Tigerlamp: inside the bedroom studio

Reid LaPierre, pictured above in his bedroom-turned production studio, will release an album in November as a part of his solo project Tigerlamp.

Craig Zirpolo
Editor of The Horn RVA

Over the last seven years, Richmond native Reid LaPierre established himself as a pillar of the independent music community in the Fan. The 22-year-old guitarist gained notoriety in Richmond’s budding math rock scene with Night Idea and Houdan the Mystic, and later joined acclaimed indie-pop quintet Way, Shape or Form on bass.

As a natural offshoot of performing and booking locally, LaPierre gathered his friends to create The Subterranea Collective, an integrated network of local multimedia artists, sound engineers, musicians and creative youths dedicated to self-production, promotion and distribution of music and art, as well as booking and hosting touring bands in Richmond.

“Subterranea isn’t a record label,” LaPierre said. “It’s more like a community that shares a common focus on originality.”

In the past year, Subterranea has released 11 albums and a compilation, filmed music videos and celebrated a local showcase at Gallery5, all the while hosting inventive out-of-town groups at venues across the city.

But even with three bands and a thriving network of artists, technicians and listeners, LaPierre craved further sonic experimentation.

“I’ve played in bands since I was a teenager and I wanted to try something new. With my solo project, Tigerlamp, I wanted to explore where my individual taste in song writing would take me,” he said.

In April 2013, LaPierre released “Good Friends in My Head,” a four track EP crafted with an 8-track recorder and a slew of guitars, drums and synthesizers borrowed from friends. Apart from his other bands, “Good Friends” explores new territory for LaPierre: soft, rolling acoustic rhythms driven by laid-back percussion, spiced with live sampling and LaPierre’s signature guitar pedal tap dancing.

After the May 2013 release of “Paths,” the latest EP from Night Idea, LaPierre felt the Tigerlamp itch once more.

“When I started working on the new recordings, I had no idea what to expect,” he said. “I had to move my bed into my closet because I had so much music gear.”

Unexpected creative inspiration came from LaPierre’s girlfriend Victoria Borges, a graphic artist. After studying her creative process, he noticed she would work on her art in pieces and layers, as opposed to the linear approach he preferred. He tried writing his songs in layers and hasn’t stopped since. The new approach shows as LaPierre masterfully calls on live instruments and sampling to confer a simultaneous dose of electronic and homemade loops and quirks.

“It’s like a musical puzzle,” he said. “You always need to find space to put that extra little sound.”

The currently untitled release comes out in late November, featuring five songs and a bonus remix. In keeping with the Subterranea ethos, production is provided by Troy Gatrell of Way, Shape or Form, with mastering from Josh Osborne.

While LaPierre fights to hide excitement as he diligently completes recording, sincerity overcomes his face when reflecting on the local music community.

“Being a part of the music scene in Richmond has given me pretty much everything I have,” LaPierre said, as his eyes traced the show fliers lining his bedroom wall. “I’ve made friends around the world, and it’s great to be in a position where I can actually make a difference.”

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