Wes Doyle of Slow Loris
The mind behind the bedroom-pop of Routine Glow talks home recording, adding texture, and alternate soundtracks to Drumline.
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Wes Doyle doesn’t seem like he gets out much. The soft-spoken Madison resident who records under the moniker Slow Loris has bits and pieces of guitars, microphones, and other musical knickknacks strewn all about his apartment, just waiting for his undivided attention. And his latest creation with these instruments, Routine Glow, is a thorough exploration of each lonely nook and every forgotten cranny of his new digs, and represents his third self-released work in a span of just 15 months. But it’s worth noting how much wiggle room that actually allows for; Routine Glow spans canyons and oceans, and bridges the gap between ’90s alt-rock icons like Pavement and Built To Spill with more contemporary bedroom-pop production techniques. At times, it sounds a bit too bold for its humble origins, but you’d be hard-pressed to get Doyle to admit to that.
The A.V. Club: Most of Routine Glow takes place right in your apartment, specifically looking out at geography through windows. How much of this “apartment complex” was deliberate?
Wes Doyle: A lot of the lyrics are written more or less off the cuff, either standing at the microphone in front of a window, or just sitting somewhere. Maybe it’s just kind of that—I don’t think I’m too far-reaching with any of my lyrics, and they’re generally just influenced by what’s happening in the moment, whether it’s with myself or what I’m looking at.
AVC: Not just the idea of your apartment, but the representations of other people seem very foreign and lonely.
WD: Yeah, sure. I think “Mineral” was actually the first song I wrote when I came to Madison and I wasn’t, like, distraught or exceptionally lonely or anything, but the feeling of sort of being in a new place and everything that goes along with that socially definitely played a role. Because I’d just be bored and just writing about what’s happening. Yeah definitely, Madison was and still is kind of a new place.
AVC: The one song that sticks out as an exception is “Madeline.” Is that a real person?
WD: Yeah, that’s a real person. When I wrote that song, I just wanted to write a ’60s love song more or less, and never really set out thinking, like, “I’m going to write a love song.” I was just trying to think of names like a lot of bands that have love songs to a typical girl’s name or something, like the Velvets or the Beatles, and I thought Madeline was a real cool name to use. And yeah, I just wrote a love song about my girlfriend, and that was it I guess.
Slow Loris - "Madeline"
AVC: A lot of Routine Glow sounds like a classic ’90s record, but coated in effects. How do you go about applying effects, and how do you see them impacting what could have been more standard-issue songs?
WD: I’m definitely a fan of music that has a lot of texture or ambiance, so in that case, I think maybe I’m just going for a certain texture that I want to be present as one of the layers or something, like a Wall Of Sound- or shoegaze-type thing. Other times, maybe I’m just trying to hide something that would make the song sound more typical or less interesting—so, presenting a texture, or as a way of hiding something.
AVC: How was your approach to Routine Glow different than your other records?
WD: A lot of the things were the same, in the sense that I was just making songs every weekend and trying to make an album. A lot of the technical things were the same. But this time, I did have a little more freedom with how loud I could be or how long I could be before I was going to be too offensive to somebody or something. It was really a suburban atmosphere [for the previous records], and I felt like everyone went to bed at 8 o’clock and I had to wrap things up. Because of that, I think I felt a little bit more restricted on the first one, whereas I felt more comfortable in this space here.
I also wanted to make a more cohesive record this time. The first one, I was just making some songs in my bedroom and I was like, “Here’s some songs,” 10 or 11 or however many. This time, I thought it would be fun to make a record record, more or less.
AVC: Do you have any other projects you’re working on?
WD: I’ve got something called Field Mountains, which is kind of a catch-all for some more experimental songs that I think are cool but that I don’t think other people are going to necessarily love to death. That’s more electronic-based stuff. And I’m doing some weird stuff, like some alternate soundtracks. So you know like when you play Dark Side Of The Moon with The Wizard Of Oz, I was like, “Yeah, I want to do this too,” but to different movies. That’s the kind of stuff I’m doing with Field Mountains.
I’m trying to do one for Drumline. I’ve never seen it, but it looks like a rhythmic kind of movie. [Laughs.] Maybe I’ll save that for a rainy day.
AVC: You finally have some shows planned around town. What else do you want to emphasize in the future for Slow Loris?
WD: I’m working on another Slow Loris album right now, so that’s kind of a focus. But I think ideally, maybe in like a year or so, I would like to try out the touring thing for a little while and get a few people together. And maybe do an East Coast-back-home-back-to-the-Midwest thing. Right now I’m working, so I obviously can’t really just drop everything to do that, but yeah, I see that in the future, trying to be more of a live band and less of a recording project.
Slow Loris - "Golden Lines"
AVC: What sort of impact would that transition have on the actual writing aspect of it?
WD: In that sense, there’s definitely a loss of some creative control whenever you have anyone else play with you, even if they’re playing your song that you’ve written. And I guess that’s pretty exciting to me, because maybe it doesn’t sound like I envisioned it, but at the same time it sounds a lot more organic. And playing with people is totally way more fun that sitting around in your room recording one track at a time. There’s no short-term pleasure in that at all. [Laughs.]