Archive for the ‘Blog from Sam’ Category
“When desolate cityscape post-punk merged with the melancholic lyrical and theatrical pull of gothic rock in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, darkwave took form. Drawing in synth-heavy hypnotic pop and industrial chills, darkwave’s often whispered, crestfallen sound first began to take shape in a series of overlapping electronic and rock scenes that were particularly strong in European independent music circles. The resulting bands (whether favoring industrial, pop, shoegaze, or rock leanings) were frequently shrouded in a fitting sense of pitch-black subcultural and musical mystery, and in North America, Projekt Records was one of the first labels to promote the resulting surge of darkwave artists. Founded in 1983 by Sam Rosenthal, Projekt concentrated on releasing dream-pop, neoclassical, ambient, gothic rock and shoegaze bands, and Rosenthal’s own group, Black Tape for a Blue Girl, was an early exponent of darkwave’s hallmark mournful cabaret. ” – popmatters.comhere.
S U M M E R 2 0 1 3 P A R T O N E | For years and years, I’ve been thinking about redesigning the Projekt website; over the last six months (with the help of behind-the-scenes-guy Gregory), we did it! The new Projekt.com site is live and looks great; and the ordering process is very smooth.
On the new site, you can create a user account. No more re-entering your information every time you order. The user account gives you access to a portal where you can see all your past orders, as well as keep track of your current order in progress. You get an email receipt when your payment is received, and another when you order ships. We can add notes or questions to the portal, so there’s an easy place to see our communication about your order.
All orders are processed by PayPal, which gives you increased security for your personal info.
Last week, a few customers beta-tested the store, placing successful orders. There was a bit of confusion about paying with a credit card; hopefully I can clear that up.
When paying with Visa, MC, Discover or AmEx, it isn’t obvious at PayPal where you enter your credit card info. Once you are on the PayPal page, click the yellow arrow next to “Don’t have a PayPal account.” This opens a new page, where you enter your information. You do not have to open a PayPal account to use your credit card.
If you have any suggestions for improvement, please email me. Keep in mind I am still updating the album pages to fix formatting issues that came over in the import from the old store. If you see a broken link, or a missing image, I am working on that. You don’t need to point those out. These issues do not affect your ability to place orders.
Projekt.com will be integrated with Bandcamp, which serves as our audio player. I will be adding more audio files every week. We like Bandcamp because it offers a variety of file formats (including FLAC – higher resolution than MP3s); the other reason we like Bandcamp is because Projekt (and thus the artists) get a larger percentage of your payment (vs. at iTunes or Amazon). Feel free to buy at your favorite store, of course. No matter where you buy, we appreciate that you purchase music! Thanks so much.
There are other exciting things coming this summer. The new website is part one. More announcements soon.
And, of course, Projekt has great new music! August 13 is the street date for Projekt’s next two 2-CD releases. Pre-order them today, to arrive at your door by street date.
Thanks so much for your support and interest over the years.
Lovesliescrushing review from BLURT Magazine
BY MICHAEL TOLAND
It’s been a decade since guitarist Scott Cortez and singer Melissa Arpin-Duimstra last recorded together as Loveliescrushing, but Ghost Colored Halo shows they haven’t lost a step. Indeed, if anything, the band’s tenth album indicates an evolution in sound.
After years of being the dreamiest of dream-poppers, Loveliescrushing moves from the outer edges of the mist deep into the fog itself. Eschewing verses, choruses, hooks and lyrics, the duo dives straight into the ethereal, channeling the purest of sonic impulses through its amp and microphone. Cortez wields no weapon but his guitar, allowing echoing loops and ambient washes to color the oxygen. Arpin-Duimstra responds with phantom keening, often floating so high in the atmosphere it’s impossible to distinguish her larynx from Cortez’s six strings.
With Ghost Colored Halo, Loveliescrushing passes from dream pop directly into the dream.
Physical CD. Only 50 copies left. $13.98 at Projekt
Download. $8 at Bandcamp
Steve Roach iTunes $2 off Sale
Well! Here's something exciting for Projekt. Our new digital distributor arranged a Steve Roach iTunes $2 Off Sale. 20 titles on sale for 2 weeks. What a great chance to stock up on releases you missed; or grab some you have on CD buried in a box somewhere in the basement. Whatever the reason, now is a great time to buy Steve Roach at iTunes!
