Casey Crescenzo, creative force behind indie rock band The Dear Hunter, says his latest album, Migrant, is about trying to break free from himself. It makes sense then that Migrant is Crescenzo’s first stand-alone full-length album, following the completion of The Color Spectrum, a nine-part series, and three parts of the Act series. Before The Dear Hunter playes El Corazon on Friday, we spoke to Crescenzo about Mike Watt, Migrant, and creative freedom.
SW: Tell me about the decision to release Migrant outside of the Act series.
Crescenzo: I’ve tried my best to use my passion as a natural compass. I felt a longing for something different, and it was obvious that Migrant was the record that needed to be made. Instead of forcing out another Act record, I followed what inspired me.
Were you apprehensive about releasing a stand-alone album?
I was always back and forth in my mind on what the reception might be, but internally there was never a question whether or not it was the right thing to do. As an individual, removing the product from the picture, this was important for me to do. It was what I needed mentally, physically, creatively.
Did the way you write and/or record change?
When I write an Act album, it’s structured from head to toe before the first note is recorded. There is very little wiggle room. It’s a score to a film in my head. With Migrant, I left the production for the production. I knew things needed to be natural and organic from the foundation so songs were written on piano and vocal in their entirety, then the instrumentation grew out of those songs like trees from seeds. That’s why there are so many minimal moments on the record. Allowing songs to evolve naturally meant that once they reached their sweet spot, there was no reason to force things to be any more grand or theatrical than they needed.
How was working with producer Mike Watts again?
Mike is one of the few people who I can see eye to eye with. Even when arguments over something seemingly insignificant…turn sour and aggressive, we know it’s about the song, not about us. To have such a loving understanding and respect for each other, that foundation is so important. The creative comfort I felt with us working side-by-side was paramount to the quality of the record.
Can you explain the album’s title?
Literally, it means a person who moves to find work. Our lives, our work, our chosen paths demand a specific lifestyle from us and keep us in a constant state of physical unrest. Because of this, I also find myself in a constant state of emotional and existential transience, and the word “Migrant” does a good job of conveying this attribute of my life.
I read a statement in which you said, “I haven’t been more happy or felt more creative in years.” What’s made you so happy and creative?
Freedom makes me creative, and creativity makes me happy. It’s all too vital. I’m too sensitive to create under the wrong circumstances. I freeze up. This time in my life I have felt a liberating sense of creativity, and that illuminates my entire being. I do my best to ride the wave from the moment the record is completed and hope that I find another swell by the time they give me a chance to create a new album.