economics, aka Dean Summach, has been quietly making compelling instrumental music from his hometown of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan for the past decade. He released his first self-titled album in 2008 to little fanfare, but it has slowly gained momentum as an ambitious collection of dense and delicate songs, falling somewhere in between adventurous post-rock, instrumental hip-hop, and vintage electro-pop.
Before his debut release, Dean recorded scores of lush and layered songs from his basement, many of which have appeared in a number of short films, advertisements, and a locally produced feature film. Using cheap microphones and a Tascam 4-track recorder, Dean developed a distinct style and sound which has evolved and grown immensely over the years. But never changing is the densely-packed, unpredictable dark pop that builds and twists and turns.
Dean is currently working on a second economics album, and it promises to be even more ambitious than the debut. Like any new material from economics, this album hopes to surprise those familiar with Dean's previous songwriting efforts, while maintaining his authentic recording style.
economics has moved from the bedrooms to the clubs, developing a live show that is a striking departure from his recorded output. Featuring lush guitar loops, electronics, danceable beats, vocals, and guest musicians, economics has created a visceral experience in the live venue. Dean promises every show will be different from the last.
Dean Summach - guitars, keys, beats, vocals
A/D VOL 3. 2012. The third EP in a 3-part series. Available at bandcamp.economicsmusic.com
A/D VOL 2. 2012. The second EP in a 3-part series. Available at bandcamp.economicsmusic.com
A/D VOL 1. 2011. The first EP in a 3-part series. Available at bandcamp.economicsmusic.com
economics - self-titled. 2008. the first official self-released lp. all 12 tracks streaming at economicsmusic.com/music
NEW SOUNDS: ECONOMICS
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It’s perhaps a bit of a stretch to call Economics, the self-titled, self-produced one-man album by m...It’s perhaps a bit of a stretch to call Economics, the self-titled, self-produced one-man album by multi-instrumentalist Dean Summach, a “new sound,” seeing as how it was completed back in August. But in the wonderful world of DIY, which Summach clearly embraces, it’s just recently made it’s way to us from Summach’s home in Saskatoon. The CD, a collection of a dozen surprisingly layered and lush instrumental tracks, sounds more like the work of an extensive collaboration than a single musician. The songs start simply, with a single instrument breaking the silence, and then build, layering instrument after instrument until the listener is immersed in a floating crescendo of sound that seems all the more rich because of the simplicity it sprang from. A CD may be tricky to track down, but you can listen, download or buy it at economicsmusic.com.
Economics 101 - LOCAL MULTI-INSTRUMENTALIST GARNERS GROWING BUZZ
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Listen to the music of local act economics, and chances are you’ll envision a recording studio fille...Listen to the music of local act economics, and chances are you’ll envision a recording studio filled with performers. They’d all be chatting amongst themselves and tuning their instruments, with the exception of the guitar players, who would be noodling about on their strings, as guitar players are prone to do. In the center of it all, one person would be trying to gain the attention of the room long enough to hit record and count the musicians in.
You’d be wrong—but don’t be too hard on yourself.
Sounds can be deceiving—and in this case they most definitely are, because economics doesn’t employ a studio full of musicians. Instead, the studio is a bedroom, and it’s full of . . . well, one guy. Economics is the nom-de-plume of multi-instrumentalist and bedroom pop artist Dean Summach, and while you might have been fooled this time, chances are you’ll be hearing a lot more about this “band” in the near future—and you probably already have, if you’re a fan of CBC Radio 3.
Summach utilizes a host of instruments to lay the sod of his sonic landscape, including—but not limited to—guitar, bass, drums, keyboards, mandolin, violin, glockenspiel and the accordion.
“I don't play any of them well, though,” jokes Summach. “Sometimes all you need is one note on the violin, or one chord on the accordion to get the sound you need.”
Though there are no vocals, the instruments come together to form a lo-fi, yet surprisingly lush, chorus of melodies. The songs often feature an impressive build-up of layers, beginning with something as simple as hushed, finger picked guitars, growing every few bars with the addition of further instruments, until finally swelling to a complex crescendo. Though economics sounds more like DJ Shadow than, say, Vangelis’ Blade Runner soundtrack, his music still gives listeners the impression of a dreamlike ode to the bland, gloomy realities of suburban living.
“When I was a teenager,” explains Summach, “I spent most of my evenings just sitting in my room listening to music. I still do. So I guess these songs are for those kids who spend their Friday nights alone in their rooms or in their basements. I guess I try to capture that lonely suburban life that so many people in this city are living.”
Summach started out playing guitar with Saskatoon’s Maybe Smith (a.k.a. Colin Skrapek), and was inspired by Skrapek’s DIY recording methods. He started cutting his own tracks in his bedroom on a simple 4-track until—like most other modern DIY enthusiasts—he eventually graduated to computers, which offer much more versatility.
“I couldn't resist being able to record an unlimited number of tracks,” says Summach. “And the process is a lot easier with a computer. I'd like to go back to the 4-track sometime, though. You get such a nice warm sound—the hiss of the tape has a certain charm to it. And sometimes the challenge of recording a very limited number of tracks onto tape can be interesting too.”
For Summach and others like him, songwriting as an exploratory journey—rather than simply a means to an end—is another advantage of the home studio. When you’re faced with knocking over armoured cars just to pay for studio time, you have to be well prepared when you hit record, leaving little room for spontaneity or experimentation. But at home, Summach can take his time, literally crafting something in the moment that he can leave as is, or easily edit later, lending a whole new dynamic to his impressionist songwriting.