Here are some of the releases included: All is Now, Destination Beyond, Dreamtime Return, Empetus, Immersion: One, the Serpent's Lair (with Byron Metcalf), Stream of Thought (with Erik Wollo), Structures from Silence, Trance Spirits (with Jefferey Fayman & Robert Fripp), Traveler…
Look through Steve's vast catalog, to find more selections
#1 WEEP: Alate Purchase CD at Projekt $13.98| Download at iTunes $9.99 Merging Doc Hammer’s husky croon, post-punk guitars and catchy 80’s bass-lines/synths, WEEP creates a dark yet satisfyingly upbeat pop album painted by WEEP’s passion and unflinching take on contemporary music.
#2 Autumn’s Grey Solace: Divinian Purchase CD Projekt $13.98 | Download at iTunes $9.99 | Bandcamp $10 Their seventh album, a must-have for fans of darkwave, shoegaze, ethereal wave, and dreampop. Erin’s voice is layered and striking. Free Autumn’s Grey Solace “best of” with orders at Projekt
#3 Voltaire: The Devil’s Bris Deluxe Signed Purchase CD Projekt $13.98 | Download at iTunes $9.99 It’s the 13th Anniversary edition of The Devil’s Bris ~ The Devil?s Bar Mitzvah! New deluxe digipak edition contains the 8-page lyric book, a sticker, and a signed art card (please note that Voltaire’s signature is on the art card, not on the cover). Voltaire’s 1998 debut with “When You’re Evil.”
#4 Various Artists & Jill Tracy: 2012 Holiday Twin Pack Purchase 3-CDs Projekt $19.98 | Download at iTunes $9.99 The Ornamental 2-CD compilation along with Jill Tracy’s Silver Smoke, Star of Night (In the Shadow of Christmas).
#5 Unto Ashes: Burials Foretold Purchase CD Projekt $13.98 | Download at iTunes $9.99 Among the vanguard of apocalyptic folk and neo-Medieval music, Unto Ashes create a breathtaking listening experience that is at once mystical, melancholic and quite simply magnificent.
#6 Emilie Autumn: Fight Like a Girl Purchase CD Projekt $13.98 Beautiful, bizarre, and brazen sonic seductress Emilie Autumn wants you to fight alongside her on this much overdue and eagerly expected follow-up album to her groundbreaking debut, Opheliac.
#7 Falling You: Adore (featuring Love Spirals Downwards, This Ascension, and Claire Voyant) Purchase CD Projekt $13.98 Adore finds Falling You exploring a more optimistic, rock-oriented motif. Though the ethereal / ambient base is still there, the music ranges from ambient, to jangly shoegaze, to melodic space-rock, to dream-pop and finally back to ambient.
#8 Autumn’s Grey Solace: Ablaze ~ SALE $5 Purchase CD Projekt $13.98 | Download at iTunes $9.99 2008 release. “Whereas other bands pile on the doom and gloom to an almost suffocating degree, Autumn’s Grey Solace lets the music breathe. They possess a shimmering beauty that shines through the shadows. A fragile beauty, perhaps, but a beauty nonetheless.” – Liar Society
#9 Arcana: As Bright as a Thousand Suns Purchase CD Projekt $13.98 Their 7th full-length album. As Bright as a Thousand Suns is a sincere and sapience filled opus from a mature collective, ten diverse songs of thoughts and emotions on one album of pure splendour.
To say thanks! for your interest and support, I’ve uploaded another Black Tape For A Blue Girl album for you to download for free at Bandcamp. This is Blacktape’s second album, from 1987, Mesmerized by the Sirens.
It’s been at least a decade since I’ve listened to Mesmerized. As I was preparing the page today, I streamed it beginning to end. As Rain would say, eyebrow raised, “Fascinating, captain!”
I was twenty-one when I recorded Mesmerized. Listening to it earlier today, I thought: “Huh? What kind of bizarre twenty-one year old writes an album like that!” It’s emotional, torn, confused, happy (in moments), dark, dense, beautiful, complex and advanced! If someone sent me a link to this album, and an email, “Hey Mister, check out my demo, what do you think?” I’d be damn impressed! That’s not ego talking, it’s looking back through more than half-a-lifetime of experience, and hearing what’s here! Of course, I hear the 4AD influence, and the Brian Eno influence; but think about it in the context of 1987 (Top-100 of 1987, here ! This was the year Dead Can Dance released Within the Realm of a Dying Sun).
