Rock n’ Recipes: Outer World

Hopefully you took our suggestion last week when we encouraged you to give a listen to Who Does the Music Love, the debut LP from Outer World. Members of the group have been playing in other acts we’ve enjoyed (Dahlia Seed/Positive No!), so we reached out to Kenneth and Tracy to see if they could give us some insight into their LP. Plus, as an avid coffee enthusiast, with a slight sweet tooth, I was excited to get the recipe for their “Coffee Surprise,” which can easily be replicated at your home! Check out the band’s and stream the LP HERE. It’s out now via HHBTM.

ATH: This record, according to the most recent bio, has traces of a pandemic project, but seeing as you’ve been playing together for a long time, when did the idea of Outer World first begin to blossom between the two of you? Has it ended up in a different fashion than what you originally envisioned?

OW: Our previous band, Positive No had added a sampler/synth in the final year we were together. It’s subtle, but you can hear it sneaking into our final record, ‘Kyanite’. We had wrapped that project in January of 2020 and it wasn’t the pandemic that shut the band down. After a decade of making rock records together, we were ready for something else and you can see us beginning to explore a different vision on ‘Kyanite’. The idea of Outer World was simmering as Positive No was ending. We think our current creative vision generally holds from starting as a pandemic project. We wanted to make something inspired by our record collection of oddball stuff from around the world, yet something that also kept true to the writing partnership we have been developing over the past decades of playing music together.

ATH: Speaking of the pandemic, Covid also had a huge impact on Tracy’s voice and the recording of the record. How are things as they stand now? How does this change the way you approach the songwriting as a whole?

OW (Tracy): Thank you for asking! It has a long and often frustrating recovery process that still has good days and bad days. My singing style has always been a full-body effort and requires a big exertion of energy. Post Covid not only has my lung capacity suffered, but some days I still feel so wiped out, that I can barely do anything at all. In some ways, singing is the only bridge I have to my old self, yet finding that inner strength to be creative and produce anything is what has taken a hit. My voice is not as strong as it once was, but rather than rely on my signature big voice, I am learning different ways to be dynamic through surprising melody choices, unpredictable vocal timing, and a softer attack where my instinct in the past would have taken me in a louder direction. My energy levels may be lower, but singing still takes me out of my body and forgive the pun, takes me out of this world into a space where I am free of my tired, injured body.

ATH: In terms of recording, you traveled out to the Sweeping Promises studio in Lawrence, which has a huge musical history. How was that experience, in terms of both being away from your home base and in terms of just taking in another city? Does any of that feel like it made it into the music on Who Does the Music Love?

OW: (Kenny) We’ve spent a fair amount of time in recording studios together outside of home, but never had a full week to be immersed in the experience. Lawrence is a cool place, but there aren’t a ton of distractions. It was nice to have plenty of time to lock basic tracking and play around with some ideas that weren’t already realized before getting to town. Lira and Caufield of Sweeping Promises hadn’t been in town for very long at that point, so it was nice to explore their favorite places, but also uncover some cool spots together. Caufield’s setup has a specific sound to it and that certainly translates into our songs.


(Tracy) I love recording in a studio with someone who is a singer to help me fine-tune my vocal performances or critique in helpful ways. J Robbins with whom we have recorded a lot, is a remarkable listener and always knows the best takes or when I need to try something with a different approach. Recording at the Sweeping Promises studio means being under the same roof as one of the greatest voices I know. I appreciate having female energy at the studio (often a male-centric space), but having a powerhouse singer like Lira at arm’s length means whatever vocal hurdle I might struggle to jump, there is a masterclass singer to get me over it.

ATH: Speaking of traveling to other cities…one of you recently made their way to Austin for “SXSW.” It was a strange year with lots of deserved negative press. How was your experience? What did you love about Austin (if anything)? What things can we improve upon as a city? Other takeaways from your trip?

