Daniel Boobyer likes to leave little secrets tucked amongst the guitar riffs and lyrics of his songs. A clap of thunder, the hiss and rattle of wind, the beep of an incoming text message, the clicking of keys – all the ambient noise that a city like Wellington freely offers is captured in his lo-fi style of recording. Instead of intruding or distracting, the sounds add texture and mystery to his bluesy-folk songs, so short they pass in a flash of sound.
“I see recordings as documents. They capture moments,” says the 27 year old Whanganui native who moved to Wellington to study photography at Massey – a discipline that clearly influences his music, made with a guitar, a piano, a loop pedal, and occasional contributions from other musicians.
“There are recordings I’ll never be able to play again,” he says, leaning a tweedy elbow across the café table. For example, “Passing Light” – one of his favourites from Time Killed the Clock, his second album to be released this Friday. “I didn’t have lyrics. I don’t know where that song came from and I’ll never be able to play it again.”
Or “Nothing Better Than Snow,” which he composed and recorded during the three day freak snow storm last winter. “That recording is really mysterious. I was living in an old trade union hall on Willis Street that’s now gone. I moved there just to record because I was living in a flat and couldn’t focus. There, I had no neighbours, nothing to distract me. It started snowing and I came to the realization that I just have to record. A lyric from another song, “shouldn’t ride an emu in the snow” belonged in this song. The thunder at the end of the track was actually recorded in the snowstorm.”
There is something antiquated yet elemental, beautiful but spooky, to the music on Time and his first album, Dripping With, not unlike a rougher Iron and Wine with vocals akin to M Ward or Louis Armstrong. Boobyer admits to a fascination with old things – like records. He actively collects 78s, some of which date back to the late 1800s, which he plays on his gramophone. Rather than producing CDs, Boobyer had 25 copies of Time’s EP pressed at Peter King Lathe Cut Records in the South Island.
“Record collectors are funny. They’re almost impulsive,” he says, adding that his vinyl copies sold out. “Some people love CDs, but with the internet now I find it harder to sell them.” The full-length album is being released as a digital download, as well as 106 numbered records pressed by Louisville, Kentucky’s Palomino Records.
Boobyer has almost enough material to fill another album and seems so in love with recording that the idea of a tour is distracting. “I don’t see myself as a full time performer but I like to put a lot into my performances and make them special.” But, right now, he says, “I’m really into making albums, recording, documenting. The songs just happen. The trick is being there at the right time, liking picking fruit when it’s ripe and ready.”
Originally published September 26, 2012 in Capital Times.