Mesmerized is a very fluid, cohesive and rewarding listen.
For the free download, I added two related bonus tracks. A cover of “Jamais Pars” by my other band, Thanatos; and a cover of “Seireenien Lumoama” created with Bleeding Like Mine. Nice stuff!
On the bandcamp page, you can stream Mesmerized by the Sirens for free, or you can download it for free, and when you download you can even leave a little something. And rest assured we’ll be buying some of that yummy tomato & basil soup at the bodega, and I’ll be thinking of you!
Read the full blog here.
Monday 12-27-10 7:34 pm / From Projekt’s Sam Rosenthal Hi. I am ok……
Pix: http://onlytheblogknowsbrooklyn.com/2010/12/27/fourth-avenue-closed-from-atlantic-to-8th-street-due-to-roof-collapse/ Slightly longer article: http://ny.therealdeal.com/newyork/articles/roof-collapses-after-blizzard-at-park-slope-garage-at-305-2nd-street-near-fourth-avenue
My folder of photos: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2030321&id=1020542228
On the night of 12-26-10 we had a blizzard. You might have seen the pix here on my facebook page. There’s about 3 feet of snow outside the door of my apartment. The wind is still whipping, snow is blown into 5′ high embankments. I went into Projekt (www.projekt.com) around 8 this morning, it’s usually only a 5 minute walk from my apartment. But with the tundra and snow banks, and lack of plowing, it took quite a bit longer. 4th Avenue was reduced to one lane, and it was creeping along. I was working at my desk. Cars would sit in one spot outside my window for 20 minutes at a time. Large trucks waiting for the traffic to clear so they could move. I was up in the attic, doing an inventory on Steve Roach CDs. Gotta get some of those repressed. Shea wasn’t coming in, because the trains were all messed up, Up in the attic, some snow had blown in through a gap above a board that’s nailed over the window, I stuffed some paper into the gap to keep snow out. I was in the office. I paypaled Android Lust a royalty advance. I was taking care of little things that never get done. Packed up a few orders for Amazon customers. I built a “sled” for my son. It was a mail-bin, with a power chord (cut off an old street-TV, once upon a time). my son and I were planning on sledding later today. I was at my desk around 2:20, I check and my last email was to Tom from Mira, about the rarities CD in the works. I noticed yellow Fire department tape fluttering in the breeze outside the window. “What’s that all about?” I wondered. I grabbed my keys and went out the door. Down at 2nd Street there was a bunch of fire trucks. I was inside the yellow tape line when I walked out my door. A fireman is shouting at me from the truck, “You cannot be in there.” “What? I work in here?” “What do you have in there?” he asks. “About 70,000 CDs,” I say. He says something about a building collapse. My building. Around the corner on 2nd Street. Traffic is blocked off on 4th Ave – turns out it’s blocked off for 20 blocks!. There’s at least 20 firemen and 3 firetrucks and police cars. Well – I fear what “building collapse” means. I fear they will condemn the building and I’ll never get my stuff out ( I remember hearing about that, after an early-90s earthquakes in Calfornia, death-by-earthquake was one of my top-2 reasons for leaving california).
I go back in my building and slam the gray door. I have to get some things out of here, so I can keep Projekt running if we’re locked out for a month. I go to my desk and unplug my computer. Fortunately, I made that sled for my son, and now I am loading it with my computer. I hear banging on the door. I keep pulling wires. The fireman jimmy their way into the foyer, and they are banging on Projekt’s door, “You have to get out.” I go and open the door, so they don’t axe it down, “I know.” There are about 5 of them standing in the foyer, “You have to get out.” I know, I say. I grab my wallet and phone. “What else do I absolutely need to run Projekt?” The back-up hard-drive. What else? I gotta get out…..
