Porches is Aaron Maine, a New York City transplant by way of Westchester. The songwriter lives with his musician girlfriend, Greta Kline (aka Frankie Cosmos), and each contributes to the other’s musical projects. Last February, Kline featured on some of Porches’ acclaimed release, Pool. The record scored a Best New Music rating on Pitchfork and catapulted Maine into the modest strata of lo-fi indie A-listers.
Sonically, Pool is subaqueous and smooth, fittingly commenced with the glimmering slow-burner, “Underwater.” The polished new wave sound, a transition from Maine’s erstwhile “bummer pop,” is highlighted by Maine’s vulnerable vocal. The tenderness seeps through the fluid textures and belies his waggish stage persona. As it turns out, there are many shades to Maine’s character; he’s taken a page out of Bowie’s formidable tome and written music for alter egos like Sex God, Ronnie Mystery, and Ronald Paris (pronounced Par-eeh).
We caught Maine’s act on display earlier this year at Music Hall of Williamsburg, and, via email, he talked with us about Bowie, shifting into a new sound, and the dynamics of sharing a creative space with a romantic partner.
Regarding your experience in coming to New York, you’ve said: “I was forced to see my music in an entirely different context” and you worked on songs until they “started to sound like a true reflection of what I was feeling in my new surroundings.” Can you talk about what those feelings were? And how they began translating into sound? Was that shift to NYC energy directly related to the recent shift in your sound?
I just felt excited to be there. I felt small. I felt fresh and wide-eyed. I was exposed to a lot of new things. My taste was changing and therefore I needed my music to change too.
You’ve described this new, more polished, new wave sound as being less “bummer pop” than your past music—is that a product of being happier? Or simply a byproduct of the change in musical style?
I think it’s a product of getting a little bit older. I think I can understand my emotions better and have a clearer perspective on what I want my music to sound like.
You’ve talked about admiring Bowie because he could shift between his personas and people would trust him and follow him wherever he led, up until the end. And you’ve used Ronald Paris in a similar way that Bowie used his personas, as a means of opening up so you could create art that’s slightly outside of yourself. Have you considered birthing any new personas, as Bowie eventually did several times?
Always thinking about ways to reinvent. I’m sure there will be more incarnations of myself.
Which of Bowie’s personas does Ronald Paris most resemble and why?
I love the freak that Ziggy is.
The creation of Pool was a really long, gradual process, with drum machines and guitars slowly getting layered with synthesizers. Is that process indicative of you figuring out what works best for you as a producer/composer? Has that approach become your songwriting “formula”? And if not, what is your process today?
There still isn’t much of a formula. Often I’ll start the day by writing in my notebook for like an hour or until I feel like I have a few good lines. And then I’ll just sing them over and over on guitar or piano until I have some sort of melody and take it from there.
How much of your creative process overlaps with Greta’s, and how much of it is kept to yourself? Is it difficult to keep them separate and/or find your own creative space?
We never really collaborate during the writing process, beyond showing each other what we’ve been working on. It’s pretty easy/exciting to live with an artist I admire as much as her.
Who are some other New York musicians that you dig right now?
Blood orange, Princess Nokia, Ian Isiah
What’s on the horizon? What’s next for Porches?
Trying to keep it feeling special and freaky.
Original Photography for Frontrunner Magazine by Salvador Espinoza from Porches at Union Pool, Brooklyn, Brooklyn, NY 4/29/16. All Rights Reserved.