Three Music Thingz with Cigar Cigarette

Three Music Thingz with Cigar Cigarette
feature image photo credit: Shana Sarett

Why hello there, it's another rendition of Three Music Thingz, the blogseries where I ask musicians for three thingz that are essential to their music-making.

Today we have Cigar Cigarette! A Los Angeles-based project led by Chris McLaughlin, Cigar Cigarette just released their EP Natural History and it's firmly in the Dark and Sexy Electronic Banger category of music, aka "very much my shit." The songs are entirely written, recorded and produced by McLaughlin (who in addition to his own music, has spent a lot of time on the opposite end of the recording studio, engineering for artists ranging from Beyoncé to Model/Actriz) and the brooding synths have a real tactility to them especially at high volume—as Nicole Kidman in the AMC movie intro says, sound you can feel.

Natural History, by Cigar Cigarette
6 track album

My favorite song is "Confidence," a brittle industrial dance floor-filler with a handful of dreamy interludes that (barely) let you catch your breath.

Also I just really like the name Cigar Cigarette. Smoke 'em if you got 'em.

Chris McLaughlin shared three thingz with the blog and you must read them right now!

  1. Misused sounds
    Sometimes I think there’s something wrong with me, because I’ll be at a show and someone plugs in a bass amp and it hums and growls and pops, and I’m like “That’s the fucking sound, they should sample that and make it their kick drum.” Or I’ll hear an otherwise unremarkable pop song, and end up fully engaged because they use a steel drum or a vocal chop in a way that makes no sense, and is so refreshing.

    I’ve always been more interested in instruments being used in the “wrong” way or noise being used in unexpected ways to create emotionally powerful music. Those soft pads in “Probes” are made from sampled guitar feedback, the tiny, staticky clicks from slices of huge tom samples, and the 808s from the hum of an old guitar delay. I’ve always wanted guitars to sound like freaking out computers and computers to sound like freaking out guitars.
  2. Surprise
    The music that excites me the most is the stuff that defies my expectations when I’m listening to it and the songs that excite me the most are the ones that surprise me as I’m writing them. Creating music can often feel like troubleshooting. Why isn’t this chorus working? How do I tweak this part to adjust the tension up or down? The best answers to those questions are the ones that you couldn’t have imagined existing just moments before, the accidental connections that surprise you by swirling out of nowhere and taking you to a new place.

    We are such expectation machines that unless something jolts us out of the norm, we end up walking around in a daydream. Great, surprising music breaks us out of that sleepwalking and makes us actually pay attention to what we’re experiencing. I try to incorporate moments like this into everything I write. For example the post-punk/industrial club vibe of “Confidence” is broken up with moments that sound like you stepped into a perfume commercial from the 80s.
  3. Physicality
    The physicality of music is really central to what we create and what inspires us. That could mean bass heavy tracks shaking you to dance, distorted guitars sending you bouncing around in a pit or an ambient wash slowing down your heart. The best stuff hits you viscerally.

    The first glimpse of any song that forms in my mind is always a groove: drums, bass and vocal rhythm. Finding the harmonic motion and lyrics always requires digging deeper and working harder. But if it isn’t making me move my shoulders, nod my head or, on the other end, feel like I’m floating, then it isn’t a thing yet.

Thank you Cigar Cigarette! Check out Natural History as well as their link aggregation.

Thanks for reading I Enjoy Music! If you like it, tell a friend.