Ernest Greene is a Perry, GA-born, Athens, GA-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, best known as the creative mastermind behind the acclaimed synth pop/chillwave act Washed Out. Washed Out can trace its origins back to around 2009: After earning an undergraduate degree and a Master of Library and Information Sciences degree from the University of Georgia, Greene was unable to find a job as a librarian. As the story goes, Greene moved back in with his parents and began writing and producing material in his bedroom studio, as well as with local electro pop act Bedroom.
Shortly after posting Washed Out material on his MySpace page, the Perry-born, Athens-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer was discovered and championed by a number of influential blogs, who compared his sound to Neon Indian and Memory Tapes. Greene released his first two Washed Out EPs in rapid-fie fashion that August and September. And building upon a growing profile, Greene played his New York City debut — which interestingly enough, was only his second live show ever — at the now, long-shuttered Santos Party House.
2010 saw Greene continue the amazing momentum of the previous year: he played that year’s Pitchfork Music Festival and “Feel It All Around” became the opening theme song for the acclaimed TV series Portlanadia.
In early 2011, Greene signed with Sub Pop Records, who released his his full-length debut Within and Without, an album of icy yet plaintive synth pop to critical applause and commercial success: the album peaked at #26 on the Billboard 200 and #89 on the UK Albums Chart. He ended a breakthrough 2011 by co-curating that year’s ATP Nightmare Before Christmas in Minehead, UK with Battles.
Greene’s sophomore Washed Out album 2013’s Paracosm was a decided change in sonic direction, as it featured a warmer, tropical-inspired sound that paired organic instrumentation with electronic production — while retaining the ethereal quality of his previously released material,. The year ended with Life of Leisure EP track “New Theory” being featured as background music in a scene of the rom-com The Spectacular Now.
The Perry-born, Athens-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer’s third album, 2017’s Cole M.G.N. co-produced Mister Mellow was released through renowned hip-hop label Stones Throw Records, and the album found the acclaimed artist’s work seemingly taking on a bit of a J. Dilla-esque beatmaking feel.
Since the release of Mister Mellow, Greene released a handful of singles including “Face Up” as part of Adult Swim’s applauded Singles Series. Earlier this year, the Perry-born, Athens-based artist released “Too Late,” a track that sonically was a return to form: a swooning yet bittersweet bit of synth pop centered around layers of arpeggiated synths, stuttering beats, Greene’s ethereal and plaintive vocals and a soaring hook — but with a subtly Mediterranean feel.
As it turns out, “Too Late” was unofficially the first single off Greene’s highly-anticipated and long-awaited fourth album Purple Noon. Written, recorded by Greene with mixing handled by frequent collaborator Ben H. Allen, the album’s production followed a brief stint of writing with other artists — most notably writing with Sudan Archives on her debut Athena. Those collaborations allowed Green to explore R&B and modern pop and those sounds have made there way into Purple Noon‘s material. Not only is the material reportedly the brightest and more robust sounds he’s ever worked out; it’s also a decided step forward: unlike his previous released work, the vocals are placed front and center at the mix, with slower tempos, bolder, harder-hitting beats and a more comprehensive dynamic depth.
Deriving its name from Rene Clement’s 1960 film Purple Noon, which was based on Patricia Highsmith’s novel The Talented Mister Ripley, the album’s material is deeply inspired by the coastlines of the Mediterranean — with Greene paying tribute to region’s island-based culture, elegance and old-world charm. But the surroundings serve as the backdrop to stories of passion love and loss — with a deeper, perhaps more urgent emotional intensity: the album’s first single “Too Late” is a tale of a first meet, with all the confused and swooning emotions that come about.
Recently Greene was on Late Show with Stephen Colbert, where he performed “Too Late” with a gorgeous split camera perspective that offered and extreme close up on Greene performing the song: we see his fingers as they tap various functions on his drum machine and synths — and Greene singing through a two microphone set up. Behind him, a gorgeous sunset on the beach.
Purple Noon is slated for an August 7, 2020 release through Sub Pop Records.