LA’s Memory Cult, the project of songwriter Erik Harris, conceived as an idea to work outside of genre using only isolated sound palettes from repeated internal sampling and live in studio performance. On March 4th, he released his newest album. The lead single is “Pityful.”
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Learn more about Memory Cult in the following All Access interview:
Definitely playing Iive and working on more music. I have a couple of projects outside of memory cult in the works. This album was like the kick off so to speak. I’d like to work with a label and put on a cool visual show if the opportunity arises.
Can you recall the moment when you thought you could be a musician? What do you think motivates you day in and day out? How has that changed over the years?
I think when I was about 12 I realized I could do it. I taught myself to play guitar and bass out of a book. Then I learned about Trent Reznor and what he did by performing all the parts on his own. I think it’s been cemented over the years that whatever crazy idea I have I can execute with enough patience and time.
How do you think your hometown has influenced the kind of music that you make?
Well I grew up in Detroit and Sacramento so I’d say Detroit was huge. Just the history of Motown and house music and rock n’ roll. I feel like it was an energy I can’t define but always felt a part of.
With so many artists in LA, how would you say that you set yourself apart from everyone else? What makes Memory Cult unique?
I think the only way I standout is by not turning off the ideas that I fear. In la everything is about “making it” but I want to make people uncomfortable with my music. So the idea of a hit never deterred me from trying to be honest or extreme.
Growing up, how important was music in your life? Was your family and friends supportive of this career choice?
Music has been pretty much the whole of my life. Whether playing in bands or listening on my own or producing. I’m a bit obsessed. My family and friends were supportive but I’m not sure they thought I would stick with it haha. I think people are happily surprised
Where did you first get the idea to use isolated sound palettes from repeated internal sampling and live in-studio for this project? What does all that mean exactly?
I started to listen to a lot of sample based industrial but didn’t have the ear for sampling other people’s music so I would start sampling my own music and warping it. Once I figured that out I started to make whole songs that I would never release just to re-sample and create palettes. It might be superfluous but it works for me and has helped me feel like I’m not biting anything else too much
What does it feel like to be about to release your new album? Did anything surprise you about the overall process of creating it? Were there any unexpected challenges?
I’m happy. I’m relieved actually. This album was actually harder than anything I’ve ever done. I wrote it very fast but I kept trying to get it to sound like a warped tape or like a found relic so I would have to mix and then un-mix. I have a pretty polished version of it on my hardrive. It was scary to do everything on my own. But I feel like I’ve coined this idea of an album as a collage and I know what I want to do next and what to avoid to make it better.
How did you go about choosing the lead single, “Pityful”? How does this song compare to the rest of the collection?
I feel like it had the energy of an opener. It’s also the only song song on the record in the traditional sense. But it foreshadows the rest of the record. I played it for my wife and she liked it. That was a big one.
Where would you love to hear a song of yours played?
I’d love to hear it on some A24 movie or like in Dillas pizza. Just somewhere that feels like it fits in the culture or art. I like the idea of being a regular blue collar guy making high concept art. Like an electronic iggy pop
At the end of the day, what do you hope people take away from your music?
I think about this a lot. I hope they feel understood. I want to talk about things that are personal and I think that is what makes them relatable. The titles of the songs can be misleading but there are lines that come from the same place pop music comes from. Just to feel understood. Connected