The Life Aquatic
By Jason Lamphier
Photography by Erez Avissar
The Brooklyn duo behind Teengirl Fantasy grew up in the 1990s, the decade of Detroit techno, experimental house, and SWV. But while Nick Weiss and Logan Takahashi cite all of those relics when describing their sophomore album, Tracer, their music doesn’t look back so much as squint at the past through a sort of oceanic haze.
“We are not really from that world and weren’t really part of it, so the only way we can connect to that old-school, ravey house sound is through this more confused, clouded conception of it,” says Weiss, 23. He refers to Tracer as a “maximal” record, a set of sprawling, multilayered narratives fighting to burst out of their own space. Patterns ripple and cascade, bass lines gulp and then race up for air, synthesized melodies dip and swerve like fish. Even the songs that feature guest vocalists (including Romanthony, who fronted Daft Punk’s “One More Time”) morph just when you think you’ve latched on.
“We try to be minimal,” says Weiss, “but that’s difficult for us because we have too many ideas.”
Music has long been a sanctuary for Weiss, who was bullied as a teenager for his effeminacy. He knew he was gay since the age of 10, but didn’t tell his parents until his freshman year at Oberlin College. He sent them a handwritten letter with the news; just a year later, Weiss’s father came out to him over the phone. Though he’d suspected his father was gay for several years, he was struck with mixed emotions. “I felt kind of sad that it had taken him that long because he was older,” he recalls. “But then, after that, I was just really happy about it.”
When Weiss visits his father, who lives in Los Angeles, the two sometimes go out to gay parties together. “He’s gotten to have this new life that’s really cool,” he says. “I’m just glad he was able to finally be comfortable with himself.”
While no tracks on the album specifically address their stories, Weiss does admit that Tracer is a personal statement. “A lot of the songs are about relationships, like love songs and celebratory songs,” he says. “I think it really reflects where we’re at emotionally. It’s more melancholic, more open-ended, and also just more human.”
Tracer (True Panther) is out now.