Who: Washed Out is the one-man dream-pop project from Ernest Greene, a 26-year-old Southerner who lives in the low-key town of Perry, Georgia. “It’s as rural as you can get,” says Greene. “Not much goes on around here.”
Sounds Like: Greene crafts impossibly gorgeous pop that mixes up woozy synthesizers, droney shoegaze textures and funky, sometimes danceable beats. Greene has only released one 12-inch and a cassette on small independent labels but he’s already getting solid buzz in the music blogosphere, thanks to killer tunes like “You’ll See It,” which evokes French synth-pop group M83 and “Feel It All Around,” which features soaring, angelic vocal chorales. (Cool fact: Hüsker Dü’s Bob Mould is a big fan and was spinning Washed Out tracks during his DJ set at this year’s All Tomorrow’s Parties festival).
For the most part, it’s almost impossible to understand what Greene is singing about — and that’s just the way he likes it. “I’m getting more confident in putting my vocals up front,” he says. “Maybe in the future you’ll be able to understand what I’m saying. I’m going more for an atmospheric vibe in my songs. And I really don’t want to ruin the illusions people may create for themselves.”
• Like so many recent college grads facing a tough economy, Greene’s job prospects were pretty discouraging since he scored his degree from the University of Georgia. Now, he currently lives at home with his folks. “I was totally stuck,” he says of graduating from school. To escape his dim prospects, he crafted comforting tunes like “You’ll See It,” which, Greene admits, “helped me feel my way through the high times and the low times, and to serve as a reminder to myself that everything would be OK.”
• In college, Greene honed his songwriting talents while messing around with friends in a more rock and hip-hop-oriented band, taking cues specifically from the crunk rap scene in nearby Atlanta. But soon Greene decided to break out on his own. “When I play with friends, it’s always about compromise,” he says. “I don’t really write all that well with others.”
• Greene is an amateur photographer and he shows off his skills on his artful blog. The pictures chronicle what Greene did over the summer, hanging out on the beach with his nephew, biking around town with his fiancé or partying late nights with pals. “I was just looking through all these pictures I took the other day and most of them are pictures of me at the beach or hanging out at this river nearby,” says Greene. “There’s this great river that flows through the middle of Columbia, South Carolina and on the weekends me and my friends grab inner-tubes for like five bucks at the Walmart and some beers and go tubing. When the weather’s really nice, that’s all we do.”
Get It Now: Check out footage of “Feel It All Around” above, care of Fiction TV.