Del Water Gap Pays His Dues
Steeped in a beautiful landscape of haunting pop melodies that grab you and hold on for dear life, Del Water Gap’s music evokes emotional terrain illuminated by the glow of nostalgia and the allure of the unknown. His debut album, Del Water Gap, was a breezy and intimate collection of the “wait turn this one up” kind of pop music – infectious as it was introspective.
Now, after touring with friend and former bandmate Maggie Rogers on her Feral Joy tour, Del Water Gap is poised to unleash his much-anticipated sophomore record, I Miss You Already + I Haven’t Left Yet. This newest album serves as a captivating exploration of the intricate realms of relationships, sexuality, and the dance with substance use – all viewed through a refreshingly modern pop lens. Produced by Del Water Gap alongside Sammy Witte (Harry Styles, Halsey) and Ethan Gruska (Phoebe Bridgers), the album features collaborators such as Clairo on clarinet for ‘Gone In Seconds’ and Arlo Parks on “Quilt of Steam.” Northern Transmissions spoke with Del Water Gap about touring, his approach to collaboration and why this record is one he’s been waiting his whole life to make.
NT: You took the road with friend Maggie Rogers on the Feral Joy tour recently. Music morphs and evolves as it’s performed over time. How have your songs changed through performance?
DWG: I think touring has reinforced for me that live performance is a conversation; it’s a transfer of energy. I always perceived a concert as a performer outputting energy into the room, and us as the audience receiving it. And now that I’ve been on the other side a bit more, I’ve realized that it really takes communication between the two halves, right?
So I think once again, thinking about performance and records as a conversation, as I was making my album. I really thought about moments in which an audience could make their way into a song as I was putting the songs together.
NT: I love that approach! I want to ask what role writing plays in your processing of certain life events or emotions? Has there ever been a time when you wrote a song that revealed something to yourself that was hidden?
DWG: That’s a great question. I think that’s Artistic expression at its best. There’s a couple of times a year when I’m writing and I feel like a lightning bolt has hit me in the top of the head and a song comes out and I feel like I’ve had nothing to do with that – I’ve just channeled it. Because there’s so little intention and true channeling, I do step away from a finished piece feeling like someone just handed me an envelope with a sermon about myself written inside of it.
There’s a song on my album called ‘Want It All,’ it’s the second to last song on the record. That was one of those songs – it just sort of unfolded and happened. I think what I learned was that I was hurting more than I realized at that moment. I was feeling very ambivalent about a few contrasting forces in my life. One being striving to be a public person and to continue to put art out, and the other side being that at my core I’m pretty introspective. There’s a large part of me that wants to live a very simple solitary life. I didn’t realize I was negotiating those two things until I wrote this song and then it all displayed.
NT: I want to ask about collaboration. On ‘I Miss You Already,’ Clairo plays clarinet on ‘Gone In Seconds,’ and you worked with Arlo Parks on ‘Quilt of Steam,’ who also co-wrote it with you. What does a successful collaboration look like to you?
DWG: I think in both of those cases (Clairo and Arlo), there was a real friendship in place before – which is my favorite. I’ve been really lucky to have a community around music and have a lot of friends whose work I really admire. I think the best collaborations are ones in which you just feel like you’re spending time as a friend and music is happening as a byproduct of that time spent together.
In the case of Arlo, we had met on Instagram during the pandemic and had been sending little voice memos and poems and book recommendations back and forth. And we really connected over our respective isolation. After about a year of being friends and fans of each other, we were like, “Wait, what? Why don’t we write a song together?” It’s never occurred to us, and it happened very organically.
Claire was similar. I’ve known Claire for a while. I played at Syracuse when she was at school there so I met her at a house show there and we’ve been friendly for years. I was looking for a clarinet player to play on my album and I realized that she just put up a video of herself playing clarinet. I just asked her. I was like “Hey – do you want to come play clarinet on my album?” She was like “That’s hilarious, let’s do it.” [It] just sort of came together and she played some stuff. It was a good easy day, we made some peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and that was that
NT: Your tour begins soon – are there any songs you’re particularly excited to play out?
DWG: Yeah, there’s a song in the album called ‘Beach House’. I think it’ll be really fun to play live. It’s pretty heavy. It’s a very narrative song, it’s about battling with yourself and trying to find a sense of relief. So I think it’s a song that I think will musically be very fun to play. And I think the lyrics are reflective of a state that I can sometimes get to on tour, so I’m imagining that it would be a cathartic song to play.
I Miss You Already + I Haven’t Left Yet is out September 29th via Mom + Pop, pre-order HERE
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