OW: I (Kenny) came down for business and was in Austin for nearly a week. It had been almost 20 years since I last visited and never for SXSW. It was inspiring and exhausting and I have pretty complicated feelings about it all. It’s hard to judge a city when in the thick of endless tourists, but I appreciated the walkability and dedicated bike lanes. Richmond,VA struggles in these areas. There is a lot of great food and drink and I found almost everyone to be quite friendly despite what I imagine is an annoying week for locals. I had friends playing almost every day, so it was a blast to catch up with people and watch them. All the unofficial showcases I went to were well-run and organized. Shoutouts to Hipster Robots/Stupor friends for running a very cool and seamless feeling event. I can’t imagine they all go this smoothly. Perennial, Holiday Ghosts and La Scurit played some of my favorite sets. All cities should be pushing their communities to invest in more all-ages spaces that cater to diverse audiences/perspectives. Fighting for affordable housing and taking care of the residents who are the backbone. Wishful thinking, but the world is a better place when we fight for accessibility for all communities.

ATH: Who Does the Music Love officially released last week. There’s a lot of positivity around it. How does it feel to finally have it out in the world? Has there been anything that surprised you about the whole process that’s been different from your work in previous bands?

OW: We began writing some of these songs in 2020 and recorded them in 2022. It felt like this day was never going to come. We were about a week away from this being self-released online last year. It feels so good to finally have this out in the world. Seeing that people are having positive reactions and are interested in writing or posting about ‘Who Does the Music Love?’ is far beyond what we could have imagined. Having Mike from HHBTM be our advocate day in and out is a big change for us. Previous labels have done what they could, but having a well-established champion in our corner has allowed us to focus our energy on other areas. We are old, have very serious day jobs, and there are only so many hours in the day to get everything done. It’s currently a very rough time for the media and writers so we are truly thankful that sites like this exist and that people are finding value in our music.

ATH: As a music fan, I always love hearing what the artists themselves were influenced by when writing (rather than me thinking I know). What influences made their way onto Who Does Music Love? Were there other acts/art that influenced the sound that we might not recognize upon our listening?

OW: No need to bury the lead, Broadcast is our north star. However, behind the curtain, there is a mixed bag of things that get our brains working beyond the obvious. During lockdown we spent a lot of time on our patio next to a fire pit, listening to radio shows from all over the globe that were a big education and influence on the project. Some of the less obvious would be, Elis Regina, Les Abranis, Lulu, and the United States of America. Films like The Wicker Man and TV shows like The Prisoner and Children of the Stones all have DNA that shows up in our music.


(Tracy) There is an obvious vocal influence spanning every musical project I have ever been in that surprisingly a lot of people miss. Bjork’s ability to communicate emotion through her voice is something I continue to revisit and pull inspiration from. Nobody can sing like Bjork, but I so appreciate her ability to be vulnerable and yet still show strength, humor, and sexuality – sometimes all in one breath.

ATH: You’ve got a few tour dates lined up, but if you get to pick the perfect 3-4 band tour that would brighten your day, what contemporaries are you taking out on the road with you?

OW: Good question! As strong advocates of the three-band bill, here is the dream lineup. Outer World opening-up for Sweeping Promises and Sault. Sounds fun, right?

ATH: You’ve been asked to share a recipe. What’s the story behind this recipe? Is there a reason you love it? Any way to tie it to the LP?

OW: We are big coffee people. It’s often the only part of our day that is uninterrupted and truly just for us as a couple. We mostly drink it black, but every once in a while, we spice it up and make a “coffee surprise”. This changes from time to time, but a favorite that might just have a lil nod in the song “forms of knowing” is black coffee, manokura honey/vanilla extract, and oat milk shaken up hot or iced. It’s a little kiss of sweetness, but not overpowering.

Coffee Surprise:

8 oz coffee
1 tablespoon of honey
2 tsp of vanillaextract
Splash of oat milk

(Add more honey for for extra sweetness)


Stream the LP:

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