July is a perfect month. The sun is out most of the day (clothing is basically optional), and you can spend entire evenings on the lake with freezers full of freezies and Cokes. After his dreamy, summer-doused debut album, it is no surprise that Planetarian has a track named after this auspicious month. What is a bit surprising is the seamless Kevin Abstract feature, which plays perfectly with the candid, kind of awkward nature of Planetarian tracks. Turn this one up on long drives or days out.
Hit the jump to read our exclusive interview with the young artist…
Arjun: Who are you? (name, age, location, shoe size–not really shoe size)
Planetarian: I’m Derek Simpson, I’m 16, and I’m from outside of Boston, yeah.
A: When did you start making music, and what were your first songs like?
P: I started producing my own music a year and a half ago and it was all just lame rap songs with beats I made on GarageBand and stuff.
A: I read that Tyler, The Creator noticed your music via Formspring. Is that right? How does having his support feel, and has he talked to you about collaborating?
P: Yeah, it’s sick. He actually followed me on Twitter, too, before the album released, and we’ve DMed a bit about music and stuff. He’s awesome. It’s awesome having this support. He’s the reason I got into music and realized that anyone can do what they want to do with their lives, so his support will always be more than appreciated. And no, we haven’t but some time in the near future I want to work with him. I don’t care if I’m fanning out or whatever–he’s the man.
A: Can you talk a bit about making a summer record during the winter?
P: Well, it was tough at the start. I finished this mixtape type thing in January that I hated because it was just sad music. I decided not to put that out the day before I was supposed to release it because if I don’t like the music I made, it’s not getting released. I need to love the music I make in order to feel comfortable enough for others to hear it. So then I made “Young Minds” after I played a bunch of Red Dead Redemption and listened to Toro Y Moi and OF a lot in February. I liked the beat a lot, and the lyrics didn’t take that much time to write. I released it expecting people to hate it but the response was awesome and I sent it to Tyler on Formspring, and he told me to keep making music and that was the push that got me to finish the album in the next two wintery months.
A: What artists/producers would you say shaped your sound?
P: I don’t really know who shaped my sound. An outside listener would probably say Toro Y Moi and Tame Impala which is understandable and they are big influences of mine, but I just hear me. I don’t hear as many similarities between my music and another artist’s as a fan might hear. Also, my sound is changing. The second album will most definitely not be as consistent as the first record, but it will still feel whole. That’s what I’m going for.
A:“Swim” is one of my favorite tracks on the album. Is it about a literal experience or more being infatuated with a girl?
P: It’s about whatever you want it to be about. I want you to have your own interpretation.
A: Can you talk a bit about making the album artwork? Seems fitting for your music–trippy and sort of mysteriously complex.
P: Well, I made it before I made any music for the album. I just took this postcard in some online photo editor and distorted the image a bit and thought, “This would look awesome as an album cover. I wanna make an album that sounds like the way this looks,” and then I did it.
A: How did this collaboration with Kevin Abstract come together? Are you looking to produce for hip-hop artists in the future?
P: I can’t really remember. I think I made the beat and wanted a rapper on it and then he conveniently popped up I guess. And perhaps. I made a beat for Andre 3000. It’s cool.
A: What can we expect next? Are you trying to do more live shows or focus in on making a follow-up project?
P: This summer I’ll be hard at work on the next album and on rehearsing with a few friends for the live sets. I don’t know exactly when I’m releasing the next album, but I want to start touring when I get signed. I know that for sure. I don’t want to tour before that really.