I am sledding my computer home. It falls over a few times, but lands on soft snow banks. I plug it in in my apartment and it works. I cannot get it on line. I call Lisa (my son’s mom) and tell her what’s up. I go back over to the building around 3:30. I find Steve the maintenance man. He tells me that he was getting his snow-blower out of the back bay, when he started hearing a cracking noise. He impersonates the noise. He got the hell out of the bay. The roof caved in on the cars that pay to use that space as a parking lots. Steve said it was around 1:00 (?). I didn’t hear a thing. I was working in the bullding for another hour. None of those firemen knocked on my door with a “you gotta get the hell outta there!!!”
It was only later that I wondered, “was Steve frightened?” He knows that building better than anyone. He knows where the bodies are buried.
Steve and I walk back to the area, stand across the street and look in. About 1/6 of the building’s roof has collapsed onto the cars in there. The building is like a bunch of separate buildings connected. They have old arched wooden beam roofs. They are always leaking. Athan’s computer got a bath one day. We have buckets up in the attic to catch rain that comes through the cracks in the tarpaper. There’s a skylight over my studio that leaked for a long time. Steve finally fixed it. Who knows, maybe it’s caved in onto my stuff. The building where Martin’s studio is located (only a few blocks away) was built before the civil war. This building has some ancient portions that might be from that era.
The gas people are drilling a hole in the street, to get to the gas line to shut it off. “The cops were going to send somebody in to get you,” Steve said, “I told them, ‘naw don’t get him.’ ” Steve wasn’t sayin’ his trademark “aaaaaall riiiiight” like he usually does, like a sitcom character. He was kind of stressed. There’s a FULL VACATE order on one of the doors, by the collapsed bay. Enter and risk arrest.
Later, I am sitting in the McDonalds near projekt. With my sled and my shovel – which I use as a snow shovel. I can see a bit of the curved roof over my attic. There’s no snow on it at all. My side of the building faces West. The wind has been blowing – from the west – at up to 50 miles power hour for the last 1/2 day. It’s cleared my roof off. There was no weird noises in my attic today. My side of the building is safe, I think. I walk back to where the bay is on 2nd street. The building inspector guy is there. A policewoman asks me if I can get in touch with the building owner to find Steve. I call. I talk with the inspector. He says that the owner is going to have to knock down the rest of the damaged section, take out the wall, cart it away. Then the building inspectors will go in and see if the rest of the building looks safe. If so, then we can go back in.
He says, maybe in a week, you can go in with somebody (from the city) and get some of your stuff. Uh oh. That doesn’t sound short term…… The building guy says, “I see that the sides of the building are buldging,” suggesting that this is something related to the snow on the roof. “It’s been doing that for years,” I say. “Yeah, I wrote them a citation for that,” he says happily. There is a “Vacate” sticker on the doors. My office doesn’t have that sticker (yet). My studio is in there. All my cds are in there. I need to go back in and grab a few more things.
Steve asks the building departments guy, “Hey, can you grab my snowblower for me.” It’s right by the open door, by the bay with the collapsed roof. “And my shovel.” The guy looks at them and then goes back and grabs them for Steve. I bet this guy loves crawling in dangerous buildings, surveying the wreckage. He’s probably like a kid in an abandoned house, having the time of his life.
I am thinking about what happens if we have to move. What if we have to move without our stuff ?
I am also thinking that the roof didn’t fall on me. That’s good. I am thinking about this Marc Almond song, “But Not Today.” He wrote it after his motorcycle accident. Even though he sings about a “you” he is talking about himself. @ 2:27: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XKxSH7dtees
Today the sun will shine a little brighter, today’s the day my heart begins to fly. Today my troubles feel a little lighter, today is the day you didn’t die.
Last night, I was listening to Steve Roach on my iPod. I have about 25 of his albums on there, and then a few other songs that I like. In the middle of all the Roach ambient music, “But Not Today” came up. Yeah, I know….. my half of the building didn’t suffer damage. But you never know, right?
UPDATE: Sunday January 9 2011 ~ From Projekt’s Sam Rosenthal
On 12/27/10 The roof collapsed on part of the Projekt building. The Department of Building threatens to arrest anyone who goes into the building; we have to move out. On January 1, I sent out an email list with a request for your help (and a 25% off sale). Your genorisity was amazing! The outpouring of love and support really stunned me. We brought in more money in 3 days then we usually earn in two months!!! That will go a loooooong way towards getting us out of this place and into a new office.
