Maston, the project of musician Frank Maston, makes landscapes of sound that’ll transport you to another dimension. After spending five years in the Netherlands with Dutch multi-instrumentalist Jacco Gardner, Maston is back home and ready to blow all our minds with his new album Tulips, out October 27th on his own label Phonoscope. That’s right, when he’s not weaving technicolor scenic soundtracks, the Los Angeles-based songwriter also produces and heads his own label. And today, we’re happy to premiere his new single, “Rain Dance,” an instrumental voyage into the unknown that mixes elements of spaghetti western, Ennio Morricone-inspired passages with groovy pop licks. So press play, and read our interview with Frank Maston below. –Maya Eslami
Pre-order Tulips here
Listen to more Maston here
WHAT YOUTH: Tulips is so much different than your last album. How did you get to where you are now?
MASTON: I suppose a few more years of experienced has helped. Listening to lots of music, traveling, playing shows. All of those things have shaped my taste and interests in the time between these albums.
The album sounds like it was scored for an Italian film set in the desert. What was the inspiration behind it?
It was recorded mostly in a small space in the Netherlands, so I was using a very specific palette of sounds that I had access to. That lent itself to the cohesive sound. Most of the melodies came about very organically, so it was really just me in some time off between tours trying to entertain myself. As I accumulated material it took shape a bit more and became this sort of soundtrack for that time and place. It happened very naturally.
What’s your favorite Ennio Morricone score?
My favorite at the moment is Veruschka
All the songs on the album are instrumental – was that a conscious choice? Or merely how the music came out of you?
Perhaps a mix of both. I had been listening to mostly instrumental music and soundtracks during that time, so I don’t think I even considered writing for my voice. I used the flute mostly in place of my voice for the melodic lines. I was really interested in trying to make something engaging without having a typical pop format.
Tell me about the recording process. What was it like in the studio?
Solitary! I wish I had some fun story, but it was honestly just me spending a whole lot of time alone. My workflow is such that I usually write in my head while doing other things. When I have something that really sticks, I’ll go into the studio and start recording. But that goes very quickly since I’m working alone and usually know quite firmly what I want. The most time consuming part is probably layering all of the instruments myself. I get bored just like anyone else, so I have to really like what I’m working on in order to keep myself engaged.
Did you go into recording with all of the songs planned out?
No, it was mainly written as it was recorded over 2 years or so. That gave me a lot of perspective, so as I returned to the songs I was able to listen to what I already had and link them with the new ideas. It ended up sounded very planned out because of that.
After spending 5 years with Jacco Gardner, how does it feel to return to your own music?
It’s fun! I really enjoyed playing with Jacco and the band, it was a big influence on this record. I feel like I improved a lot as a musician and learned a lot from everyone in our crew. It feels a little funny to be in the spotlight again- I think I enjoyed the anonymity of playing in the back a bit too much. But I did miss Maston music and it feels a bit like an old friend I’m seeing again after a while. And the positive reception and interest in my new work is really nice and encouraging. I’m proud of this record and I’m excited to to be able to share it soon.