Archive for the ‘Artists’ Category
We collected questions from followers on the Steve Roach Facebook page. Here are Steve’s answers:
David DeWolf: Steve, what inspires you the most in creating sounds? Thank you for the endless beauty within your music!
Steve: Creating sounds from a blank slate is like mixing your own colors to paint with; there is a kind of blending of many senses during this process. The sensual nature of hearing and feeling sound is vital in this, and it’s what defines an artist’s “voice.” The pathways into one’s perception as these sounds are developed over time is an experience I crave on a daily basis. The inspirations come from living life itself with a curious mind, from the subtle points of awareness that can’t be described with words. The same feeling I receive when discovering a new place out in nature for example. The sound carving impulses are also certainly drawn from the larger more dynamic episodes of the day to day as well. In most cases the creation of the sounds comes first, then the music emerges.
Louie Bourland: Steve, it was your music that introduced me to the sounds of the didgeridoo. Can you please share how you first came in contact with the didgeridoo? Also, what advice or tips do you have for musicians that are just learning how to play the didgeridoo?
Steve: I first heard the didgeridoo in the movie the Last Wave in the late 70′s. Immediately the sound spoke to to me the same way certain organic synth drones did in those days.
Eventually I started on the early ideas that would become Dreamtime Return. As fate would have it, I was reading more on aboriginal culture and working on the music when a filmmaker heard my music and contacted me to score a documentary on the Aboriginal Rock painting art of the Australian Aborigines of Cape York. The very book I was reading was part of what the film was drawing from.
Soon I was traveling to Australia to experience all this firsthand with a expedition into the deep of the outback and the sacred sites that few westerners had ever seen. During the adventure I met Aboriginal Didg player David Hudson as part of the music/dance group he led in Cairns. This meeting was pivotal for me and the didgeridoo infusion. In the late 80s, I recorded David’s Wollunda. At that time there were no CDs of solo didgerdoo music anywhere on the planet that we could find, Wollunda was the first. I had to convince the owner of the record company there there was audience for this.
Eventually I learned to play from him. As for new players and ways to learn, there has to be a lot of youtube demos. Back then, I was giving day-long workshops on how to play.
Also for learning, playing along with didg albums is a great way to entrain the brain to circular breath. I continue to use the didg in various modes morphed and blended with the electronics and play it for fun and health benefits – deep breathing!
David Leavitt: Steve, what similarities do you see or feel between mountain biking and the process of making music? : )
Steve: David! Yes we have had some great rides in the outback of Tucson. The movement of the rotating mass is highly psychoactive for me, and it’s been fueling the music for years. I have been riding mountain bikes since the mid 80′s; this is great way to get out there and – at the same time – deeper in there. With the kind of mountain bike rides I do, the power breathing, cardio and brain functions are all working towards a sweet spot of what I like to call the endorphin dreamtime, otherwise known as the zone. I access a lot of insights and just pure raw emotion, unassigned joy, and body ecstasy from this state. It feeds the creative fire immensely and might help me to live a bit longer too.
Jamie Blackman: What was Jorge Reyes like, not so much as a collaborator, but as a person? He received practically no English-language media coverage, so I’ve never even read an interview with him. Anything you could say would be awesome.
Steve: Jorge was a man of the world. He spoke 5 languages and was quite well versed in many areas from an intellectual dimension and into the shamanic realm he lived so fully within.
There was a certain wild feeling in him as well. I could feel this when he was staying at my house; wild like maybe a kind of animal – a wolf-like feeling.
He was also gentle and had a warm open heart; and then we would go to these places together in the music that were just off the chart – dark and confronting.
His concert with me in Tucson was his first real U.S. appearance. We were planning more, and I know if he was still here he would be much more known in the states now.
He was very well-known in Mexico; he was on TV and played large concerts for thousands on a regular basis. We did some of those together in the 90′s, and these remain the largest audiences I have played for.
Also his presence in Europe was strong. Lots of interviews occurred in Germany, Netherlands, and Spain. He played constantly over there. That’s were we met.
Philippe Jeudi: Almost no musician today has interest for multichannel engineering, although technology for both recording and music playing are more available than ever. Even the companies who promote these technologies have no interest in native multichannel music. Pioneers like Edgar Varèse in the 1950′s would probably have enjoyed it. Is it something you would like to experience for your music?
Steve: While I feel my music is suited for this kind of application I don’t feel the demand is there to support the overall investment this would involve. Or maybe there’s a multichannel world out there I am not aware of. I am just not able to go out on a plank to find out.
Tim Preston: I want to know if Steve would consider coming to the UK or Europe in the near future.
Steve: I played in Europe over the course of 12 years up through 2003. These days I am keeping the travel here in the US. That can change if the right situation appeared with the proper support to make it happen. It’s a complex matter to air travel my gear these days, after 9/11. We will see.
For the time being, my US concerts will continue to be the destination if people want to see me live.
Robert Millsop: Steve, what might you have to say about your experience(s) working with the late Jorge Reyes? I’ve been specifically fascinated with the Forgotten Gods album and how that came about.
Steve: I will add to the part about Jorge above. We met at a festival on the Canary Islands in the early 90′s. Guitarist Suso Saiz was also at this event. The concert was in a volcanic lava cave made into a theater. I would say this set the tone for our entire run as a group and our duo collaborations, playing in locations that feed our process.
We were asked of do a set together and afterwards the connection grew. Some more concerts in Mexico occurred, and we made plans to create an album together at my house in Tucson.
At that time Linda and I had just moved to Tucson so the Timeroom was in the master bedroom of the house. This is where the entire Forgotten Gods album was recorded and mixed over a week’s time.
