Interview: Cloud Nothings

Cloud Nothings - Photo courtesy of Cloud Nothings

Cloud Nothings – Photo courtesy of Cloud Nothings

When Dylan Baldi began attending university, he was a music major. Almost immediately, one of his first major realizations was that music could get him where he wanted to be, but also that the kind of music he was doing – playing the saxophone – wasn’t exactly the thing that would get him there.

So after toughing out the entire first semester – something he did more to placate his suburban Ohio upbringing than out of a personal desire – he quit in the second semester and started working on putting his solo music out. Thus, his solo-project-turned-band, Cloud Nothings, transformed from an outlet to a full-time career.

Initially, Baldi opted for sharing his music via the Internet as opposed to the more traditional routes in the music industry, something that he feels gave him a greater edge over other musicians who are still waiting to be “discovered.”

“[But] I would [also] like to think it’s ’cause the songs are good,” he said, shrugging his shoulders.

Shortly after, the music caught the attention of a handful of independent labels, and before he knew it, Baldi’s songs were being released. Fast forward to today and he can now lay claim to three albums – 2010’s “Turning On,” 2011’s “Cloud Nothings,” and this year’s “Attack on Memory” – and a few 7” singles and splits.

The newest album was released on Jan. 24, exactly a year after the Jan. 25 release of the self-titled album the year prior. Appropriately, both albums stirred up plenty of praise, but also criticism, the latter for being too uniform and the former for being too much of a departure from the Cloud Nothings sound. Interestingly enough, these attacks on the albums only help reinforce the message that bands can never completely please everyone.

Regardless of the somewhat mixed reactions, Baldi said he doesn’t mind because that’s not the important thing to him. In fact, the best part of it all is that he’s actually writing music and touring the country to play it for other people.

“To do this suddenly is kind of what I’ve always wanted to be doing, and just, like, dreamt about doing, you know,” he explained. “I never thought it would be like, a real thing…so it’s been pretty unreal.”

Of course, playing live required Baldi to take on a live band, and in the space of the last year, band members TJ Duke, Jayson Gerycz and Joe Boyer transitioned into being full-time members, something which inevitabley had an influence on the direction of “Attack on Memory.”

Whereas before, the songwriting process and the music remained distinctly unchanged, for some, Cloud Nothings sounds like an entirely new band. And while the sound of “Attack on Memory” is darker and far less fuzz-pop-infused than its predecessors, this new direction brings up the question of how the old songs will fit in when played alongside the new ones – a question which can only be answered by witnessing it oneself.

Meanwhile, as with most musicians, the cycle of putting out an album and then touring seems to be a bit of a double-edged sword for Baldi, who enjoys returning home almost as much as he does being on the road.

“[But] touring kind of gets hard,” he said. “[It’s] actually a ton of work.”

He dispelled the stereotype of the slacker musician, explaining that touring not only requires the band to be excited about playing to a new crowd in a different city every night, but often involves the less fun aspects, such as sitting in a van and driving for 10 hours.

As for his 10-year plan, Baldi said that he doesn’t have one mapped out. He may still be playing music, or he may be doing something entirely different – it doesn’t matter. What does matter to him is that he’s following his gut, which is what set him down this path in the first place.

“I just want to be doing what makes me happy,” he said. “Whatever that is.”

Cloud Nothings plays tonight at Magnet Club in Berlin. The show begins at 21.00.

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