In an ugly office complex on Hilton Head Island, sandwiched between a real estate agency and a dentist office, is the studio space where art pop musician Will Snyder finished his debut album.
It’s where he experimented with futuristic sounds like spaceship landings and “drums that sound like they’re from a robot’s mouth.” It’s where he sat for an interview, nursing a cup of coffee from a broken mug, his open button-down shirt and slightly bloodshot eyes betraying a late night of drinking after a gig. But when the subject turned to his music, Snyder, 29, eagerly and coherently explained his latest project.
His first LP, five years and four tries in the making, is complete.
Titled “2028,” the tracks are supposed to sound like they were beamed back from the future.
“I think it would sound very good in 2028,” Snyder said.
The album is a mash of techno flourishes, voice manipulation and bass drops set to up-tempo dance beats.
“If you were to ask me to name the style of the record, I’d have to make up something like Bonkers Electronic Smart Pop,” said William Hensley, one of the album’s mixing engineers.
Hensley and Snyder will celebrate the album’s release with a party and performance Sept. 28 at Lucky Rooster Kitchen + Bar on Hilton Head.
Originally from Chicago, Snyder first started playing music on Hilton Head during summer vacations in the late ’90s. After high school at the prestigious Idyllwild Arts Academy in California and postsecondary education at Berklee College of Music, Snyder eventually made Hilton Head his home in 2010. His parents also live on the island.
For years, he played nightly gigs on accompanying bass or piano, saving money for his record. He played blues and rock tunes for tourists, reserving his “futuristic weirdness” for the recording studio. Each time he finished a recording however, he quickly became dissatisfied.
“You think it’s done, but then you listen to it and it doesn’t sound right. I constantly battled with that,” he said.
“A lot of people liked the first thing I came out with. They said it was very organic-sounding.
“Maybe if I had released it then, it would have been a hit, who knows?”
He paused. “I’m glad I waited actually. It’s been a fun process but it’s also been brutal.”
Part of the problem was that each time Snyder learned a new editing trick or had a new idea, he’d rush to add it to a rerecording. Hensley’s task was to rein Snyder in.
“On a lot of the tunes, he recorded every idea he had. It was my job to make sure the listener had something to focus on at all times and could enjoy everything else going on with the track,” Hensley said.
Miles Walker, another sound engineer who worked on “2028,” (and who mixed the YouTube hit “What Does the Fox Say”) loved Snyder’s kitchen-sink mentality.
“It’s cacophonous and crazy and there’s so many different sounds, but (they’re) rooted in great harmony,” he said. “It was challenging to work on because Will’s vision is a dense production with a lot of sounds that would normally never go together. Like a robot voice and natural wire. They’re weird combinations, but it works for him.”
Contentwise, the songs are not especially futuristic. “San Francisco” describes a trip to the Golden Gate city, “Paradise” is about making life what you want it to be, and “Outta the House” laments living with an unfaithful partner. Only the title track, “2028,” bears the lyrical stamp of the prospective space age.
“It’s about the end of the world. An alien comes, sees a beautiful woman, and can only save one person, so he chooses her,” Snyder said.
He wrote the song with fellow Hilton Head musician and mentor Angie Aparo.
“We get into some weird stuff, Angie and I.”
The “weirdness” of the album worries Snyder. He doesn’t think it will be well-received in the South.
“Down here people like country, which is not a wild sound. It’s a very straight ahead, run-of-the mill sound. That’s cool, that’s conventional,” he said. But “2028” is “pretty fresh sounding. I’m not sure people will get it.”
It will probably find an audience in New York and Europe, he added. Here it just might be as alien as the extraterrestrial he sings about. But that’s OK. Hilton Head, at least, is a supportive bubble for his music.
“You can always come back and be supported by the local scene,” he said. “It’s a great mothership.”
Follow reporter Erin Shaw at twitter.com/IPBG_ErinShaw.
Read more here: http://www.islandpacket.com/2014/09/24/3333020_pop-musician-will-snyder-to-celebrate.html?rh=1#storylink=cpy