The album was built in a live mode; we would play and compose through improvisation, and then record live to capture the feeling, adding the final brush strokes in the end. We completed Forgotten Gods in a few days; as soon as it was finished John Diliberto flew in to record a living room concert in our house for the Echoes radio show. We just moved the gear from the studio to the living room, set up and with about 15 friends around – and John recording the music – we performed what we had just created the week before.
We went on to do a tour in Europe and recorded Earth Island in Madrid, Spain, and Osnabruck, Germany.
Philip Thompson: What was the last CD you played in your car?
Steve: Alive In the Vortex – my new release coming in December. I was listening to a test master on the way to the airport for the Philly concert.
Before that the Jimmy Page remastered Led Zeppelin 3.
Parrish S. Knight: How is something like “See Things” scored? It’s hard to see how you could create sheet music for it.
Steve: All of my music is created the way a painter works: starting with blank canvas of silence or no sound and then letting the first impulse be revealed…
From there the interactive process unfolds in the way which I think any creative act evolves as you focus on your intentions, or just going with the flow of no exceptions.
George Martindell: Hi Steve. Being someone who prefers composing and creating music at night, my question to you is this: do you find yourself recording and composing your extraodionary music more so during the night, or in the day hours? Thank you.
Steve: Indeed the more womb-like pieces are often created in the deeper hours, but many are often made at high noon. If it’s an ongoing piece that involves lots of tracks and arrangements, I might work on these throughout day into night. But I would say the initial birthing is more nocturnal for the pieces that have night feeling. I also really love to work on sounds and explore first thing in the early AM. Wake up, cup of coffee and meditate to the carving up of sounds or playing and working on music before the day gets started.
It’s a great way to merge into the day and sometimes before you know it something lights up a small spark from a sound and this could become a larger piece that keeps drawing me to it.
Tweedel Dee: How many licks does it take to get the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop out of your kid’s hair the night before school picture day?
Steve: This seems obvious. The best workaround is to use scissors.
Amay Progrez: A lot of your albums have the spiral shape. What is the significance of the spiral shape, or is there something about the shape that appeals to you?
Steve: The spiral is a visual metaphor for my work on many levels and the unbroken connection of this creative life I live. I always sense a through-line of life when I see this shappe. From the center outwards, or into the center, it’s a visual form I receive energy and grounding from. Also with its presence in the different cultures and ancient rock and cave art and throughout the world, there is the powerful universal imprint contained in this form.
Witek Borkowski: How much of an influence did Jean Michel Jarre have on your music?
Steve: In the early days I listened to his classics always looking to learn and see how people were creating music with the emerging technology.
I can’t say there was big influence but a strong appreciation.
That live performance DVD from a few years ago of him with the group playing Oxygene was pretty amazing.
Rod Smith: What was the set list for your recent show at St. Mary’s Church in Philly? It was one of the best shows I have ever seen?
Steve: Thank you. The set you experienced had, along with some of the familiar themes, a lot of material that was being created on the spot never to happen again.
In this list “new” means it was created in the moment as you were hearing it.
Opening the Space – the piece out front on the solo synth. – new A Majestic Void – new Endorphin Dreamtime Flow State – new Primal Portal – new Looking for Safety Kairos Portal Vortex Immersion Zone Going Gone Melting Gone – new Spiral live part 1 – new Spiral live part 2 – new The Way-back Machine – new Its All Connected This Delicate Life – new Today Structures From Silence – Epilogue version
Jonathan Graham: A two-part question. A: What piece of equipment or instrument (digital, analogue, acoustic or otherwise) have you had the longest and still use? B: the most recent one?
Steve: The Oberheim Xpander-Matrix 12 and the the Oberheim OB8 are the elder analogs. The DSI Prophet 8 and 12 are the recent current synths to join the studio.
The DSI has the deep matrix patching and feels connected to the Oberheim Matrix 12 and Xpander in terms of the intuitive flow, sound exploring options and build quality.
New synths always pass an initial test of my personal needs to get installed in the studio. From there it can still be a few months of working with them to see if they are in for the long run.
Emil Karlsson: Hi Steve, I’m pretty sure I’m one of your fewer younger listeners here, but an avid one all the same. I was just really curious about when you have an idea for a new project, do you do any kind of planning beforehand like many artists/composers? Do you draw out a “map” when you set out, in a figurative sense, or do you simply allow the music and soundworlds to evolve, thus taking on a form of their own in a “spur of the moment” fashion as you work on them in the Timeroom? I hope this isn’t too broad of a question, since it’s really for any of your projects, though if there’s one you’d like to talk about in particular. I’m all ears, and it would be very insightful indeed.
Steve: Great to know you’re listening and curious. Some projects can take months or years to take seed and start to grow, they can live either in the realm of thought before action. Some pieces are created over time that start to reveal a the bigger picture. With Skeleton Keys the desire to create these pure analog-based mandala-like pieces came before the music. As it started to build, it felt like pulling a cord off of a spool, unrolling a connected and highly electrified current. Once you start this kind of connected feeling, the pieces build an energy with a pull that won’t let go.
In this case it was created all live in the studio. Other pieces like Bloodmoon Rising are created in layers and offer the opportunity to listen and work on over time, like a painting on an easel.
This is where the times of day, the magic hour at the end of the day and the light changes in the studio and in the view I have, the deep hours of the night, all inform the process of working on the piece.
Kim Lynn Blackhurst: what is the most favorite piece or composition that you have done and how does it differentiate from your other compositions?
Steve: It’s nearly impossible to choose any one piece. Something like Dreamtime Return has some very deep memories infused into it. Going to Australia as part of the creation of the music, and that time frame over all. There was so much opening up within myself and in the world around this music at that time. Each recording has this kind of imprint of the life I am living at the time infused into the music; even if it’s not something a listener will ever be aware of, it’s there and I can hear it and feel it years later. It might be a subtle awareness that is recalled when I hear the piece or a reconnection to one of those Ah-ha moments.
