New York musician Marco Benevento recorded his 2014 release Swift about as far away from the big city as possible: Cottage Grove.
Renowned producer and musician Richard Swift (The Shins, Foxygen) lives in Cottage Grove. Swift consistently supported Benevento’s shows at local venue the Axe & Fiddle. When Benevento heard Swift’s production work on Foxygen’s We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic (also recorded in Cottage Grove), he knew he wanted to work with him.
“I thought to myself: The sound on this record — the drum sound, the bass, the overall production quality — I want to work with Richard,” Benevento tells EW. “We showed up at his place and he captured it.” He continues, “We flew home and he just mixed it.”
Working with Swift was a different creative process for Benevento. “Normally I go into the studio and record some vague sketches. I mess with it, cut it up and make a record like that.” This time he handed over more creative control to Swift. “He decided when it was done. It’s not too crazy overproduced. It’s simple.”
The result is possibly the most “pop” sound in Benevento’s catalog, if for no other reason than Benevento sings on the record. Previously, Benevento has been known for extended, instrumental quasi-jazz, electro-jam mash-ups.
“In my ears and in my mind I find that the new record is a lot like my others,” Benevento says, “but instead of a synth or piano playing the melody, I’m singing the melody. For the most part it’s easily digestible, simple stuff.” He explains that the record focuses less on his signature keyboard work than previous releases.
But Benevento feels Swift “has a lot of the same sort of atmospheric, ambient, upbeat music. It’s the same sort of vibe.” Benevento says a friend calls the sound “electro-pop,” and the name stuck.
“There’s a lot of drum machine action and synthesizer action,” he adds, noting that LCD Soundsystem was a big inspiration for the record.
Every time Benevento comes through the Eugene area he makes a point to play the Axe & Fiddle, calling it an underappreciated gem among West Coast venues.
“We love playing there,” Benevento says. “We played the Axe & Fiddle first four or five years ago. It was so much fun. They treat us well and the crowd was dancing the whole time.”
Marco Benevento plays 8:30 pm Thursday, March 12, at Axe & Fiddle, Cottage Grove; $12. 21-plus.