Set 26 | BOUT
BOUT is the ambient electronic project of local artist and producer, Justin Cooley. Though Justin earned his chops playing bass for the Denton-based punk outfit, Innards, while in college at UNT, making electronic music was always in the back of his mind. When Innards began to wind-down their touring schedule around the end of 2013, that backlined pursuit took center stage. After graduating, Justin moved around the metroplex from Arlington to Deep Ellum, where he recorded his first EP, Some Dream (released last August), to east Dallas where he lives now. “I’ve always liked it [electronic music]… as far as the things I like to listen to and the things I would like to create, I always want it to be something that’s kind of different. I just want it to not sound like something that’s came before it, and I feel like electronic music is a really solid avenue to get that done.” In listening to the some twenty odd tracks he has released over the last year and a half, it’s safe to say he is well on his way to accomplishing that goal. His sound is incredibly unique, especially in comparison to the overall landscape of music coming out of Dallas right now. His music pairs well with the ambient music scene and the direction of the artists on New Math Records, but still manages to retain a flavor all its own; not quite the quintessential ambient or lo-fi house sound, but somewhere in between. His music manifests itself in a sort of spilling out effect across a wide expanse of overlapping layers and melancholy tones. Tracks like "Paraphernalia," "Finery," and "So Long" are built upon elongated trip hop beats that almost feel tribal. This panoply of sounds is due in large part to Justin’s relentless experimentation, “I spend so much time messing with one sound, like I’ll sit at my computer for three hours and I just keep mangling it and mangling it and at the end of that I have one piano note that sounds really weird.” Usually beginning with a rhythm or a drum pattern, he tweaks and manipulates a variable array of notes, placing them one on top of the other altogether laced with a raw, yet sophisticated, quality.
“I mean honestly it’s just messing around… I certainly feel like I have no idea what I’m doing 100% of the time. Like every single thing I do is an incorrect studio practice for sure. I’m sure there are people out there that would see me do something and be like ‘you’re not supposed to do that, this is what we learned,’ but I also think that kind of lends itself to why my stuff sounds the way it does.” The production of Justin’s music follows a painstakingly thorough progression from start to finish. He is rather meticulous when it comes to getting a song to sound just the way he wants, and much of his time is spent on the process of arrangement. He likens himself to a sculptor, chipping away bit by bit at an unfinished block of stone; a little off the top this week, a little molding on the left the next. In the end, the sounds that he began with have been completely transformed resulting in a collage of tones and textures. Since releasing Some Dream last fall, he has played a handful of gigs around Dallas, but in doing so he faces a new challenge – how to create an interactive experience through his music at a live show. Touring around the states with Innards provided him an opportunity to play a variety of underground venues from house parties to dark, sweaty basements in Chicago. “With that kind of music, the people who are really into are losing it, like going crazy, and that makes you lose it and you just feed off this energy. I feel like that’s really important for shows and live music. That’s been the biggest barrier for me… being able to do it live and make it immersive.” That being said, Justin has the inkling of a few ideas on how he can accomplish that, something visual but not exactly the typical wall-projection graphics you often see accompanying electronic music. “Visuals like that are really cool and they’re definitely useful and it adds something, but I want to do something like… weird. Like it’s going to be visual but I think it’s going to be some physical aspect of something as opposed to an image.”
In the meantime, you can check out his newest EP, Idle Trappings (released earlier this week), on Bandcamp and Soundcloud.