Sfrawls is the first track on the “Negative Film: The Photogenesis B-Sides EP” digital-only release and is based not off an actual photograph, but just an idea that was inspired visually.
Sarah Frawley (AKA Sfrawls, or sometimes I call her ‘dear’, I think she started that) has ridiculous hair, in a good way I guess. If my memory serves me correctly, she won best hair for our senior yearbook superlatives (I won Class Clown). I’m no hairstylist, so forgive me for not knowing good hair-descriptive adjectives, but it’s curly and random both in color shade and organization (different strands can be anywhere from a dirty blonde to full out brown like my hair, and the curls are always in some random configuration).
I take such an interest in her hair because I sat behind her in AP Statistics class for a little while, and for a kid with some major attention issues in an 84 minute snooze-fest of a 7:20am class, it’s mesmerizing. I liked to joke that I was playing imaginary games of Chutes and Ladders in my head by staring at the back of her head and using it as a game board. Sometimes I would use my pen or finger and get curls to wrap around it and then flick them up in the air. It’s relevant to mention that Sarah is a very good and patient friend. Thanks for putting up with me!
One day I was sitting there, staring at her hair and trying to trace different curls, when a musical idea came into my head. It was some jazz piano riffs I had heard while crate-digging months and months ago, riffs that were really harmonically interesting, alternating up and down arpeggios across the keyboard. Gradually the sound matched the image, and I now followed curls up and down Sarah’s hair in time with the piano arpeggios in my head.
So I got home from school that day, loaded up the jazz piano sample in Ableton Live, and messed around with the way it was warped. Eventually I created a sort of odd loop that was in 11/4- broken up 3+2+3+3. Even I, the person who had the idea in the first place, had some trouble figuring it out at first, but I pulled out my sampler, loaded a snare, kick, and hat from my drum breaks sample library, and started practicing. Eventually, I had the idea roughly down, and decided to live record the drums over the piano loop. The end product was definitely rough and imperfect, but it was human. I kinda liked it.
So I took that, mixed the individual tracks a bit, and picked a logical place to end it so it wasn’t just a 3 minute track of the same thing over and over.
That then became “Sfrawls”. Between not using a sound from a photograph, and not wanting to have to clear the sample (don’t kill me, Blue Note!), I decided this would be best on a B-Sides EP. And thus the B-Sides EP was born
I’m awfully proud of it, and I hope you (and Sarah) like it! (edit: I know for a fact she does.)