Interview: Daniel Anderson of Glowbug

On the heels of a brand new LP, we had a chance to talk with Daniel Anderson about the album, his creative process, community, and more. Your Funeral is out 1/28.

You’ve been putting out an album a year for three years now. Was this a specific goal of yours? Do you plan on keeping up the trend?

When people ask artists or musicians why they create, there are two pretty common answers. Either they create for themselves, or they create for the listener. Of course, there’s a lot of space between those two points, but it’s usually somewhere between this line.

I’ve realized my creation habits are unique in that I create out of habit. It’s pretty utilitarian. I just write and record music constantly, like an impulse, and what happens after that doesn’t really matter to me at all.

All that is to say, putting out an album a year may seem like a plan, but because my output is so high it kinda just comes with the territory.

The album opener, “Skeleton Crew,” begins with a eulogy. Who is “the departed” here?

The departed is you, as in directly addressing the listener. It’s not just the song, though, the whole album is your eulogy. That being said, it’s also my eulogy, so I’ll admit it gets a little confusing. I’d say it’s “you playing the role of a dead person who is based on me.”

Many of the lyrics this time around feel like they can be taken at face value and that seems to play into the major themes of the album. What was it like writing the lyrics for this album and how would you say it compares to previous records?

This is very good insight, I think you’re absolutely correct. Previously, I’ve tended to write from the perspective of parts of myself, not the whole thing.

I remember when I was recording “Lucky Me” with my friend Lourdes, who appears on a lot of Glowbug songs, and I’d written the line “Here’s the answer you’ve been looking for, try just a little bit, the rest is all luck.” She asked if I really felt that way. I said “Sometimes, but not always. This song is written by the part of me that feels that way, though.”

I think the lyrics on Your Funeral are more straightforward, in the sense they’re mostly written from a perspective that’s all of me and not just part of me.

Mortality and human nature have been running themes across many of your albums—topics that aren’t normally seen as “safe” but are obviously worth talking about. What draws you to incorporate these topics into your lyrics?

I’ve been obsessed with dying for as early as I can remember. As a very young kid I’d consider the fact I’d have a “last day,” and on that day I’ll likely give anything for another. Once you realize this, it’s hard to waste time, because you’re constantly aware of how valuable it is.

I also think having Asperger’s gives me a unique perspective, because I’ve always found a lot more emotion in abstract things outside the typical pop song topic list. There’s nothing wrong with a simple love song, but personally that doesn’t move me as much as something esoteric. That’s why I’ve always loved the Talking Heads. David Byrne is on the spectrum too, and his focus on atypical ideas and subjects has always really spoken to me.

I feel like the fact there’s a Talking Heads album called More Songs About Buildings And Food really sums it up.

Collaboration continues to be a big part of your albums. How do you decide on guests? On a related note, this is the first album in a while where Lourdes Hernández did not have a guest spot. Were there plans for her or any other guests that had to be scrapped?

I see Glowbug albums as a bit of a party, and if you’re having a party then you want to welcome as many guests as possible. This time around it was a little more difficult because of COVID, but there’s still a few guest spots. It’s kind of funny to have a record with two guest vocalists and that is considered not many, but in the case of Glowbug I suppose that’s true.

The only real regret is not getting Lourdes on a song this time around, but she’s been going back and forth between Los Angeles and Madrid a lot these days. There just wasn’t a good time to get any recording done.

Related: You had Michael Harris feature on “Entertainer.” What was it like working with him again? How did the process compare to writing songs for Idiot Pilot?

It’s always great working with Mike for a lot of reasons, but he’s such a good singer that this particular song was exceptionally fun. There’s a lot of room to mess around and for him to show off a bit.

The big difference between this and Idiot Pilot is that Mike writes his own vocal parts for Idiot Pilot, and I wrote all the parts of this song. Glowbug and Idiot Pilot are also stylistically very different projects, but Mike can use his voice well in pretty much any genre you throw at him.

Let’s talk about artwork a bit. There’s a lot of thought put into the designs in terms of color schemes, photography, and more. Do you have a background in the visual arts? The art on this album in particular feels much different than previous releases—what motivated this direction (and can we expect any new merch based off this design)?

I’ve designed so many albums and posters and websites over the years for various art and music projects that I’d like to think I’ve gotten pretty good at it. I have no formal training in anything that I do, because Idiot Pilot was signed before I had a chance to go to college, so all these random skills have just kinda manifested over time.

I actually approach album art the same way I think about songs on an album. You want something unique, but you also want a thread that connects the whole thing together for a larger identity.

This time I wanted to push to the edge of that identity with a distinctly different style, but thematically it’s the same. Technically speaking, there’s been a palm tree on the cover of every original Glowbug LP since Headhunters, so now it feels like I’m just trying to come up with ideas that keep that going.

Last year, you also released an instrumental album under the Tarantula Tapes moniker. Are there more plans with this project at all?

I’ll absolutely do another Tarantula Tapes record; it’s only a matter of when I get around to it.

What’s your “desert island” album?

I’m cheating a bit because it’s a rerelease compilation with bonus tracks, but Sinatra/Jobim: The Complete Recordings by Frank Sinatra and Antonio Carlos Jobim.

Anything else you’d like to share?

Just to say thank you for this interview and the fantastic questions!

Follow Glowbug on Facebook, Instagram, and Spotify. You can preorder Your Funeral on Bandcamp.

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