Johnathan Woodson: Would you ever consider reissuing Structures From Silence on vinyl?
Steve: There is talk of it now with a few people maybe for next year.
Next up on vinyl is NOW, my first release. This will include a unreleased 23 minute-piece from that era. I should have this in November.
Robert Logan: Hi Steve! How did you get such a great sound in the live acoustic percussion recordings on your ‘tribal’ releases – particularly on something like Trance Spirits? (Sorry for such an engineery question . . . But it’s all part of the depths of feeling in the music!)
Steve: The acoustic percussion was recorded in a studio with a collection of great microphones by Jeff Fayman. It was recorded with a few percussionists all locked in together, and that energy is captured in the tracks and processed and enhanced the final tracks and built the pieces on these foundations.
Patrick Van de Ven: Steve, while listening to your more sequencer-approached music, I’ve often wondered if you’ve ever played with/considered odd time-measures like 7/8 or 9/8. A good example of a 9/8 sequence part is in Kit Watkins’ “The Impulse of Flow”.
Steve: I always go with a feeling that sits in the body and mind when carving out these sequencer pieces. I often use different length sequences set against each other. That’s a big part of the beauty of this style of music: the way the patterns interlock and then cycle around and back into phase. I tend to go for a feeling in sequence music that hits a kind of sweet spot, where it grooves and hits you at that body pulse place, so really the groove element is essential in this music for me. There is an infinite calculation of options to what you’re talking about, and we all have a different take on it. Speaking of Kt Watkins, one of my favorite pieces in the style you mention is from his group Happy The Man and the song “Service With A Smile,” great track!
Maarten van Valen: Are there any artists who you would like to collaborate with which would draw you out of your comfort zone?
Steve: I would like to combine my comfort zone with Jon Hassell’s to tell you the truth. I know Jon a bit and was in contact with him back in the late 80′s when he first moved to LA.
Right now I have so many ideas in my own universe I am consumed with, I am mostly focused on my solo work.
I do have a wicked collaboration coming with a young electronic artist based in London. His name is Robert Logan, you can find his music online. We have been working on tracks for a few years along side all the other work. It’s very kinetic and the generational difference is creating a nice melting pot. He is in his 20′s and brings a different perspective on things. At the same the time, he was drawn to a lot of my music both in the deep ambient and pieces like Body Electric, listened to a lot of this in his formative years. He has a brilliant feeling for creating the full range of this music, talented and musically wise beyond his years. 2016 will see the release of our album BioMass.
Thomas Lowther: Not sure if anyone asked this yet. How do you come up with your track titles?
Steve: Sometimes the titles emerge first, and I will live with them for long time before any music is made for that set of words or title. They gather an atmosphere and energy and work like keys to a place that help visualize the music. Other times when the piece comes first, the hours of living with the music will reveal the title or set phrases or words that are born from the essence of the piece. It’s a ongoing mysterious process.
Andy Barbara Dent: Does the desert remain a mainspring of inspiration?
Steve: The desert remains my soul tone zone from which I can return to for recalibration and renewal. At least 3 days a week I venture out into my local outback areas and never take it for granted.
Blair Harrington: Hi, you were the only person I’ve ever listened to that has the ability to to create three dimensional music. I would like to know how you created this. How can you make it sound like you’re playing in a canyon or landscape? Your subtle, very quiet and distant echoes of some of the sounds actually create the landscape around you as you shut your eyes and listen to it.
Steve: Thank you Blair, there is no easy answer as to how this happens. I think the complexities of being human are what defines the soul of an artist. It’s the way of an artist to apply this understanding to the process of creating and pushing the boundaries of one’s self. Indeed I use a lot of modern tools to make this music now; but even 30 years ago — when the tools I used were considered modern and are now vintage — the feeling and desire to make these spaces transcends the technology at hand. In this way I see something that plugs into the wall for power the same as elemental instruments made of wood, clay, stone, or metal; they are all working together to create the expansive, transcendent picture. I am driven to keep reaching for the inexplicable and bring it into form.
(listen to the music while you read the interview:) the "Bike Shop" vinyl EP by black tape for a blue girl (featuring Michael Plaster of Soul Whirling Somewhere)
Sam: How does it feel, singing on new songs after being out of the public eye for a while?
Michael: Actually it was a really good experience. I have had the songs for my own upcoming album churning around in my head for over a decade, so to be able to work on someone else’s songs was pretty neat.
Michael: So tell me about the subject of the songs on the “Bike Shop” EP. Are they all based around one person?
Sam: No, actually they are about the last three relationships, merged into one person for the sake of the story. Reflecting on the feelings after a break up, going back to old memories, remembering little sweet things that happened, and then feeling sad that they’re not going to happen anymore. The funny thing is that I don’t even own a bike, but I was seeing somebody who repairs at a bike shop, and I liked having a physical location in the song, a place I’d want to go back to as an excuse to talk with her again. When I was writing “Vega,” I wanted to come up with a name for this romantic partner, and it needed to start with “V” to make the little joke in the lyrics work. I was running through all sorts of names that started with ‘V’ – and I came upon Vega and I thought, “Yeah, that would be a good name for the person I’d have dated.” The joke about the birds spelling out her name was actually part of a joke Voltaire said when I saw him live. I modified it, but I should give him credit for that.
Sam: Can you relate to the words that I asked you to sing?
