Greenwald’s musical journey has been a long one, with plenty of twists and turns. He started taking piano lessons at the age of 4, and had trouble getting into it. He loved music all through elementary school and into middle school, when he started playing guitar along with the other middle school boys. As we can all remember, playing the guitar is just about the coolest thing a middle schooler can do. Although his skill linked him with other guys his age, Greenwald’s musical taste set him apart. “Other kids were listening to Primus and Red Hot Chili Peppers,” remembers Greenwald, “I was listening to My Chemical Romance. Until I discovered Arcade Fire in 8th grade.”
For the first time, Greenwald has been writing all of his own music. At home, where he plays with his band Handshake, the musical experience is much more of a collaborative effort between what Greenwald calls “big personalities”. However, the distance has done the group some good, and over the semester Greenwald has been writing and editing songs with his fellow band members from across the country. Handshake is set to release an album in January 2012 and will be performing at Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco, a dream venue for Greenwald. Queens of the Stone Age, Modest Mouse, and Arcade Fire (Greenwald’s favorite band) are just a few of the A-Listers who have performed there.
The writing and composing of the EP was a solitary mission, but the recording of An Infinity of Furs was even more ambitious. Greenwald made the unusual decision to go all-out-independent and record the entire album using just Garage Band and the microphone attached to his Apple headphones.Says Greenwald, “I had to plug in the headphones and put one in one ear and leave the other dangling between my desk and the guitar. It was really, really hard!” What Greenwald found even more challenging was making the GarageBand built-in beats sound natural, which he did by adding layers of distortion and other effects. For such a low quality process, the EP sounds surprisingly seamless.The album itself is available on Bandcamp, an open website that allows independent artists to share their music with anyone who will listen. Artists can choose to sell their music at a set price, a pay-what-you-like rate, or show it off for free. “I feel like as a new artist, it doesn’t really make sense to sell your music at a fixed rate,” says Greenwald. He is learning, just like his fellow student musicians, that it’s hard to make money early on in the music biz. Thankfully, Bandcamp provides the perfect platform to get artists started and launch them towards amazing opportunities, some of which might one day yield a paycheck.
Until then, Greenwald is more than content to keep working diligently on his own writing and recording, as well as that of his band back in San Francisco. Greenwald is excited to gather his fellow Sarah Lawrence students and record with an on-campus band in the future. As he says, “I am a big fan of terrifying myself when I get too complacent.” At this rate, that won’t be happening anytime soon.
Photos by: Kam Rdgz, Lauren Early