Adult Fur's 'I Am Dream' ft. Sacha Bernardson: A 'Nebulous Sparkles Party'
Ryan McNeely does a mean Kate Bush impression. Although still a bit manly, his falsetto is bold as he tries to match her vocals on "Running Up That Hill," which he does six minutes into our interview.
Photo courtesy of Ryan McNeely
In general, the local experimental musician, who makes music as Adult Fur, is more likely to smash the fucking box than just step outside of it. McNeely's most recent project, a two-part series of EPs that are quickly becoming more like full-sized albums, finds him part of an overseas collaboration with French artist Sacha Bernardson on the emotionally reeling new track "I Am Dream." It also finds him thinking -- a lot -- about topics that range in span from generational ennui (he's got it) to weapons of mass destruction (a different problem altogether). The dude has a lot to say, which makes his search for interesting ways to say it that much more worth listening to.
Kelsey Whipple: The first EP, Adult Fur Part 1, came out in April. How have you managed to close in on the next so quickly?
Ryan McNeely: It's been a lot of work. A lot of the tracks I planned on releasing when I finished the first part ended up falling through because of collaborations not working out or schedules not working, and I started working on a lot of new songs randomly very recently. The second part is actually going to be ten songs, which means it's not actually an EP, but I'm OK with that. I didn't want to just sit on the songs. I want people to listen to them and enjoy them. And also, as a live performer, if I'm only performing part one, I'm limited to under a half an hour. With seventeen songs, things are not as restricted and I actually have options at my shows.
How did your relationship with Sacha begin?
I found Sacha on MySpace in 2004 and contacted him immediately because I was in love with the music he was doing then. He returned the compliment, and we have been great online friends since then. He actually approached me on Facebook about a month ago to sing on one of his songs called "Carelesness," and I don't even know if I even ended up on the recording because he said what I sent him was too complex. I was supposed to sing in unison with other people he had recorded in France, so I was supposed to record my part and send it to him. But I misunderstood him and sent him a copy of myself singing in unison with 16 versions of myself. And I sent him three versions of that, so it ended up being me 48 times. He ended up writing a dedication to me on the on the liner notes, "Thanks to Ryan McNeely."
For this project, he sent me his lyrics, and I sent him mine. We talked things out through video chat, and it came out really nicely. It's kind of in broken English, but I kind of like that. We want to do another song together because we liked this one, and he suggested we do a cover. So we're going to do "Wuthering Heights" by Kate Bush. He's really into the autoharp and wants to play each note. We can sing pretty high, I promise you, so it should work out with the falsetto parts.
What are the lyrics of "I Am Dream" about?
The chorus is, "Eyes on the sidewalk and presently they're bleeding / I'll drink the rain, tonight I am dream." That whole thing is more or less - god, I don't know - my response to the overload of everyone's self-projection on social media. It's so strange because you have two versions of the person, the online persona and the real person you're talking to, so it's almost like that online part is a dream. It's weird that we can't have these real personal communications with each other because there's this digital facade. It seems like as a generation we all are lost. I'm going to school for the second time right now because my first degree, music composition, meant nothing. People want things to be green while they're absolutely hellbent on creating weapons of mass destruction to protect the world in a way that creates chemicals and environmental issues that just kill the earth in a different way. It's this horrible paradox that everyone just to readily accepts. I don't know if anyone will get that from this song, but that's what my part is about. It feels like I'm part of this generation that is just lost.