We chatÂ toÂ bedroom pop's mostÂ prolific maestro,Â Manuel Joseph Walker aka FoliageÂ about life in San Bernardino, California, his thoughts on the music industry and writing a self-help album.
native, Manuel Joseph Walker
, aka Foliage
has been releasing his own sparkly brand of nostalgic jangle-pop onto Spotify
for just over a year vitally bringing him to the forefront, however, Walker's debut album Truths
was first released in backÂ 2015
via the uber-cool Brooklyn based Spirit Goth
Â label - home to other lo-fi acts such as CASTLEBEAT
. At just 20 years old, Walker is proving to be quite the indie force, taking a DIY approach and gaining love and support from the global music blogosphere as well as being featured on various tastemaking playlists - most recently Spotify's own coveted New Music Friday
first featured Foliage
back in May
as part of our Lo-Fi listens playlist
, with stand out single, 'Other Day'
taken from his recent third LP III.Â
Walker has alsoÂ
just shared a jubilant split release with Andrew Younker
titled 'Be Transparent'
and is underway with recording his upcoming fourth album
Think you can keep up? Catch the Foliage live show
this month in Los Angeles
at three scheduled dates:Â 15th December - w/ Harmless @ The Factory
, 27th December - w/ Seahaven @ The Glasshouse
and 29th December - Fox Theater Rooftop
is for fans of Craft Spells
Â and CASTLEBEAT
. Read our chat below.
Giglist: Hey! Introduce Foliageâ¦
Hi, my name is Manuel. I am 20 years old and live in San Bernardino, CA. I play all of the instruments and make music/produce it all at home in my room.
GL: Describe your sound...
Haha, Iâd say it falls under âjangleâ. Iâm a huge Smiths fan obviously (who isnât?) Johnny Marr is easily my musical hero, right next to the king J Dilla of course. I also really love more 80âs jangle music like Another Sunny Day & The Field Mice, all that stuff is very influential to me and way ahead of its time. I just wanted to make a mesh of all of my influences and the shit I have always loved. Iâm also a really big Indie-head. Two Door Cinema Club, Bloc Party, and Phoenix were definitely very important bands to me when I started to pick up an instrument and really fall in love with music. Wanted to bring the dance vibe, with J Dillaâs soul/style, to dreamy, lush music but minus the reverb and more intent on the songwriting and melodies.
GL:Â Do you think location influences music making and the songwriting process?Â
I think Iâd say so. My friends and I were talking about this recently, but we donât really notice it since we live in Southern California (a kind of cultural hub for musicians wanting to break through, specifically Los Angeles). We hear new music from other artists we love, and were just thinking âwow this has this California feelâ, which sounds stupid since you canât really âtag a locationâ to good music. Almost the equivalent of calling all music containing reverb âshoegazeâ haha. But I think definitely that âCaliforniaâ sound is catching on even more globally (artists like Boy Pablo come to mind) and bands like Best Coast & Wavves definitely paved the modern way for more âsunnyâ and âbeachâ music. Beach Fossils, a New York band, Iâd say falls into this same category. Every place has something, Midwest has amazing Emo music of course.
Weâre from a rather poor area in SoCal, about an hour from Los Angeles and all the nice shit. I personally find LA to be over-rated, but everyone wants to come here. Personally, I find NorCal to be a lot better/inspiring. Bay Area is amazing, lots of good music from there too, our homies No Vacation and High Sunn to be exact.
GL:Â You record and write everything for Foliage yourself? FavouriteÂ piece of studio equipment?
Yes, that is correct. Is a tedious task but is very worth the outcome.
My favourite piece of studio gear? I donât really own anything special or have a favourite piece of gear hahaha. I donât have a lot of money or anything, or any money at all really to afford anything even remotely high end, but I ALWAYS make it work.
All of my albums were made simply by plugging my guitar straight into my computer via an interface actually haha. Iâm a drum machine nerd and just drum nerd in general so Iâm always looking for interesting and new drum sounds, J Dilla & Nujabes having the best drum sounds ever in my opinion, Pete Rock too. Questlove is a very, very high tier drummer as well. A legend for sure.
GL:Â Dream piece of equipment/gear, that you donât already own?
Honestly anything! Haha, Iâd like a ârackâ or whatever you call it, I see lots of people have these âhome studiosâ with hella compressor racks and shit. Nice microphones, which they put on their amplifier to record. I just canât do that at home haha, I have parents and a nephew whoâs always sleepy. Iâd really love a drum set as well, donât mean to brag or anything but Iâm quite good and the drums are my favourite instrument, was my first instrument too. Iâm always at Guitar Center just to brush up my skills and remain on top of it.
GL: You self-release everything right now, would you like to move to a label in the future to help with all this or are you happy?Â
Maybe, is always a possibility. Itâs really liberating to do the self-release, but it gets really hard and stressful to not only finish the album/produce it all but to reach out to people to land articles and to feature the new music. It gets discouraging and really hectic, lots of opened emails that you wonât get a response from. Itâs funny cause Iâll reach out to said publications/record labels about new music, who take a âpassâ on the music, but then show love and attention upon release after they see the numbers it did. Itâs really fake to me and Iâm not a fan of that. Is very ingenuine.
I wish more people just had faith in good music! I know I do, there are lots of unknown bands I really love and try and share as much as possible. Andrew Younker being a very important one to me, Iâm very honoured to be releasing a Split with him next month.
