It’s not hard to see why solo artists use monikers. That’s not to say there is anything wrong with people recording under their given names but a creative appelation is sure to say more about what you do than the few words on your birth certificate. Case in point; Observer Drift. Those two words set against a back drop of lush scenery (see his Bandcamp page) is enough to stir something inside you before even hearing a note of his music. With the greatest of respect ‘Collin Ward‘ doesn’t have quite the same effect.
Collin, however, is the man behind Corridors; a quite mesmerising, bedroom-recorded, debut album. Full of hazy summer vibes, the record saunters on through 13 tracks of restrained and mellow beauty that echoes the music of M83, Real Estate and the lofi charm of Ducktails.
We grabbed a chat with the man behind Observer Drift to find out a little more about his project…
Hi Colin, how is the summer treating you so far?
My summer is awesome so far. Schools done, and I just got back from a rad deep sea fishing trip to a place called the Dry Tortugas in the gulf of Mexico.
So, when and why did you start making music?
I’ve been playing music since I was about 9, been writing for just a few years. I grew up taking piano lessons and wanted to learn more than that when I was done, so picked up guitar, bass and drums on my own. Writing music, to me, is like my favorite thing to do. I really could care less about how big my music gets or if anyone actually listens to it. Its more to me just about growing in my abilities and producing something that I can say I’m actually somewhat proud of.
Corridors is your first full-length record right? How long did it take to put together and was it all done by yourself?
Yeah, it is. It took about 7 or 8 months total. All the writing/recording and all that jazz. I did all the playing and recording myself. No one heard any of the final versions of the songs until I actually put the album out.
Do you think you would like to work with a producer for your next record or do you plan to do it all yourself again?
I plan on completing my next album compleltly by myself as well. I think I have alot of material and room to improve with my writing and recording abilites. As much as I love writing music I also love the production end of it as well. All the recording, mixing and mastering. I really enjoy doing all the work myself to produce a song/album. But I love playing/writing music with other people too. Me and my brother Matthew are working on a new music project together that should appear sometime this late summer or Fall.
How pleased have you been with the reaction to it?
It’s pretty cool. Like, I dont really love the attention I guess sometimes. It’s cool that people enjoy my music and that it has gotten some recognition, but it makes me kinda nervous sometimes. I feel like I dont really want it alot of times becasue I dont want people to think that I’m begging to be heard.
It’s quite uncommon to hear someone say that they’re uncomfortable with people paying attention to their music. Do you expect that view to change and how do you think you would react if a big label got in touch and showed an interest?
I do like it when people are genuinely interested in my music. Its a pretty incredible experience. I just don’t really have any desire to become a hyped-up artist. Its just kind of a fun project to not take very seriously. If I started taking Observer Drift too seriously, I would ruin it and it wouldn’t be the same.
You’ve just put out physical copies of the record. Was that always the plan?
Yeah, I’ve always loved having physical copies of music so when people started showing an interest in getting a cd, I decided it would be a good idea.
Did you have much input into the artwork for the CD?
Yeah, my friend Cayan is a photographer and I asked her to take some photos for me to use online and possibly for an album cover. We went over to the woods by my house and brought along some random junk to just take some pictures in the woods. I tied an old sheet up in a huge oak tree and and was just kinda standing around trying to think of ideas for pictures and Cayan took that picture when I wasn’t looking. For some reason I really loved that photo that I used for the album cover. It just seemed to fit everything that my music was portraying.
How do you describe the music that you make?
‘Not hardcore’. I dont know, its pretty easy to listen to. I’ve always liked listening to music that was kinda lo-fi and grainy, so that’s how my recordings naturally came out sounding. I’m actually working on making my sound a little more straight forward and not hold it back, or something like that.
Which records inspired you when growing up?
Weezer’s Blue album for sure. Radiohead, The Bends. A lot of movie soundtracks too. I’ve always listened to lots of classical and non-classical movie scores.
Where else do you take inspiration from?
Lots of random dreams. Lots of childhood memories (like building time machines with my brothers and catching grasshoppers in the field by my house). Living in Minneapolis and then the house I moved to in bloomington definitly has made for some big impact.
How have the live shows been going down, do you play solo or with a band?
I still have yet to play a live show as Observer Drift.
Do you plan to play live soon? Is that something you would like to do?
Eventually yes, I will start playing shows. Touring isnt really something that appeals to me. But I like the idea of playing locally for sure, here and there. Possibly abroad if possible someday. For now it’s cool just not having to worry about it, haha.
Finally, what are your plans for the rest of the year?
Take things slow. Write better music. Spend lots of time with my fam and my buds and keep my music right where it is in my life. I like how it is right now and I kinda wanna keep it like this, because it’s great!
Words by Tom Johnson
Photography by Cayan Brock