Column: In conversation with GRMLN

Ryan Meyer

After writing a review of GRMLN’s new record, Morning Star, I reached out to Yoodoo Park, the man behind the music, to discuss his history as a musician, his recording process, and inspiration behind some of my favorite guitar music of the decade.

As a southern California high schooler, Park spent his days basking in the sun and writing and recording his earliest songs as GRMLN.

“When I was in high school, I started spending a lot of my time by myself,” Park wrote. “Going to the beach and surfing was the only past time that I enjoyed at the time so when I wasn’t surfing, I was recording music.”

These habits birthed some promising songs that needed a fresh environment in order to see if they could be appreciated outside of the sanctuary of his bedroom.

“When I would record the songs, I wanted to listen to the songs in my car to have a fresh ear and see if I could enjoy the songs in a good setting, rather than listening to the songs cramped up in a little dark room with recording gear scattered everywhere.”

In my extensive studies, I’ve found that GRMLN’s music is enjoyable just about anywhere.

These teenaged projects were recorded on GarageBand, but as Park aged and developed as a producer, he changed programs.

“(I) quickly moved to Logic during my college years,” he wrote. “And then slowly moved to Ableton, which I use now.”

This development in recording closely mirrors his experiments and shifting styles as a songwriter.

“I think compared to my earlier releases, I’ve definitely sensed a change in my songwriting from when I was a young high schooler to now.”

GRMLN’s music has gone from exuberant garage rock songs to sophisticated, melancholy pieces that are best appreciated while paying full attention.

According to Park, this evolution can be attributed to his travels across three continents.

“For Goodbye, World, I was in Japan living in a really small apartment trying not to make too much sound because the walls were paper thin,” he wrote. Goodbye, World is GRMLN’s 12th record, and a strong candidate for his best.

“That made me focus on the songwriting/lyrics more than the sound aspect,” he wrote. “And when I’m in America, I have more freedom with recording as loud as I want, so the music tends to get a bit more aggressive and energetic.”

The obstacles and beauty that living in Japan provided made for music that remains close to Park’s heart.

“I personally have a connection to Goodbye, World,” he wrote. “That album really captured my time in Japan and reminds me of the train rides in Japan. And walking around the beautiful suburbs of Japan with my wife. Exploring mountains and seeing beautiful Sakura trees.”

This environment, and the omnipresent threat of noise complaints, dictated a stronger emphasis on Park’s lyrics, which he says “are focused on existential questions I ask myself. The existence of something bigger than what society offers.”

GRMLN’s 13th record, Morning Star, brings listeners to his wife’s home country of Australia, where the album was recorded in quite the unique environment.

“I actually recorded the whole album in a caravan,” Park wrote. “And because Australia has a lot of cicadas in the countryside, I had to cut out a lot of the beginnings and endings of my vocal tracks because there would be a wall of bug sounds that would bleed into the track.”

Morning Star is another quality addition to Park’s discography, and one that I have spent a lot of time digesting now that I know its origins. I’m incredibly eager to do this with the rest of his records.

An obvious shift from his Japan albums to his first Australia album is not yet visible, although fans can look forward to his next record, Oni, out on October 1st, 2020. I know I am.


Ryan Meyer can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]