Michael: Oh absolutely. I have always known that you and i have had a similar take on love and relationships, though from different angles. “The Cabin” was the first one i really clicked with; it just has that really intimate story of a very specific place and time, and the distinct things that happened there, and the whole end of it being kind of just “i give up”-ish… that’s very Plastery. And then even moreso the song “She’s Gone.” This is probably my favorite on the EP. The bittersweetness of looking back at a love that really never fleshed out, the self-defeated response to it… it just all smacks of lyrics i very well could have written myself.
Sam: Yes, agreed. That one is the song that has the most self-analysis in it, where the others are more just capturing moments. When I get dumped I kind of immediately revert back to an old storyline about not being worthy of love in the first place. And my brain says, “You dummy, of course you were dumped. Why would anyone love you, anyway?” I might not be that guy all the time, but certainly there’s that moment in a break-up where I just go back to that sad, dark place from when I was a kid. And then I have the line in “She’s Gone:” “Love’s a lot like insanity, anyway.” Because really, what’s love about? Why would somebody be one of a billion people yesterday, utterly amazing today, and then lost in the crowd tomorrow? It’s hard to objectively say that somebody is really more amazing and loveable. “Oh my god, look how good they are repairing those bikes! She has such long fingers, they smell a bit like grease. I love her!” Really? That’s crazy talk. (laughs).
Michael: Do you find that you sometimes fall in love too easily? Or at least become infatuated with someone too easily?
Sam: I don’t think I become infatuated too easily, any more. I look at things more realistically these days.
Michael: Is infatuation good, i.e. more song material?
Sam: Sure infatuation is good song material. Maybe I am saying that all love is infatuation, and you are just asking about the speed with which one gets to that point? Or maybe infatuation implies the person you love is unobtainable? For me, I’ve gone on so many dates and met so many interesting people. Unobtainable is something that I have made myself consciously aware of, to not go there anymore. It’s too big of an energy drain.
Sam: Tell me some more about your thoughts on the songs.
Michael: You know it was just really nice to hear some very straightforward, minimal acoustic guitar. That isn’t exactly the typical Black Tape for a Blue Girl sound, but is very much up my alley, so i definitely responded to it. The whole straightforward approach has always been something i have striven for lyrically, and i think all of the songs really hit that nail right on the head!
Sam: I was thinking about straightforward recently. The thing that makes a song lyric really great is when it is specific and really personal. “I came in like a wrecking ball, I never hit so hard in love,” that’s such a generic platitude. I want to know what it smelled like, and what was said, and how the writer reacted in concrete terms. To me, that’s what makes lyrics interesting.
Michael: What made you decide that i would be a good vocalist on these tracks?
Sam: Well, I love your voice. There’s that. And your lyrics are about these topics, so it made sense that you’d sing these sort of sweet, sad, occasionally humorous lyrics about past relationships. It was after you agreed to sing “Bike Shop” that I wrote the other three tracks, with you in mind. I felt like I was your songwriter, and I could write words that I knew you would relate to, and be able to get into, and deliver delicately and authentically.
Sam: What does music do for you, these days?
Michael: It’s weird; i have always been such a snob when it comes to the music i like (and the music i can’t stand), and the industry has changed so much in the last twenty years. It still affects me like nothing else can, but it seems harder to find the music that does so. Now, i don’t work at a music store anymore, so i am sure some of it is that i am no longer on the inside, hearing about upcoming albums & such… But then again it is easier than ever to find out on the internet i suppose. But music still brings me feelings that nothing else can…
Sam: I think I’ve heard so much music in my job at Projekt that I’ve grown more and more picky. I still hear new things that excite me. Definitely not as often as in the 90s… but I think that’s true for most people.
Michael: You’ve lived all over the United States; L.A., Chicago, New York, and now Portland. Does the change in your surroundings affect your songwriting, either sonically or lyrically?
Sam: I don’t think the environment changes my songwriting. What the environment does is give me the ability to create, or the environment can take that away. I think New York is so expensive that our brains get consumed with scarcity, and making enough to survive. And that mindset isn’t conducive to making art, if you ask me. I lived in NYC from 1999-2013, and I only created three Black Tape For A Blue Girl albums in those 14 years. Yeah, we had a baby in that time, and I gladly spent a lot of time with him. But after he got older, it was so much money stress. I’m very happy here in Portland. It feels alot like Los Angeles in the early 90s, like when you came out to mix your albums. I can take a day off, or a few days off, and work on art when it feels good. Not trying to cram it in at the end of the day or whatever.
Sam: Which gives you more joy in life, people or cats?
Michael: Cats of course. I know it shouldn’t be that way, but it is. I am unmarried, got no kids, but got like a hundred cats. Okay, four cats. But still… Here is a quick little story that might convey it better. Just earlier tonight i was up at the local grocery store, picking up my usual stuff. They had recently remodeled the store; the cat food was in a new aisle, with new fancy decorations & such. So i looked around, got my cat food and noticed a bunch of signage hung throughout the aisle, with picture of various cats on each one. I spent a few moments in my mind picking out my favorite cat (it was the Tabby)… Then i went to check out, and spent 7 minutes waiting behind some bitchy lady who couldn’t get off her phone, and refused to take 8 quarters instead of two one dollar bills, so i had to wait for the cashier to call her supervisor over to restock her till. So yeah, cats.
Michael: I will ask you the same last question — which gives you more joy in life, people or cats?
Sam: People, definitely. I think the thing I like most is hanging out with a friend at a bar or coffeeshop, talking about life, relationships, woo-woo spirituality, psychology, how they’re doing. That is what really makes me happy. And it’s also inspiring because it gets ideas flowing. I write about motivations — about why people do the crazy-ass things they do. And while cats might be peaceful, and zen-like, it’s humans (and why we do the stuff we do) that gets my brain going.Download the “Bike Shop” EP at Bandcamp.
