Interview – Drownhouse

Moncton, NB-based electronica artist, Drownhouse (aka Ben Buchanan) has recently unveiled his new single, “Overworld Map”.

In his new single, he wanted to explore septuplet beats and non-functional harmonic sections. He and former bandmate Alex LeBlanc came together and created a piece with lush pads, soaring melodic lines, rich basses, and trippy, driving drums.

When creating his music, he uses advanced concepts while breaking the mold of standard song structure while simultaneously borrowing flavors from jazz-fusion, ambient and video game music all while making an approachable yet puzzling musical experience.

Check out “Overworld Map” below, and find out more about Drownhouse via our mini-interview.

First off, care to introduce yourself to our readers?

My name is Ben Buchanan. I am a multi-instrumentalist and composer from Moncton, NB. I started playing piano when I was very young, picked up drums when I was in my early teens, and then picked up guitar a few years later. After listening to bands like Linkin Park and the Deftones in my early teens, I felt like this music was really resonating with me in a way that top 40 never really did. Then when I discovered players like Steve Vai and Andy McKee, I decided that music is what I wanted to pursue.

I play guitar, bass, drums, a little bit of piano, and a very little bit of violin. I studied music analysis and composition in University and have been spending the time since “unlearning” conventional Western rules in favor of advanced concepts like Tuplet sewing and negative harmony.

How did you come up with your name, Drownhouse?

It was from an old commercial I saw years ago. I wish I could tell you what it was for. It was a little kid playing in their room, and it started filling with water. At first the kid was having a blast and swimming around then it filled to the ceiling and things didn’t turn out well. I think it had something to do with an over-active mind and “drowning” in your own imagination. I saw it once and never saw it again.

You recently shared your new track, “Overworld Map”, what can you tell us about the writing process behind the song?

I lifted the chord progression from an artist I really like, Disasterpiece. The chords have very little to do with one another other than the notes A and E, in this case. I was also listening to a band named Sungazer at the same time and I really liked what they were doing with the concept of tuplet swing (subdividing the beat into odd numbers like 5, 7, 11, etc.) So I was experimenting with non-functional harmony and tuplet swing and wanted to translate that into a unique, digestible musical experience. The final chord progression is the “Super Mario Cadence” which I always found pleasant (bVI – bVII – I).

After I looped the first progression a few times, I sent it back and forth to my former bandmate Alex. He has a real ear for hearing and imagining things that I cannot. He inserted some basslines that fit both the progressions perfectly. He has an ear for unique sound design as well. He created the static and other effects. Once we had sent the project back and forth a few times, I curated all the sounds into what became the final product. I really couldn’t have done it without Alex.

You blend a variety of techniques and flavours when making your music, including jazz-fusion, ambient and video game music, so I have to ask, what’s your favourite video game?

My top 3 are Cave Story, Ori and the Blind Forest, and Earthbound, in no particular order. Though I will praise Cave Story because one person made the whole entire game. The music, the story, the sprites, everything. It amazes me that the gameplay, music, and story all work so, so well together. Sometimes I would stand still in the game and let the music loop over and over so I could listen to all the voices and how they worked and fit together.

What else can we expect from you in 2022?

I will be steadily releasing more music under this moniker and other projects under different names. I have a few more tracks featuring Alex. I have some solo acoustic material, some synthwave stuff, some prog fusion, some videogame remixes, and some orchestral stuff. That’s all I can think of right now. I have a giant folder full of material ranging from a simple melodic line to songs being 90% finished. I plan on releasing as much as I can.

Check out “Overworld Map”:
Spotify
YouTube
Apple Music

Connect with Drownhouse:
Facebook
Instagram

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