Evan McPhaden, bassist of Aqueous, spent 2020 staying productive amid limited live performances. He started early out in quarantine working on a solo side-project, Fluffy Fingers, and it’s one of the best albums you’ll hear in this nascent 2021.
If you’re looking for an album of soothing tracks that fit neatly into a Lo-fi beats playlist, Fluffy Fingers is for you. Six tracks of instrumental goodness are found in the vein of Poolside and a consistent groove that does not slack on any given track.
Compared to energetic Aqueous performances, McPhaden contrasts his typical comfort zone, bringing mellow yet engaging sounds to the listen for just under a half-hour. Evan invited fellow Aqueous bandmate Mike Gantzer to play on “Summer Pool 104” as well as Turkuaz‘ Craig Brodhead to join in on “Chai,” making this collaborative effort even deeper despite the distance between them.
McPhaden spoke to NYS Music about the album and revealed The Office connection to the project name.
Pete Mason: When did you start on the EP? Was this a project in works prior to pandemic or something that generated from the shutdown?
Evan McPhaden: I started working on this project about a month or two into the shutdown. I’ve always wanted to release my own personal music and it felt like it was a “now or never” moment. There’re so many memes about working on an EP and never putting it out, I had to do it. The shutdown was a unique time for everyone so it was nice to fill that time making music.
PM: What artists influence the style found on the album? I hear some Poolhouse and Tycho influence.
EM: That’s funny you mention Poolside because that was definitely an early influence on this project. The first song I wrote for this EP (coincidentally the first on the EP as well), which features Mike, totally has a Poolside influence. I also love Bonobo and was thinking of his vibe through this. Over the pandemic, I binged on instrumentals as well. I can put on the “lo-fi beats” or “jazz vibes” playlists on Spotify and listen to those for hours. So a lot of this EP has that vibe of influence over it.
PM: Where did the name Fluffy Fingers come from?
EM: Originally, I was thinking I would use something from Buffalo. I had the name “hoyt” because I live right next to Hoyt Lake. But it wasn’t sticking and I began to think about other things I love. I’m a huge fan of “The Office” and watch it way too much. I thought if I could find something from the show I’d love that. Micheal Scott goes to Darryl for some advice for what to do if someone disses you. Darryl uses the term fluffy fingers which he says “That’s when someone really gets in your face, you know you just, start ticklin’ ’em.” Part of putting out this music and creating it was to have fun with it, not over think it and just enjoy creating it. I thought the name and reference just reflected that and it felt right.