Patrick Bower’s music will transport you to a completely intimate space where his deep voice involves all emotional shades of his soul. His new album Pink Room is an amalgamate of textures and nuances, composed of eleven songs only available online, and produced at his own studio in Brooklyn.
Bower has been defined as a cosmic crooner; it is provably because his sound would come from outer space. However, his lyrics relate to his everyday life, the loneliness of a struggling man. His bittersweet music can narrate a “whole new world” where love and death are some of the most present subjects behind his lyrics. (Moreover, he told me that when he was a child he taught himself to sing "A Whole New World" from the Aladdin Soundtrack.)
In Pink Room, his soft but seductive voice makes us wonder about his lyrics; repetitions work like a mantra that remind me of the repetitive beats of the krautrock band Amoon Duul on his album Phallus Dai. Nonetheless, one of Bower's favorite musicians does not come from the experimental scene, but from pop—Harry Nilsson. Bower occasionally hosts a tribute show for Nilsson at his home, where he invites many friends to play 1 or 2 of his songs and celebrate his life.
A: What's your favorite Harry Nilsson song?
P: It's very difficult to choose a favorite Harry Nilsson song, but in a pinch, I’d probably go with "Without Her." His music can be silly and humorous on the surface, but it's very rich and soulful at its heart. He's able to transmit deep pain, conflict, and struggle almost entirely through his unique voice, which in my opinion is incomparable.
A: On your website you mention that you've been compared to Scott Walker, is that right?
P: I love Scott Walker, but I don't know why people compare me to him. I'm certainly not worthy. Maybe it's because I sing in a deep timbre sometimes.
A. What kind of instruments do you play with? Are you interested in new experimental sounds?
P: I'm mainly a guitar player, but I compose for many instruments. As a producer, I'm always looking for new sounds. I find a lot of inspiration in the recorded tones of Talk Talk, Harry Partch, and Moondog. But my songs are essentially pop songs. The more experimental elements are submerged and in the service of the song. It's all in there, somewhere.
A: How do you compose? What's the inspiration for your lyrics?
P: I write songs early in the morning, in my studio, over coffee. I have to get up earlier than my judgmental mind to find a moment of freedom to enable a creative flow. Otherwise, there's too much noise in my brain. It chokes out the music. That's why musicians do drugs. I don't do drugs, so I get up early in the morning.
A: Do you like literature? What would be your favorite author? And how does it influence to you?
P: I studied English and Classical Literature in school, and literature continues to have a profound effect on my writing process. For example, I've always admired the way John Donne was able to blend our abstract spiritual yearning, our sense of god, with a human, corporeal yearning. He has had a huge impact on the way I write. "Death Dream" for instance is very indebted to Donne in the way it uses erotic imagery to describe spiritual malaise.
A: The Pink Room album started with the song "The End." Is there a meaning behind starting with this song?
P: I did start Pink Room with "The End" for a reason. It can either be read as a suicide note or an exhortation to break free of whatever is holding you back and just LIVE. I wanted that statement to set the tone for the whole record. Because that's what Pink Room is really about, deciding whether or not—and how—to live.
A. How long did it take you to record Pink Room? You said that it was hard time for you—in what sense?
P: I wrote and recorded Pink Room over a six-month period. The actual songs were in place much sooner, but the process of arranging and finding the right sounds took much longer. At the time, my mental health had deteriorated to the point where I wasn't sure how I could go on. I had hit a wall, as they say, but the process of making the record propped me up.
A: Which other bands do you play with?
P: The only other band I sometimes play with is the Brooklyn supergroup Neckbeard Telecaster. I sing in the choir.
A: You also have a band named Patrick Bower and The World without Magic. Why did you record Pink Room on your own?
P: "The World Without Magic" was my band before I went "solo." Over the years, I have added it to my name at times when the musicians who were helping me became a proper "band" and were not just there as support. But it's hard to keep a group together, and the members have changed a lot over time. I returned to my name for Pink Room because I felt like it was a more personal statement. However, I couldn't have done it without my immensely talented friends. They really do work magic.
A: The video, "The World without Magic" was recordered in Pete's Candy Store, right? I think I recognized it.
P: Yes, the video for "The World without Magic" was shot in Pete's Candy Store. I love that place. By the way, the video was directed by Eliza Hittman, who has since become a star in her own right with her movie It Felt Like Love, which is tearing up the film festivals.
A: How many home-recordings do you have?
P: I've produced and recorded all of my records for the past eight years or so. Why? Because I can't afford studio time. Over the years, I’ve come to enjoy the process, and I've begun to produce records for others in my home studio.
A: With the song "Jandek Spoke," are you referring to Jandek the musician? Is it a reference to his music or his hidden identity?
P: "Jandek Spoke" chronicles the night that I broke up with a girlfriend, years ago now. We had a fight before a Jandek concert on the Lower East Side, and we ended up sitting apart during the show. I was incredibly moved by his performance, really overcome. It also stirred some resolve within me, and I was able to break up with her after the concert. It happened in the subway station at Delancey Street.
A: Speaking of subterranean spaces, I can't stop laughing when I remember that you believe in an ant deity that rules the world. Why do you believe in that? Is that a kind of Nihilism?
P: Ants! It sounds funny, I know. But maybe it's not so far-fetched? Maybe there's a queen at the center of the world from whom we have all descended. Maybe she fell from another planet and has spun matter around her to make up our Earth. Maybe we are all her worker ants and when we die, we return to the mother to sustain the creation of new beings? Uncle Milton was a prophet of the Queen. He proselytized with his Ant Farms, which brought these sacred beings into millions of homes in the 40s and 50s until today. I quote Uncle Milton:
"SEE THE LIVE ANTS: