How To Dress Well

From Oakazine:

How To Dress Well has a name lifted from a 1980s handbook for Miami Vice aspirants, and makes music that sounds like Shai, Keith Sweat, and Tommy Mottola-era Mariah being filtered through a smashed, fuzzed-up AM radio. He’s sampled both DeBussy and Blackstreet, harbors a desire to record something high-gloss with Kanye, and mentions Nostalgia for Death & Hieroglyphs of Desire by Mexican poet Xavier Villaurrutia in the same breath as Maxwell Unplugged when listing off creative influences. It’s contradictions and nuances like these, paired with obsessive prolificness, that have made How to Dress Well (a.k.a Tom Krell) a particularly mysterious, oft-blogged-about figure. But it’s also his sound, which re-appropriates slow jam leitmotifs such as marzipan falsettos, silk sheet beats, and whoozy synths and dunks them in a bubble bath of reverb, that has established HTDW as one of the most unique indie music break outs in recent memory.

A Cologne-based Post-Kantian philosophy scholar by day, by night Krell was creating his self-coined “ambient R&B post-pop” under the nom de guerre How to Dress Well. When he first cropped up on blogs in the Fall of 2009 with the first of seven EPs released in a six month period, he was quickly identified as the latest in a string of “chillwavers” — a loose grouping of DIY artists creating reverb-drenched retro pastiches from their bedrooms. What set Krell apart from other prominent chillwavers like Toro Y Moi and Washed Out though was his tackling of a genre that has fallen prey to particularly cruel irony. Krell fragments and then lovingly reconstructs 90s sweet love making soul, so the results sound like slow jam’s touches and curves abstractly remembered through the fog of twenty years. Despite dealing with a sound that could easily go the way of parody, never once is HTDW’s music winking or smirking. To wit, Krell once called Twisted by Keith Sweat “a fucking masterpiece.” In Fall of 2010 How to Dress Well released his debut Love Remains LP to press acclaim, and went on world tour soon after. OAKAZINE caught up with Krell before he played a show in the rec room of Church of the Messiah in Brooklyn. The choice of location was HTDW perfect (read:perfectly, weirdly oppositional) with pre-school children finishing up recess as the grungy sound guys in flannel started filtering in. Recently having relocated to Chicago, How to Dress Well looks forward to translating songs from Love Remains into string arrangements, touring with an orchestra the summer, and releasing his “mind-melting” sophomore album.

click here to read the full interview.


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