Adventure's Benny Boeldt on video games and his new album
Adventure's self-titled, 2008 debut proffered spiraling, pleasure-center jamming synth-pop capable of titillating anyone who wasted weekends in the late 1980s or early 1990 sprawled out before a NES-enabled television monitor, piloting colorfully pixellated blurbs through one ominously cute, cutely ominous, or downright bitchin' level after another, depending on the video game at hand. On his encore, Lesser Known, Baltimorean Benny Boeldt makes a detour into anthemic storm-trooper synth-pop that's maintains a delicate balance between euphoria and apprehension.
In a late February email interview, Boeldt opened up about his new sound.
Gimme Noise: Adventure and Toro Y Moi is kind of an nu-'80s pop dream bill. How did you guys wind up touring together?
Toro Y Moi is another Carpark band; we met once when we were both on tour in Toronto. We still don't know each other very well yet, but I think the reason we're on tour together is because we both have mutual respect for one another's music.
Since your debut, your sound has undergone a semi-radical transformation, from exploded video-game soundtracks to celebratory synth-pop with vocals; even the song titles have made the shift. This isn't to say that Lesser Known is more serious; there's still elements of joy and playfulness, but it's definitely different. Was this conscious or intentional on your part, or did it just sort of happen?
It was more of like a shift in consciousness, which allowed me to expand the range of elements I used within the music, moving away from the computer and towards using real synthesizers, mixed percussion, and other live elements. Eventually it led to the use of vocals. I started learning how to sing as I began writing and recording the album, by the time I was ready to move into the studio to track the live elements I had developed a nice vocal range.
How has the transition from being largely mute to coming forward as a vocalist been for you, both in terms of recording and live performance? Do you tour solo, or with a backing band?
So far, it has made performing much more enjoyable. Before, performing live was something I really didn't look forward to. There's finally a human element incorporated into my music. I have also added two members to the line-up: Mark Brown our resident DJ and live-set visualist, and Dave Fell, who plays keyboard and sings alongside me.
What can you tell me about the artwork for Lesser Known? Who came up with it, and what does it signify for you? It reminds me of a cross between old Pavement CD5 digipacks and a Buckethead CD, this sort of dark mis-en-scene visual-art tableau that's interestingly at odds with the tone of the album itself.
The album artwork was designed by Elena Johnston, with a little help from myself with overall design, but she chose the images, and we pieced them together like puzzles. Eventually we landed on that particular selection of images for the cover. It ended up being a pretty ominous cover.
Animal Collective, Dan Deacon, and Ponytail aside, is there anything going on musically or artistically in Baltimore that the rest of the world doesn't know about, but should?
There was a whole trend, during the late 00s, of acts that went in for post-NES chip-tune pop: I'm thinking of your debut, of The Advantage, of the Lightning Bolt side-project Wizardzz. Did you think of yourself as being part of a movement or scene, or did what you were doing just make sense to you?
It just made sense, I started to try my hand at writing songs on the computer and that's what came from it. It's always evolving.
Do you have a favorite video game right now, something you can't stop playing at home or on the road? Are you asked questions like this one - about video games - a lot? If so, does that ever get old?
I think my favorite game right now is The Great Gatsby. Look it up online somewhere it's pretty fun. I don't really mind the association with chip tune, that will change over time. I like my old stuff, but it feels good to move on to something that works better for me.
ADVENTURE plays with Toro y Moi and Braids on SUNDAY, APRIL 3, at the 7th ST. ENTRY. 18+. $8/$10 at the door. 8 p.m.
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