Los Angeles-based music and arts collective Arthur King Presents believes in pushing musicians outside of their comfort zones to collaborate with artists in different mediums and immerse themselves in different unique spaces. In the past, they have worked with musicians like Beck, Lou Reed, John Cale, Elliott Smith, Earlimart and EELS to create multimedia installations that not only create a one-of-a-kind experience for those who view them but help the artists involved to find new ways to jumpstart their creativity.
For a new installation opening this Thursday at 98 Orchard Street art gallery, the collective contacted Grandaddy frontman Jason Lytle to get in on the fun. As a result, Lytle produced the sparse instrumental album “NYLONANDJUNO,” to be released this Friday on Dangerbird Records, created only with a nylon-stringed guitar and an old synthesizer keyboard. The resulting album sounds just like something you would expect from Lytle’s musical esthetic. I asked Lytle if Arthur King gave him any restrictions on what he could do in the studio for this recording.
“Yeah, that’s probably why I had as much fun making it as I did,” says Lytle, with a laugh. “The only restriction that existed — it was actually kind of a big restriction — was only allowing myself to create music with guitar and synth. That alone was just so far off from my access to my libraries and multiple instruments. … Just the limitation of only having that one synth and an acoustic guitar on top of it, that was it.”
Lytle has been known for his own signature brand of homespun grandiosity on both his classic records with Grandaddy as well as solo, with studio trickery sculpted against his high and lonesome voice. But as Lytle explains, having these boundaries allowed him to let loose a little more than he has been used to.
“I remember even with the Grandaddy stuff back in the day, I always thought that the cool thing about instrumentals is that you can just really give them some messed-up titles that don’t have to have any relationship to what’s going on [laughs]. You can have a little more fun.”
The event will also have interactive performances like “Sound Field Vol. 1” by No Age guitarist Randy Randall as well as a performance of “Changing Landscapes: Wauters Farm” by Arthur King, centered around manipulated field recordings and images they were able to collect on a trip to a family farm in Belle Plaine, Iowa, last summer.
For Lytle’s inclusion in this installation, his album has been spliced up and used against a 25-minute short film created by the Los Angeles film team Mind Palace, who created visuals inspired by the music.
“I had shivers for most of it,” says Lytle of handing off his music to Mind Palace. “Seeing what they did eventually come up with was pretty awesome and pretty inspiring.”
While I had him on the phone, I thought it would only be appropriate to ask Lytle if there would be a chance in seeing another Grandaddy album after 2017’s “Last Place.”
“Yeah, there is,” Lytle says. “I have another big Grandaddy record in me. I just want to make it and not think much more about it after that. I kind of really want it to be all-encompassing. I’m going to try to go big, which might take me a while to make it. The idea of that being the only thing I’m working on is really appealing to me right now. I’ve sort of saddled myself with a number of little projects which I usually don’t take on, but they can end up being distractions. So at some point, I’m going to shut all of that down and focus on something that I’m going to call a ‘Grandaddy’ record.”
The Arthur King Presents installation will be at 98 Orchard Aug. 15-21. Admission is free. RSVP for the opening night reception here.