A one-man band aided by old electronics, Tide Eyes is a project from Pat Brown, formerly of Casual Curious, which weaves vintage synthesizers and electronics into a dreamy, dancy dive into “bedroom pop.”
A legit ‘80s baby and millennial dad, Brown holds “a soft spot for ‘80s and ‘90s culture and find a lot of value in the music and technology that came out of those decades.”
Value indeed. The entire concept of Tide Eyes is made possible by ‘80s machinery—and Brown’s drive for music. When the demands of a full band became daunting, Brown turned to tinkering with ‘80s synths and vintage electronic equipment to create Tide Eyes.
“I basically decided to learn how to make electronic music once I realized that being in bands was not likely to be very feasible,” Brown said. “I went to a fairly dark place existentially for a while after having my son,” he explained, “I thought I needed to grow up and leave childish things like music behind.”
Fusing life phases, both old and new, the solo-nature of Tide Eyes presents musical outlets and possibilities that ebb and flow with fatherhood. “The relief it brought reminded me how important music was,” Brown said upon his return to performing. Bands may no longer work. But there’s still music to make.
As for tangible inspiration, “I try to make music like my heroes,” Brown noted, sandwiching himself with an “oh jeez,” before sticking his sound somewhere between “Sade and Prince, or Stevie Wonder, Kate Bush, Yellow Magic Orchestra, and Scritti Politti.” With an extra nod to Steely Dan, he made good on being a dad with “dad” tastes, after all.
Brown’s Triad upbringing was born of Casual Curious, which brought him to Greensboro, from Durham, in 2011. Initially a guitarist, bassist, and a “C-minus” keyboardist, Brown’s experiment with electronics presented itself officially as Tide Eyes in 2015.
Tide Eyes’ first full album, Waveformer, released on cassette in October, marked Brown’s first attempt at recording a full-length album entirely himself; and catalogs his initiation into composing material with older drum machines and synthesizers.
“The album also represents a move over to a lifestyle where doing music alone with technology became a necessity,” he explained. With a 1980s parallel, it’s no wonder his 2016 single “Upside Down” took inspiration from Stranger Things.
Waveformer’s cover even resembles the late-‘80s style Eleven sports in season three. It’s unintentional, though not unrelated. “The artwork for Waveformer is directly inspired by Alexander Calder prints my mom hung in my room when I was a baby,” Brown explained.
As for the single itself, “I was deeply moved by the characters and the story,” Brown said, “popular interest comes in waves, and I’m always hoping to my music can ride them out.”
Oceanic references abound from Brown, who grew up “obsessed” with sharks and cephalopods. “It’s a continued source of inspiration,” he explained of his love for the ocean, “and comforting in a weird way—something so big and powerful, there’s nothing anyone can do to stop it.”
While Brown keeps his head above water and eyes on the tides of sonic exploration, his feet are planted in Triad sand.
“Greensboro has a lot of heart and spirit and I like playing music around here,” he said. “People seem to welcome the variety. And I plan to keep pushing myself in new directions.”
Within those directions, there are elements of electronic, of psych, of good old fashioned yacht rock—Brown refers to it all as “bedroom pop,” Tide Eyes often fills cracks on bills. “I try to create music that could be exciting to fans of many different genres fairly deliberately,” Brown explained.
As for making it all fit, Brown’s advice rings of a classic dad pep-talk: ”You just gotta use your ears,” he said, “if it sounds good, it is good.”
Though Brown admits not having a traditional band can make it difficult to navigate certain waters, he ultimately enjoys being free from the confines of a crew. “I get genuinely excited making my songs dynamic and interesting, and this format allows me total control over every detail,” he explained.
“Any wild idea I have, I can attempt,” he added, “and it helps my set work in a variety of scenarios—it’s easy to cram me in a corner. “
Katei Cranford is a Triad music nerd who hosts the Tuesday Tour Report on WUAG 1031.fm.
Crammed in a corner Tide Eyes will be for his next show with Saphron and LIMN at New York Pizza on July 20. His summer schedule continues with the Harrison Ford Mustang album release at OnTheOne Music on July 26, and an appearance at the inaugural “Still the Days” fest at Gibb’s on Aug 24.