I did an inventory; we have 55,000 Projekt CDs here. We have a large cluttered attic; the 120-count boxes of CDs have multiplied over the years with all the new releases and all the returns from our distributors. The new space will be smaller (rents are high and we had a great deal here) — new shelving is needed.
My friend said he thinks the roof collapse is the universe’s way of telling me it is time for a change. The interesting thing is for the last 6 months, I have been purging. Sending back unsold Darkwave CDs. Putting a lot of other titles on sale to get rid of them. One weekend in September, I spent two days going through all my boxes in the attics, getting a better idea of what could be tossed, what could move with me. At that point, I wasn’t consciously planning to move. Maybe I was……(?)
It is time to get out of this dump, and get into a tight, organized office. Cooper is the guy – along with Shea – who fills your orders. A few days ago he said, ‘Sam, I don’t envy what you’re going through right now.’ Actually, I am very positive about this. First of all, I’m alive! The roof did not fall on my head. You cannot beat that! : ) Second, I love moving. It is a time to purge, reorganize, tidy. I think that’s what this is about, moving somewhere new and getting in good shape for the future of the record industry. Back in 2000, I closed Projekt’s office in Chicago and moved it all to my small rented house in Queens. In 2002 I moved to a larger house’s basement in Brooklyn. Those years were a time of down-sizing and getting rid of debt. Getting things back on track after a hedonist, and over-spent late 90s. In 2006, we moved out of the basement into our much larger space in Gowanus (the one that just had the collapse). 2011 is time for a positive step up. Lots of storage of CDs we need to slowly sell off (you know about our $6.98 sale page, yes?) and less junk that we no longer need; stuff I have hauled around since I left Chicago. A decade later, time for the dumpster. I expect we will move in the next two weeks. I looked at a few potential office spaces I like. I was whining to my friend in Florida that one of them is a 14 minute walk from my apartment. She mentioned she drives 45 minutes one-way to work. Ouch ! That puts it in perspective. I am really fortunate that I can walk to my son’s school, walk to work, walk to the supermarket. Ok, no more complaints from me about that. I will get a bike. That will work!
Every negative can be turned into a positive. An ending is a new beginning. Never problems, just opportunities………..
Shea, Cooper and I really appreciate that so many of you stepped up to help us out with your orders and your $$$$. It really is wonderful to know that Projekt means a lot to you, and in this rough time you chose to help us out! Thank You. Another update soon.May 16, 2011
It is sort of hard to imagine that just 4 months ago, Shea and I were in the middle of total chaos resulting from the partial collapse of the roof at the Projekt building (Xmas blizzard!). We were packing, stressing, trying to not kill the landlord, and looking for a new space to move to. Now we’re in a wonderful new office that is bright, roomy and organized. It has a big backyard, a really nice wolf-of-a-dog out there named Othello, and a wonderful super named Ricky who is amazingly kind to us.
As I wrote in an email in early January, ‘Every negative can be turned into a positive. An ending is a new beginning. Never problems, just opportunities.’ 2011 is the year of renewal for Projekt. And with that in mind, I want to tell you about our newest employee…. Sarah! Except she’s not really a ‘new employee,’ Sarah somebody you might remember from a few years ago, she was our mail-order shipping person from late 2007 – mid 2010.< One of the thing I have long wanted to address is that there is a lot of work at Projekt that occupies my time, yet it is stuff that I shouldn't be doing. I should be working on new compilations, signing new bands, and of course creating more of my own music. To facilitate that, I brought Sarah back on staff. She will process and fill your orders as well as work with you on questions you might have regarding your orders. Don't worry, Shea is still here! Having Sarah handling your orders means I can pass some of my work over to Shea. She's now involved with preparing HTML for the website and eList, updating album pages, searching out press, radio & blogs (to send our promos to) and doing many other things that used to take up my day. This affects you in a very positive way. Not only are there more people working on orders, but I have more time to get new releases together. Thanks for your kindness and support.
