Taste Buds: Tim Lake

By Jacob Panzer | @jacobpanzer

Images by Abi Karl | @abi.karl


Hello,


My name is Jacob Panzer (he series) and I love making cool art with my friends.


A while ago I had the idea to talk with some of my creative friends about what makes them want to create art. Inspiration is something that can be deeply connected to someone’s creative vision, and I love learning about other people’s tastes.


Tim Lake has been one of my closest friends and collaborators since we met a few years ago. With the release of his new single and our video for it, I thought this would be a great opportunity to understand where his creativity comes from.


We had a (socially distant) discussion, and it was lovely:


Jacob Panzer:

So, I don’t really want this to be super formal, the idea was to just kind of ask you about what you do, and why you do it, and how you do it. Not that those things have to be answered in any specific way.

I guess my first question is, when did you start making music?


Tim Lake:

I started recording music in the middle of 2016, I was making post rock [under the name Suitcase Dracula]. I was basically trying to learn how to use Logic because my friend gave me this cracked version of it. I would just spend, I don’t know, any time in the PM until around 3AM. Like when it got too late and my roommate wanted to go to bed, I would take my laptop out to the lounge and keep going using my earbuds. Maybe that’s why it sounded so bad. I guess I’ve always just kinda been musical? It just felt good to put whatever feelings I had into the sounds of the instruments, which is how I started doing it because all that post rock for the most part didn’t have lyrics. It did right before I started Infinity Meter, which I guess was the cross over of me being like, “I can talk on these, I can say stuff.”


J:

So, Infinity Meter was the foray into electronic music. What was the uh- I know you always talk about that one guy what’s his name…


T:

I know you’re talking about blank body. [laughs]


J:

Yes. [laughs]

I know you always talked about blank body being a big influence for Infinity Meter, at least when it first started. How did that shape the sound, and what else shaped it? At least in the beginning.


T:

Well since electronic music was new to me, like making it, I was super interested in blank body after my friends from twitter had exposed me to him at some point. Again, it’s 2012-13, the primetime for vaporwave and I’m pretty sure he was going by the name “bine” at that point. And from there I would just discover these different labels putting out this music I’d never listened to before, and a lot of it was just super creative. I guess I wanted to try to make some creative electronic music too. So I gathered a lot of influences from those things. A lot of vaporwave, and a bunch of other microgenres that don’t specifically matter, it just kind of sounds good and I like it. And then there’s the larger genres, like drum n bass and house music where those would all bleed into all these things I was listening to. I think Infinity Meter is some amalgamation of all those things.



J:

I remember I was always into music like that, where you couldn’t assign a genre to it. When I first heard your stuff, I was like, confused. I didn’t know what to think. But then I listened to it more, over and over, and it was so- I don’t know, I had never heard anything like it, so I was intrigued. It also sounded like a lot of it was inspired by the internet.


T:

Yeah, especially with my earlier stuff, I wouldn’t call it plunderphonics, but I definitely reached over to that. Just using random sounds. Like I just sampled Jim Carrey screaming today, or another example is I sampled Tom Cruise grunting a bunch and I autotuned it. I was definitely always fascinated with taking these sounds that wouldn’t immediately grab you saying, “this would sound tight in a song,” and being able to make it sound tight in a song. To make that sound, whatever it is, like Donkey Kong or whatever, making them sound good in a song was so satisfying to me. And I think that’s kind of what propelled me. I was thinking “this is fun, this shouldn’t work, but I like it”.


J:

Also, when I first found your stuff, I saw that you had like two music videos. The “Falling Forever” one, and “I Wish.” I watched the one for “I Wish” and I was.. confused? [both laugh] Could you talk a little bit about how you started doing the visual side of it?


T:

I want to bring up the “Falling Forever” one because that was the first Infinity Meter song where I was like, “this is actually cool, I’d actually listen to this all the time.” At the time I probably just wanted to make a music video, but I definitely didn’t have the means to make one and I definitely didn’t have the confidence cause I just started making music. I was into this YouTube channel named ECKVAnet. It’s from one of the guys who made Marble Hornets, which was huge for me. In college I would just watch that show with my friend every night. We just went through it, we loved that shit. So I took footage from the ECKVAnet channel and chopped it up in iMovie. I just tried to align it with how the song felt. But the “I wish” video, I was in my parents’ office and I found a box and it had a green screen in it. I had about 40 minutes until I had to go to work, and so I just took it out of the box, there

was a bedframe in the basement and I just kinda threw it over the bedframe. And I mean if you watch the video, I did just kind of stand in front of it. [laughing] It wasn’t super inspired. After I did that, I tossed a clip from an Alan Resnick short in there, then just lions killing fucking animals. Probably just to be edgy. Whether or not it goes with the song, that’s probably why I did it.


