Portlander Brian Hall has written music for clients from Nike to Apple to North Face. In 2016, he decided to write music for himself. Tents, Hall’s three-part electropop outfit, harnesses his background in commercial music to explore themes like body positivity and childrearing. The band's sophomore album Medicine dropped on Oct 11, and they’ll close out their current tour at Bunk Bar's Water Ave. location on Oct 17.
“As a composer, everything’s about clients, deadlines, and moving as fast as I can. As an artist you have to slow down and let go of control,” Hall says.
He was playing in a band in 2006, struggling to make ends meet when Graham Walsh from Canadian electronica group Holy Fuck told him he could earn money writing advertisement jingles. Hall then built a freelance portfolio for clients like Levi's, and after being introduced to business partner Ryan Wines, formed Marmost, a music licensing company that produces in-house original music to clients for commercials and film scores.
Fast forward ten years: Hall in his thirties realized that he put his music career on hold in order to start his company.
“I spent most of my life being a businessman and not enough as an artist,” he says, fearing he tipped the scales after leaving his band in 2006. So in 2016, he formed Tents with his wife Amy and friend Josh Brine. They put out their first album Deer Keeps Pace in 2018, a wide-eyed, poppy set with Portland-landmark-strewn music videos.
Medicine continues in a similar vein: it's stuffed with melancholy slices of electro pop that evoke the foggy, fuzzed-out feel of Oregon autumn.
“I grew up writing indie music that was not really open. It was more aloof or reserved and I didn’t feel any sorts of obligation to emotionally truly be present in the music that I was writing back then. Now I do.“
After putting out two albums in 18 months, the band will take a break after their current tour in order for Brian to return to Marmost and spend some time with their daughters. This isn’t the end for Tents, though—they hope to continue to keep playing shows along the West Coast a couple times a year.