From Sam Rosenthal | December 25 2010 | Last year I started a Projekt holiday tradition. Rather than an eList filled with things for you to purchase, I decided to give something back. Some insight from Projekt’s artist. In 2009, I gave you our thoughts on Success. I really liked what was said. This year, I asked the artists to share a bit about:
“My Creative Process”
Sam Rosenthal of Black Tape For A Blue Girl and Projekt
I was out with a painter friend; she was telling me she hardly remembers making her paintings. She goes into a chaotic / productive state and works without thinking. That’s really different from how I create music. For me, it’s a very orderly process (editing, thinking, refining, working with all the other musicians, etc). However in reading what my friends wrote, I see elements from each that makes perfect sense to how I create. I especially relate to Michael’s idea of “play” — because for me, making music is fun. “It is fun to play,” perhaps, is as good of reason as any for creating. It is fun. It is joyous. It is making something exist that previously did not exist. Creating something that I enjoy listening to. It is an opportunity to go from nothing to something, without ever really knowing WHY it happened. Mystery.
I wrote this to Steve Roach, one day last month: It is pretty amazing how humans train ourselves (and our kids) to use our brain in a very specific, and generally logical, way. Everyday, we put a lot of energy into being practical, thinking “like a human,” putting our pants on before we leave the house. We kind of take it for granted how amazing our brains are. That we can do all of this really complex stuff, and do it again tomorrow……….. I was in the studio this weekend, working on a song. “That volume needs to go up. That needs a bit more high end. That needs to end a second sooner.” It is such a strange process. What makes us “know,” in advance, what it is that needs to be done? What guides us to know, without question, that without that slight volume adjustment, the piece just would not be correct? And we make 10,000 of these seemingly arbitrary choices every time we make music. It might come to us all very naturally. But making art is such a high-form function of our brains. And it is such an amazing process of cellular / animal evolution, that we wake up to this reality every day.< The Blood of My Lady
Michael Laird of Unto Ashes Sam asked me to write about “My Creative Process.” I’m not really sure how to address that, but here goes: Usually what happens is that I will pick up a musical instrument of some kind. This is easy for me, because I make sure to have lots of different kinds of instruments all around me all the time; for instance: acoustic guitars, mandolin, dulcimer, hurdy-gurdy, autoharp, even a viola da gamba. Some of these instruments are not easy to play, but they all have different characteristics, and all of them are welcome distractions for me. I really enjoy taking some time just to *play* music, without any expectation about the end result. I suppose the operating word here is “play.” I am now inclined to believe that this is similar to the kind of “play” that children do: they simply “play” and that’s it. They don’t have to know why they do it; they don’t need to have any kind of finished product to show for what they do. They just play.
Similarly, I might sit down with a musical instrument and just play for awhile until something develops that sounds interesting to me. If I like what I hear I’ll play it over and over, and just let the music go where it wants. Then I’ll put the instrument down for awhile. If, after a day or so, I can’t stop thinking about that particular musical progression or sequence, I’ll come back and play it some more. When that happens, it means that there’s some music out there that wants to find expression of some kind.
That’s when the *work* begins.
For me, the “work” may involve developing a real song structure, thinking about lyrics and actually writing them down, creating parts for other instruments or other voices, thinking about harmonies, and so on. I enjoy this process, but it does take some work.
If I haven’t abandoned the song by this point, then I need to record it. This is a process that also involves “work.” Don’t get me wrong: I love to record, but it can be a lot of “work” (as compared to “play”). It’s time consuming, it can be exhausting and even expensive. But I still enjoy doing it. And if I don’t have a lot of fixed ideas about what I want to accomplish in the studio, then the recording process is a lot closer to “play” than it is to “work.” It’s still work — but I’m not complaining! In fact, I think I like “working” on music even more than I like “playing” it. But that’s just me.
To summarize, I would say that my creative process involves a flash of inspiration while “playing,” followed by a long process of “working” towards the realization of that which inspired me initially.
Erik Wøllo My creative process has always been divided into several stages. The first phase is where I am preparing and collecting ideas. This can be collecting sounds, writing patches for my instruments or just rehearsing. I am kind of setting up an environment where I can be inspired. The next phase would be just trying to create something. Letting my conscious and subconscious mind work freely. This is a very fragile stage and I try not to be interrupted by things around me. And if I am lucky, I am given these moments where everything seems to flow: The music leads me, not the other way around. The next stage is where I do an evaluation of what I have created so far. Like doing the arranging, editing and the mixing. But I always try to follow that first, original impulse or idea. Not forgetting why I saved this particular song.