Sam Rosenthal took some time to tell us more about his kickstarter project to release a new 12″ of Black Tape For A Blue Girl. In the end Sam reminds us (the journalists) that you (our readers) would love to hear more about the lyrics. Probably he’s right, but hey, now you have an extra reason to listen to the songs for free, that you can find here.
Why did you decide to ‘kickstart’ your EP Bike Shop? If I understand it correctly you can download the songs for free, but to realize the vinyl EP (with extras) fans need to pay a certain amount of money.
Sam: I think letting people hear the music is an essential way to get people excited about supporting a physical release. I know it sounds counter-intuitive to give away what you are trying to sell; but the music industry has gotten pretty surreal these days, and you can’t assume that the old laws of nature still apply. I tried this same idea with the Monolith release (from my solo-electronic project As Lonely As Dave Bowman), and it worked out; I figured I’d try it again. So far, it’s looking promising.
What can people expect for their money?
Sam: They are helping to create a 12″ on yellow and black vinyl. There’s other things they can get with higher pledges, such as test pressings, hand-written lyrics, their names in the credits.
You released the rough mixes of the EP (they are almost done, but not mastered). Why did you choose that option? Why didn’t you release (for instance) two tracks instead of four?
Sam: I think that each artist will discover what works best for him, as far as interacting with listeners and the new record industry is concerned For me, I’ve always been very honest and open with Projekt’s customers and the people who care about what I create. It’s a bit of a tease to say, “here are two free, now pay money to get the other two”. Right? I want them to hear the music, that’s really the most important thing to me. Give it away, and money comes in somehow.
Will crowdfunding be the new way to release and distribute music? Especially for a label like Projekt? Or will there be no labels anymore in the future (I know you have your opinion about the current music scene)?
Sam: I don’t think there’s one rule that applies to every artist. I think engagement and seeing what works is what bands need to do. I don’t really know if a label can crowdfund all of their releases. I don’t know if that works. I think the people who love the music like interacting with the band, reading what the artists have to say on their updates, etc. So, I think it’s a fan-to-band interaction that works best. To the other question about “no more labels;” Well, I am not ready to commit to yes or no on that. I think labels still serve a purpose, especially as artists get bigger and need professionals working with them to forward their careers. A lot of musicians just aren’t good at the detail-oriented part of getting their music out there / getting paid. I have more than 30 years experience at it. I know where the money comes from, and how to make sure the artist is in the channel to get that!
Is downloading music a blessing or a curse? Why?
Sam: I guess that downloading is neutral. It’s a way to hear music. It’s what humans do with it that is a blessing or a curse. I’ll tell you why I believe in downloads: You cannot fight change. You can scream at it and bury your head in the sand, however that is not going to alter what is happening. Ultimately artists have to work with what we are given. And if people want to download music for free, or stream music for almost free, then I am looking for ways to make that work for me and my art. Working so what I used to see as a curse, is revealed to be a blessing. That’s definitely something true in many aspects of life: you never really know if a choice is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ (‘good’ or ‘bad’), until it has played out and you see what ends up happening.
You had to wait a long time (you know him 20 years) to finally team up with Michael Plaster (SoulWhirlingSomewhere); why was it so important for you to work with him?
Sam: I love Michael’s voice. As you probably know from my band, I do like working with male vocalists; they often represent me within the lyrics. When I started writing these songs, I wrote lyrics I thought fit Michael’s thematic styles. As if I was a songwriter for Michael. It’s like creating a new character, or writing a short-story. And then knowing I had the perfect actor to portray this character. The pieces draw from my real experiences over the last couple of years. But I blurred a bunch of relationships into one, and then embellished with things that made the stories more alive.
The voice of Michael gave you the opportunity to approach the music differently. What are for you the main differences between the Bike Shop EP with Michael and the other Black Tape For A Blue Girl material?
Sam: These are four acoustic guitar songs together, which I wouldn’t really do on a Black Tape album. It’s a different sound, in that it’s sort of mellow, ethereal acoustic rock music. In the past, there would be one song like this on a Black Tape album; this was a chance to make a whole release of ‘em.
You were so excited you wrote three more songs in a very short time. You love how quickly this release has evolved from idea to something we can listen to. Do you think this will always work like this or do you need more time for other releases?
Sam: I think that I write pretty fast these days, and once a song has moved to the point of adding the vocals I know it’s going to be released. So, I am thrilled by the idea that along with full albums that take a lot more time (writing songs, deciding which ones fit, recording with the different singers and instrumentalists), I can do these EP projects which can appear much faster. I feel that as an artist, it’s good to have many outlets, rather than putting all my energy into one release. That’s why Monolith and Bike Shop happen simultaneously to the creating of the new album.
The track Bike Shop/Absolute Zero will be released on the new Black Tape For A Blue Girl album These Fleeting Moments as well. Can you tell us more about the new album? You said on the website it will be a return to the ethereal dark wave/darkambient sound of the 90s?
Sam: That’s right. My thinking is that it’s a good time to explore the older sound, the languid, long-form, darkwave mood of the past. I love the 10 Neurotics album; and at the same time I think I don’t need to keep going in that direction, just to make a similar sounding follow-up. I still have a number of unreleased songs from that period which I might write lyrics for and record, and do an EP that’s sort of the 11th Neurotic. But I recorded that album 6 years ago, and it’s not where I am at today, thematically and sonically. The new songs deal with relationship angst, of course; But they also look at life experience, questioning our goals, what we’ve accomplished, and if we’re living the life that is authentic to our core. The first side of the album is done (I am conceiving it as a 2-LP set, which will also be on CD). It’s a 17 minutes track, that explores a lot of those questions, in a darkwave/dark ambient sound.
