23/12/16)

After several years of collaborating in a variety of projects, including a soundtrack for the HBO documentary First Comes Love, Josh Benus and Matt Kass solidified their partnership by founding Modern Inventors. They migrated from Philadelphia to Nashville a year ago, where they connected quickly with the city's vibrant artistic network and found the house that functions now as their personal and professional home base. They recently released their track 'Tonight' taken from their two-song single 'Tonight/Closer'. 

General Questions:

1. How old were you when you started getting involved in music and how?
The earliest recollection I have of playing live music was at local ice cream store called Conrad’s Confectionary in Westwood, NJ.  I think that they’re still there and I was about 14 years old. If only payment by ice cream was still an acceptable form of compensation. Ah, the good old days…

2. What has been the most inspiring musical performance you've ever seen?
In 2005, Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson did an entire tour of minor league ballparks, and I was lucky to have inherited an orphan ticket to see them up close in Montclair, NJ.  This was around the time that Bob stopped being able to hold his guitar and was only playing piano.  He played all the hits, and in typical Bob form didn’t play any recognizable renditions of them.  It couldn’t have been a more authentic experience. 

3. Who have you been listening to lately?
Ronnie Wood, “I’ve Got My Own Album To Do” (Thanks, Jim Walsh)
Jim James “Regions Of Light And Sound Of God”
Tribe Called Quest “We Got It From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service”
Emily King “The Switch”
Kendrick Lamar “Untitled. Unmastered”
Bruno Mars “24K Magic”
Tattletale Saints “Tattletale Saints”

3 Qs for Modern Inventors:

1. What prompted your move to Philadelphia to Nashville and how has it worked out since?
We wanted to be immersed in a growingly diverse community of songwriters, producers and engineers.  The rent was just slightly cheaper than Philadelphia, and it seemed like a good time to get in on the ground floor here.  Ironically, a lot of our close friends from the Philly music scene moved down here right after we did…  The rent is not so cheap anymore…

We were able to afford a great live/work space, which seems like an anomaly up north.  Since we’ve moved here it has been inspiring and trying; but, first and foremost, it has been a catalyst of growth and is leading us to great things to come creatively from our project. 

2. Which three people (dead or alive) would you most like to invite round for a dinner party, turned jam session and why?
Bob Marley, George Harrison, Bernie Sanders

Bob for the weed, George for music, and Bernie for the conversation and because that folk album was fire!  (FYI Bernie Sanders has a folk album).

3. What process did you go through creating 'Tonight' and how did it differ to your previously released song 'Closer'?
“Tonight,” is a deeply personal song to us.  It was written about living in Philadelphia and witnessing the block-to-block wealth/income inequality that exists and divides the city.  The song really became an anthemic and introspective tune that we really hope might inspire some awareness. 

Production-wise, Matt and I did basic tracking first (bass and drums) and then we overdubbed the rest later.  Sometimes you don’t hear the final melodic ideas until you’ve lived with a song for a while.  We definitely stay true to the recorded version live. 

“Closer,” was actually a co-write that Matt and I did with Nate Rylan, and Owen Biddle.  Nate came down to Nashville from NYC for the weekend and I don’t think it was until the final day he was in town that the inspiration struck.  We wrote the chorus first and the rest unfolded in our lap.  We demoed it out completely that day and then Daru Jones came over and really helped us realize the songs potential  on the drums.  It was a really great marriage of talent.  Hashtag Blessed.

There are certainly some similarities and cohesion between both tracks, especially when it comes to production. We like to throw a lot of stick bass (guitar that follows or mimics the bass-line) and airy/vibey synths to round the track out. 

While the production between tracks is complimentary, the content is where they are diverse. Each track really tells it’s own story, But you’ll just have to listen for yourselves to hear it!

Random Q:

If you had the opportunity to spend the day in a science / tech lab, what would you invent and what would you call it?
A Money Tree.  Are you freaking kidding me? Is that even a question? It would grow any currency that you want at a moment’s notice.  Then I could still get paid in ice cream, and it all comes full circle.  See what I did there?

'Tonight' Review:
'Tonight' is a powerful song, both lyrically and musically. It's a heartwarming honest song brought to life with a punchy rock chorus and melodious verses, with psychedelic guitars and cutting beats intertwining throughout and pulling the track together. The accompanying music video is just as heartwarming and beautiful and really helps bring the story of the song alive. Enjoy! 

Modern Inventors' Links:

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