Codachrome is a new solo project for Michael Guarente. Having been in the band OceanEcho, Codachrome goes in a new musical direction. The recently released Anticline – EP was composed, produced, preformed, and recorded in Guarente’s home studio and he put his heart and soul into the EP.
We were excited to get to know Codachrome!
Give us some background on Codachrome…
Codachrome is a solo project, and kind of came into being purely out of pressure. Early in the summer of 2018, there was a situation that loomed over my head that I had zero control over. It introduced stress, and so I fled into my home studio and started writing. The first song I wrote on the EP was Liminus, and the process of writing it was both therapeutic and irritating. I had been writing comedic songs for a podcast I co-host, Joke Of All Trades, for the past year and prior to that for a piano rock group OceanEcho, so the more brooding and atmospheric synth sounds of Liminus were a big departure from my past piano rock-driven songwriting. Codachrome didn't exist yet - it was just this one song. After I finished writing Liminus, I realized there was a lot more I wanted to say, and I wanted it to be something both personal and accessible that people could relate to. It was all eventually produced and recorded in my home studio. Liminus is the only track that features electric guitar on the album, and the story is worth a quick aside. The father of one of my best friends tragically passed away a couple of years ago, and he was an avid musician and artist with his own home studio. As I was writing Anticline - EP, I received an extremely gracious offer from my friend to borrow one of his father's electric guitars for the EP. The way he put it, it was better to have the life of his father live on in his guitars by continuing to make music, than sitting and gathering dust. It was an honor to be able to play it, and you can hear it played in the second chorus of Liminus.
You've pledged to donate half of your streaming and purchase revenue for 2018 to the Ocean Conservancy. Tell us more about that.
I'm inspired by artists who are masters at their craft, but also give back. I wanted to use this platform for greater good, even at my modest level of attention/success. Human activity has been shown to be the principle cause of climate change, and I believe it's my responsibility to try and counteract the slide in what small way I can. I've had the opportunity to visit Hawaii twice, roughly 10 years apart. And there was a noticeable, tragic difference in the vitality of coral reefs. Huge swaths were just dead, and it was heartbreaking to witness. It's an anecdote, yes, but for a trend that's been observed by scientists globally. We don't notice that the ocean is warming faster than the rest of the planet because we live on land, but it is, and ecosystems are dying off. I won't spend too much more time on this soapbox, but my idea in donating Codachrome revenue is to bring more attention to this and help the health of the ocean in any way I can. It's not just about keeping the food chain intact for people, but also for keeping planet Earth planet Earth.
What can one expect at a live show?
Codachrome started as a means of expressing music I wanted to get out of myself and record from my home studio. I wrote Anticline - EP for others as much as myself, so I'm sincerely hoping to take Codachrome live in 2019 at some point with some new songs as well. Regarding what to expect at a show... Codachrome is indie electronic/synth-pop, so everything that comes with that: glow sticks taped to hot dogs, a Macintosh II in a fish tank, an inflatable crowd-surfing Alf, a horse with seven names, pizza holograms, and a short man playing a short keyboard. At least one of those things is true.
Tell us what the new EP means to you, now that you have completed it.
I think a lot of us suffer needless anxiety, partly induced by the omnipresence of our digital lives. It's been called 'fear of missing out', but I've experienced this as something beyond fear into a very real anxiety. And on top of it, there's this dichotomy between how people act online and how people really are face-to-face. The implications are scary to me, if we get too deep into thinking we have to keep up with how other people perceive us, constantly needing to bolster some mythical online brand. Without giving too much away, Tunguska (Neon Highway) talks a lot about this idea of the "glow of the lie" - the shocking ease at which people can get caught up in things like online conspiracy theories, untruths, and false personas. It used to be this really fringy thing, and I think what we're seeing is that the Internet has democratized irrationality more than it has harbored informed discussion and thoughtful debate. The marketplace of ideas is selling a lot of broken goods. So, the character in Tunguska (Neon Highway) feels that glow rather strongly. Part of Anticline - EP was also me grappling with a new reality. We're living in a society where the impulse to go "oh wow, look at what these people are doing and I'm not doing," is so strong. It can create this false perception that you are frozen in granite while everyone else is swirling around you having a great time. It's not a new observation, but I hope I've presented it in a fresh way. Most of all, I hope it's something people can empathize with and appreciate. I think a lot of us can do better to be more present, and the re-calibration takes constant attention. To be like geology, to be slow and sudden at the same time.
What is next for Codachrome?
More music. I have about a dozen other songs in the works, with hundreds of melodic and composition ideas that I'm excited to map out into full-length songs. Lyrically, I'll be taking things in a different direction in terms of subject matter. But I'm really in love with crafting these paranoid, snarling poly synth sounds, trying to find interesting chord progressions, so I'm going to keep exploring sounds in a similar vein to Anticline - EP. I'm really inspired by artists like Gypsy & the Cat, Promises Ltd., James Blake, Honne, and Sufjan Stevens who write compositions you'd traditionally not associate with electronic music and perform the pieces with synthesizers. Hopefully, I'll be able to release another single in January or February of 2019.