Ernest Greene is a Perry, GA-born, Athens, GA-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, best known for his acclaimed synth pop/chillwave recording project Washed Out. After earning an undergraduate degree and a Master of Library and Information Science 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.
Greene started Washed Out in 2009. Shortly after posting 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 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 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.
His third Washed Out full-length, 2017’s Cole M.G.N. co-produced Mister Mellow was released through renowned hip-hop label Stone’s Throw Records, which he supported with the Get Lost! tour. Since the release of Mister Mellow, the Perry-born, Atlanta-based artist has released a handful of singles including “Face Up” as part of Adult Swim’s applauded Singles Series.
Greene began this year with the release of his latest single “Too Late.” Sonically, the song is a bit of a return to form for the critically applauded and commercially successful artist: 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. And while sonically sounding as though it could have been released on Within Without, the song captures the thoughts and feelings of a narrator, who’s fearful that he may miss out on a chance on love — but at the same time, he’s ambiguous and confused. We’ve all been there at some point and the song captures that uncertain and awkward feeling with a profound accuracy.
Much like countless artists across the world, Greene has found himself in an indefinite state of limbo with the necessary postponements and cancellations of live performances and tours, and strict travel restrictions. And as a result, the Perry-born, Atlanta-based artist had to cancel a long-planned video shoot in Italy, where he was set to collaborate with an international team of filmmakers.
Viewing it as an opportunity to engage his fans, Greene launched a collaborative project to create the recently released video for “Too Late.” Asking fans for footage they shot of their hometowns and from their own travels, the response was overwhelming and flattering — but it manages to touch upon every corner of our planet, while capturing the longing we all have for the aspects of our lives we can’t have right now and my never get back.
“I’d spent months planning a music video for a new song called ‘Too Late.’ My inspiration was a Mediterranean sunset I saw late last year, and the plan was to shoot on the coast of Italy with a team of UK and European collaborators,” Greene writes in a statement. “As we got closer to the shoot date, word about the severity and the speed of the virus started becoming daily news, and it became clear it wasn’t going to happen the way we’d planned. We tried to move the shoot several times (to Malta, Croatia, Spain, and eventually the UK), and one after another, countries shut their borders. Seeing Italy hit so hard was especially difficult to see.
I put up an IG post asking for fans to help me come up with the raw footage I had in mind — those first few days, as I was going through photos of my trips and tours, the memories of traveling and experiences I’d had took on a new significance. I wanted the video to capture those same moments for other people in their lives, and give us all an excuse to remember what it’ll look like again when it passes.
I went in thinking if I got 100 clips, I’d have enough to make the video I wanted to make. 30 minutes in, I had the 100 clips, and a few days in, I had over 1,200 clips — from London, Bali, Okinawa, Ann Arbor, Dubrovnik and a few hundred other places around the world. It was pretty amazing for me to see the vids and pics flood in like they did.
I was blown away by the response, and I’m excited to share the project with everyone now. For me, it’s turned out to be a much needed reminder of how connected we can all be when we’ve never been more physically distanced from each other. I hope everyone that contributed and everyone that watches the video gets the joy from it I do.
I don’t know what the immediate future holds for Washed Out… I have a lot of new music in various states, and other projects I was looking forward to working on this summer. I don’t know when I’ll be able to tour again, or when any of the other new music will come out, but I’m staying optimistic about both . . . “