HE debuted with the incredible L.P., Comfort Songs…
and has made steps and leaps since then. That is not to indicate Cloud lacked in early promise: his latest album, Plays with Fire, is a tight and evocative collection of songs that deal with nostalgia, optimism and naïveté. Cloud discusses his early life in Long Island and relocating; ideas and stories that go into his latest work; how Plays with Fire differs from Comfort Songs - what ambitions Cloud has for the rest of the year.
I learn about his musical tastes and which new artists he recommends; whether there is a central theme/mantra that defines Plays with Fire; if he is planning on playing in the U.K. soon – providing some helpful advice for upcoming artists.
Hi, Cloud. How are you? How has your week been?
Hello. I am well. My week has been a bit non-stop: sixteen-hour days and whatnot - but with great momentum. Finally settling down for the weekend where I plan to watch a lot of movies and, maybe, go to the park and read.
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
Certainly. My name is Tyler Taormina and I make music as an exploration. My profession is in film-directing and my films are quite musical. I’ve been making songs with my L.I.-born collective, Practice Room Records, since 2009. With different collaborations, I’ve made over ten records with that gang of genuinely amazing people.
I hope that my music finds those who share a similar experience and can be a tool for them as well; to explore and manage the pain and joy of growing.
Plays with Fire, your upcoming album, is out on 9th March. What kind of stories and themes inspired the songs?
This record tracks the movement into what is called the ‘real world’; where institutional structures become less obvious and accountability runs high. I wanted to focus on this crossing-over, so to speak, from a spiritual perspective: how does the purity of youth remain with the friction of the ’real world’?
It is a tight, nine-song album that draws upon diverse influences. Which bands and sounds influenced the music? Are there any acts that you take guidance from?
There’s a wide range of musical acts that I take from here. From Fleetwood Mac to My Bloody Valentine, Leonard Cohen; Yo La Tengo, Bedhead; Mazzy Star, Neil Young…the list is quite long. This is the first Cloud record that doesn’t have a seamless sort of narrative-like quality to it. Instead, I’d like for it to read as a collection of songs; a mixtape of stylings I’ve really appreciated over the years.
Happer’s Laugh, the opening track, opens with the words “True strength needs love…”. Do you think that is a bit of a band mantra?
Absolutely. I like to think of that track (as though) being on rowboat in the dark, rowing steadily into a complete unknown - a darkness. The lyrics to this song are guidelines to meditate and not be forgotten - which will prove, throughout the record, to be a difficult task.
Two Hands Bound and Wildfire have already been released. Will there be more singles out before the album’s release?
Well. There are two leading singles and one following the album. But, also, plenty of treats as well along the way.
How do you feel Plays with Fire differs from your 2013-debut, Comfort Songs?
My ideology has formed many iterations since those younger years. I’ve almost become a real person since then. Less naïveté, for sure. As I mentioned earlier; I wanted this record to be a sort of collection of songs: a mixtape rather than a cinematic-type album like Comfort Songs. Lastly; I find that Comfort Songs has themes that many people can latch onto, understand and relate to - whereas Plays with Fire and, even, Zen Summer - from a few years back - are a little more specific in the subject matter.
It seems you have made an effort to do something different from your previous work. Is it hard pushing in different directions?!
Well. It’s not a very intentional or conscientious process. I’m in love with so many different types of music: that when a different chapter of my life begins; I can always attribute it to different stylings that have influenced me. A breakup album can bring out the Emo-Revival and Jazz influences in me. A spiritual ‘awakening,’ so to speak, can invoke the Dream-Pop and Krautrock side of me. Ha.
I guess, being thrust into the real world and wrestling with how to keep it cool in that context brought me to a range of new artists and sounds.
You are based in Long Island. In the U.K.; one of our big radio stations, BBC Radio 6 Music, has recently celebrated New York music. Is Long Island a busy and active area for great music?
I don’t live there anymore, actually: I’m in Los Angeles and have been for a little while...
It’s a strange generational question and sort of harkens back to the movie, The Big Chill. Most of the people I know who were really killing it in L.I. years ago have moved away. In N.Y.C.; a lot of them are still making great music which you should check here. But, many of those bands have slowly been putting down their instruments for new adventures.
Who are the new artists you recommend we check out?
Lastly; Oren Pine put out his first album called Sad Tiger - which shows a lot of promise for a great artist to emerge in this world.
If you had to choose the one album that means the most you; which would they be and why?
One album…I could never…
But; one album I love is Victorialand by Cocteau Twins. It keeps me in touch with my imagination in a beautiful way.
Can we see you tour soon? What gigs do you have coming up? Will you come to the U.K. this year?
We’ll see. I think I’ll have a few gigs in the L.A. area with the release of the album. I’m not sure if I’ll be heading to the U.K. - but it seems unlikely, unfortunately.
What do you hope to achieve, personally, in 2018?
I hope to finish my first feature-length film, Ham on Rye, and see it get accepted to an exciting festival so I can continue on to make the next one - which may be a Christmas movie about family and transgression.
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?
All the best memories conflate together as one - where I’m playing a show with my friends in the band and in the audience as well. Everyone sings along with much excitement for all that is and all to come.
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
Value art, not capitalism. Realize that they are antithetical and realize capitalism’s presence in the ‘art world’ - and especially the music industry.
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
Well, thank you so much. I appreciate this interview...
Play the song Trem de Farro (Trenzinho) by João Gilberto. That song is magic.
PRESS PHOTOS OF CLOUD: