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. Interestingly, the project 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. Greene moved back in his parents and began writing and producing material in his bedroom studio as well as with a 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.
He released his first two Washed Out EPs in rapid-fire fashion in August and September of that year. 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 — all while retaining the ethereal quality of his previously released material, as you’d hear on album singles “It All Feels Right” and “Don’t Give Up.” 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 producers 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 took 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. Continuing in that same vein, Purple Noon‘s second single “Time To Walk Away” is a gorgeous yet haunting song centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, shuffling beats, Greene’s plaintive vocals, an enormous hook and Mediterranean/Caribbean vibes. The track is as infectious as any of his previously released work, but the track tells the story of a disintegration of a relationship with an aching sense of loss and confusion. Ghosts linger.
Directed by Aussie director Riley Blakeway, the recently released video is a reinterpretation of a personal short film Blakeway shot years ago, presented in music video form. The video presents its central tale of two passionate, young lovers and their relationship in a beautiful and cinematic fashion — but at its core is a familiar ache that we’ve all known at some point.