There’s something psychedelic about Ana Breton’s earliest childhood memories of growing up in South Florida and then later moving to Washington D.C. The kaleidoscope of warm sunny days, spending time at the beach with family, watching her Mother garden, and listening to music with her avid hi-fi and music enthusiast Father, greatly influenced her perspective on life. “It’s the happy side of the dream’, she says. Later in college, D.C. was at the height of one of it’s greatest musical periods with Dischord punk, some of the best 90’s American indie bands that made stops while on tour as well as the electronica rave scene that was happening. She was always a member of the chorus during her school days and also took up playing guitar. This would give Ana the musical foundation that she still loves and lives by.
Today, Ana is a vocalist and guitarist in the music and art collective ‘Dead Leaf Echo’ which is based in the Brooklyn, NY area. She also contributes keys, synths, organs and occasional percussion. In ‘2013’, John Fryer mixed their first album titled ‘Thought and Language’. “I personally found it comfortable to have John around”, says Ana, “I enjoyed seeing how he worked and of course his instincts are so right on”. Their next EP “true.deep.sleeper” released in 2014 saw them working with Monte Vallier (Weekend, Wax Idols). They have finished their 2nd LP again w/ Vallier and also contributions from Guy Fixsen (MBV, WIRE) and Jorge Elbreht (Ariel Pink, No Joy).
Dead Leaf Echo’s recently released an EP, ‘Strawberry Skin’ (Papercup Music) is available through Bandcamp.
Ana Breton spoke to TM about ‘And Nothing Remains’, her contribution to the BNN project and was recently featured on the new Black Needle Noise album ‘Lost In Reflections.
Black Needle Noise is a 50/50 partnership between Fryer and many different talented singer/songwriters, including Attasalina, Mimi Page, ZiaLand, Omniflux, Jarboe, Betsy Martin, Andrea Kerr, Ledfoot, Spectra Paris, Jennie Vee, Ana Breton, Kendra Frost, Elena Alice Fossi, Antic Clay, Andreas Elvenes, Bill Leeb, and Sivert Høyem.
TM – John says “every song should be like its own movie, you should close your eyes and get taken to a different place.” Where do you see ‘And Nothing Remains’ taking you?
AB – As soon as I heard the track I thought of that feeling of where you are in a dream but you don’t know it’s not waking life. I have lots of dreams that are like M.C. Escher landscapes that don’t make any sense where I might be running through stairwells but then opening a door and free-falling into a gigantic room. The slow space of this song made me imagine being in a strange alternate reality like the Upside Down or like being inside a gigantic floating bubble and pressing the walls like skin that stretches but doesn’t pop. For me it takes place in the time of a groggy haze of a very late night or very early morning.
The song takes me to many places at the same time and I like to say it means “all the things”. It was very much about what was going on in the period of time it was being written but also about difficult situations from the past, trying to unravel it in the present and also looking to the future.
TM – Tell me a little about your creative process with John.
AB – I first met John when he came to the states to mix the double album “Thought and Language” for the band I sing and play guitar in, Dead Leaf Echo. I saw him two years ago at the Desert Stars festival where we were both playing. Swervedriver and the Lemonheads were also playing that year. He said he thought we should work together on a song and I started giggling like a child. It was just the most flattering and awesome idea, and I was so excited to be asked by him.
When he sent the track the summer of ’16, I immediately loved it and knew I could do something with it, but it took time for me to figure out exactly how it was going to turn out. I was also touring and recording with DLE quite a bit so John was exceptionally patient while I worked on it. He was in L.A. and I in NY so we had to work remotely.
He gave me total freedom but also provided a lot of confidence and encouraged me that he trusted I knew what was right to do. I recorded a demo in the fall, but half the lyrics were still rough and I ran out of time to really add any of the harmonic vocal layering ideas that came later.
His feedback was short and simple, but it made perfect sense to me and I knew he understood where this was going. He heard what was in there and intuitively seemed to know what was coming. That was so important. I felt really free to create but knew we were on the same page on the direction. It felt very fated.
I have to say that all I really cared about in the process was if John liked it. When I went in again to record the real thing in early ’17, there were so many absolutely insane events that had happened in that time frame. Both publicly like the election but also privately like the unexpected and accidental death of a friend, that allowing time to pass and for what seemed like an untenable number of things, all became part of the fabric of the song.
When I sent that last version over to him, I can’t express how excited I was when he replied “just so you know it sounds AWESOME”.
TM – What are some of your past, present, or future projects that you’d like to note?
I’ve been playing in shoegaze/dream pop /psych rock project Dead Leaf Echo for over 5 years – covering guitars, vocals and occasionally keys, synths and organs.
We just had an EP come out called “Strawberry Skin” along with a video for the title track. We’ve played with the likes of Swervedriver, Chapterhouse, Modern English, The Ocean Blue, A Place To Bury Strangers and The Psychedelic Furs.
Before Dead Leaf Echo, I played about 5 years in an excellent project called “Mahogany”. At the time I joined I was incredibly lucky to be part of recording an epic album called “Connectivity” which features a few remixes of songs by another collaborator of Mr. Fryer’s, Robin Guthrie.
I later got to meet and record with Guthrie when I visited Lima, Peru to perform with Scott Cortez (Astrobrite, Star) as part of his project “Loveliescrushing”, along with Andrew Prinz the founder and main composer and visionary in Mahogany, who was a longtime collaborator with Scott. They both are contemporaries of and come from the same Michigan space rock scene as the Fryer produced project “His Name Is Alive”.
I also have had the joy of working with composer Rich Bennet and performing and recording with him in a space-age, bossa-nova tinged, astral pop band Monocle.
child.glass.heart is a Dead Leaf Echo track that features my voice solely – most tracks it is the male lead which is why this was such a great opportunity ~ Ana Breton
Keep up with Dead Leaf Echo