The “Proximity” of it all
STORY AND PHOTO BY KEEGAN PROSSER
Patrick John White, 24, has no intention of being the next big thing. In fact, he’s perfectly content making music in the comfort of his own home. And he could really give a damn if anyone else hears it. Music is his escape from the busyness of every day life, and he wants to keep it that way.
“I think people make the best kind of music – and the best kind of art – when they are being torn between their personal life,” White says. “Like doing an actual substantial job versus just being paid butt loads of money to do music.”
That’s why White spends his work days doing other things he’s passionate about. He teaches English at a refugee office in Seattle and helps with business development of new refugees. He also works as a youth worker for the city of Redmond, and helps run an after hours teen program, where teens come to get help with homework, physical activity and nutrition.
Born in Chicago, White moved to the Eastside when he was 15. He’d always had a love for music, and while he had friends that spent a lot of their time playing shows at the Old Redmond Firehouse during high school, he was more reserved about his hobby.
“It was never my intention to go out and play like big bar shows and find some sort of label or something,” White says.
Recording under the moniker Legato Bebop, White already has a couple of releases under his belt: the Jargon LP (April 2012) and an EP called Proximity (November 2012) – as well as a handful of single releases. He says making music came about as a result of experimenting with stuff on his own time; when his friends started to hear what he was creating, they suggested he take it to the next level.
The name “Legato Bebop” was originally inspired by anime.
“When I was a kid, something about anime spoke to me,” White says. “I’m not huge into it anymore.”
As White explains, “Legato” came from the “Legato Blue Summers” made famous in the anime series called Trigon; “Bebop” came from another anime called Cowboy Bebop. On a more literal level, “Legato” – in musical notation – means “tied together” and Bebop means “nonsense.” When considering White’s music – a series of spooky, atmospheric electro-rock tracks built on beats and guitar loops – the name makes a lot of sense.
“I’ve always liked that dichotomy of happiness and pain,” say White about the trip-y, sometimes dark nature of his tunes.
As far as inspiration goes, White says he is currently listening to a lot of underground electronic artists, among them Aerial and Oneohtrix Point Never. He also cites Animal Collective, and their newest release, Centipede Hz, as a huge inspiration.
“Those guys are doing, and are continuing to do something that not that many people can even touch. That’s pretty insane.”
On a more personal level, White explains Jargon was inspired by his work with refugees.
“Jargon was about coming to a different place and re-settling and dealing with barriers, and how that can dictate harsh realities.”
For the most part, White’s music is instrumental – with sparse vocals creeping throughout. However, White says, he is making a conscience effort to incorporate more vocal elements.
While he was not impressed with the vocals he laid down on Jargon, he’s made them more of a focus on his newest release, Proximity.
“For me, I don’t need them, but I appreciate when people do them in a good way.”
He likes to do vocals because he thinks it enables people to connect more strongly with the music. It also challenges him to find interesting ways to place them.
All aspects of White’s sound are created by him alone, even in a live setting. He does it all in real time because he doesn’t want to be dependent on the studio to fill out his sound live.
“That’s the whole gimmick,” White says. “That I don’t have to have a supporting cast of people to fill out sound.”
He says he likes having to work within confines – and figuring out how to play the music with instruments and tools within hands reach. He says he could manipulate things digitally but that would make it too easy.
“I think it’s great that everyone can make music these days and not just pretentious musicians who spend years and years honing a craft,” White says.
However, he likes the difficulties that come with having to recreate all of the sounds himself.
For Proximity, White addresses his struggle to be social – and the realization that proximity dictates every aspect of our lives.
“In relationships, it’s a big theme in my life,” White says.
A self proclaimed introvert, White says he is notorious for not leaving his apartment unless he absolutely has to. He also finds that performing in front of a lot of people stresses him out.
And while White’s not concerned about making the music thing a “full-time” gig, he says he’s open-minded.
“If someone wants to give me money to play music across the country, I’m not gonna say no,” White says. “But I’m perfectly fine working my day jobs and doing what I want at night.”
You can find White’s music at HERE.