Perhaps all Will Weisenfeld needed was a new moniker. Under the pseudonym Baths, his 2010 debut LP, Cerulean, garnered critical acclaim for its blissful, ethereal electro-pop, drawing comparisons to artists as diverse as chillwaver Toro Y Moi and fellow southern Californian producer Flying Lotus. Tonight, Wiesenfeld brings his Baths project to Duke Coffeehouse, along with Canadian experimental rock outfit Braids.
Wiesenfeld has been recording music for nearly a decade as Geotic and [Post-foetus]—the latter of which dealt in the same propulsive, syncopated rhythms as Cerulean. And although popularity remained elusive until recently, each act provided a unique font for Wiesenfeld.
“Baths, and to a lesser extent, [Post-foetus], is more beat-oriented than anything else I’ve done,” he said. “Geotic was kind of self-indulgent, ambient stuff that I really made... to fall asleep to—it was meant for passive listening.”
Regardless of the project, Wiesenfeld has maintained a passion for and dedication to electronic music as an art form.
“When I heard Bjork for the first time in seventh grade, I was 100 percent sure I wanted to make and record music for the rest of my life,” he said. “I’ve worked toward that exclusively since then.”
Despite having recorded for so long, Baths’ widespread success has been a totally new experience.
“Before last year, I was on a plateau—everything was very small-scale, spread and shared by friends. But after Cerulean, everything’s gone exponential,” Weisenfeld said.
In part, the album’s popularity has prompted Weisenfeld to consider a return to the studio—and the direction of Cerulean’s successor.
“I never intended or wanted Cerulean to be my defining artistic statement. I’m looking forward to building on that and making a name for myself with music I’m personally more comfortable with,” he said. “The next one’s going to be a lot darker, almost antithetical to Cerulean.”
Wiesenfeld is supported by Braids, who released their debut full-length, Native Speaker, last month to a chorus of positive reviews. The two artists met through a mutual friend, and Braids were Weisenfeld’s first choice for a supporting act.
“I could tell they had to make music, that it was in their blood to do what they do,” he said. “I was totally enthralled with what they were doing and honored that they would support me on this tour.”
Like Cerulean, Native Speaker, with its angelic, clarion vocals and heavily layered guitars and synths, represents a breakthrough for a band with extensive prior recording experience.
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“It’s very emotional, almost cinematic music,” said keyboard player and vocalist Katie Lee. “We like to try to create environments with our music, and we use it as a way to communicate with each other on a deep level.”
Though grounded in indie rock and shoegaze influences, their debut is as dreamlike and transcendent as Baths’ more electro-oriented effort. Lee was quick to point out other similarities to Baths.
“We really enjoy his work—he’s a lot like us, as Braids, in that the music requires some patience to fully understand,” she said. “Plus, he just makes some really good pop tunes.”
But perhaps the biggest similarity between the two artists is their newfound success, both critical and popular. Lee recalls their previous years as a touring band being dominated by a few very dedicated fans, mostly friends or friends of friends.
“It’s been really flattering to see new faces at shows in the last couple months, even in Montreal,” she said.
Playing to a wider audience has also given the band new sources of feedback.
“It’s nice when other people understand why we write the music we do and when people come up and tell us what they thought about the music,” she said. “I always like to ask what people liked about the show, because everyone has a different take.”
Baths plays the Duke Coffeehouse tonight, with Braids and Blackbird Blackbird opening. Doors are at 8:30 p.m., show starts at 9 p.m. and tickets are free for students and $10 general admission.