Fences To Release New Ep, "To The Tall Trembling Trees," On Friday, September 9
Votiv Music and Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter Fences (Chris Mansfield) are excited to present his brand new six-song EP titled To The Tall Trembling Trees (pre-order). Being released on Friday, September 9, To The Tall Trembling Trees serves as the first set of official music from Fences since his 2014 offering, Lesser Oceans, and is a collection signifying a new chapter and total autonomy for Mansfield. Free from the machinations of a major label, Mansfield went back to basics for his forthcoming offering. He whittled down 40-odd songs, parsing away what he calls “audible diary entries” from actual compositions and recording the entire EP in his Brooklyn apartment in just three days. The first from the upcoming collection, “Buffalo Feet,” is now premiering over at Noisey. Check it out HERE.
Honesty is Chris Mansfield’s most powerful tool. He pours his everything into writing songs as Fences, musical missives that hold a mirror up his foibles, his heart, his hurt, and his confusion. His songs document experiences. It’s the raw yet poetic quality of his music that piqued the ears of Sara Quin (of Tegan & Sara) who heard his first EP, Ultimate Puke, on Myspace and was instantly intrigued. She went so far to as to befriend Mansfield, producing his self-titled debut, released in 2010.
But it was Mansfield’s follow up, 2015’s Lesser Oceans, which elevated Fences to a mainstream concern. Still crammed with sparkling confessionals, his second record offered a broader sonic palette, his hooks were bolder, and of course there was that little hit “Arrows,” a collaboration with his old Seattle pals Macklemore and Ryan Lewis (nearly nine million YouTube views and counting).
Which brings us to Mansfield now: a new father to a baby girl named Cedar, probably a few new tattoos and a new clutch of songs in the form of six-song EP, To The Tall Trembling Trees, a title which he says is a metaphor for nervous people: “Someone who’s been still in their life, they’ve been in the same place for so long that they’re so tall, and they just fucking grow and grow, but they’re anxious.”
Mansfield’s music has always been visual, his words inspire wistful, sometimes nostalgic snapshots; the melodies make them stick. On “Cedar Wesley,” named after his daughter and penned when his partner was pregnant, he sings simply: “Both our lives collided and they caused a new one.” “Like a Feather” he describes as “just a simple love song,” while the EP’s centerpiece “Buffalo Feet,” with its skittering beats and sing-along chorus, offers instant pop appeal. Sometimes the springboard is a phrase lodged in his brain, sometimes it’s a feeling.
Just as Mansfield is an open book in his songs, so too he talks openly about his struggles with anxiety, using alcohol as an anesthetic—a few beers to buoy his confidence so he can perform, so he can make peace with the spot-lit glare. “David Foster Wallace called the brain the great and evil master like how do you silence your mind?” he says by way of explanation. “You sacrifice a bit of your personal life and your health to appear completely relaxed and to do a good show. Now it’s trying to figure out how not to buckle and how not to be emotionally bankrupt.”
Which begs the question: Why does he continue to do it? What pushes him to create and put himself and his music out there to be loved, yes, but also scrutinized? “Because yesterday I wrote the best song I’ve ever written, I just do that, it’s not really a choice,” he says without missing a beat. “I just talked to Sara [Quin] about this the other day and she’s was like, ‘You could never quit. Even if you painted houses you’d come home and write a song that people need to hear.” I was like, shit, yeah, I can’t really not, that’s totally why: because I just do it.”