Steven Chiboucas, also known as Supertandad, recently unveiled his second EP, Moodring, for all to hear. A departure from his earlier work, which was more akin to ambient and electronic genres, Moodring moves decidedly in a dream pop direction that still carefully incorporates the captivating synth sounds and drum loops that brought his earlier work to life. This latest offering should please fans of Beach House, Youth Lagoon and The xx. His sound thrives on lush textures, fun melodies and thoughtful mixing that make breaking out some quality headphones well worthwhile.
When Supertandad isn’t writing, recording and producing music for himself or others, he can be found at the Portland recording studio The Hallowed Halls working as a mix engineer. He also slings trap beats to internet rappers and shoots architectural photography. “I also like to dabble in cryptocurrency investment,” he divulges. “The further along I get into making music, the more I realize I need a financial backup plan,” he quips.
Chiboucas started playing drums when he was 9 years old and soon started making music in bands with friends and playing in jazz band at school. His performer pseudonym had an early start as well. “When I was a kid, I had a friend over and he noticed my dad tanning in the backyard. My dad, like many Greek men, really knows how to get his tan on. My friend was like, ‘Your dad is really tan,’ and I was like, ‘Yeah, he’s a super tan dad.’ I instantly knew I had to hang on to that,” Chiboucas explains of his moniker’s genesis.
Moodring has been a long time in the making. “The single, ‘Disorder,’ was pretty much the first song I ever wrote when I was 14 and I have recorded and mixed it over 20 times,” he cheerfully recounts. “For me, my creative process is about 40 percent writing and recording and about 60 percent mixing and post production—all in the service of making something that tickles your ears. I love artists like Flying Lotus, Shlohmo and Aphex Twin... artists I feel that are about the fine details and how the samples mash together,” Chiboucas says.
“This EP was recorded all out of my home studio. I performed the drums, synth, guitar and vocals, as well as doing the mixing and a little bit of mastering,” he tells. “This project was about me finding my voice. One of my biggest fears was having people hear my voice. On my last EP I had added a few vocal parts, but this time around I really went for it with very little manipulation of vocals and just a little reverb for the most part,” Chiboucas explains.
“I love to use old, almost broken Casio keyboards from late ’80s and early ’90s. I like to run the batteries out and when it gets near to death, that’s when I can start the recording takes. The keyboards get this warm, crackly feel, like an analog synth, even though they are digital. If I miss the first take, I know I only have about a 30-minute window after that. It’s funny, Duracells last a long time man! I know because I ran the batteries out completely when I was recording the song ‘Flaws of Attraction’ and had to get new ones. I figured the more keys that were pressed down, the more battery it would use, so I got a pen and rubber banded it down to the keys so it was blaring as many tones as possible. I left it going with the door cracked and played video games and ate food and kept checking on it, waiting for sound to start getting just right,” he describes.
“I have another album in the works now, called Moodring Pt. 2”, Chiboucas tells when asked about the future. “I had it on hold just in case people hated the first one,” he jokes. “I actually collect mood rings, though the ring I’m wearing now is just my wedding ring. The mood is Fred Meyer Jewelers. I’m pretty sure what we saved on our wedding rings went right towards a drum machine. It’s a good thing my wife likes music,” he says with a smile. “I’m also talking to some people about putting a live group together for this material but no definite plans as of yet.”