Disciple Mark Seelig My Creative Process: recording initial tracks for Wachuma’s Wave and Disciple in India. I was lucky enough to slip all my recording gear past Indian customs and had set aside about 6 weeks to stay in an Ashram in India to practice my bamboo flute with my Indian teacher, and do some recording. Indian musicians like to chew ‘Pan’, a mixture of Bethel Nut with some other ingredients. It gives them a small high and lots of stamina, kind of like the Coca leaves people in the Andes use for their arduous lives. After having tasted ‘Pan’ a couple of times I decided that all it really does is give a steep rise in blood pressure and energy. I wanted to offer my Indian flute teacher, who is from a remote shamanic tribal area in Manipur, East India, something better and more fun and told him about the San Pedro Cactus (native name ‘Wachuma’ or Huachuma). He was thrilled and said he definitely wanted to try it.
We both ingested a fair amount, and after some time of playing our flutes, with him explaining things in his heavily broken English with that special Indian twang, the cactus started taking effect. We keep playing, and after a while he pauses, grins at me and says: “Veddy nice feelink coming to de head.” I smiled and noticed his reserve (he is from an aristocratic tribe in Manipur). We keep playing, getting deep into the Ragas with closed eyes, losing all sense of time, and then after a while he pauses again, and now with a wide unbridled smile across his Tibetan looking face he says: “Now REALLY nice feelink coming to de head.” I laughed out loud in delight, continued playing after he left, and eventually started toning with voice and playing the flute interchangeably, laying down some basic tracks which later found their way into Wachuma’s Wave and Disciple in the collaborations with Byron Metcalf and Steve Roach.
Eifelian Scott of Autumn’s Grey Solace My creative process involves using my guitar as an instrument to bring that which is in my being into the physical world. I almost always use one of my nine guitars to start creating a composition. Each guitar has a unique tuning and string arrangement, so they help ignite my creativity and allow me to come up with exotic guitar chords. Also, having a wide range of guitar effects and accessories like EBows, capos, etc. can spawn new ideas when writing. These things help to bring out the music that’s inside me. I usually start with something chordal, either arpeggiated or rhythmic, and compose a series of progressions or riffs which become the structure of the song. I then construct a rhythm section around that and then overdub some more guitars as embellishments. That’s my part, and then Erin composes all of the vocals, vocal overdubs, and lyrics. Erin: The creative process: a chance to express what’s in my imagination by putting together abstract thoughts into something that can make sense, like pieces of a puzzle that show a bigger picture than what’s on each puzzle piece. The process for me must stem from somewhere inside my mind, heart or spirit. External influences that mean something to me like people and nature can paint impressions in my thoughts. I store those impressions inside my head to be used later when I decide to work on music. When I create words with melodies over Scott’s music, I pull from my mind the words and piece them together using what my heart feels and what my spirit is in the mood for. Sometimes the external influences are superficial and that is when I lose my ability to glue together a song because when there is no depth there is no mind, heart or spirit to create with. So with some discipline and drive I proceed with the creative process with careful intentions on using my mind, heart or spirit to feed my imagination.
Spiders, Aether & Rain Ashkelon Sain of Trance to the Sun / Soriah / Blade Fetish / Submarine Fleet I devote a good deal of my visualization process to thinking about what I would like my album to sound like when it’s finished. What elements should each song have in common? In what ways should each song stand apart individually? This helps greatly in deciding how to proceed with new song ideas.
The Hours Federico, (Viola, Fabio and Stefania) of All My Faith Lost… Sam asked us to write and describe the creative process behind their music. We think this is a nice way to give our listeners another point of view on our art. However, we admit it is not easy to speak about and describe what sometime “just happens.” Probably the best way to explain our “Creative Process” is to pick up one of our song and trying to remember how it came to life. We have chosen “Notti Bianche” from our album The Hours just re-printed by Projekt Records and originally released in 2007. “Notti Bianche” – The creative process
Let’s start by saying that this is not the creative process happening for every song. Yes, it is the method we follow most of the times but not the only one. When we composed The Hours we wrote all the lyrics before the music. The Hours is a concept album on literature: we took the authors we love and we wrote about their life, their books and their words. “Notti Bianche” is our personal reiterpretation (in music) of the novel “White Nights” (“Notti Bianche” in Italian) by F. Dostoevskij. Why the title in Italian you ask? Well, “White Nights” sounded too much as a Christmas song title to us.