J:

My roommate literally just asked me about Tim Lake yesterday; he needed clarification on who Tim Lake was, and I think that’s kind of the question that comes up the most.


T:

My first response is: Tim Lake is every member of Infinity Meter.

My second response is: I am Tim Lake


J:

Yeah, the “Lake” puns. They’re never gonna stop, right?


T:

No, never, I’m gonna keep finding them.


J:

Well, I guess we should talk about how we met. We can start at “Bleeding Inside”. I’m pretty sure that was the first time I went over to your apartment.


T:

Yeah, I think the first time we actually met we were in the backseat of your sister’s car because you came to Jacob’s apartment or something, and we were playing my first EP Big Electric. That’s the first time I remember meeting you, and I’m pretty sure the next time we hung out we shot the first part of that video in my apartment. With the fucking green screen things that we didn’t even use.


J:

I remember it was such a pain, because we had to clear out that side of your room and tack those green squares to the wall.


T:

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about making music videos with you, is no matter how easy it seems, it’s always a pain in some way – something is going to be fucking annoying. Of course, not taking away from the experience, but like… I didn’t really think all those glow sticks were going to fall off that easily, for example.

J:

Can you talk a little bit about the whole How We Got to Tim Lake experience/outcome?


T:

*cracks beer while simultaneously saying, * Hell yes,

this is the first time I’ve ever gotten to address this in any sort of formal way. To me, How We Got to Tim Lake is my first release. According to me. That’s sort of the “Tim Lake TimeLine,” so to speak. So, I made 3 out the 4 songs at the end of 2017, and made “Wasted” probably in January, started it at least. It was pretty much a different song up until winter settled in.

I think the most entertaining part of making Infinity Meter music is I just keep finding myself falling into these, almost like, motifs. And I just keep trying to fall deeper into them until I hit a spot where I’m good, or I wanna do something else. At that point I was just trying to push it as far as it could go.

Do you remember when we started making the videos?


J:

I think we started on “Deku” -or- no, it was “To Feel Young.” That must have been late November or early December.


T:

So, I’m gonna guess that was when I’d finished [the EP]. And I’ve definitely told you this before but making that EP and those videos was just the most rewarding thing I had ever done. Like, we had a cool song, we had Jake Panzer, we literally just kind of went for it for every single video and it just ended up looking so cool. That confidence boost was very needed at the time. Because let me tell you, 2017-2018 was a pretty dark period for me. So that was really cool to be able to try and make some good songs, and I was able to add on top of it with the help of a friend. It was just so fucking cool to see it all materialize. But like I didn’t know that was how I wanted it.


J:

Yeah, it’s always a crazy feeling making stuff, because it either is exactly how you picture it or it’s not, you know? And most of the times when it’s not, it’s so much more impactful. And regardless if you think it’s good or not, I think you always take more from those experiences. The wild part about that was I had never done a music video before, basically.


T:

I didn’t need to know. I just knew that you could make videos. I knew that you were good at making videos. Whenever I talk about making music videos with you, it’s almost like beside the point that—I don’t really think about our “credentials” because I already know we see eye to eye on stuff with literally no effort at all. I think that’s why our videos turn out the way they do.


J:

I remember that was so much fun. And it was such a weird time for me, too. It was the end of high school and I was going off to college and that was a whole thing.

Not limiting to How We Got to Tim Lake, what’s your favorite music video? Like out of all of them.


T:

I mean, it’s “…Or Something”. Like honestly it really is.


J:

Or Something felt the most like an actual production.


T:

Cause you actually got to plan something, other than me being like, “We’re going HERE.”


J:

I remember filming for “Wasted,” we were like.. “oh, there’s some power lines over there.”


T:

We had to walk up that hill that was way steeper than it looked because of the snow.


J:

And it was always fucking cold, it was always fucking freezing.

It’s weird though, because music videos… most of them, that’s all they are.


T:

It’s nice when a music video can have a narrative or whatever, but I mean, what’s wrong with looking at stuff that looks cool.


J:

My biggest goal with making the videos, is making them match the song. If the video doesn’t “look” like the song, to me it isn’t good.


T:

And I think that’s why your videos are so good, because you’re very good at doing that. As far as I’m concerned, sure some of our videos are better than the others but I think you never missed that chord, where it reflected the song in some way. And I agree with you, I think that’s what makes a good music video. Like, it could look cool, but if it doesn’t match the song then what’s the point? I think that’s what makes it art or creative or whatever, the ability to line up those different mediums in a way that makes sense to everybody. It’s accessible is what I mean. It just all falls into place for you, you don’t have to do anything.


J:

A lot experimentation. If I could summarize Infinity Meter, it’s experimentation. Just trying shit.


