In videos for his hit songs “Get Lost” and “Hard to Say Goodbye,” the artist known as Washed Out mixes visual images with textured sound for a moody and gentle musical genre known as Chill Wave.
When he’s at home in Atlanta, Georgia, Washed Out is Ernest Greene Jr., a 35-year-old husband and father who aims to let his music mature to match his personal growth.
When Washed Out brings his trio to perform Wednesday, May 16, in the Historic Redwood Barn at Sonoma’s Gundlach Bundschu Winery, he plans to give his fans both the sights and sounds they’ve learned to expect from him.
“As my records change and evolve, I try to put together a live show that captures that. I’ll play a little bit of keyboards and samplers, and then there’s a drummer and guy that plays guitar, bass and keyboard,” Greene said.
“We travel with a pretty visually heavy show. We have some projections that are animated and choreographed to the music. And we also have some motion-sensor cameras onstage that are following the movements of all three of us band members, and will project our silhouette images up on the screen with a lot of psychedelic effects.”
The best example of Greene’s visual approach is the video for “Get Lost” from last year’s “Mr. Mellow” album, the third released by Washed Out. On the video, directed by Harvey Benschoter of the Vimeo video production company, cutout figures move back and forth in front of iconic pop culture backgrounds.
“This is the first record tour where we’ve incorporated any sort of live visuals like this. The reason was that the music on the album was so heavily inspired by a lot of visual culture that made sense. I was so enamored by vintage animation from the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s,” Greene explained.
“The title ‘Mr. Mellow’ was meant to be a little bit tongue in cheek,” he said.
Possibly best-known for creating the theme song for the television series “Portlandia,” set and filmed in Portland, Ore., Washed Out has a strong fan base up and down the West Coast.
“We get a really strong turnout in the bigger cities on the West Coast,” he said. “Statistically, Los Angeles is one of the areas where we’re more popular, going by the online streaming numbers.”
It took more than two years to put together all of the music for “Mr. Mellow,” Greene said. He toured heavily for the album last summer, and plans to play music festivals this year, swinging through the Midwest and Northeast, with some European dates scheduled for June.
Greene’s work is mostly soft-spoken and easy-going synthesized pop, but he said a sharper edge is creeping into his material as he nears the end of his first decade on the music scene.
“A lot of my early music had this kind of carefree, laid-back mentality,” Greene said. “But 10 years on, I’m older with a lot more real-world adult responsibilities in play.”
Greene and his wife Blair, formerly a keyboardist with Washed Out, have a two-year-old, with another child due in September.
“Where I’m coming from now is maybe a bit more a jaded place,” he said, “but I’m just getting started on new music now, and that’s a bit more playful,”