Long After Dark chatted via e-mail with Philadelphia musician Tim Ferguson, who released his debut album Against the Current under the name Living in Synth on December 14. Ferguson talks about training for a music video, booking a summer tour, and the recording Against the Current.
Long After Dark: How’re you doing and what have you been up to lately?
Tim Ferguson: I’m great, thanks for asking. I’ve been spending a lot of time in the studio taking short breaks to do some travelling and skiing, clearing my head to think about the direction I’m headed and if that’s the direction I want to be headed in. My manager, who doesn’t do much (sorry, Matt), came through with a great idea for my first music video for a new unreleased song but the producer he brought on board for it told him I need to have a six pack before we can start shooting, so that’s left me spending an irregular amount of time at the gym recently.
One of the strengths of Against the Current
was a very diverse mix of hip-hop, electronic, and some acoustic music as well. Was it a conscious decision to not get too locked into a particular style on the first record and how difficult was it to create a diverse sound?
TF: Well I certainly didn’t want to be pigeonholed to any one specific genre, so that has something to do with it, but I would mostly attribute it to the fact that I love so many different styles of music and it would have killed me not to use those outlets of expression. Everything is an amalgamation anyway in my mind so I figured why not embrace it.
LAD: You had some collaboration [with The Electric Coast and Philly Phil Thomas] on the record, but it looks like you were responsible for the bulk of the songwriting and music on album, do you find it challenging to be the primary creative force or do you enjoy the creative freedom?
TF: I really enjoyed the creative freedom and handling the majority of the songwriting, but someone else’s input and perspective is always a good thing. For example, the song “Bodywakeup” I had written and recorded all of the music, as well as vocals for the chorus. But, I didn’t really care for it and didn’t plan on using it for anything. I had played Phil clips of the song before and he ended up writing the verses and the outro, which really brought a new life to the song.
LAD: How has the response to the record been so far? Do you find that people are leaning more towards certain songs than others at this point?
TF: I’ve received mostly very positive reactions to the record so far, I haven’t received much negative feedback with the exception of some people that have a stigma against AutoTune, but I like to hear people’s impressions and criticisms both good and bad. If someone doesn’t like my music I don’t take it personally… unless it is a girl I’m dating… which has happened twice. The songs that seem to have gained the most traction so far are “Bodywakeup” and “Realer,” but my favorite is “Barcelona.”
LAD: At the moment, Against The Current is only available as a digital download. Are there plans to make it available in other formats in the immediate future?
TF: Yes, I am having some physical CD’s produced, maybe a limited run of Vinyl as well.
LAD: Do you have plans to tour in 2012?
TF: Yes I am working on getting together a touring band right now and am planning to book something somewhat extensive along the East Coast this summer. The set-list will probably be about half songs off Against The Currentand the rest would be new songs with a couple very re-arranged covers, planning on keeping a nice upbeat level of energy at the shows.
LAD: You recently performed a great acoustic cover of Mayer Hawthorne’s “The Walk,” which you posted on youtube along with “Love and Affection” by The Green, are there any other covers you have up your sleeve that you might mix into a setlist or at this point are you more focused on your own material?
TF: I’m more focused on my own material, but there’s something really freeing about playing someone else’s song and singing their words. I don’t think I’ll be working either “The Walk” or “Love and Affection” into any live shows, but I am currently working on a Reggae cover of “Dancing In The Dark” by Bruce Springsteen, which I do plan on working into the set-list for the tour. I’m playing the lead on the steel drums and am having a lot of fun with it. Hopefully, Bruce fans will enjoy it as much as I am.
LAD: Who are some of your biggest influences?
TF: Depending on the day, hour, or minute I will give a different answer every time, but at this moment I would say top three are Billy Joel, Minus The Bear, and Brand New. Minus The Bear has got to be one of the coolest bands out there that I’ve been exposed to and they have opened so many doors for me creatively.
LAD: Some quick hits to round up the interview: What were the first records you bought, who are you listening to right now, and if Living In Synth could play any venue/festival, what it be?
TF: The first record I bought was Licensed To Ill by The Beastie Boys (yes I thought I was a badass). I’ve been on a Reggae and Electronic kick lately, but I’ve actually been listening to a lot of Stand-Up Comedy albums recently instead of music, helps keep me in a better mood and when I’m better mood I write much better music. The venue/festival question is a good one but I’ve never had any set goals like that. I’m easy, happy to play anywhere as long as the people are there excited to see me perform.