GL: Impressively, Foliage is already three albums in -Â major themes running through your latest work?
Well, Iâm writing a lot of new music at the moment. Iâm currently writing/recording my 4th LP now. Itâs coming out realllllllllly amazing and Iâm excited to share. Iâve been VERY excited to share the Split with Andrew Younker and Iâm really happy the singles have been doing so well. I was nervous about it, but the fans came through. I love them a lot. Keeps me going.
As for major themes? The Split ranges a lot: death, love, appreciation, taking others for granted, and eternal life. Track 1 from the Split âForeverâ, is my favourite song Iâve ever written. Itâs about my Grandpa who just passed recently. I really admired my Grandma and hisâ marriage, very beautiful and I fell in love with the fact that she REALLY went through everything she could to take care of him, even on his deathbed. I miss him a lot, hope he can hear this song.
LP4âs themes are on mental health. Songs of self-help, to those suffering the pain of their own mind. Mental health is very overlooked and not really talked about in music. It hurts when you think youâre alone in this mind of intrusive thoughts, but just know others are suffering too. It inspires me to help, if someone like me, who apparently inspires others (never thought Iâd hear that, growing up with low self-esteem and such) can get through this, I hope others can too. There are 3 songs like that on the new album, but I want to write less about it and more songs about GETTING PAST these things and not having to remind myself of it when I inevitably do overcome it. The brain is a pseudo sense of self, your mind is not your actual intent. Your heart and your physical self is your true YOU. Remember that. These are just thoughts after all. A simple part of your body is making you feel bad, you can overcome it just like you would a stomach ache or an injury.
It will be a very meaningful album, thatâs for sure. I also have an amazing girl in my life, who I hope to write some new, beautiful songs for. She makes me very happy and I love her.
GL:Â Who or what most inspired you to make music?
My Grandpa who I had previously mentioned bought my sister a guitar for her 16th birthday. I remember seeing it and being like âwow, I really want oneâ just like any kid who saw their sibling with something cool. That guitar was later passed down to me when I got a little older.
I started to be more interested in music, and I actually started to listen to music. Once I heard The Smiths, I was hooked forever. I got goosebumps all over me, hearing the music full blast in my ears. I wanted it to be louder! Haha, maybe thatâs why I love shoegaze so much. I didnât start making music until I was about 16, I got my first real guitar for my 16th birthday. I put out âThe Things I Do for Loveâ on my Soundcloud, my first real song, and the rest is history.
GL:Â What do your parents think of your musical guise?
Haha, Iâm honestly not sure. I know theyâre proud of me, Iâm not sure if they like my music? I donât know, maybe Iâm insecure. I love them though and Iâm just glad they support me. I know they wish I had a real job, but I hope to provide for them one day off of my music. Weâve struggled with poverty honestly, but weâre all in this together. Everyone contributes to the household in one way or another.
GL: Fave place to hang out in San Bernardino?
Thereâs nowhere really âcoolâ to hang out or anything. Youâll probably be shot dead for hanging around somewhere in San Bernardino (I wish I was joking), but yeah violence/hard drugs are very rampant here. I do not shame sex workers, there are plenty here, I feel for them and pray they meet some solidarity in their heart, mind, and financial situation as well as their addiction to said hard drugs. There are lots of evil people out there who wouldnât think twice about taking somebodyâs life, especially somebody they value so little like these women. Iâve seen lots of strange altercations between drugged-out couples, itâs really upsetting to watch...
GL:Â Is there a music scene there?
We got our foot in the door by just playing around the Inland Empire (our SoCal region) in peopleâs backyards actually. Shows would be like $3-5 and it was basically just a place for hipsters and party people to collide and get hammered. Pretty degrading to play your music for drunk crowds that probably arenât gonna remember it or are just there to âmoshâ and push people around. Iâm glad Foliage got somewhat popular and we donât have to do that anymore.
GL:Â Best music city/town in California?
Los Angeles of course, but San Francisco, easy. Second, iâIâday Irvine, itâs hella nice out there and Iâve seen many great artists come out of there (Castlebeat, Sundive, Harry Teardrop, Kalm Dog, Dark Tape, Wes Park) though there isnât really a scene out there. Riverside is really nice too.
GL:Â Are there any local bands that we should know about?
Kalm Dog for sure. I play drums in his live band, we make our live debut next month! Iâm very excited. I love his music and am excited to be playing with him.
GL:Â What live acts with a great live show are you enjoying right now?
I really love Black Marbleâs live show, I would like to see them since I havenât yet.
I got to see My Bloody Valentine this year (who is easily my favourite band of all time, donât know if I mentioned that prior, oops) and NO CONCERT WILL EVER TOP IT.
I told myself from a very young age that if I ever got the chance to see them, I would risk my ears. Was very happy to do that.
Also, they played âWhat You Wantâ, one of my all-time favs, which they never play, and it was flawless. 10/10 show. I talk about seeing them again every single day hahaha.
GL: The Foliage dream support slot?
Craft Spells for sure, weâve talked about it already. One day soon hopefully! Also My Bloody Valentine or Johnny Marr.
GL:Â Weâve been enjoying all your recent releases, what does the near future have in store for Foliage?
Thank you so much, I appreciate the love and love you too.
Near future: Split with Andrew Younker out 12/14, more live shows and more new music of course, gonna keep on coming with the beautiful music.