Danny Scott Lane’s second solo album Memory Record is a spacey, synth-forward exploration of memories and memory-making. Danny Scott Lane was talking with a friend about some of their shared stories when his friend brought up a memory of the two of them that Lane had zero recollection of. Having what he calls ‘a very rational freak-out,’ a scramble to remember his own memories and preserve them in some way, Lane formed the basis of what would become his second solo album.
Memory Record opens with a list, read in Japanese by Lane’s friend and collaborator Julie Roche, of Lane’s most strikingly experienced memories. It’s an exploration of memory—how it works, which memories are kept, which forgotten, and how the ones he holds on to are altered. It’s a little more synth-forward the his previous release, more spacey, with wobble tables, chimes, and night-to-day elements. Birds sing at varied intervals in the background of tracks, accompanied by poppy beats and repeated notes that suggest daylight and walking. Slower synth swells and sustained tones, samples of crickets outside, hint at evening and night.
Brisk, choppy, fluid, wobbly—Memory Record is a meandering mind pinned down and exploring, evaluating itself and its own record of time. Made as a response to the fade of memories and, ultimately, for Lane’s grandfather, an Alzheimer’s patient, the album is sensitive but still zippy, tender, bright, alive: holding down something which can only be pinned lightly.
Text, Photography and interview by Alex Free
Where did Memory Record come from?
It was an exercise in remembering my memories. I had sort-of like a very rational freak-out. Someone was like, ‘hey, remember that x time?’ and I was like wow, I don’t remember that. More than ever I’ve been blanking on my memories, if that makes sense. I’ll see a photo of myself and I couldn’t tell you who took that photo, where it’s from, and it started freaking me out, so I wrote down a giant list of my memories. My brother being born, pitching for my baseball team, going to first grade. Stuff like that, you know? My grandfather, when he had Alzheimer’s, always told me to write everything down so that you could refresh your memory as you get older. So it started off like that, and then it became that I felt like I was writing an album for my grandfather. And the album is called Memory Record, like keeping a record of your memories. So a memory record.
What was the process of excavating memories, and how did that come out in sound?
This is a cheap answer, because I literally wrote out a list of memories, but edited the list of memories to fit the three minutes thirty seconds song that I had. When I had Julie over to record the vocals for the song, the list of memories was too long, so I had to start narrowing it down. There’s no rhyme or reason really for which memories are in it, or aren’t. But the list of memories is really only the first song, and it’s a nine-song album.
“I’ll see a photo of myself and I couldn’t tell you who took that photo, where it’s from, and it started freaking me out, so I wrote down a giant list of my memories.”
Are the remaining eight tracks you occupying some of those spaces? Or thinking about what that even means to you?
They were thoughtful. They were very drive-y, if that makes sense. I feel like every song was like a steady flow, in a way, but things come in and out.
So trying to replicate what it feels like to remember something?
More like living, in a way. Or thinking. I can—definitely because I made this album—hear myself thinking the thoughts I had while making it when I listen to the songs. I would play a chord, and be like, ‘oh my god, what chord is going to come next?’ and I remember that.
So the record has become not only playing with memory as a concept, but making it also mimicked the activity of forming memories. Improv is always an interesting time exercise—you’re actively forming a thing, and experiencing it, and letting it go. I know that recording your first album, How To Empty A Cup was based largely on improvisation, and was also done within a specific window of time. Was recording Memory Record a similar process?
While I was making How To Empty A Cup, I was by myself a lot. I live with my girlfriend Clare, and she was away for almost a month in New York. So I was home alone, it was raining all the time, and I just locked myself in the apartment. If you listen to the album, I sample the rain in most of the songs, and in the morning when it wasn’t raining I would sample the birds.
For Memory Record, I think Clare was also away for a bunch of it, but this one was a little bit less rigid with time, and I wrote it over a couple of months.
Since the release of the first one?
They were quick, they were pretty consecutive. The first album I love—I love it, love, love it—and I was still buzzing and I had to make another one. I still had it.
“I feel pretty inspired by random things—like I will literally be in traffic, and see a car, and be inspired by the car’s time period.”
Would you say that Memory Record is you building on the sounds of How To Empty A Cup?
It’s kind of similar, but it’s more synth-heavy, and not as organic. I still play the same keyboard on it, but it’s layered with synths, and sometimes drum machines. And I even play live percussion on some of the songs. It’s similar, but it’s definitely an evolution from the last album. It’s less minimal, just in approach.
I already know that the third album that I do just under my name I want to be dance music, but from a similar mind. In a perfect world, every album I do is just different.
Elaborating on different sides of yourself?
Keeping something, like a common denominator, but just evolving.
Can you describe that energy? You of all people that I know seem to have this constant kind of force or movement to be creating all the time.
I just feel lucky to be inspired. I feel pretty inspired by random things—like I will literally be in traffic, and see a car, and be inspired by the car’s time period. I’ll picture who would be driving the car, and what kind of stories would go on around it, and then want to go out and do a photo shoot. Just inspired by these random little things.
Danny Scott Lane is a film photographer, musician, and actor living in Los Angeles, CA. His debut album How to Empty a Cup is out now via Shimmering Mood Records, and available for streaming on Spotify, SoundCloud, Apple Music, and Bandcamp. Memory Record is being released via Shimmering Mood Records and Moon Glyph, and will be available for purchase and streaming Nov. 15.
Alex Free is a writer and photographer currently based in Los Angeles.