Will you release These Fleeting Moments with crowd funding or will it be a normal Projekt release (in the ‘old fashioned’ way)?
Sam: It’ll be crowdfunded, for sure. Why? Honestly, it is much more fun this way. I like getting people involved in the process of making the album, meeting old and new fans of what I create. It’s inspiring to get to know people who like my music, and want to see me succeed. The old fashioned way is sort of dull, isolating. Me at home alone most of the time. And then one day, POP! The album comes out. With crowdfunding I get to share with the listeners the process. “Hey, look! I am working on the cover!” “Hey, look I just recorded drums with Brian!” That’s fun.
Is there a chance we will see Black Tape For A Blue Girl performed live in Europe in the near future?
Sam: Sure, there’s a chance. But playing live is a big undertaking. Time, and money. And generally, the band loses money playing shows, and that’s just not really what I want to do. If a festival wants us to play, they need to pay our expenses and pay us something for our time. It’s only fair to the people who work with me in the band. They are taking time off from their job and their lives, and they deserve to get paid for that. Otherwise, if it is going to lose money, I’d rather lose money on something like making a video or buying some new gear. Or going on a vacation (laughs)!
Something you always wanted to say, but never were asked…
Sam: I guess I wish I was asked more interview questions about my lyrics. About the themes behind the music. I think that’s something the audience really connect to. But I don’t think it’s something that journalists take the time to delve into. So yeah, about the themes.
Thanks for the interview, I appreciate it.
Kickstarter to donate: http://kck.st/1Fkr0T1 Hurry, because there are only a few days left to get involved!
Hi — This is Sam from Blacktape. You haven’t heard from me much lately, I was back east for ten days, and I’ve been busy finishing up the four tracks on the “Bike Shop” vinyl EP. These are four brand new songs, only one of which will be on the next Black tape for a blue girl album.
I’m asking for your support to fund this release.
I have to say that this is something about the new record business that I really enjoy: I can write & record songs in September. And make them available for you to hear in September! In the old days, there was such a long delay between the creative spark and when the CD finally came out. Now I can put the songs up on Bandcamp for you to hear immediately, while they still feel amazingly fresh to me… and then in early 2016 you can get the vinyl. That’s very cool, if you ask me!
I’m also excited about recording with a first generation Projekt artist, Michael Plaster. We’ve been friends for 20 years, we’ve worked together on all his Projekt releases. It’s been forever since he’s had new music for all of you. Please Sennd Help came out in 2001, it was PRO121. This EP comes out 200 releases later, PRO321!
Alright, so let me tell you a little bit about the EP.
I’ve been working on the new Black Tape For A Blue Girl album (these fleeting moments) and I’m about two-thirds through writing it. Last Christmas I recorded guitar parts for a new song; about a month ago I wrote the lyrics and that became “bike shop/absolute zero.” I was reflecting back on my last few relationships: thinking about the good parts but also kind of wondering how they fell apart, and how it took so long to recognize they were over.
I’ve worked with Michael Plaster on his Projekt releases for over 20 years; I’ve always loved his voice and emotional delivery. As I was writing “bike shop,” I kept thinking, “Damn, this would be a great song for Michael to sing.” It has a similar quality to his lyrics: looking back on a past relationship with some joy and a bunch of sadness. I waited until I recorded my guide vocals, and then presented it to him ready to go. “Here, this is happening! Would you like to be the singer?” Michael said, “Yes,” which was very exciting to me!
I had the idea of doing it as a vinyl single and we talked about what might go on the B-side. Maybe a new version of an old Blacktape track? But knowing Michael was the vocalist inspired me to write three more songs really fast — like in a week! These songs sprung from little bittersweet memories.
For the most part, things didn’t happen exactly the way it goes in these songs. Yes, there’s a real bike shop and a real cabin. And I did get dumped on the phone (ouch!). But there’s nobody named “Vega,” and there’s no real canoe, and I wasn’t getting relationship advice from Dennis Hopper! : ) Yet the songs capture intimate and personal stories about relationships and love.
The three additional tracks give you the back story on “bike shop.” Think of it as diving deeper and hearing more about a character you will meet in a song on the upcoming album.
I was back in Brooklyn three weeks ago and I recorded drums on two of the tracks with Brian Viglione (of Violent Femmes and The Dresden Dolls). I love how quickly the “Bike Shop” vinyl EP has gone from idea to something you can listen to!
Scott M wrote on the Patreon page: After hearing just a few lines of “bike shop,” I could totally see why you wanted Michael Plaster to sing it. He achieves in each song just the right combination of sadness, joy, frustration, weariness, and acceptance. The video is well-done also. I hope the Kickstarter funds!I want you to hear this new music! Go to Bandcamp and download the entire EP for free!
These are rough mixes; they’re almost done though not mastered. That’s part of what we’re raising money for: mastering, manufacturing, and paying Michael for his participation.
You can make this 12” a reality.
If you like the tracks, hopefully you’ll go to the Kickstarter page and chip in three dollars. Or even more, ’cause there are some cool premiums that you can pledge for.
Whatever you give, you’re supporting art — and that’s super-cool of you!
About the release: 150 gram custom color vinyl (yellow with black flakes) in a limited edition of 500. Color album jacket and b&w lyric sheet. Kickstarter pledge copies will be signed by Sam and Michael.
The track “bike shop/absolute zero” will be included on the spring 2016 Black Tape For A Blue Girl album, these fleeting moments; the other three tracks are exclusive to this release (though I’m thinking of working with my female vocalist on an album version of “she’s gone”.)
