Interview: Drinker on Fragments, their debut LP
By Sarah Manha
Drinker is the moniker of Los Angeles-based musician Aaron Mendelsohn, who, in partnership with producer Ariel Loh (Yoke Lore, The Eyes of My Mother), just released his first full-length album, Fragments, in May. It’s a lovely addition to their discography – following their first EP, Happy Accident, by a couple of years – which warrants a listen during a lonesome and contemplative nighttime drive: subdued electronic textures that float beneath Aaron’s lofty falsetto. Echo Echo Wine recently caught up with both Aaron and Ariel over email to cover everything from their music, wine, and other casual things, like how to retain your identity in times like these.
Hi, Aaron! Hi, Ariel! How ARE you both?!
AM: Hey Sarah! Good, thanks for asking us to do this!
First off, congrats on the May 3 release of your full-length Fragments with B3Sci! How does it feel to finally get this body of work out in the world [wide web]?
AL: It feels great to have it out in the world and seeing all the support from friends to new fans. It’s been awhile since we’ve finished working on the music and we’ve definitely been anticipating the release.
AM: It feels like a burden has been lifted. Been really nice to get great feedback on the album as a whole and to be thinking of it as a large unit rather than always bringing each new single release under a microscope.
When you put out 2017 EP Happy Accident, you were both living in New York; but working on your first album, Fragments, was done independently, after Aaron moved to Los Angeles. How did that change your songwriting process?
AM: Each song had more of a chance to grow independently this time around. When we were both in NYC, we were able to craft things together from scratch whereas this time around the majority of the songs grew either in my world in LA or in Ariel’s studio before we would collaborate. A good number of the tracks (“Follow”, “Wave”, “Fragment II”) started as instrumental productions from Ariel before vocals and lyrics were added and the song reshaped to accommodate that. We were able to work from scratch together as we had done on Happy Accident, on “Something I Want” while on a trip to Joshua Tree, which was great.
How do these new songs differ from your first EP? How does Fragments fit in to the Drinker discography, into your story and evolution?
AL: In terms of sound, we definitely explored some bigger arrangements on some songs, but also tried to push into some heavier and dancier territory as well.
AM: I agree with that and also think lyrically the subject matter is more focused and cohesive this time around than it was on Happy Accident. I think this album finds us more sure of our voice and confidently going to a wider range of subject matter and some darker and more aggressive sonic territory.
You explained the single “Something I Want” (my personal favorite so far) to Complex by saying, “Routinely, we live with a casual disregard for our health and a lustful relationship to our vices and impulses—addiction to our foods, our drugs, our phones, our money. As the messaging from corporate influencers in society gets more and more invasive, the chokehold on who we are gets tighter and our sense of what we want becomes blurred.” I agree with this sentiment immensely, and I’ve been feeling this way a lot this year. How do you combat this? What do you do to retain it: yourself, your identity, and, kind of, what you want in life?
AL: I always try and stay conscious of it. I have kind of trained myself to recognize the anxiety that comes on when I use social media and often tell myself the cost-benefit isn’t worth it. I think our society makes us worry a lot about what other people think about us, but we often don’t know what we think of our own selves. Being able to take time to yourself away from distractions seems increasingly necessary for self preservation. To combat this and to find “away from screen activities” I’ve been cooking at home and started bouldering at a climbing gym. Also a drink after work also helps!
What do you want listeners to get out of Fragments?
AM: Above all I just hope people enjoy it. Writing these lyrics and creating these productions with Ariel, we’re definitely making a pretty personal offering to a listener, but I’m not too concerned with if or how the specific message is received. I know that everyone has different ways of listening to music and that some people will dig into the lyrics while others will let the vibe pass over them. In any case, I hope it’s enjoyable.
When you sit down to listen to the album, what would your accompanying drink of choice be? What drink would you recommend pairing with the release for a listener such as myself?
AL: Moscow Mule or Dark and Stormy (maybe Side A/SideB)
AM: Coffee + CBD
If you had to describe your music as if it were a wine, what would your discography’s wine label say?
Complex, dark fruit, earthy.
When it comes to wine: red or white?
AM: Red but right about now could go for some champagne
Fragments is available now on all digital platforms for your listening pleasure.