Andy Ditzler steps inside the "digital closet"
New EP Closet Studies takes on pop music’s closet, from multiple points of view
Singer-songwriter Andy Ditzler had a realization while studying the effects of homophobia. "The closet is a place where you perform, not a place where you hide," he says. "Hiding draws attention, so you have to go further, and perform as heterosexual as a way of hiding your homosexuality. I realized that the absurdity of this situation opened up a lot of potential. Within the closet, you can perform as all kinds of people."
The result is Closet Studies, a new set of two songs, following Ditzler's CD Songs From Yes and No, and "Solstice," his skewed "pagan Christmas holiday song." Closet Studies is released in June 2011 by Ditzler’s label Frequent Small Meals, and will be available for download at bandcamp.com
. Included with the songs is a PDF of "New Gods," a full-length essay by Ditzler about the multiple inspirations for Closet Studies.
Closet Studies resembles both a traditional double-sided single and an EP. Both songs have similar themes, extended lengths and unusual structures, including songs-within-the-songs. The title Closet Studies is a playful reference to Ditzler's current status as a graduate student, and while the songs reflect his thinking on the political and personal ramifications of the closet, they reside solidly in the entertainment world. "These are probably the most over-the-top songs I've ever done," says Andy. "I found recent mainstream responses to homophobia and the closet to be too serious, lacking in irony and humor, and I went in the opposite direction."
"Dancehall Man" was born out of the controversy surrounding the rampant homophobia in Jamaican Dancehall music and the responses to it in Europe and the United States. "I couldn’t write a straightforward, earnest protest song about homophobia," explains Ditzler. "I just decided to write a love song about two men, place it in the context of Dancehall, and let that context do the political work. Hopefully, one day if homophobia fades, the political context will as well, and it will be just a love song."
"Dancehall Man," with over one hundred tracks of electronic rhythms, keyboards, sound effects, and vocals, contains some of Ditzler's most intricate musical arranging. But the second song, "Miss Thing," was recorded live in the studio and showcases Andy’s rolling, New Orleans-influenced piano playing alongside his longtime live band.
A new aspect of Closet Studies is that Ditzler plays multiple characters: a diva pop star, the diva's road manager, a shy American music fan, and a secretly gay Jamaican Dancehall star. The latter character was achieved through radical digital alteration of Ditzler’s voice. "I realized that it’s just as absurd for gay men to be asked to masquerade as heterosexual as it would be for me to perform as a Dancehall star, yet we’re asked to do this every day. It's normal now to use digital technology to re-tune vocals, so I began thinking of auto-tuning technology as a kind of 'digital closet' in which I could perform, in which I could pretend to be someone I'm not."
The songs will be available for download on Ditzler's Bandcamp website, andyditzler.bandcamp.com
released July 14, 2011
Andy Ditzler, music and lyrics
Robby Handley, bass
Daniel Clay, guitar
Marlon Patton, drums
Robby Handley, bass
Colin Bragg, rhythm guitar
Mark Hamilton, lead guitar
Wes Funderburk, trombone
Ken Watters, trumpet
Will Scruggs, saxophones
Ben Price, handclaps
Dancehall Man: Vocals recorded by Ben Price at StudiLaroche. Engineered and mixed by Ben Price at StudiLaroche, November-December 2010.
Miss Thing: Instrumental tracks recorded by Will Loftin at Exocet Studios, March-April 2008 and 800 East, August 2008. Vocals recorded by Marlon Patton, July 2010. Mixed by Ben Price at StudiLaroche, January-February 2011.
Mastered by Alex Lowe at Red Tuxedo, April 2011.
Produced by Andy Ditzler for Frequent Small Meals.
Thanks to David Brodeur and Keith Leslie.
Miss Thing: words and music copyright 2007 Andy Ditzler
Dancehall Man: words and music copyright 2010 Andy Ditzler
Closet Studies: copyright 2011 Andy Ditzler