By Margaret Welsh
Pittsburgh Current Music Editor
On Patrick Coyle’s new solo EP, Iridescent Cue, each song centers on the perspective of a different member of a family unit. When writing the songs, Coyle wanted to capture the melancholic nostalgia of watching an old home movie, a feeling partly informed by his own wistfulness about adulthood, growing up and feeling less connected to his own family.
But the storyline is more complex than that. “I was thinking it would be funny if … there was some sort of large-scale film production of the home movie.” Coyle says. “So in my head, these characters are part of a family but they’re also just playing members of the family.”
While the music evokes that longing for home and childhood, the lyrics deal with the lives of the actors, “people trying to deal with their own relationship to movie making and the obsession with fame and stardom and stuff like that.”
It’s an amorphously meta concept. But the idea of a big-budget film version of a home movie seems like as good an analogy as any to artistic creation in general. What is a song or a record or a painting or a film if not a reframing and reimagining of our personal life experiences? The idea is “kind of vague and kind of swirls around in my mind,” Coyle admits. But, the emotional truth lands. “I guess, for me, the emotions feel good.
Coyle says the EP functions as a score to this imaginary movie, but the songs stand on their own as cinematic shorts. It’s washy, moody pop, reminiscent of Andy Shauf’s gentle small-scale story-songs, or Sufjan Stevens at his most electronic. Asked who would direct this hypothetical big budget home movie, Coyle laughs that it might be cool to bring Andrei Tarkovsky back from the dead for the project, since the EP actually contains samples from Tarkovsky’s film Solaris. “His movies are very dreamlike and really don’t follow any sort of conventional Hollywood narrative,” he says.
Coyle studied film at Penn State, but never really explored a career in the field. “I was kind of overwhelmed by the idea of trying to pursue that more, the competitiveness of the whole film industry.” Drumming is his first love – he’s played in bands like Blod Maud and It It in addition to his solo work, and he has done session work at the Mr. Smalls recording studio. But not going into filmmaking is something he regrets. “I love movies so much,” he says. “It’s something I’d love to come back to in some way, maybe combining music and film.”
In September, Coyle takes a step that could lead him in that direction: moving to Los Angeles, where he’ll pursue session work and whatever else might come his way. The EP release is his last Pittsburgh gig (for a while, anyway), and the nostalgia is already kicking in.
“I’m going to miss how easy it is to collaborate with people here and the huge breadth of talent and kindness and [the] non-pretentious approach to things. I’ve been able to play in a bunch of bands and collaborate with a bunch of people,” he says. “I already miss everybody a lot, so it’s going to be bittersweet.”