These fleeting moments is a return to the ethereal darkwave/darkAmbient sound of the early 90s Blacktape CDs. The tracks on the EP are a bit of an anomaly from the others I am recording; these are sparse and sensitive acoustic guitar pieces with Michael’s vocals.
Come out to the Galactic Center for a rare live appearance from this renowned Norwegian ambient/electronic artist. With over 25 releases since his 1983 debut (and nine additional collaborations with Steve Roach, Ian Boddy and others) Wollo continues to develop and refine his masterfully crafted soundworld into an intensely detailed fusion of elegant compositions and deep atmospherics. Built around catchy and accessible melodies and rhythms, his live set features sophisticated and engaging waves of Wøllo’s trademark processed electric guitar, synthesizers and percussion. Striking varied and deeply emotional the tracks make for an intensely powerful listening experience.
With a sense of warmth to his atmospheric work, Wøllo’s music also resounds with the stark beauty of Norway’s wintry landscapes. By mixing deep churning textures with synthesized and acoustic elements he succeeds in realizing folk music for the electronic village. Echotides is his new Projekt Records release showcasing his highly personal sound.
Last performing in Tucson in 2010 at SoundQuestFest, Wøllo has just two concerts in the USA this year. Join us for an evening of innovative shimmering and sonorous musical pathways from this electronic music master.Saturday October 10 : The Gathering, Philadelphia, PA.
With opener Bernhard Wostheinrich. Eric & Bernard will have separate sets, and then play a short set together (with material from their collaboration album Weltenuhr). The Gathering websiteSunday October 11th: Night concert on Star’s End, WXPN, Philadelphia Monday October 12th: recording on Echoes Radioshow for Christmas 2015 program
Erik’s Echotides (ep) — we still have copies left on this limited edition release. Excerpt from a review at Sonic Immersion: “The release’s refined and carefully molded sonic minimalism has ended up in the creation of seven instrumental tracks built upon interacting fragments of sound and processed textures, all blended together and forming a constant morphing endless flow. As such, it gives an appealing voice to the cyclic, natural and harmonic evolving manner of the music, inspired by the natural phenomena echo and tides.”
Steve Roach: music created at the leading edge of now STEVE ROACH BIO
Steve Roach is a leading pioneer in the evolution of ambient/electronic music, shaping it into what it is today. An extremely prolific composer with a discography of over 100 albums since his 1982 debut, his landmark recordings include Structures from Silence and Dreamtime Return. Tireless in his creative focus, Steve has released seven albums in 2015 (so far) including the analog sequencer tour-de-force Skeleton Keys and the ultra reflective Etheric Imprints.
Drawing from a vast, unique, deeply personal authenticity, his releases cover a wide range of dynamic styles all of which bear his signature voice. For 35 years the boundaries are constantly challenged in Roach’s work, ranging in style from pure floating spaces, analog sequencer music, primordial tribal, rhythmic ambient, dark ambient, long-form ‘drift ambient,’ and avant garde atonal ambient.
Steve’s artistic path is filled with new discoveries, both nuanced and dramatic. He brings to the table years of dedication and experience exploring sound via hands-on synthesis. With the sense of an artist working in three dimensional space, Steve’s skill set creates albums that breathe power, passion and vital life energy.
The most recent release – Etheric Imprints – contains mesmerizing soundworlds from the sensual realms of electronic/ambient sonic creation; it’s a plunge into the deep end of introspective music. On analog synth masterwork Skeleton Keys, Steve connects to the European EM masters at the roots of his electronic heritage while simultaneously mapping the soundworld of today’s contemporary technology-based music. The result is warm and engaging retro-futurism, a continuing evolution upon the musical structures Steve has unlocked in the restless pursuit of his soundquest.
“To fully enjoy Steve’s music the listener must be curious – not just with how it was made, or by whom, but with what happens when we allow ourselves to momentarily disappear into it.” – Chuck Van Zyl, The Gatherings
In concert, Steve creates transcendent electronic music emerging from an elemental instinctual mode. These events bring together an audience from around the country and as far away as Europe, all looking to experience the on-the-edge experience that erupts in the live setting. This make Steve’s concerts an entirely different experience from the recorded medium. With months of preparation absorbed into his system, evocative soundscapes blend with ecstatic rhythmic sections born from hands-on analog sound creation and sonic shapeshifting. The result is a direct transference of creative energy from the artist through his instruments out to the listener.
Live performances are the place where Steve’s music thrives, created at the leading edge of now.
A video profile created by Chuck Van Zyl of the Gatherings:Steve Roach’s first East Coast performance in 8 years – Sept 12, 2015 Live-related text removed from the Bio
Steve Roach live in concert with opener Jeffrey Koepper on Saturday, September 12, 2015 at 8:00PM (doors open at 7:30PM). In the church sanctuary of St. Mary’s Hamilton Village at 3916 Locust Walk (just east of 40th & Locust) on the Penn campus in West Philadelphia. Limited admission! $30 cash at the door night of show. $10 for full-time students with proper ID (limited availability at the door). Advance tickets through Ticketweb. The Gatherings website.
Steve Roach live is presented by The Gatherings Concert Series, an all-volunteer, non-profit organization producing innovative music performances in Philadelphia since 1992. Learn more at The Gatherings website.
This Philadelphia show coincides with the release of Steve’s limited 4-CD set, Bloodmoon Rising. An atmospheric release with four ‘nights’ created for the Bloodmoon Tetrad that concludes September 28.
