Can music be visual? Wren Kitz, a guitarist from Burlington, thinks so. He recently made a record, For Evelyn, weaving his music with found sound and field recordings to try to give listeners a visual, surreal experience.
Kitz says that he’s been asked to describe his music frequently lately. “I usually say it’s kind of rock-centric, mellow, atmospheric music,” says the guitarist.
He says that he first started using cassette recorders in college and hasn’t stopped. “When I wound up moving to Vermont after college, I still had a few of these cassette recorders and I met a musician here in Burlington, Joey Pizza Slice, who does eraser headless recording,” says Kitz. “He introduced me to that world of removing the eraser head so you can layer sounds, and that kind of opened up a whole new realm of possibilities for me and what I like to do in capturing sounds.” He says that he stuck with cassettes because he also likes using them for live performances, because he can manipulate the tape and make interesting sounds from it.
Throughout his travels, Kitz has amassed a rather large library of sounds and recordings. “I do have ridiculous amounts of cassettes, just suitcases full, and it’s silly,” he says. “Much like someone carrying a camera, I always have my recorder and fill tapes all the time. Often times when I do have music I’ve been working on, or songs that I’ve been writing, I just go to that suitcase and find things that sound like they would mix well with song and see how it sounds.”
He says while working on his recent record, he was recording a song in a studio with a band and though it could benefit from found sound. While working on the album, Kitz lived on Star Island, a tiny island off the coast of New Hampshire. “There was a choir that was singing a lot in the chapel there, and I’d be walking by when I was working, and I started recording little tidbits just as I walked by. It was beautiful,” he says. “I started listening to that when I would get back to my room later on after work, I would just listen to those little blips of recording that I made of this choir and thought of this instrumental segment and just inserted it. It ended up just fitting perfectly in this eerie and spooky way, like it almost sounds like they were there with us in the studio or something, and that’s what I love about doing it.”
Kitz has always been interested in the way that music can bring someone to a different place, almost into a dream, he says. “Especially for me and the music that I’ve played over the years, people have often said that it’s a very visual experience to listen to, and I kind of ran with that … that sounds very fun and exciting,” he says. “So when people hear the music, I like to think I can kind of take them somewhere else, into a dream or kind of into a new space, a space out zone or something.”