Fans of feather-light psychedelic folk first heard Grant Olsen’s faint vocals and ornate instrumentation in 2007 when he and Sonya Westcott released In Camera as Arthur & Yu. The album, which was written, performed and recorded almost entirely by Olsen, was the duo’s only release. It was also Olsen’s last until he reappeared last year with The Ornament, the debut album from a new project called Gold Leaves. In many ways the two sound very similar, but Gold Leaves is a more mature work, filled with more complicated orchestration and with Olsen’s Leonard Cohen-like croon emerging from the shadows. What’s changed? We asked Olsen.
“I think of this as less a solo project than Arthur and Yu. Gold Leaves was intended to be a bigger band, using people I have met through the last few years. And that’s how I ended up being in the studio to record The Ornament. It was definitely a more collaborative and challenging experience working with a producer and more musicians. The vocals, for instance. I definitely thought they should be down lower in the mix, but I got talked out of that. I like old records where the vocals are out front and the drums are dropped down and music’ a bit more of the background, but I still don’t know if that was the right decision.”
Illustration by Tiffany Prothero.