by Mary Bryce
Under the moniker Daphne Tunes, Austin-based songwriter Santiago Dietche just dropped his latest release, Volume 1, a self-described “Sunday pop record.” The understated, sensitive music lyrically details various states of “in-between-ness” both emotional and physical, against spacious arrangements brought to life by Andrew Stevens, Josh Halpern, and Peter Schults. With songs written during a period of personal change and recorded in several different studios in both Texas and California, Volume 1, begs the listener to pause and simply take a breath.
MB: Tell me about your writing process and your recording process.
SD: We recorded two songs with Daniel McNeill and two songs with Joey Oaxaca at Cacophony Recorders with Eric Wofford. The recording process was also done at Good Danny’s, with Danny Reisch, he’s out in Lockhart. We recorded two songs there with Max Lorenzen and Grant Johnson, but mixed them with Joey out in California. It’s a pretty patched together record, all the songs written in different moods, all written in a period of time over the past year. Just within a period of change, and mostly trying to catch the color blue, a lighter shade of blue, that’s evocative of a feeling in the morning. It was trying to be fresh, but not too woken up, sort of slow-going, drowsy pop, or Sunday pop.
MB: As a songwriter, do you feel that the city of Austin itself has influenced your songwriting?
SD: It’s impossible to say… The record is all about growing up here, but feeling stuck here, but there’s no reason for me to do anything else, because I love it so much here. I’m not unhappy in any respect when I take a look at my surroundings and the people I admire, so the record is sort of about that feeling, and being in your head about this town… And feelings of being in your head, be it a disagreement or an argument with somebody or wanting to express your art in a big city but understanding that no one will give you two cents, considering that you’re a nobody with no legs up.
MB: Do you think everyone in Austin feels this way?
SD: I’m sure everyone feels that way, and it drives a bastion of pitiful creativity but I think it’s wonderful. People are so supportive in this community maybe because their confidence is semi-ruined. I don’t know. Maybe I’m just projecting my own feelings.
MB: I think it’s a challenging place to make stuff, because yes, there’s the community but there’s also the judgment of the community. I think judgment is the opposite of making things.
SD: I totally agree.
MB: I’ve been thinking a lot about recapturing the way I felt at 18 and 19 and how I just wanted to write songs. So I wrote a thousand songs and they all sucked but I didn’t care, I was so excited about writing songs.
SD: If I start writing something that sucks, I can’t finish it.
MB: How do you get past that feeling?
SD: The way I’ve committed to writing, which has worked best for me in the past many months, is writing in waves. So if I don’t feel like writing that day I don’t even attempt to. There was a period of time where I didn’t touch a guitar for months unless I was playing a show. I just wasn’t in the mood, which is usually in late summer or the nicer weathered months when I’m trying to be more active. In the periods when I am writing, there will be waves of ideas all in the same mood and none of them will be coherent, fully realized things. But I’ll write forty or fifty parts and then go back and listen to everything as I write them. And I’ll have three or four months of material or little tiny tidbits, I’ll puzzle them all together because usually I’ll be thinking about the same things, but just at another time at a different perspective, of ‘oh maybe that sounds more like a chorus than a verse’ or ‘maybe those are in the same key or have the same time signature or feeling’. [I’m] generally in the mood to play music, if I’m in that mindset I’ll pick up my guitar or keyboard for even five minutes and sometimes for extended periods of time. It’s hard for me to sit down and crank it out. My best songs are not written that way.
MB: When are your best songs written?
SD: I think most people say that the best songs happen all at once… My most outwardly appreciated songs have been the ones I wrote in the least amount of time.
MB: It’s funny how seasonal making stuff is.
SD: I understand why I mostly write songs in the winter, it’s because I only write songs about sad things. I’m a sad boy songwriter.
Volume 1 is out now on Two Moons Tapes.