“This one had a couple of songs that came to me really quickly,” says Steph Crase, the singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist behind the Summer Flake moniker. “The chords kind of presented themselves to me, and I had even written lyrics for one song, ‘Number One,’ that I just thought were going to be placeholders. After a while, I realised the song was done – the lyrics were exactly what they needed to be. To be honest, I have guitar parts that float around for years. At some point, they have to stick with me or I have to let them drift off. That’s the hard part – it doesn’t always come that straightforward. Because it’s all my project, I have to know where to add in lyrics, what the right tone is for the song… it all factors in. It takes a little longer than I’d like it to, but at least it means I’m satisfied with the songs themselves.”
Time Rolls By arrives roughly two years after the release of Summer Flake’s debut album, You Can Have It All. Although Crase remains quite proud of what she achieved on that record, she knew that certain rules had to be implemented in order to not repeat herself – as well as not give in to previous indulgences. “I must have done hundreds of overdubs on the last album,” she says. “I’d add in, like, a single note over the top of one of the songs and think I’d done a great job – ‘That really added to the song! I might just do a few more of those!’ A few hours later, there’d be an orchestra of guitars over every single track. I gave myself some more limitations for this EP. I only had a small amount of time to actually produce and record the EP – I wanted it to be a more spontaneous burst of songs. It’s a lot more restrained in that respect, but I think it works in its favour.”
The Summer Flake sound is one that incorporates a myriad of guitar sounds, from layered distortion to ringing, shaken reverb. When queried on what Crase’s secret is behind getting the right tones and effects on her playing, she points to knowing her set-up a lot better and not constantly seeking out new toys as she has previously done. “I’ve gone gear-mad in the past,” Crase confesses. “I’ve always had new pedals and other bits and bobs coming in and out of my set-up. For the most part, though, I’m pretty solid with what I’ve got right now. I’ve been playing the same Fender Jaguar for a long time, I’ve got the same distortion pedals. I feel like I’ve got a great sound going with what I have. There was one new bit that I hadn’t tried before on the EP, though. When I play live, I have a Dunlop Tremolo pedal – one that has a lock-in wah that you can use for the speed of the tremolo sound. I love using it live, just as something to have in the background, but I’d never had the chance to use it on a recording before this EP. I used it on the song ‘Makes Me Wanna Cry’ and it sounded awesome.”
Talk turns to the aforementioned Fender Jaguar, which Crase has played since before she had even begun performing as Summer Flake. She counts it as her signature guitar – it has featured on every release she has recorded on; including her forthcoming second studio album, which she is projecting for release in the first quarter of 2016 following a brief tour in support of Time Rolls By. “I got it in about 2003, when I was about 21,” she says of it. “I bought it for myself as a birthday present. I’d been looking around for a guitar for years at that point. I use to frequent all the music shops in my area, and they all got to know me pretty well. One day, one of the clerks took me aside and said to me that he had a friend that was selling one of his guitars and knew I’d be interested. This guy was a collector of Telecasters – he already had about 50 at that point, God knows how many he’s got now. At that point, he was selling his Jaguars and his other models that weren’t really his cup of tea anymore. The Jaguar he showed me came along at the exact right time for me – it still feels right now. Every now and then, I’ll play a different guitar and it’ll be fun for a little while. I always go back to that Jaguar, though – it’s the right neck, the right weight; and it’s pretty, which helps.”
Time Rolls By is out now via Rice Is Nice. For more info, visit www.summerflake.bandcamp.com.