Interview: Field Mouse

Field Mouse
Credit: © Shervin Lainez

Brooklyn Band Field Mouse recently wrapped up a successful Kickstarter campaign to fund the recording of their debut album. We caught up with singer/guitarist Rachel Browne about crowdsourcing, the band’s evolution, and the Brooklyn scene.

GP: Congratulations on raising more than $15,000 through Kickstarter (on an $8,500 campaign) to fund your upcoming record! Did you expect the campaign to be so successful?

Rachel: Thank you! We really hoped to meet the goal, which we decided to set because it was sort of all or nothing with studio time. We really broke down the budget into pieces and got that number. The overfunding is part actual and (as far as I can tell so far) part false. We got a very high donation from a total stranger, and the card was (unsurprisingly) declined. So we are sort of much closer to our original goal than it looks, but thrilled nonetheless! We are completely overwhelmed by the actualization of the goal–it’s humbling and so moving.

GP: You’ve said that Field Mouse still hopes to release the record on a label, but that the campaign was needed in the absence of an advance from one. Do you think crowdsourced fundraising for albums is a sustainable replacement for record label advances? 

Rachel: That’s a really good question. I don’t know the answer to that yet. I started noticing a few years ago that artists that had previously been on labels starting using crowdsourcing sites as a way to fund their new music. Juliana Hatfield is a great example. She’s on her third Pledge Music campaign! I think for now it works for some people, but there’s so much uncertainty from all sides of the music industry that no one really knows where things are headed. I know I don’t need to get into it because it’s so widely discussed, but of course making money off of recorded music has become extremely difficult and labels are way more hesitant to give advances that they aren’t positive they can recoup. So everyone is just finding ways to work around all this transitional stuff. It’s hard.

GP: Agreed. So Field Mouse released its debut album in 2010, but you’ve said that it was essentially a Rachel Browne solo project, and that the upcoming record will be your “first real album as Field Mouse.” Who’s in the current lineup, and how did it come together?

Rachel: Yeah. I spent more than a year recording those songs right after college, and by the time it came out I had formed Field Mouse, but the songs ended up being totally stuck in the time where I was playing under my name. The lineup is myself, Andrew Futral, Saysha Heinzman and Geoff Lewit. Andrew and I have been playing, writing and recording together since the beginning and have had a bunch of different friends play on rhythm section. Saysha and Geoff are both friends and it’s really awesome playing as a band. We went on a six week tour together in April/May and we made it out still liking each other.

GP: Field Mouse songs have a distinct and also very layered sound. What goes into the writing and production of a Field Mouse song? And has your writing process changed at all with the current rhythm section in place?

Rachel: I’ll usually write the skeleton of a song on acoustic guitar to make sure that it is a listenable song without anything layered on top. We work on it with different sounds and add things in practice or in GarageBand/ProTools on demos until the song gets fleshed out. Sometimes Andrew will come up with an idea and demo it and send it to me, with some production ideas already in motion. Sometimes those stick and build, sometimes we start over. The writing process has only changed in that we work the rhythm parts out together instead of writing them on our own. It’s way more fun to do things together.

GP: Is there any particular segment of the Brooklyn scene or group of bands that you consider yourselves to be a part of?

Rachel: Not really. We play with all kinds of bands and go to all kinds of shows. I try to think of music in Brooklyn as a big community instead of splitting it up into pieces. I know that isn’t always how it feels, but I think it’s more positive and productive to try.

GP: Agreed. Are there any local bands whose music you love that you’d like to mention?

Rachel: YES. Laura Stevenson, Lost Boy ?, Widowspeak, Cymbals Eat Guitars, Lucius, Grooms, Wojcik, Infinity Hotel, Swearin’ even though they moved to Philly…

GP: Is there anything besides your record that we should look out for from Field Mouse in the coming months?

Rachel: Record first, I hope! But we’re hoping to tour again soon and working on that as well. Otherwise, just a lot of local shows, as usual!

Field Mouse plays Cake Shop on Friday, August 16.

About Kiri Oliver

Kiri is a writer, musician, music booker and proud native Brooklynite.

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