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El Ten Eleven

Enlisting Outside Help

Nov 06, 2018 Web Exclusive
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Fifteen years is a long time to spend in isolation.

For the last decade-and-a-half, the two lone members of El Ten Elevenguitarist/bassist Kristian Dunn and drummer Tim Fogartyhave largely eschewed any outside collaboration or input into their buoyant brand of post-rock. It feels like a point of pride, a career built on creating such expansive soundscapes and exhilarating layers despite the presence of only two instrumentalistswith all sounds recorded live in the moment.

“I don’t want to speak for Tim, but I’d say it’s gotten easier over the years,” says Dunn. “We know each other so well, and obviously get along really well, that we can just jump right in. We are quite lucky actually.”

Over the last couple projects, however, the duo has opened up a bit and invited in collaborators to bring new life and perspective to their work. Two years ago, Dunn says the idea of an outsider to their exclusive club sounded “fun.” They enlisted the vocal help of Emile Mosseri from The Dig on a handful of songs, a project now known as the EP, Unusable Love.

“It was surprisingly easy,” says Dunn. “We just clicked. I think all three of us went into it with really good attitudes and open minds. Nine times out of ten, when Emile would suggest something, I’d end up loving it. I actually would love for Emile to be a permanent part of the band but he’s busy with his band!”

Banker’s Hill, the duo’s seventh full-length LP, represents another collaborative first for Dunn and Fogarty. For the first time, an outside producer was called in to work on an El Ten Eleven album. Dunn says Sonny DiPerri was selected from a “short list” as they were enamored with his work (Animal Collective, Protomartyr, Portugal. The Man).

“Before recording Banker’s Hill, I had about 23 songs written and I needed help sorting through them,” says Dunn. “I just couldn’t hear the songs anymore because I’d been working on them for so long. I wanted an objective third party and also a great engineer. We had a short list of producers to meet with and Sonny came really highly recommended, so he went to the top of the list. After meeting him it was obvious he was the right guy. He helped us make our best record.”

Dunn is confident the pair has much more in them even after 15 years together, and El Ten Eleven shows no signs of slowing down. However, it does sound like the days of isolation are a thing of the past as the pair employ their incredible chemistry and instrumental charisma in new inventive ways.

“So far, so good! The well hasn’t run dry yet,” says Dunn. “But if it does, there is the collaboration with other people, which has already begun. We are working with some really inspiring musicians at the moment, but, unfortunately, can’t say anything about all of it quite yet.”


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