Under The Radar: Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam – Indie Heroes Making Maverick Pop

US-indie heroes Hamilton Leithauser and Rostam Batmanglij have teamed up to make maverick pop

Ex-Vampire Weekend multi-instrumentalist and production brainbox Rostam Batmanglij and The Walkmen singer Hamilton Leithauser have serious indie credentials. Their sumptuous debut ‘I Had A Dream That You Were Mine’ was written and recorded over four years between New York and a converted garage behind Rostam’s Los Angeles home. Here, they tell its story.

What made ‘I Had A Dream That You Were Mine’ happen?

Rostam: “I was on a train from New York to Washington DC in 2012. A mutual friend happened to be on there and he mentioned that Hamilton was working on a solo record. I pretty much never do this, but I got in touch and we ended up meeting for lunch. We’d met before but never to work on music, so we had lunch and then went up to my apartment and started working on ‘1959’, a song from this record, as well as two other songs that ended up on Hamilton’s first solo album. He was on a very
short list of people that I wanted to approach.”

People have said it sounds quite “classical” in style – is that accurate?

Rostam: “I hope some aspects of this record sound modern. If you just listen to it on laptop speakers the bass won’t come through and you’ll be deceived.”
Hamilton: “There are major subs on there!”
Rostam: “I think I’m capable of making a record that sounds like a Top 40 dance record with Hamilton singing on it, but I don’t think it’d sound good. It has to make sense.”

Did you have to adapt your styles to work with each other?

Hamilton: “We have a similar aesthetic and we can reference any band or anything. I know what he’s talking about and we know what we like and the reason we want to make this sound.”
Rostam: “I want to match the energy of whoever I’m collaborating with. I know what he likes and what he’s not into, but I also try to push as far as I can.”

How did you decide to share the workload?

Rostam: “So much of the record came from us being in a room together, and you can feel that was the most important thing. The credits will say I’m the producer and that Hamilton did most of the lyrics, but we certainly collaborated on all of it.”

Will you work together again?

Rostam: “We want to. We saw David Byrne and Brian Eno as two people who made one album together and then another 20 years later. Our goal is to do it sooner than that.”