Today is the much anticipated release for Foliage’s third album, III. The dream-gaze project is curated singularly by San Bernadino native Manuel Joseph Walker, and III is the product of Manuel’s journey to self-discovery and entering adulthood. The album presents a fresh and relatable perspective over a nostalgic background, featuring samples from Pixar’s Toy Story and How I Met Your Mother. It’s a record that will have you reminiscing on the present that is the crossroads of your fleeting youth and impending future.
Foliage took some time to talk with me about the themes surrounding his new release, what it’s like being a young artist in the DIY space, and his childhood love for Toy Story.
What would you say are the advantages/disadvantages of being a “Bedroom DIY” artist?
Advantages are that you have 100% complete creative control, whether that be the songwriting or the production. If you can play all the instruments, if you can sing all the parts, do it.
Not really any disadvantages besides I guess not recording drum kits at home or mic-ing guitar amps cause no tape deck, but people do these things at home all the time. My setup is quite simple: computer, Ableton, guitar, bass, synth.
So you were about 16 when you released your first album in 2014, and now you’re 20 years old at the time of this release. Have there been any moments throughout your musical journey that you feel your age had you at a disadvantage? What about at an advantage?
2014 was the first music I ever put out, a three-track EP called Singles which acted as a precursor to 2015’s Truths. I’ve grown a lot throughout the years, and I like to show that growth with all of my records through the structure, lyrical content, & a big factor behind most of it, the production. The lyrical content has become more real and personal with each record, with “III” being the best one to date in terms of overall sound. It’s my favorite record I’ve made and I put much time and love into it to be better with each one. I hope you enjoy it.
I’ve felt that there are rare disadvantages to being a young musician besides being taken seriously or trying to get your name out there. Talking business when you’re young & haven’t even held more than $100 in your hand at once. As I’ve grown, all this stuff is easy now. It’s important to be confident with your work when presenting to individuals that help you with booking shows and doing press. Mutual respect is important too.
There are more advantages to being a young musician than an older one, we have much more time to work and grow. The older you get, the more work you have to do. Let music be your work, live off of doing what you love. I hope to achieve that very soon.
What was the general inspiration for III?
My debut Truths was my first attempt at music and writing an album. A young boy with a big heart, longing for love while figuring out life as a teen in High School. Last year’s Silence saw me in a naive abusive relationship, and trying to escape that. Being my first real girlfriend and all, the amount of love I carried, or thought I had anyway, in my young mind and heart was just a young, naive, 17 year old Manuel. A hopeless romantic longing for the comfort and sweet gestures he watched in shows like How I Met Your Mother (which I sampled dialogue from in the intro for The Other Day, the third single from III).
This year’s III, I feel back on my feet, with my head on my shoulders and a more secure head. I know how to be treated and I’ve come to hold more value in truer things like friendship & family. I wanted to write a record on that, as well as my love life over the past year, up to my now over, I guess you can call it, “relationship”. There’s probably like 2-3 girls in here that have songs about them, but most of them are about this one really cool girl I briefly saw at the end of last year. It was my first time having strong feelings for someone since my last relationship and hers as well. As all things come to an end, I valued her friendship over her love, the reason being that we couldn’t inevitably hurt each other. I didn’t want to jump into something with heavy feelings so soon, our friendship and our feelings seemed to grow by the days very naturally. She was someone very special and I’ll always cherish our time spent together.
Moral of the record: People come and go, keep your feet on the ground and your head on your shoulders and remain YOU. This life is short, live it to the fullest, and value finer things like friendship & family. Don’t fall into depressive cycles simply because you are longing for love. Let life take course. God is working in mysterious ways. He has a plan for you.
Is there a song in particular from III that you’d like to share the story behind?
I honestly love all of them, I design each album to have no filler tracks whatsoever and this is, in my opinion, my best yet. I really love the final track to III, “Let’s Go Home”. Sometimes you gotta just take a few steps back and realize where you are, this is the track that ties it all together. The track opens with a sample from Toy Story 2 of Woody saying “Let’s go home”, which I often quote in real life as well as growing up on the movies HEAVILY. I shit you not, I had so much Toy Story related gear, I even owned a Woody vest and hat haha. This is the truest song of remaining you and having complete focus. Knowing what really matters in life and looking out for your own best interest. Not constantly longing for love and falling into depressive, and in my case with my OCD, compulsive cycles. Ridding yourself of all form of relationship and valuing true things like family & friendship, living your life to the fullest. This life is short, focus on now.
"Let's go home, where you're comfy in chase, and I'll take my pace.. I know that you want me to be your man well I say no.. Can I live my life for a little while? Do you mind, I've got a long way to go in my life. How far am I? I've got a long way to go in my life.. Where am I? Am I? Am I? Let's Go Home..."
How has the recording process changed over the years? I know you record all of the parts on your own – what is that process like?
It’s been mostly the same, I’ve just gotten a lot better at it. Learning how to use compression, panning, all sorts of things. I start most of the songs with just the idea of the melody I hear in my head. I usually take it to guitar first. I lay down a simple drum track and record that melody. I then re-work the drums to something more complex and start writing the rest of the song around that guitar melody or whatever instrument I took the melody to.
What is the best advice that anyone has given you, pertaining to music/art?
Be humble. Quit worrying about others and their achievements and just focus on you. Things will work out, be patient.
What are some of your favorite “up-and-coming” artists that you’d like my readers to check out?
Andrew Younker for sure. He just released an excellent debut, which I highly recommend.
High Sunn obviously, we’re super homies.
Daise as well, we’re both from San Bernardino.
Honorary shoutout to No Vacation & Craft Spells as well, they’re bigger but they’re homies and they make some of the best music out there.
Foliage’s new album, III, is out today! Stream it below via Bandcamp:
The album is also available for streaming on Spotify.
Glitter Green/White Cassettes are available via Z Tapes.
Foliage is having a release show in Los Angeles at the Moroccan Lounge on 4/21, where he will be supported by Ruby Haunt, Harmless, and TWEN. Tickets available here.
Stay up to date with Foliage through the following social links:
Twitter || Instagram || Facebook || Soundcloud
THIS INTERVIEW WAS EDITED AND CONDENSED FOR CLARITY