All Steve Roach / vidna Obmana titles are now available at the Projekt Bandcamp store
I’ve uploaded the final three releases, making the full collection available for you: Well of Souls 1996 2-CD-length $14 Cavern of Sirens 1997 $7 Ascension of Shadows 1998 3-CD-length $18 Circles & Artifacts 2000 $7 InnerZone 2002 $7 Spirit Dome ~ Live Archive 2002 2-CD-length $9
Steve Roach / Dirk Serries Low Volume Music 2012 $7
Hi there. An update from Black Tape For A Blue Girl:
As you might know, I have a Patreon page for my music. Patreon is a crowdfunding site where you can pledge monthly support. To date, 96 patrons are donating $683 to assist my creations.
In emails back and forth with patrons, I often see comments like, “Just wanted to say I’m here mostly to support you and the music you make, rather than the goodies, but they’re definitely a plus.” Or “I honestly support just because I want to, as a thank you for the music that I have loved for years, and as an investment in future music from you.”
It is so cool that you like what I do and want to be there for me. Thanks.
There is stuff you get in exchange for your support. At the $5 level, you get two free download albums from the band’s catalog. At $10, you also get a hand-written lyric. And all patrons have exclusive access to my music as I’m creating it.
This month, I’ve uploaded a 15 track collection of out-takes from the last year in the studio. It’s doubtful any of it will make it to the new album, but perhaps you’ll find a hidden gem that you love! (The 2nd half of this message is more information on the download).
If you’d like to hear this music, join my Patreon. Everyone who joins this week will get the June 2015 package , even though you haven’t been charged anything. Patreon charges your credit card once a month around the first.
I’ll also throw in the May package with the first draft of the new album in progress
The Kickstarter for MONOLITH (the electronic space-music album from my solo-project As Lonely As Dave Bowman) was a success; it reached 150% of the goal. It is now in production at the 3 different plants involved. The plan is to be complete in time or earlier than the July release date. There will be some additional copies available from the Projekt webstore.
The Blacktape Bandcamp page has all our albums and my side projects available. Some as low as free, few as expensive as iTunes. Give it a listen, you can stream most tracks. Or purchase something.
I’ve mentioned that 2015 is the year I get back to making music; I’m really active with that and I appreciate that you help make it happen.
PS: I shot the photo on the cover of the June package this weekend. Check out more from the set here on my photo website. These are glamour / portrait shots – nothing naked on this page. But be warned that some of the links on the page goes to NOT SAFE FOR WORK images. Be careful with the clicky-click at work or if your partner doesn’t care for that kind of thing.
Information on the download:
June 2015 – Album Deitrus
I was asking myself, “What is the most embarrassing thing for me as a songwriter and artist?” I think the answer is, “my failures.” Which is to say, all the little bits of Black tape for a blue girl music I try to create, don’t like and discard.
Honestly, the really really bad stuff never even gets recorded. I’ll play around with an idea for 30 minutes and then go, “Nope, that’s awful!” and move on to something else.
This weekend I saw Paul Barker (ex-Ministry) record a live podcast interview (at a theatre here in Portland, following a movie about the early UK industrial music scene.) Paul said something I’ve also expressed: when you’re working on music, you get really focused on what you need the piece to achieve; if it’s not up to that high level, you toss it. But sometimes you come back years later and realize it wasn’t as bad as you thought it was.
I would add that artists get overly obsessive-compulsive during this process, a bit manic or depressive (based on their personality), and we lose sight of the trees for the forest. Making art is a lot like falling in love: it’s irrational. You don’t see reality, you begin to see what you want to – and need to – see. Perhaps when there are bandmates with equal creative control, you have others to balance the obsession? Working on your own, it’s just your own irrationality & obsession to base these decisions on. Of > course, this also explains bands that break-up over “creative differences.” If four or five people all start getting obsessed on different aspects of a song, it’s no wonder songwriting teams almost always explode. How long would you put up with Lou Reed, if you were John Cale? : )
Ok. Did I get off topic. I think I got off topic…. rewind… >I have 15 failures for you this month. Well, ok, I’m being melodramatic, maybe they aren’t that bad… but they are all bits of deitritus from the last year in the studio. Most of this music is listenable at least once. Some of it is repetitive because it’s backing instrumental tracks that would have had more added as time went on.
And who knows? You might absolutely love one of the pieces and find your own buried treasure within these 30 minutes of remains, remnants, fragments and scraps.
I am sure Ashes fans will enjoy the first track. I was trying to see if I could figure out the sequence from “I wish you could smile.” My notes from the 80s recording were rather cryptic. But I got it.
“2014_09 Icy Drone” could have been a track for the As Lonely As Dave Bowman Monuments (addendum) release. I forgot completely that I had recorded it; When I was compiling the bonus release, I kept thinking to myself, “Wasn’t there another song I planned to include?” Ooops!
I can’t say for sure that this stuff will never see the light of day, there’s always a possibility that something will re-spark my imagination and make it’s way onto the album. But my feeling is this all goes onto the rubbish heap of history.Do you have a favorite?
Post your comments and impressions on this Patreon post. Sam
Mercury’s Antennae: Ethereal, hypnotic, driving, cinematic, haunting darkwave with heavenly voices and spacious atmospheres from San Francisco. Comprised of vocalist Dru Allen (This Ascension, Mirabilis), bassist Cindy Coulter (This Ascension), and multi-instrumentalist Erick Sheid (Translucia), the band’s live sound is distinctly reminiscent of the blissful melodies and effects-drenched guitars of labels like 4AD, Creation and Projekt as well as the stripped down acoustic beauty of bands like Dead Can Dance and Love Spirals Downwards.June 25: DNA Lounge, San Francisco CA
w/ Carissa Bianca Mellado, Sheer & guest DJ Wednesday 9:30 / 21 + / $5 / Lush Tribute night! / Facebook Event PageJune 28: The Box @ The Blue Lagoon, Santa Cruz CA Bandcamp. The Guides (ep) Purchase on Bandcamp.