Still Waters Run Deep for Idyll Green.
Between the funky spoken word ramble opener, the movie-scape-like interstitial pieces, and the dreamy title track closer, the framing of a larger story hides beneath the polished surface of the catchy, r&b inspired debut EP, Be The Water.
Though each song stands individually, Rene (the Writer/Singer) , and his brothers Jaime and Abe (Producers) built out a subtle, larger arc over their songs. Reconnecting themes and melodies between tracks, hiding layers of meaning under lighthearted beats. And that is, the songwriting group says, all about the way we understand story.
“Be The Water is autobiographical. A musical interpretation [of] one of the weirdest weekends of my life,“ says Rene. “We didn’t want to approach the story head-on like a musical, but to support each song with the context of my lives and what it meant to us.”
At the heart of Be The Water, is a love story. “Yeah,” Rene explains, “the romance of being young and single is confusing enough for anybody, and that’s what is driving every song, but when you’re a Progressive Chicano in South Texas, everything about interacting with each other becomes stranger. And we wanted to have that feeling in and under every song. Because that’s how life is for us.
“I don’t think I could talk about our lives honestly if we didn’t add these extra filters around our songs. Love stories are universal, but a love story in the South is weighted differently for people like us, trapped between worlds. Between cultures. We live in constant tension to belong and to be individuals. Of participating, and having all this extra weight on everything we do. For us it’s an inescapable conflict to stand our ground without starting a fight. ”
These meta-filters make the songs serve as both backdrop and narrative, like in Gentleman, about Rene’s pursuit for love in a small bar in South Texas that also sounds like the kind of laid-back R&B fun that would play in a jukebox. The song ends with Rene getting punched by one of the regulars for pursuing the “wrong” person.
Or the dreamy Moonlit Magic, where the brother’s shine in this deep arrangement, that recalls both the twilight atmosphere of falling in love, a fire at a party in the woods, and a fun end-of-summer song playing through the car speakers on a cool Texas night.
While performing as members of Hacienda and The Fast Five, the 3 brothers honed their songwriting and live performances to be one of the tightest and most vibrant acts around.
(Playing shows and festivals all over North America, Europe and Australia, as well as The Late Show with David Letterman and Late Night with Conan O’Brien).
“They have consistently impressed me with their natural chemistry,” said long time collaborator Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys. But the brothers are on quest to deconstruct and evolve their music.
Rene thinks about questions of his past carefully, “We felt abandoned by the ‘Garage Rock Music Scene.’ I mean, we still love music from the past, ours included, we needed to make something new. Embrace technology and progress our voice and culture in the studio… To tell our story on our terms. We just couldn’t do that honestly from a rock mentality.”
For the brothers, that meant building their own studio from scratch in their South-Texas home, not making the record in Nashville with Dan Auerbach (who produced all 3 Hacienda albums), no longer calling themselves a band and focusing on being Songwriters first.
“[Dan] will always be a part of what we do, but we are exploring different areas. That scene, is rooted deeper into a past that we feel less and less a part of. We are trying to exist with what’s happening for us today.”
The songwriting trio left behind the older ideas of how music should be and started making music the way they wanted to. There are still flashes of the vintage touches that the brothers had been so praised for, (there are some grooves that would make WAR proud) but now in a new context (Miguel, Frank Ocean and Childish Gambino were cited as inspiration for Be The Water).
“We were tired of being called ‘too Mexican’ or ‘not Mexican enough,’ ‘too vintage, ‘ or ‘not the right vintage’ so many people had ideas of what we should be,” Rene says proudly, “but we should be the ones to decide that. Idyll Green is our space to be whoever we want.”
It might be easy for some listeners to turn on Be The Water and enjoy the music completely absent of the larger story. “Life isn’t about everyone living and understanding one thing. It’s strange and complicated. One event can be told several ways and that is the heart of Be The Water.
“Water, like stories, holds no shape. That’s why we felt it was better to break up the narrative into the music and the book.”
Rene, who has developed a modest but loyal fandom for his poetry and spoken word (Idyll Green also takes its name from a poem by Rene) wrote a companion book for the EP that delves into the heavier themes of the story. And provides a new perspective to each of the songs. “[the book] is another example of the freedom of being independent. A way for people to get into my head, the meaning of the songs, and learning about what life is like.”
Idyll Green is excited to announce the first EP Be The Water.