the things that are working and has the patience and the enthusiasm to really dig into a track and make cohesive sense of all my quickly executed ideas that I just needed to get out. But we actually co-wrote a few songs on this record and that was new for us. I loved it. It was unplanned and very natural. For example, on “Way to the Future,” he had a sample of a drum loop he thought I’d like so he played it for me. I immediately started playing a sampled string part to it that was very basic. Then he took over and made the string part sound like it could be in a “Where’s the Beef?” commercial and then we both started pounding out lyric and melody ideas, all of which I tended to simplify — only allowing it if it made my insides feel good, which usually involved simple major chords. Stuff like that. Making records with Cason is such a joy.
VP: With so much electronic programming and big string parts involved, how do you adapt an album like this for your live show which is very often an acoustic trio?
KH: Good question! We recently did a tiny tour where we tried out five new songs with a full band. It was so much fun. This record keeps us all on our toes and playing multiple instruments. We can pull off an acoustic trio version of all these songs and I could even pull off solo versions, but they really come to life with the full band because these songs were written hand-in-hand with the production. So it feels just as important. How do we pull that off? We mix organic instruments and percussion with samples from a couple keyboards. On a few songs, we play to a track — something I’ve never done. I saw Vampire Weekend pull off playing to tracks so tastefully and it made me wanna try it. I admit it is and will be a big challenge, but it’s a deeply gratifying one when we pull it off. Someday I’d love to play these songs with an orchestra.
VP: Your song “Middle” (from Weightless) provides an interesting lens through which to view your songwriting because your tunes sway between hauntingly heartbreaking and impossibly uplifting. If you had to split yourself down the middle, which part would you keep?
KH: If I literally had to decide one over the other and couldn’t keep both, I’d probably choose hauntingly heartbreaking because those are usually the songs that are the most therapeutic for me and often times other people. But thank God I get to do those and the uplifting ones, otherwise there would be a gaping hole in what I do. We need balance. We need outlets for good times and sad times. Salty and sweet. And we need them in the same meal, sometimes in the same bite. At least I do.