Sounds like: A cool, sunny, midmorning dance party on a tropical ecotour at the bittersweet end of your trip to the Amazon.
For fans of: The Field, Deep Forest.
What if Apocalypse Now were set in West Linn?
There drifts the mind of Portland producer Dylan Stark for a sliver of inspiration from his forthcoming album, a blissful, simmering dance-pop meditation titled Heartland.
"I wanted 'Ashen' to feel like you were sleeping at night in a small hut in a village somewhere," Stark says, "and you heard someone playing the music of the city over an old radio from across the village."
In this case, the village is the Portland suburbs—specifically Stark's parents' house, where he conceived the album, and the most tropical jet-setting he's ever done is in front of the television. The authenticity of Stark's music might not come from direct experience, but he's a master of simulation, and when it comes to sampling, a visionary of Coppola-sized proportions.
"At first, I would go the record store and buy vinyl. 'I wanna be like J Dilla!,'" says the 24-year-old, affecting the accent of his 18-year-old self. "Later I realized, 'Whoa, Flying Lotus sampled the Silent Hill game, so I can do anything.'"
For Stark, that meant trawling for samples every day for years and finding inspiration for uplifting, rhythmic melodies in the oddest of places: blips of out-of-print vinyl ripped and uploaded to YouTube, chords from a Dove soap commercial, field recordings via the Library of Congress website. A few self-recorded samples made it in, too. "The kids in my neighborhood are all the same age, and they just scream at each other," he says. "One of the kids says, 'I'm killing you! Lay down!'"
Other than some mastering from famed engineer Matt Colton, Heartland was released exactly as it appeared on the demo Stark sent to the well-regarded London label Civil Music.
"I got very lucky," he says. "I just wanted to make dance music that wasn't all kick and bass-forward—music with a different mission to it."
As long as that mission doesn't involve eliminating a rogue colonel in Cambodia, it's safe to say, âMission accomplished.â
SEE IT: Dylan Stark plays Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison St., with DJ Slim Jam and DJs Kiffo & Rymes, on Thursday, March 26. 9 pm. Free. 21+.