Catching Up With Win Dunham of Young Crooks

Since leaving us Kenyon folks for New Orleans, then Austin, Win Dunham has managed to churn out an impressive quantity of music.  In the past year and a half, we have seen a handful of killer singles, a short album (Terror Tablet) that included none of them, and an EP (Gutter-Grade) for those singles to find their rightful place among 4 other songs Win managed to record in the meantime.

But of course, if that didn’t satisfy your Win fix, there’s also purportedly a secret place on the internet awash with Young Crooks b-sides, demos, alternate takes, etc…because clearly the dude does nothing except write music.

We spoke with Win via Facebook chat and got some musings on his latest songs and stories, as well as what tunes he’s been bumping lately.  You can like Young Crooks on Facebook for continued updates on Win’s tunes, and make sure to catch the interview after the jump!

The Thrill: Terror Tablet seemed to take a lot of turns as a project. First there were those awesome singles like “Love Money” and “Vykhino Station,” but then I heard some more acoustic recordings being passed around, and next thing you know it’s the summer and you’ve cranked out an album of moody lo-fi stuff. Now we’ve got an EP where you’ve included all those singles. What’s the story?

Win: Writing these songs was an arduous and frustrating process. I was going for a specific sound and, thinking it would somehow be easier if I didn’t have to articulate my ideas to anyone else, stubbornly insisted on writing, recording, and mixing all of the tracks completely on my own.

At first it was fun, and I was free to experiment. However, I soon came down with a serious case of writer’s block, and felt unable to decide what to do with the tracks I had recorded. After a few months of nothing, I decided to start over, but I never fully recovered from the block. I often got stuck on songs or batches of songs for weeks at a time. all told, I probably wrote about four albums of material although most of it was never finished and many of the songs used the same chord progressions. It was a creative nightmare.

Eventually, I really just wanted to be finished with the whole thing. I picked out my favorite tracks and released the ones that seemed to fit together best as Terror Tablet, and released the rest as Gutter-Grade. I’m just really glad to get the songs off my chest. The whole project was humbling and a huge learning experience for me.

The Thrill: What’s some of the craziest stuff you saw in New Orleans?

Win: I worked for several months as the night-shift cashier at a convenience store on Bourbon Street, and saw a lot of crazy shenanigans: kids getting arrested, a lot of drunken fighting, lots of nudity, and the shady kind of street hustle that you often find at night on famous streets in poor cities. In retrospect I guess it was crazy, but at the time I was fairly nonplussed. It was just stuff to talk about with your co-workers to pass the time.

Actually, the craziest thing about it all was the way all the strippers, bouncers, gutter punks and hustlers who worked or lived around my little shop were all friends. They all kind of looked out for each other. A lot of them had cigarettes and good stories to share with me, and they were generally nice and intelligent people. I guess it’s ignorant of me to think that they wouldn’t be, but I just had no idea what their world was really like.

The Thrill: What tunes are you psyched on these days?

Win: There are lots! I’m currently obsessed with:

Kid has style. Unfortunately, some of his songs are half-baked…He also has the thickest English accent I think I’ve every heard. But this song is great.

Turns the Stones into house music.

This has been a favorite track for a while. I can’t go more than a few weeks without listening to it. I hope Mr. Paul will get his act together and drop his debut tape soon.

Parquet Courts fit in somewhere between punk and poetry. They’ve got great lyrics and this is one of my favorite songs they’ve done.

This is just a classic. Or so I’m told.

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