Ernest Greene sounds a little distracted when he answers the phone.
“I’m taking a break,” he says from his current home—a Lake Oconee house belonging to his wife’s parents. “I’ve been doing some recording this afternoon. The last shows I did were in the beginning of June in the UK and [continental] Europe. It was my first trip over and it was a lot of fun… solid turnouts pretty much every night, which is really surprising. I guess I’m just kind of blown away.”
He’s not the only one. Music publications have been heaping some heavy praise on Greene and his musical project Washed Out over the last year-plus. His songs have been lumped in with a trendy and rather nebulous subgenre known as chillwave, alongside hip blog-buzz bands such as Neon Indian, Toro y Moi and Small Black. It’s all a bit much to process, but for now, he’s taking it easy and recording some music. For what, at this point, who knows?
“It’s really not a concrete goal in mind,” Greene says of the casual sessions. “I’m taking time off and regrouping and experimenting with some different sounds and recording techniques. I did the EP kind of haphazardly last summer. There’s a lot of different ways it could go. That’s one of the main things: trying to figure out what direction I want to take things.”
We asked him to use a few moments of his downtime to tell us about five Georgian locales that have influenced his music. Here’s what he came up with:
His hometown of Perry
I grew up in Perry, which is a little south of Macon. It’s a pretty small place. There’s a lot of peach farms in the area, so my parents’ house is actually outside of Perry and kind of surrounded by peach groves. I moved back in with my parents after not living there for eight or nine years. Coming back, I didn’t really have any plans. In my mind, it was taking time to regroup and save money. I didn’t have much going on, so I put a lot into the music, just recording in my bedroom. It was a lot of lazy days. My wife was living there at the time as well. We spent a lot in that area riding bikes, taking walks—definitely a positive time. I think that general outlook just seeped into the songs.
I played my first show there at Ambient Studio. It was some sort of promotional thing; I think it was for Kia. At the time, I really wasn’t planning on doing any shows; I’d never done any before. When I was writing songs, I never planned on fleshing them out or playing with a band or anything. But then I got this random email from whomever was in charge of the event and it was a lot of money, basically. I was broke, so it was like, “I gotta do this.” I walked into this place and it was this enormous warehouse and they had brought in this huge soundsystem and I was completely freaked out. It ended up not being too bad. The next week I did a sold-out show in New York. That would’ve been the same experience, but I was a little more comfortable having done it the one time.
Eatonton, his current home
It’s been a really crazy year. I’ve been on and off the road. I just got married in October, and luckily, my wife has got[ten] to be with me pretty much the whole time. We were living in a small apartment in Macon and felt like it was kinda pointless to pay rent when we weren’t gonna be there. We were thinking about moving to New York and some other larger cities, but when it came down to it, we realized it would be better to move here. It’s a nice, relaxing setting. When you’re on the road, you’re constantly moving and meeting people. So, it’s a nice break to live here. We kind of have a schedule. In the morning, I work on my stuff. She kind of handles all my scheduling. It’s a nice little dynamic and we’re left alone by ourselves. It’s turning into a 9-5 thing: I work on music and then we hang out at night and take the weekends off. It’s a lot of fun.
Athens, where he attended UGA from 2001 to 2005
That was great, going off to college and being in a town that had a really good music scene. I never really participated in the music scene very much when I was living there. I guess I would play with a small group of friends at people’s houses; it was never like playing out or anything. Just going to shows a lot, the 40 Watt, Georgia Theater—it was definitely an influential time. Not only bands, but meeting new friends, getting turned on to different types of music. Growing up in a small town before the Internet had taken off like it has now, my eyes were opened to a lot of things. I’d heard mainstream hip-hop, but I remember friends playing, like, DJ Shadow or something and, looking back, it’s a major influence on me in terms of sampling. I probably spent too much time working on music. I never felt like I was a great student. I graduated, but music has always been the main passion.
Saint Simons Island
It’s… a place I grew up going to. I have family living there. It was a place we went to for a week or two every summer—kind of a special place in my life. As far as the direct relation to the music, a lot of the artwork for the EP was taken there. It’s a really interesting place, especially years ago. It’s gotten a little more touristy; there were never these chain-y restaurants and high-rise condos on the beach.