Michael Potter's psych-rock trip
The Electric Nature mastermind breaks new ground with 'Garden Portal Almanac'
Prolific and relatively unsung songwriter and producer Michael Potter has been creating seemingly endless soundscapes of psych-rock, drone, noise and experimental music out of Athens, Georgia since the mid-1990s. Under his own name, through various collaborations, and as the Electric Nature, Potter continuously explores the realms of transformation in his music, while also operating a cassette label called \\NULL. With more than a dozen Electric Nature releases to date, Potter recently unveiled his latest six-song offering, Garden Portal Almanac, out June 9 via Brooklyn-based Already Dead Tapes and Records. The new album marks a departure from Potter's previous work while maintaining an experimental course as he branches out into unfamiliar terrain.
Garden Portal Almanac is electrifying in its vitality with a languid pace, that's both melancholy and anthemic. Before making his way to Atlanta to perform at 529, Potter took a few minutes to talk about the new album, releasing music under his own name, and how it all came together.
How did Garden Portal Almanac come about?
In 2012, I became roommates and started making music with Josh Lamar of the band KR'RTH. Over the next couple of years we wrote and recorded the music that ended up on Garden Portal Almanac.
I got to messing around with the tracks we recorded late last year and got them to a place I liked. My friend Jeff Tobias (Sunwatchers, Dark Meat) did some long-distance sax recording for me, and Tristan Whitehill (Euglossine, Squiggle Dot) mastered the tracks. Since the Electric Nature is such a different beast at this point, I decided to release it under my own name, as an album of songs. Already Dead Tapes out of Brooklyn said they wanted to release it, so here we are. The title Garden Portal Almanac goes back to those early lost tapes I recorded back in the day. That was the title of the first album I recorded on 4- Track, made a few cassette copies and gave them away to friends. I've always liked that title and wanted to use it again for a proper release. This felt like the right one.
Is collaboration important to you? Or do you thrive more when working solo?
You know, I really love both collaboration and solo work equally. There is something that collaborating brings out of you as an artist that working alone won't. Conversely, there are things that are much easier and more fluid to do on your own than with others. The band I am playing with currently Patrick Ware (ex-Savagist, the Dumps) and Michael Lauden (Future Ape Tapes, Material World) who'll be with me at the 529 show is kind of right where I want to be. We started with some basic, open-ended song forms that I've been working on for the past couple years. So open that it's easy to flow into improvisation, let songs change and stretch out and evolve as we play. This is really the most exciting way for me to work.
Do you find yourself driven by boundless creativity and inspiration, or do you have to wait for it to strike?
I do not have boundless creativity, not hardly. I'll sometimes go weeks, even months at a time where I don't want to think about music or art or being creative whatsoever. I struggle with depression and social anxiety, and sometimes these issues won't allow me to be creative in any way. But then I can throw myself into reading books, obsessively watching movies or television programs, or some other mind-occupying task for a time. I still look up to the folks I did when I first got into weird music and art, mostly Jim O'Rourke and David Lynch. Everything those guys do is perfect for me. Artistic, creative inspiration can strike at a moment's notice, but it doesn't like to be forced. I spent many frustrating years trying to create when the feeling wasn't there, and it would always end with me being more upset than I was when I started. I think sometimes the mind needs to just take things in, soak it all up for awhile. It'll come back out later.