Photo Credit: Rebecca Aronow
Philly musician Chad Snyder dives into a quest of self-discovery on his debut record A Pound of Feathers, out today released under his moniker Kiro Heck. The album was produced by Berlin Studios founder and fellow artist Joe Michelini, who helped Snyder capture his vision of what he wanted this first endeavor to be. Snyder’s mission to take look in the mirror and reevaluate aspects of himself comes across clear with his transparent songwriting throughout the album. From “Daily Waves” when he sings about trying to develop a new sense of self while moving in a sea of uncertainty to “Up To Chance”, where he recognizes how unproductive certain behaviors he has held need to be abandoned, there’s a bold amount of self awareness that is laid across the board start to finish.
A Pound of Feathers may be the first installment of Kiro Heck, but there is already a unique style that holds residence and one that Snyder made sure is felt. The waves of lush, twangy layers in “Daily Waves” to the ethereal, acoustics in “As I’m Told” and “My Education”, there is a distinct, indie-folk approach that is time and time again enjoyable.
Read on below as Chad breaks down the album from beginning to end.
“Daily Waves” – For as long as I knew I was making the record, I was pretty sure “Daily Waves” was going to be the opener. It’s the oldest song by more than a year, which is why it feels so stylistically different, but I was also a different person when I wrote it—really aimless, detached, and a little self-destructive. I think that really comes through in the lyrics. It wasn’t a good look then, and it certainly isn’t now, but I think that’s what makes “Daily Waves” a good opener. Everything that follows is a direct response to that version of myself.
“Good Things” – Be it political, cultural, or personal, passivity is a privilege that many people don’t have. That reality was a driving force behind the record for me, especially on songs like “Good Things”. This was one of the first songs Joe and I worked out in the studio. The whole arrangement pretty much came together in a day, which was a very exciting, very new experience for me. I think we spent the most time trying to get the foot tap just right. We had to go through a lot of different shoes and tapping techniques, but I think what we landed on is pretty extraordinary.
“As I’m Told” – This time around, I was really intent on writing songs that sounded full with just an acoustic guitar. This was the first one where that clicked for me. Most of the writing happened about a month before we started tracking, and “As I’m Told” was the one that got the momentum going. The lyrics deal a lot with validation and the unhealthy lengths we’ll go to chasing after it, which is a topic that is very in my wheelhouse.
“Talk to Me, Bro” – The line about my friend showing me the hole he punched in the wall—that really happened to me in elementary school. Unfortunately, I know a lot of guys that are still like that, as I’m sure most people do. I think this one mostly speaks for itself, but I’m really happy with how sparse and weird the arrangement turned out. It’s a nice breath of fresh air in the middle of the track list.
“Ball Pit” – A year or two ago, I went to a show that seemed to have a disproportionate number of aggressive dudes. The music didn’t call for it, but they were moshing the whole time, and as we were leaving, my friend referred to them collectively as “the ball pit”. That phrase stuck with me and became a catch-all for all the toxic behavior I’m constantly trying to unlearn. The two distinct sections of the song represent the drunken stupidity of that show and the quiet, sobering moments that came after it.
“Domestic Bliss” – The concept of domestic bliss means a lot of things to me, but in the context of the song, it’s the path of least resistance. It’s giving up on my convictions and a lot of the things that make me who I am. We originally recorded some big, thumping bass and drums for this one, but after playing it the way you hear it on the record, it was hard for me to go back to that. The record has a really lonely feel overall, at least for me, and I think that’s felt the most here.
“Stillness” – Most of the demos for the record are just me and an acoustic guitar, so a lot of the arrangements took shape in real time as we tracked them. I remember “Stillness” coming together really naturally, and it’s probably my favorite recording to listen back to because of that. I had been a fan of Carroll for a while before I asked Max to play slide on it, and I think he really nailed it. It’s the only point on the album that I would describe as remotely “feel-good”.
“My Education” – There’s a strong undercurrent of cishet guilt running through the whole album, but “My Education” is where it really comes to a head. We stressed over the arrangement of this one to the point where the song started to feel cursed. I think we tried five or six different guitars, and I don’t know how many passes we did of the solo, but in both cases, we went back to the second or third take. In the same way, the slide part was the secret ingredient for “Stillness”, Hannah’s vocal really brought the whole thing together for me.
“Presbyterian” – Early into tracking, I expressed interest in stitching field recordings into some of the arrangements. Joe took it one step further and suggested we actually record a song outside, so we went out to some trails near the studio and tracked “Presbyterian” with a little handheld recorder. I spent a lot of time biking the Wissahickon while I was working on the album, and I ended up writing a lot of the lyrics out there. It felt right to have some of that natural ambiance on the final recording, and I think it lends itself well to the somber tone of the song.
“Up to Chance” – This one mostly came together on the last day of tracking, but it always felt like it was going to be the closer. If “Daily Waves” is the prologue, and “My Education” is the climax, “Up to Chance” is definitely the epilogue. It takes the sentiments about agency I explore earlier in the record and reiterates them in a more assured, definitive way. There’s a sense of finality and gravitas to it, but also an understanding that there’s always more work to do. All that aside, though, I just hope the music sounds good
Listen to A Pound Of Feathers in full below and keep up with Kiro Heck here