Bolinas, California’s From A Fountain are about to release their second album of the year. That’s right, second album of the year. “Larger albums can be overwhelming”, so From A Fountain released two full-length records within the span of three months. The band released Milky Mile back in August, and have recently announced the release of Milky Mile Two set for October 22nd. Each week, From A Fountain release extensive outtakes from both records, and AMBY gets the scoop on why. The creative mind of From A Fountain, Douglas Kirby, took the time to speak with A Music Blog, Yea? about backpacking, HBO shows, trips, and lyrics.
AMBY: Hello From A Fountain, thanks for speaking with us. What have you been up to lately?
From A Fountain: Ah – it’s the end of summer, you know, so I’ve been doing lots of outdoor things. Trips – a long South Dakota trip. Orcas Island up in Washington. Grilling meats, going on long trail runs in Point Reyes National Seashore, surfing … prepping all this Milky Mile release stuff, re-mixing and mastering old demos. Really good family time. It’s been an incredible summer.
AMBY: Your debut album Shale and Sandstone was released back in 2010. What are your thoughts on the album now that there’s been time to reflect on it?
From A Fountain: Well, I’m still really proud of it, even though it was recorded almost eight years ago – I was just thinking that the other day. I guess I was just reflecting on how easy it is to feel questionable about older recordings or art – and was grateful I didn’t feel that way about Shale. It was the first time I tried to sculpt an album from start to finish, away from my band, so at the time it felt like this tenuous, dangerous thing – like the freedom and joy I was experiencing could at any moment collapse into mere self-indulgence, and I may not even know it. That fear is a really really good one to get through!
In the end, it felt like I had something I could play for anyone, and be proud of. Luckily I still feel that way!
AMBY: Your recently released second record Milky Mile is the first of two full-lengths to be released this year. What was the drive to release two records within the span of three months?
From A Fountain: It was kind of a test, really, to see what comes, good and bad, from having a staggered release like this. I think us music-creating-folks can release things however we want, now, starting just in the last couple years. I’m trying to let that sink in.
Also, don’t you feel like nowadays, larger albums can be overwhelming? I got that Joanna Newsom triple album years ago – which is amazing – but I still have no awareness of what order those songs are in. Whereas, back in the day, I would have insisted on religious listening sessions, and immediately gotten a handle on total-flow and -arc of the album. I guess I just don’t listen to music in that focused of a way anymore, and I have a feeling less and less people do. So giving them digestible nuggets feels better.
AMBY: Where did the name Milky Mile come from?
From A Fountain: It came up as one of the lyrics in the song, and looked really good on the page!
AMBY: You’ll be releasing an outtake-a-week on your BandCamp page. What inspired this idea?
From A Fountain: It was the same kind of question: what’s an interesting way to get thirty demos and outtakes out? Put them out in one big chunk? I figured if I did that, only a few superfans would even get past the first song. By doing an outtake-a-week, it gives me something to talk about, and slowly share with people. Somebody may be struck by the fifteenth song in a powerful way, and they wouldn’t have even heard it if I would have just “put it all out”. I can tell stories, I can put up some old video and photo from the recording sessions – it just makes the whole process way more fun for me!
This is the new revelation: releasing music can be just as fun and interactive as playing a show or recording the music. It used to be that the release portion of the process was entirely in others’ hands – and they usually weren’t doing the job that we would do, if we could, because they just weren’t as invested, or had different (weirder) incentives.
AMBY: There’s a real sense of poetry throughout each song on the album. Which From A Fountain lyric is your favourite?
From A Fountain: I like how you worded that – I can only answer this with a straight face if we’re asking Douglas Kirby what his favorite From a Fountain lyric is … I need that remove, or I’m incredibly self-obsessed, right?
Okay, since you asked, I am a From a Fountain fan, and especially of their lyrics! My very favourite lyric from Milky Mile is actually from the song “Milky Mile”: “I want to tune into a distant signal and see what they’re talkin’ about!”
AMBY: If you could choose to have your music featured in any movie or show, which would you choose?
From A Fountain: Ooooh good one … I would want a song played above the end credits on Deadwood, an old HBO show – maybe the song “Halo”. I was always secretly jealous of anybody I heard on the end of that show.
AMBY: Who have you been listening to this summer?
From A Fountain: Ah – well, my friend just got me into Grimes, I’m loving her, hearing the stitching-together that’s happening in her songs. Kacey Johansing put out Grand Ghosts, which is amazing. I’ve been putting my old, huge iPod on “shuffle all” quite a bit lately. Yesterday was a good one: a lot of stuff from Dylan’s basement tapes kept coming up. Lou Harrison, a composer from Santa Cruz. My bro Jeffrey Manson from out here in West Marin County, California – I finally raided his Bandcamp the other day for his entire recorded output. I should have done that so long ago!
AMBY: What’s the best release of the year?
From A Fountain: Electric Lady, by Janelle Monae. Game over. Listening to it right now.
AMBY: And lastly, what’s something about From A Fountain that nobody knows yet?
From A Fountain: Nobody knows that I’m really into ultralight backpacking. Except my friends who I go ultralight backpacking with!
Thank you From A Fountain, for giving us your answers!