Dustin Payseur, a Brooklyn based musician, is currently involved in a number of different projects. He is most recognized as the frontman of Beach Fossils, a band he formed in 2009 with bassist John Peña and guitarist Christopher Burke (the live lineup of Beach Fossils has since changed). He also runs a record label called Bayonet with his wife, Katie Garcia.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do. I’m a musician in a few different groups (Beach Fossils, Laced, Fluoride, Divorce Money, etc…) I also run a record label with my wife called Bayonet, write poetry and make shitty drawings.
Top 3 favorite or most visited websites and why? Gmail, Reddit and YouTube. The three fundamental jewels of internet browsing. One for work, one for news, one for comedic relief.
How has living in New York affected your music? I’ve been in New York for seven years now and I’d say moving here was one of the greatest decisions I’ve ever made. Growing up in North Carolina, I totally romanticized the whole art and music scene that went on in NYC; I would read about poets or something like the No Wave scene, it always just seemed like the place for cutting edge creativity, people going all out. And it also had a history of being so gritty and harsh; I thought that played into a lot of the artwork that came out of here. I wanted to surround myself with freaks who didn’t have anything to prove to anybody but themselves. Moving here, I’d say the whole romantic aspect of it tarnished a bit, it’s also the 2000s and things are very different than they used to be. But living here is incredibly inspiring, people here work super hard and it’s really diverse. You can just be inside your own head, completely independent of the city or what’s going on, the city doesn’t need you, and you don’t need it, and that’s why it works. I feel that all the time, and I love it. Nobody’s waiting for you, nobody’s rushing you, just take it at your own pace.
What kinds of things are influencing your music right now? I’m kind of always listening to the same stuff all the time, I’m skipping around from genre to genre after a couple of songs to keep myself stimulated, but it’s not really by choice, it’s just a craving I get for something very specific. I’ve been listening to a ton of David Axelrod arrangements, Chet Baker, Sparks, Sepalcure, I’ve been on a huge Beatles kick… I always like to go back to them when looking for production ideas, same with David Bowie. Right now as I’m answering you, I’m listening to ‘The 4P’s’ Dead Man’s Shadow.
What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on? In March I released a cassette with one of my projects called Fluoride, and right now I’m writing and recording a new Beach Fossils record. I also just finished up an EP with my band Laced and that will be out late October. I’ve been really wrapped up in working at the label which has it’s own rewarding feeling because you’re releasing music for other artists, putting their work out into the world and being excited about it, it’s like having a child or a pet or something… not that I would know because I don’t have either, but it is beautiful.
What other musicians are you interested in right now? I really respect what artists like Machinedrum, Four Tet and Flying Lotus are doing for contemporary music and production. For the most part I think that “Rock” music is dead, which I’m totally fine with, and I’m happy there are people out there taking music to the next level. Kamasi Washington also just blew my mind with The Epic.
Who would you ideally like to collaborate with? It’s hard to say… I think most musicians work really well by themselves, it keeps their style pure and true to who they are. These days you don’t need to collaborate as much as you used to, if you own a laptop you basically have a built-in studio and can work at your own pace.
What’s your absolute favorite place in the city/the world to be? In New York, my favorite place may be the waterfront in Greenpoint; it’s relaxing to look at the water and the skyline and clear my thoughts. I’m happy anywhere in the world as long as I’m with my friends or family. I was just in Spain visiting my wife’s family and that was gorgeous, they live in the countryside and have their own farm, it was vey mellow.
Most embarrassing moment on stage? I don’t think I’ve ever felt too embarrassed on stage. When I’m up there I become so much myself that I’m almost completely free of any limitations. So I can be happy or upset or make a complete ass of myself and it all feels lightweight, I can always laugh at myself if I make a mistake because I feel like all of the people in the crowd are my best friends. I like to look at everybody and think what it would be like to talk to them, they all seem pretty nice, we’re all there to have a good time and share this moment together.
What were you like in high school? I hated school, the whole thing just felt so dominating and dehumanizing. I despised society and politics, I was really into punk ethos and didn’t believe I had any sort of a future, I wanted to drop out but my parents wouldn’t let me. I was kind of shy and negative, but was playing in some bands and that was the only thing that mattered to me. After I graduated (somehow), I felt like this huge weight had been lifted off of my shoulders because I had finally exited the school system and could be my own person, it was really empowering. I became obsessed with Taoism and poetry, shed all of my negativity and started focusing on myself and who I truly was. I still have a lot of that fire in me, so actions like making music or doing a live show are total releases. Sometimes I have nightmares that I’m still in school and I’m so bummed out, but then I wake up in a bed in a hotel room and realize I’m on tour and this giant sense of freedom rushes into me as I remember that I’ve made something of myself.
Can you share one of the best or worst reactions you have gotten as a result of your music? The best feedback is from my mom or dad, they have good taste in music so I can trust them. They are always really blunt so they will flat out tell me if something sucks, they always push me to be a better artist and person in general. The worst reaction is when I privately spend days or weeks on a song and then finally show somebody close to me and they are like “….hmmmm, yeah…” that’s never the reaction you are looking for, so it’s back to the drawing board!