What simply began as a creative collaboration between songwriter Aaron Mendelsohn and producer Ariel Loh has grown into a bi-coastal project that has faced many hardships, but Drinker is definitely here to stay. Bonded by their shared love of Fever Ray, Bon Iver, and James Blake, Mendelsohn and Loh formed Drinker in 2016 and released their tranquil debut EP, Happy Accident, the following year. Drinker's eclectic sound is an enticing fusion of downcast electronics and haunting vocals, as showcased in their thoughtful new single, "Holiday."
A serene minimalistic-pop track about reorientation and rejuvenation, "Holiday" was written by Mendelsohn when he moved to Los Angeles a few years ago. With this sudden relocation came Drinker's uncertain future, so they hastily recorded the basis of the song while Loh had been visiting the west coast.
Ironic to the lyric, "I don't wanna work/ don't wanna start a project I'm on holiday," this troublesome song assured Drinker that they can continue their musical journey together from opposite sides of the country. Mendelsohn spoke on "Holiday," exclusively sharing with Ones To Watch,
"'Holiday' was the first song I wrote after leaving New York. It's a song about the early steps of that transition. I think I was somewhere between denial and acceptance at the time this one came through. We recorded a quick demo of it on Ariel's visit to Los Angeles in Feburary 2017 and finished over the course of several months of sporadic visits to the other coasts. It felt good to be taking our time; this process would inform our method for how the rest of our album came together."
We had the pleasure to sit with Drinker and discuss "Holiday," premiering here today, as well as their forthcoming album Fragments, which is due out May 3.
OTW: You two have been making music together as Drinker since 2016. How did you meet?
Drinker: We had known each other for years through the Brooklyn music scene in bands we used to play in. We reconnected in 2016 when I was writing new songs and wanting to start something new.
OTW: Drinker's innovative pop sound has been compared to the likes of Alt-J, Elliot Moss, and Beach Fossils. Who are your biggest musical influences?
Drinker: It's cool to see Elliot Moss on that list. We are big fans of his work and he did a really incredible remix for one of our early tracks, "Fake It." Drum feels are inspired by a few different projects, but we're both big fans of Ian Chang's drumming in Son Lux and his solo work. We also share a love for Fever Ray's work, The Acid, Douglas Dare, and many others.
OTW: Your debut album, Fragments is set for release in a few months… How does this make you feel?
Drinker: Relieved and excited. It's a reinvigorating feeling to see some of this stuff, which has been in the works for in some cases about two years, seeing the light of day. It feels really good to be able to stand behind all of it.
OTW: What message do you want listeners to take away from Fragments?
Drinker: The message at large is meant to be unknown but we hope people will derive individual meaning from the songs. The album conveys a sense of hope and at the same time acknowledges the lack of control over our lives. The fragments are the rare moments when in spite of the challenges we face we're motivated to understand what's happening. Each song on the album presents an aspect of this struggle and hopefully carries the cathartic feeling of reaching an understanding.
OTW: "Fragment II" seems to be a fan favorite off of Fragments. Are there any particular tracks on the new album that resonate with you more than the others?
Drinker: "Holiday" is honestly a really special one for us. It was the first one we wrote for the album.
OTW: Can you share a bit about the writing/recording process of this record?
Drinker: We created all these songs from our distance between New York and Los Angeles. It was a combination of different processes: Aaron would write melodies and lyrics of Ariel's instrumentals; some we worked on together from start to finish, and some were songs Aaron provided that Ariel worked on in New York.
OTW: Since Drinker has been operating from opposite coasts, what obstacles have you experienced in your creative process?
Drinker: There was definitely some struggle to get together and work as much as we'd like. But it's probably been smoother than we could have expected. We tried not to rush anything to the finish line and throughout the process of amassing songs we were unsure what the final product would look like. Eventually, we realized we had what felt like a full album on our hands and were fortunate that B3SCI Records wanted to get involved with putting it out.
OTW: Who are your Ones To Watch?
Drinker: Adam Melchor, Henry Nowhere, Misty Mtn, and Ider.