“I guess the main thing is that I try to capture some sort of feeling or moment,” says Summach. “I hope that the listener will be taken somewhere or will feel a specific emotion or memory when they hear an economics song. The great thing about instrumental music is that the listener can interpret the song however they want. I may be feeling a certain way when I write or record, but the listener may feel something completely different,” explains Summach.
“Sometimes, I have a very specific idea or sound in mind before I write or record a song. But I think the best results come when I don't use my brain too much and I just let the song flow out. I think artists think too much about what their audience wants to hear, instead of just letting the sounds that are inside them come out naturally.”
In addition to being played on CBC 3, economics has scored short films by local artist and filmmaker Andrei Feherygyhazi, which aired nationally on the now-defunct CBC arts program Zed. In terms of the future, Summach has plans to release an album this year, and is even talking about collaborating with his wife on a future project.
“My wife [Sheena Summach] is an excellent writer, and we plan on collaborating on a book with musical accompaniment. Basically, she’ll write a book that will include a CD of my music to go along with it.”
While the reach of the Internet has meant that economics has been heard far and wide across Canada without an official release to his name, Summach nonetheless can’t wait to put out a fully-realized album.
“I've never formally released anything before, so it's pretty exciting for me. After that, I'll just keep recording. Writing and recording is something I will always do, even if I'm the only one who hears the end result. There was once a time where you had to move to Vancouver or Toronto to have any success. We have a lot of musical treasures in our city, and it's great to be a part of it.”
Economics Theory - LOCAL LO-FI ARTIST DELIVERS IMPRESSIVE FIRST ALBUM
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The last time I wrote about economics (a.k.a. Dean Summach), he was sluffing off his university work...The last time I wrote about economics (a.k.a. Dean Summach), he was sluffing off his university work in favour of quietly stirring up lo-fi jams in his bedroom — jams that began popping up on CBC3 and in short films by local filmmakers. Now, the maestro of the sleeping chamber has taken a big step forward — from lo-fi recordings posted on MySpace to his first bona fide album. Though the self-titled album didn’t take very long to put together in relation to other albums in musical history, Summach — in his trademark self-deprecating way — might try to convince you differently.
“I guess it took about a year and half to two years,” says Summach. “Good grief, that's a long time — I'm just like Axl Rose except without the genius. I think I'm about 80 per cent happy with [the album], which is pretty good for me. I think, too, I was learning how to record and doing lots of experimentation, which always takes a while. Hopefully next time I'll sort of know what I'm doing and it won't take as long.”
I ran into Summach and his wife Sheena at a party a few weeks back, and realized something — he personifies his music, in that he thinks he’s awkward, but he comes off as quietly refined. Both Summach and his music are devoid of sickening ego. In a world full of Facebook and MySpace poseurs, this lack of posturing is incredibly refreshing, and it shines through in his totally instrumental compositions.
The songs ebb and swell like an ocean, retaining some of the shoegazing elements from his earlier efforts while building in intensity until they reach their inevitable climaxes. Appropriately, Summach’s description of how he works make him sound more like a painter than a purveyor of the verse-chorus-verse structure we’ve come to expect from most music.
“The music itself is very simple,” explains Summach. “I take a very basic idea and just build around it, adding different instruments and textures. For this album, I wanted a very dense, heavy sound with a melody floating over top, so I just kept adding more and more layers, then pulling back the ones that didn't work.”
Though the music is often mysterious and complex, Summach is one for simplicity, which can be heard not only in the minimal tones of the songwriting but also seen in the album’s artwork. The cover is jet black — with the exception of an orange woolly mammoth in silhouette. The rest of the artwork inside the album follows the same arresting visual theme.
“The artwork is by Elliot Hudson, a very multi-talented friend of ours from Calgary,” says Summach. “I wanted a very simple album cover, and I gave him the general outline of it and the colours I wanted, and he took off with the rest. He far surpassed my expectations. I've always had a bit of an obsession with mammoths. I've always had fantasies of driving along the highway and seeing them roam around. I think when I was a kid I thought they still existed somewhere. I guess that's what happens when you grow up watching ‘The Flintstones’ everyday at noon.”
Summach has plans to re-interpret the album live, where his wife will back him up on stage. But in the meantime and in-between time, you can buy a copy of the album at www.economicsmusic.com.
Obviously, Summach hopes people will like the album enough to buy it. Most importantly, however, he’s a guy who makes music for the sake of releasing something from within, not to support the flow of commerce or make a name for himself — and you can hear that in the notes that float from your speakers.
“It's great that people can easily record their songs and post them for anyone to hear,” says Summach, “but one of the unfortunate results is that so many of these bands are focused on marketing themselves — the music is secondary. So rather than jumping into the pool with those people and fighting it out to get noticed, I'd rather just focus on making music that I'm happy with, and making music that's a little bit different or unique.
“It's very liberating to just say to yourself that you are never going to be commercially successful. You don't have to worry about what's popular or trendy, and you don't have to worry about whether or not the music you are making is going to fit with what's out there. On the other hand, though, there's still this drive to have as many people as possible hear your music. I could just say to myself that I write and record because I love doing it, and leave it at that. But I think every artist wants to share what they've made. I'm not sure why that is — [but] there's just nothing more satisfying than having a total stranger tell you that they've heard your music and they really like it.”
most recent set: 6 tracks, 35 minutes long
1. trust me
2. dressed up
3. night shift
5. i let you dance
6. from nowhere
a typical set is almost non-stop, one song bleeding into the next. Typically half the songs are vocal and half are instrumental.
|Jun 13, 2013 Thursday||11:45 PM||MoSoFest||Saskatoon, SK, CA|
|Jun 19, 2013 Wednesday||TBA||Sled Island||Calgary, AB, CA|