Road tripping all the way from Portland, Oregon, Gabe Mouer, whose artist name is Patternist, made a long-awaited first-time appearance in the District earlier this month. Patternist is a solo project that wraps percipient lyricism into blissfully crafted beats. While Patternist has only dropped one new song since the release of his “Give it Up” EP in 2016, Gabe has been working zealously over the past year to create a full-length album, which is now complete. When asked about the reason for the release gap, Gabe, point-blank said, “crippling self-doubt.” From there Gabe, Ashton (Patternist keys and bass), and I took the conversation into a deep dive of paradoxes and existential thoughts atop the DC9 roof.
Was there a specific moment of inspiration that sparked that decision to commit to making an album?
GM: You want to be a professional musician, which also means putting yourself out there, which is scary. Inspiration can come from making one song, but then the next morning you can absolutely hate it. There is no way to be objective about the work you create. You just have to force yourself to put it out in the world and see if it connects with anybody. It’s vacillating between the extremes of saying, “My voice is important and people will find meaning in it” and saying, “No, I’m nobody.” I think anybody who creates can relate to that and you never get over the self-doubt.
Absolutely. You do some production for others, but what do you like and dislike about producing your own music versus being the secondary artist on a project?
GM: It’s very different. I like to be the person that says, “That’s a great idea.” I like being a cheerleader. I like finding what works and figuring out ways to foster it into a better song. However, that is not what I do with myself and, to be frank, I may be too much of an egotist to work with someone on my own music. There’s compromise that goes into it. You want to let people put their creative mind to use, but for me there is something very rewarding of owning the end product, even if it’s not perfect. I challenge myself to write the drums, bass, synth and I like the reward of pushing myself creatively.
What was your biggest challenge, creatively? What was that one thing where you weren’t sure you could do it, but are proud that you did?
GM: I think mixing myself is the hardest. Recording audio isn’t difficult. What’s hard is to take all those elements and make something that sounds competitive. At the beginning of Patternist, I didn’t have the skillsets to mix, but the new record is completely self-mixed. Is it the greatest sound of all time? Probably not, but I am proud to have done it.
AM: Having the creative control is great, but the other piece of that is that you’re solely accountable.
GM: When you’re working with other people, it’s so easy to project blame on somebody else, like, “Oh, if the mix were there, the song would have taken off”. There’s really no excuse if you do it yourself, which allows me to take responsibility, learn from mistakes, and eliminate some variables.
Ashton, you play the live sets, but did you have a role in the new album?
AM: I don’t write, but did have some input towards the end.
GM: You definitely did. I got to a place with the mixes where I needed someone’s ear. So, at the end Ashton helped make sure everything was balanced. Literally, the last day of mixing was a 36-hour marathon. Without Ashton there I wouldn’t have been able to do it.
What is it like being on the road with the person you’re married to? What is that dynamic?
AM: Honestly, it’s really easy for us. Don’t get me wrong there are times where we’re hangry and exhausted, but for the most part it’s easy and awesome we get to share this thing.
GM: When you’re traveling with a band it can be difficult and it can sometimes ruin relationships.
AM: I think it helped that we did a lot of road tripping before touring together, so we got used to being in a car for long hours for fun. Tour is like that, but we just play a show at the end of the day.
I’m totally in support of that. I always say make the first date a road trip. You’ll find out everything you need to know and no time will be wasted.
I saw you retweet a quote about existence as a response to the question “What is your album about?” So, what is existence to you?
GM: A random happenstance where the universe collided to create life. The record is actually a little about what is meaning in a meaningless universe. It’s a paradoxical struggle, which can be depressing or empowering. They just released the first picture of the black hole. Part of me feels insignificant, if you have a nihilist perspective. Or there’s the opposite mindset that if this life is all you’ll ever know then you might as well have some fun.
AM: Living inherently is selfish, but if you can provide happiness to others along the way, then that’s the goal.
GM: It’s easy to feel alone, but if music can be a conduit where we connect with others by sharing our experiences, it can foster a realization that we’re collectively in this together. In that way, music does serve a purpose.
Lastly, we’ll leave you with this random fact from Gabe: more time separates the Stegosaurus and the Tyrannous rex than between the Tyrannosaurus rex and humans.