Cowboy and Sailor Man proves to be a whole new brand of nostalgia with debut album ‘Closet Dancer’. Any of the songs would fit right in on the Stranger Things soundtrack.
After spending 6 years in the US where he studied music production and worked with a multitude of bands like Octopi and Coyote Dynasty, the down-to-earth Apurv Agarwal started his solo project, Cowboy and Sailor Man. The name is actually part of a lyric from My Purple Past, a song from one of his favourite bands, Deerhoof. “There’s something vaguely but profoundly similar, and yet, drastically different, between the idea of a cowboy and a sailor,” Agarwal explains. “To me, it represented all the conflicts within myself in the form of a fictional character.”
Agarwal has always been into synths and “other nerdy stuff” that make up his signature sound, though he wasn’t chasing any particular sound to begin with. A synth, a drum machine, and a vocal mic, all running through a looper, brought his songs to life. When asked about people’s reactions to his music, he said, “I think people are enjoying it. There’s definitely a resurgence of this kinda 80s sound everywhere, even in a lot of mainstream media. So I feel most people are pretty versed with it.”
One fun fact about ‘Closet Dancer’ is that the vocals were recorded completely in Agarwal’s car. He’d always imagined that a car would make a decent excuse for a vocal booth, and he decided to finally give it a shot when recording this EP – and the result was better than he imagined.
Struggling musicians, take notes. It’s not always about the equipment. Agarwal would go down to his parking space in the basement at night, set up everything in his car, run his AC for a bit, and then turn everything off and start recording.
“All that being said, I was recording with a cheap SM 57, which by no means is an ideal vocal mic, and I think that definitely helped my cause,” he adds. “It would probably have been a disaster if I’d used anything nicer but I’ll try that out too and find out.”
Photo courtesy of Cowboy and Sailor Moon
Although he listens to a variety of music, like Viet Cong (now Pre-Occupations), Tortoise, Dr. Buzzard’s Original Savannah Band, and Prince, he cites Washed Out and Wild Nothing as his direct influences.
As for what he has in store for us next, Agarwal’s going to focus on expanding his live sets, and on making them as memorable and exciting as possible, with live looping and other tricks.
And if you’re a fan, no worries. Agarwal started writing material for the second EP even before he finished his first – so you can start counting down the days to a new Cowboy and Sailor Man release.