Ezra Koenig has no problem keeping himself busy in between Vampire Weekend albums. When he’s not making his own music, he’s collaborating with other musicians, hosting his own radio show on Beats 1 and even creating an anime show with Jaden Smith for Netflix. But soon, he’s getting back in the rhythm of being the frontman of a popular indie-pop band with the forthcoming release of Vampire Weekend’s new album, which he detailed in an interview with Entertainment Weekly.
For the album, Koenig and company ended up working mostly with Haim producer Ariel Rechtshaid, who also contributed to 2013’s Modern Vampires of the City. The band also linked back up with another familiar player: Rostam Batmanglij departed from Vampire Weekend to start his own solo career, but he didn’t cut ties with the band completely. “We’re working on some songs in the exact same way we’ve always worked,” Koenig told EW. “We have some stuff that we started a pretty long time ago.”
The original plan was to formulate an album that boasted tons of contributors, however. Having worked with Kanye West and Beyonce, Koenig was inspired to go about a “modern collaborative pop album format,” but in the end, his introversion got the best of him. A notion from working with them that did stick for Koenig was to gear his focus toward songwriting and storytelling, rather than experimenting with new sounds. “At this point in my life, I’ve started to have this admiration for songwriters,” he said. “I’d never been interested in writing for other people, but when you hear somebody else sing a demo that you made, it’s surreal.”
In terms of musical direction, seeing Kacey Musgraves live made an impact: “The thing I loved about it was it wasn’t too loud—I’m definitely becoming a cranky old man—so I could really hear every word. The music was really clear and her voice was really clear.” Koenig was inspired by the simplicity of country-folk music when he approached the lyrics of his band’s new music, zoning in on: “What are these songs about? Who are they for? What are they doing?” He explained, “There’s a lot of Vampire Weekend songs that have elegance in terms of baroque chords, arrangement and interesting turns of phrase—but we’ve never had a song as elegant as some of that good country-folk songwriting.”
have yet to announce a release date for their album (working title: Mitsubishi Macchiato), but it’s expected out sometime next year. Be on the lookout for more details coming out, but until then, enjoy the band’s 2007 Daytrotter Session via the Paste Cloud below.