Damien Jurado :: The Aquarium Drunkard Interview

2016 was a good year for Damien Jurado fans. In addition to Sub Pop Records reissuing two of his sought after early albums, Rehearsals for Departure and Ghost of David, Jurado released the final album in his Maraqopa Trilogy, the hypnagogic Visions of Us on The Land. Owing to psychedelic folk and dub influences, the album finds him teaming once again with producer/sonic magician Richard Swift. As if all that wasn't enough, this year finally saw the release of an early Swift and Jurado collaboration on vinyl, Other's People Songs, which finds the duo covering Chubby Checker, Bill Fay, John Denver, Kraftwerk, Yes and more, which originally appeared on Aquarium Drunkard in 2010.

We spoke with Jurado before soundcheck for an episode of our Transmissions podcast. You can listen to that episode here, and below you'll find a minimally edited transcription of our discussion, which found us covering everything from The Twilight Zone to Jurado's cinematic inspirations. The Transmissions podcast returns in January 2017 with new episodes. Subscribe on  iTunes  or via  RSS feed.

Aquarium Drunkard: We’re here with Damien Jurado at the Valley Bar in Phoenix, Arizona. I wanted to start off by asking you about the new record, Visions of Us on The Land, which is a beautiful album, finds you moving even deeper into psychedelic sounds. This is your fourth record with Richard Swift. You guys started working together -- is it 2010 with St. Bartlett?

Damien Jurado: Uh-huh.

AD: What was it about Swift that made you want to go record with him in Oregon?

Damien Jurado: Originally, it was the label's idea. I had been a fan of Richard Swift's for quite a while at that point. I owned The Novelist and Walking Without Effort. Those albums, and then later on the Ground Trouble Jaw stuff. I was a fan of his, and then Secret Canadian was like, “Hey, maybe you should do a record with Richard?” And I was like, “I don't know man, I love his music but, musically but we're not really the same genre, you know?”

AD: Sure.

Damien Jurado: [But] we're open to the same kind of styles. So they're like, “Yeah but you guys, we think you guys would be working good together.” I liked his production, so I was like OK I'll give it a try. We hit it off immediately. The first day we did Saint Bartlett, most of the time we just sort of hung out and listened to records that we liked a lot. Through hanging out with him, I realized, wow, we actually like a lot of the same music. The difference between Richard and I was that Richard, you can clearly hear his influences on his recordings.

AD: Yeah.

Damien Jurado: And mine you can't. My records, ended up before Saint Bartlett, all sounded like me trying to be everybody else. [With] the exception of Ghost of David, actually. That record is sort of like its own thing, but that would be a preview of what I think I'd later become with Richard. That's like the real me. So he was like, “You like Sergio Mendes Brasil 66, and you like Herb Albert, you like Ray Conniff, you like Rod McKuen, you like West Coast Experimental Pop Art Band, and you like Captain Beefheart, Johnny Hooker. But you don't hear any of this stuff in your music.” I just said, “Man, I think I'm just afraid to reveal myself.” He made it okay to really wear my influences on my sleeve a bit more.

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