T:

Yeah, for sure. I think this is mostly due to getting better at the mechanics of producing and mixing, I’ve noticed this almost exponential decline where the y-axis is how much work I do and the x-axis is time spent. But I don’t necessarily think the creativity has changed at all.


J:

With a lot of the newer songs- I guess it’s been more of a gradual change, but I notice more now that your lyrics and songwriting/vocals are coming through a lot more. So, why do you think that is? Or how do you feel about that sound, or how it’s changing?


T:

I think there’s a lot of reasons as to why that’s come about, and I’m noticing these things too. I think there’s probably like 2 or 3 main reasons. One being, right now, I’m definitely trying to make songs that are catchy and you could listen to them over and over again. That’s one reasons the vocals are starting to come through more, and why the lyrics have expanded in a way. Another reason is I just got better at mixing. So, A) you can hear my lyrics better and B) I have more of an excuse to add more lyrics. A third reason… I don’t know, I like my music, and I’ve been liking it more as time goes on, so I’ve gotten more confidence in recording vocals, writing lyrics and hooks and stuff. I honestly think I’m still pretty inexperienced at that, so I’ll probably just get better in the future. But I think what I got going on right now is pretty good too.



J:

Right now, at least, what are the things you’re listening to and watching? What’s going through the old noggin, getting you inspired?


T:

I have a few phases, where I’m either making music, or I’m mostly listening to music, or I’m mostly playing video games, or mostly watching movies or TV shows. For the past few months, I’ve been in this state of constantly making music. Honestly, making a song and then listening to it, making another song and then listening to that, and making another song and start hearing it all turn into a bigger project- that in itself is pretty inspiring to me. It’s very rewarding. But that’s not to discount those other phases, like I just got into Steely Dan believe it or not. Shout out to Jesse, she let me know which album I should listen to cause it kinda turned into a meme recently. And of course, I know Steely Dan, they’re on all the corporate America work playlists across the states… but, Aja? That album is so fucking good. I just started listening to it a few days ago. It really got my feelings going. Like they wrote the shit out of this thing! I didn’t know their “deal” before my friend explained to me that they were a couple old jazz musicians who got a number of different bands to record each song and then they took the best take, and they also were very talented producers. And that’s just so much of a bigger scope than me just at my laptop being like “oh that loop sounds good, I’m gonna add another one”. As for video games, I feel like a lot of the video games I like have a good soundtrack or it interacts with the game well. I didn’t mention youtube. That’s just to waste time. I would like to think while all those phases are happening, I’m still building on the “making music” part, even

with school. I do think since I’m in a statistics program, my skills in math definitely help me in music. I see it, it doesn’t really matter if anyone else sees it. I think it’s cool.


J:

Running out of brain juice here. If you want, you can talk about the new album and what you’re excited about.


T:

Hell yes, let’s fucking go. Without a doubt, I think this is the best project I’ve ever made. It was very exciting making this album. I recorded the bulk, 6.5-7, of these tracks in August, but for the past year and a half I really wasn’t making much music at all. For “An Infinite Lake” I was making some stuff here and there, and I still love that album too. I think from like October to January I didn’t make anything, and in January I made the first song on the album, and then nothing until August. I wrote every single song all in the matter of 23 days, and I think they’re all very cool, very good, I’m doing the Donald Trump hand motions right now. I dunno, every song has its own sound, I think every song is catchy, I think every song has its own draw. I dunno I kinda just went off. It’s go-off season.


J:

I would agree. I mean obviously, I’ve heard it. That’s what I noticed. I remembered every song, so when I listened to it again, I was like “oh, it’s this one.” They’re all very distinct pockets of the album.


T:

I think that’s kind of getting near to what I want to do when I make an album. I want to have an experience that you can start it and just listen through, cause that sort of thing is important to me. Also, I recognize that not everyone wants to sit through a 45-60-minute album. So, I kind of just decided there needs to be some beginning of the feeling for an album, and then it has to advance and resolve at some point. Once that happens in my mind, then that’s when the album’s done. I think I’ll leave it at that


J:

I don’t have much else. I’m excited. That’s all I can say. For this album, and whatever comes out after this one. I think the coolest thing about your music to me is that I do know you and I am close to you, so when I hear the music and associating with—like, I know that just came straight out of your brain.


T:

And I’m glad it is that way. Because I can’t really know what that feels like for you, but I’m glad it feels that way. That’s how I want it. I think my music is genuine, and I think that’s a super important part of music. That’s why it feels good to make, I guess. I’m excited to Sink Down deeper. If you know what I mean.



I’m very lucky to have a friend as good as Tim, and I hope the stuff we make is as fun to watch and listen to as it is to make.


His new album Sinking Down into the Lake comes out on December 18th.

Listen to Infinity Meter here. Watch the music video for “…Or Something” here.


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