Indie-pop artist The Saturday Giant a portrait in self-sufficiency

Understanding that many of his fellow Columbus, Ohio, musicians, though nice enough, often lacked the dedication and focus he did, Phil Cogley set out nearly three years ago to start his own band.


Performing as The Saturday Giant, Cogley, 30, is truly a one-man band; a multi-instrumentalist who produces every sound -- from drums to basslines to guitar riffs -- that the audience hears when he performs live, as he will do July 15 at Rip Tides, a fledgling music venue on Hilton Head Island.

Cogley said, after years in several different bands, he's become accustomed to life as a solo artist.

"It just seemed like every band I was in ended up dying for one reason or another," he said. "Someone lost interest or was moving on with their life and having kids, and musicians are notoriously flaky anyway. It just seemed like everyone I was meeting lacked the commitment I had so I came up with the idea to write and record everything myself. So I set about doing that."

Doing so required Cogley master-looping pedals that allow him to record certain sounds and layer atop one another to re-create the sound of a full band.

It was slow-going at first.

"I was aware of the technology but I had never used it in any kind of thorough way so I just starting looking at YouTube videos of artists like Andrew Bird and that really inspired me and got me excited about using the pedal," he said. "I guess my attitude was a little cavalier and I would try to play songs with the loop way before I was really ready but the more I kept at it, the better I got."

Cogley has released two EPs, "When Death Comes" and "You've Heard of Dragons" and is working on a new full-length album due out later this year.

He discusses going it alone, his sound and the music he's listening to now.

Question. You indicated that learning on the loop pedal was difficult at first, what were some of the first solo shows like?

Answer. It really started in summer 2010 and it was a pretty modest operation. I had no real effects, no extra gear, no nothing. I just had an extra mic for beatboxing but I found myself getting to a point where I got bored with some of the tools I was using so I was constantly adding new things and new equipment to the rig. I think that really helped flesh out my sound.

Q. You're working on a new full-length album now, what is the songwriting process like for you?

A. It really is like doing what a full band would do and how a full band would write a song only I'm doing it by myself. I get set up with my rig and just start playing with chord progressions I like and then I'll add a riff or a melody or some texture that I find interesting. It's really about experimentation. That's one of the benefits of doing something like this on your own. There really aren't anyone else's egos to worry about. If the keyboard player can't seem to get his part to work on a certain song, you don't have to have that tough conversation of like, 'Hey man, maybe you shouldn't play on this track.'"

Q. What kind of music are you into right now?

A. I'm really into world music right now. It's so much fun to listen to artists who clearly enjoy playing their instruments. There's this Brazilian artist named Tom Ze that (Talking Heads frontman) David Byrne kind of helped discover and released some of his stuff in the early 1990s and that kind of fell below the radar for me at the time. I had no idea who he was and I was with a friend and he was playing a mix with a Tom Ze track on it and it was so creative and unique. It really got me excited. To be honest, I'm kind of bored with white people indie music. Don't get me wrong, there are a lot of great bands like that but I just hear so much of it. As a a genre, I think it's a little too shoe-gaze-y for it's own good. That said, I really love the new Youth Lagoon record and I guess that's white people indie music. (laughs).

Q. What does an average set look like for you?

A. My sets are usually all original stuff. I'll occasionally throw in a cover if I can think of a new or fresh way to do something. One of my favorite songs to cover is "Movin' Out," by Billy Joel. It's not a song that people would typically associate with an artist like me, but I like to mess with people's expectations. Not only that, it's a really great song.

Follow reporter Patrick Donohue at twitter.com/IPBG_Patrick.

The video for The Saturday Giant's "When Death Comes" The Saturday Giant - "When Death Comes" from seth a. moherman on Vimeo.


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