Much of Kurt Vile's music exhibits a peacefully buzzed, almost wistful pace—like a Polaroid left on a windowsill and softened by years of sun. But at this moment, at home in Philadelphia, he's rushing. The following day, Vile (his real name) will leave on tour, and he needs a new amp—the last one blew the day before during an on-air radio segment. But being outwardly busy with his music is a condition the 28-year-old has courted for years.
"I was always trying to make this happen," says Vile, who recently garnered national interest with two simultaneously released records, Constant Hitmaker and God Is Saying This to You. "It took a long time."
Vile splits the difference between two somewhat disparate personas: the reclusive, stoned-yet-literary folk troubadour; and the recently in vogue, needles-mashed, psychedelic garage lo-fi bedroom pop-ist. But unlike those who hide inadequacies beneath layers of fuzz, Vile can really play. He is a proficient blues picker, and though his home recording lends a wavering air of immediacy and delicacy, he is a clever and meticulous pop craftsman. "When I have a new song I'll keep playing that song for days or weeks or whatever," he says, "until every part is to my satisfaction."
The records are more a compilation of Vile's backlog, with Hitmaker taking a fuller, more electrified approach against the stripped-down guitar and vocal minimalism of God Is. Despite fielding offers from "bigger labels," Vile recently signed to hallowed indie Matador Records, which he states was "always my number-one choice." His Matador debut, Childish Prodigy, is due this fall.
While some of his lo-fi contemporaries have quickly risen through the blogosphere only to burst, Vile is no bubble. There won't be a Wavves-like breakdown, undercooked live show, or sophomore slump. Vile has been recording songs since the age of 14, and performing in and around Philadelphia for years. He also welcomes the opportunity to work in more professional studios, anticipating higher fidelity.
"You know, I do feel like it's been a long time coming," Vile says of the recent attention. "But I'm also glad that it's just starting to happen now, because I've had time to really hone my style."