Chris Schlarb is a musician, composer, and producer based in Long Beach, California. He's a unique composer who utilizes a range of textures and techniques in his musical experiments. Much of his work was created through collaborations initiated through snail-mail. The collaborative nature behind Schlarb's work gives each of his shows and albums their own unique feel.
Heck, we like the dude so much that we put together a show with his band (and a few other folks we like) at Dan's Silverleaf this upcoming Sunday evening. Needless to say, we're pretty pumped about it. Schlarb and his crew will be performing under his Psychic Temple moniker. Local favorites, Shiny Around the Edges and Sarah Alexander will handle opening duties.
In preparation for the show, we reached out to Schlarb with a few of our pesky questions. Read on for his responses and don't forget to come and hang out with us on Sunday!
How do you choose the artists that you collaborate with?
I have a very simple criteria: I only collaborate with artists I like. Of course, there is a utilitarian element to any collaboration as well.
What kind of level of trust does that entail?
It's all trust. I suppose there have been a few failed partnerships over the years but the overwhelming majority are a success. I think a big reason for that is my approach is very similar to that of casting a part in a movie. If you cast the right musician, you don't have to direct them.
Tell us about the kind of creative community you utilize or lean on as you start to develop new music.
Depending on the project, I will usually begin writing by myself. As the music takes shape, I mentally start the casting process. Eventually, I will get together with the other musicians and we will flesh out the performance. I can't really overstate how important that collaborative process is to me. In some ways, it doesn't feel like the music is alive until someone else is playing it.
What in your life inspired you to really start concentrating on music and composition?
I've always loved music and records. When I was a kid, I would sit and listen for hours reading through liner notes, checking musician credits, and cross referencing other records they played on. I started playing in gospel choir in high school and I loved it. My parents worked in theater and I've always had a fondness for that type of community. Making music allows me to keep that in my life.
It really seems as if most artists are already thinking about the next piece as they finish up the current project - can you tell us what is next for you now that Psychic Temple II has been done for awhile?
I just finished my next album for Asthmatic Kitty. Ironically, it's a solo guitar album. No collaborators whatsoever. It seemed like the logical thing to do.
Asthmatic Kitty is a really fascinating label, can you tell us about your history with them? How did you get involved? How have they been a part of your music career?
I can't say enough about them. They are some of my favorite people. I feel very fortunate to find myself on their roster and in their good graces. They remind me a lot of labels in the 70's that allowed their artists to develop and bloom over time. One thing I have learned over the years is that you really need a team of people to succeed in the music business. A good record label is a big part of that team.
Since you’ll be here for the show, is there anything specifically you’re really looking forward to doing during your time in Denton?
I have been dreaming about Recycled Books and Records since the last time I was in town. I remember spending about $50 and walking away with sheet music for The Who, Fleetwood Mac, Neil Young... hundreds of songs. So many details to pour over. For $50. What a treasure.