Tangerine Stars is a one-man guitar drone band from Keokuk, Iowa, and makes strumming drones that are unmoving, wide open and somewhat lonesome. ‘Norman’, freely available here, got released last June on Chipdipdrops Records.
VIOLETCURRENTS: You released Norman as “your first album”. Besides demos, I count three earlier releases. Why did Norman get that special sticker?
TANGERINE STARS: After 4 years of Tangerine Stars, I felt it was time to finally release an album. The demos I did last year came close, but I never got around to recording those tracks in better quality. Then, back in May, I did a split with death.by.design, and that’s when I gathered the inspiration to record an official album. Three of the four songs I did on that split were reworked for this album.
V: death.by.design is also on Chipdipdrops, which is mostly occupied by glitch, lolicore and hardstyle artists. Now it’s a home for ‘Norman’. A strange place for a guitar dronester to be.
I don’t mind being out of place. Anybody who wants to release my work is fine with me. All that matters is getting the right description.
V: The first thing anyone will notice is how lush the album sounds. Want to talk about your instruments/mastering?
TS: Norman sounds much better than my earlier work because I’ve started using a digital 8-track recorder. Other than that, my setup has always been really simple. I used a 1994 Fender Mustang, a reverb pedal, and some more reverb added during mastering. Reverb and an 8-track recorder, that’s all there really is to it.
V: A strange name, ‘Norman’. It jumps right from between your lips.
TS: The title isn’t a reference to anyone named Norman. It’s short for ‘normal man’, to illustrate how I’m just a normal guy making some drone music. I’m glad I chose such a short album title, it’s easy to remember and indeed sort of rolls off the tongue.
V: It’s the ‘O’. You have to have an ‘O’ in an album title. The track titles, then… inspired by Iowa, maybe?
TS: I think all my music is in some way inspired by my home state, such as the boredom of living in Iowa, lack of opportunities, all the cornfields, etc. However, the stuff I do is definitely out of place in Iowa
, especially my home town. The local music scene is pretty conservative; you’ve got your cover bands that play by predictable classic rock standards, and an overabundance of acoustic artists.
Both as a listener and a musician, I hardly feel kinship with any of these bands. I play drone music because I enjoy it, but just as well as a reaction to this stagnant music scene. And if my music has a ‘rustic Iowa’ quality compared to those who drone in the more urban areas, then I gladly welcome it, if it will help me stand out.
V: Every bit helps. Thanks for the interview.