“I’m sure” is a bold statement for anyone, particularly for 20-year-old Nacho Cano. The Mexico City-born, San Diego-bred musician and hopeless romantic entitled his debut album I’m Sure with a certainty and finesse that fledgling artists don’t usually possess. Cano’s obsessive precision with mastering and clear artistic vision, centered around the entrancing musings of idle summer afternoons, probably have something to do with it.
Cano takes the notion of DIY bedroom artist — a la Bradford Cox — and adding an entirely different dimension of nostalgia amidst delicately layered dream pop that garners comparisons to both The Cure and a sound that is distinctively Twin Cabins.
After a feature as Soundcloud’s artist of the day and a feature on yvynyl, Twin Cabins recently dropped his debut as a “Name Your Own” price via Bandcamp. We sat down with Nacho in Los Angeles and spoke about the production of his debut album, The Jesus and Mary Chain and the decaying of memory.
How did the Twin Cabins project begin?
It started in high school around the time Odd Future and other producers were surfacing on Tumblr and such. I had this friend — he kept looking at me because he knew I made music — and he said, “Hey, we could do that. We could make music and could make it happen.” And so, I was hesitant about it but at some point during my junior year I started making music. At the time I was calling myself Turtle Island.
Is that a Beach House reference?
It is! It’s my favorite Beach House song. It initially started out as a school project under that name. We started writing music together, and we were really into Pavement at the time. Stephen Malkmus is really good at being a lyricist. It doesn’t work quite as well when you’re a teenager though, because all you can think of is girls and angst.
Yeah, Malkmus has the life experience to back it up.
Definitely. We also got this drummer to back us, and it turned into your typical high school drama shit. We started growing apart as friends because of that. After I got out of high school, I had been going through a lot of things. It was then that I adopted the Twin Cabins moniker as my own and started making music individually because I was entangled between these two girls.
What was Twin Cabins bred out of?
It was bred out of the fact that I try to be as gentlemanly with women, especially with girls that I hold to high value for me emotionally. I find a lot of rest in that. When I’m close to someone, I become very imaginative. At the time, I was falling out of love with my best friend and I thought that I was falling in love with this other girl. A lot of the songs were bred out of imaginations and thinking that things would properly work out with either of those girls if I could fix up some type of scenario. The music started to reflect that — made-up romances, made-up ideas, an instant feeling of nostalgia and nothing entirely solid. The idea of being with somebody and feeling that you’ve been with them for a long time, when you’ve never even touched them. It makes me incredibly sad, and that’s where the sound started to come from.
Your music is very nostalgic of the ‘80s.
Yeah. I intentionally picked a genre that I had to imagine what it was like, since I wasn’t around for it. With that, it reflects the whole idea of being nostalgic for something you’ve never known.
What’s your creative process like?
I like the concept of memory and how it decays. So I like to write things and go back to them a month later and actually record. Just to see if the emotions were the same. I like to stretch things out, manipulate and destroy them.
With the moniker Twin Cabins, how do you differentiate yourself from other musicians with similar names like say, Twin Shadow or Twin Sister?
The name was made because one of my friends was drawing words on a piece of paper. She just wrote those two words down, and I liked it. I liked the way they looked and how they sounded. In the way that I differentiate myself — I admired Forget, I thought it sampled Joy Division really well. But Twin Shadow is selling this image that he’s a badass that rides motorcycles. He doesn’t care about the women he’s been with, and that’s clear from his lyrics. Whereas for me, I’m not really trying to sell an image as much. I’m pretty up and coming still, figuring out the whole stage presence. Artists make a killing from their act and their stage presence. Like Nobunny. He makes good garage rock, but he wears a mask and people know him for that. I don’t have anything like that. I’m Mexican and I’m young? I don’t market that though, I don’t rock maracas in my socks and have a mustache.
It’s definitely humbling to interview a musician that makes something genuine instead of marketing an image.
I believe the more oblivious I am in a sense, the better off I’ll be. A lot of what stemmed my music has been insecurity and from convincing myself that everything’s going to turn out the way that I imagine it. Whenever I talked to friends about my problems, the phrase that kept on resurfacing was “I’m sure it’s going to work out.” The whole production of the album, I would send samples to my friends. There’s no second party to critique my album since I do it all myself, save for the feedback from good friends. I would feel terrible about it, and it’s either because I listened to it so many times or because it was about something unpleasant. But that phrase kept coming back. “I’m sure.” It became such a repetitive phrase, almost therapeutic. That’s why the album is called I’m Sure. Although I constantly feel that I’m fucking up in an industry that has no rules.
True. The music world doesn’t seem to operate on real time.
There are no hinges to it. It’s crazy. This all started because I got picked up by blogs. I wasn’t trying to get it out to people or anything. It was for my friends and for me. But then I started to work more on production and it caught on.
What equipment do you use? You mentioned you don’t have a laptop.
Most people use Macs for artistic endeavors. I use ProTools and the desktop that I built. I was very nerdy in high school — well, am still very nerdy. I built my computer so that it could run a studio. I’m an effects nut, I try and make it as organic as possible. I only use three pedals — a Line 6 DL4 Delay, the best pedal in the world. Also an RV-5, for reverb. That’s the one I use the most. I keep it on “modulate” because it sounds very summery. I recorded half of I’m Sure on a really shitty Washburn with barely input levels, but I love the way it sounds. Whenever I go to a show, I get so intimidated — I don’t see myself spending so much time and money on pedals at this point. If there’s anything I like about music, though, it’s mastering.
What albums do you always find yourself going back to?
Yellow House by Grizzly Bear. Daniel Rosen has such a recognizable voice, and I love the vocal arrangements on that. Amnesiac too. “Knives Out” is one of my favorite songs ever. I’m also a huge ambient fan, particularly Ceiling Songs by Ethan Rose. I got to collaborate with him once and it was intense. Tim Hecker breaks my heart. Harmony in Ultraviolet is the soundtrack of emotion.
Alright. What about albums you admit you borrow from?
Darklands, The Jesus and Mary Chain. Anything by The Cure. My friend and I opened for Japanther once, that was our first big show. Someone told us that we sounded like The Cure there and we weren’t going for that at all consciously. But it makes sense.
Check out the premiere for “Lakelove” below, as well as Twin Cabins’ debut.