I remember our studio was full of books, sheets with handwritten lines from our favourite novels. We attached photocopied bookpages on the walls, we hanged pics of Anais Nin, Virginia Woolf and Pier Paolo Pasolini. We created a small world made of paper, ink and music.
“Notti Bianche” was born inside this small world from a guitar arpeggio. Most of our songs grow from guitar lines or arpeggios. Not sophisticated ones. I have to find the “right” one, the one that sounds good in my head, the one that makes me think: “this is the one!” Once the guitar line was done, me and Viola satrted working over the vocal parts and we easily found them out. We spent a little time trying to understand how to split the parts among the two of us and we decided the right thing it was for me to sing only some shorts parts together with Viola. At this point, the song was done … or better, the bones of the song were all put together. The subsequent work was all about the arrangements we were able to do by ourselves. Viola found a warm synth sound, as we wanted an electronic part to overwhelm and sustain the acoustic guitar. We found also an additional guitar part and some other small electronic parts and piano notes.
It was now the time to call Martina Bertoni (Cello) and Fabio Polo (Violin). They listened the song and composed the strings parts. First one to record was Martina and then Fabio added his violin. We think they composed and recorded some lines that give a delicate and at the same time strong feeling to the song.
So, you now know how the creative process of one of the best songs on our album The Hours. I really hope you like this short explanation and I hope it helps tu understand better what there is hidden after a few minutes of our music. The HoursWe wish you all a great Christmas and a happy New Year.
A World We Pretend Todd Loomis of The Twilight Garden Usually for me, things begin with a great sound or a great riff – or really anything inspiring. It could be a lyric idea or a mood I have in my head at first, or a reaction I feel to something happening in the world. Then, I may spend quite a bit of time making a sound or tweaking a synthesizer, or rewiring my guitar effects until I find something I think is really neat to complement the idea. Once I discover it, I’m usually pretty excited by it, and that excitement translates immediately into the creative process. I’ll end up jamming around – working and refining it into something I can actually recreate. Once I have the idea going, I can find another sound to complement the first one; and I can do the same thing again – create a part that works with the first part and layer them together. I can do this over and over to build up a piece of music both vertically in textural layers, and horizontally in time. Eventually, I’ll pull the lyrical ideas together and build the song around the idea and the vocal. Also, I should say that improvisation is a great way for me to instantly connect emotion inside my head to sound in the world outside my head. When I improvise – whether on piano, guitar, vocals, etc., it’s always the same. If I can let my mind wander, my playing will reflect naturally what I might be feeling inside. Usually, it comes really naturally. I just play what I feel. If I find I’m thinking too much, I just go do something else besides music. If the mood is right though, I’ll just play and let the ideas grow into a song. Because I’m just reflecting things, I don’t really even have to try; it just happens when I put myself in front of an instrument and play. Also, I can reflect anything really – so the creative possibilities are endless. I could probably write an ode to mustard if I was in the right place mentally. Anyway, improvisation for me is a way of generating things with very little effort. I find it forces me to relinquish control and to let the notes flow naturally without correction. If I’m a good enough musician, those notes will speak like words in a sentence or paragraph – the idea will be cohesive, and they will not need editing. Of course, if the recorder is running, then a song is in the works.
Dies Irae Alessia and Massimiliano of Atrium Animae (a new Projekt signing, from Italy, with their debut coming in April) Well…the creative process takes place through a series of steps in which the instrumental and vocal parts are designed according to an initial idea. Typically, the tracks are conceived as a score composed of several parts, sometimes very different to each others. We devote much attention to the process of transition between all the parts. It’s a very long process, because the tracks are composed of over 40 different elements in some cases, and very complex vocal parts. It’s strange, because the creative process is on the one hand very intimate and friendly, but at the same time a long process of refinement is required to arrive to the final result. For example, Alessia has in mind the final harmony in her head. But only when she sings the different melodies she instinctively understand how to combine them. Meanwhile, the instrumental parts are combined with the voices and the song refined….. and again, with other voices… and again, changing parts… and again… until the reaching of a “stable state.”
At this point, the song is put in a state of “waiting” for a period of time, and we concentrate the attention on other songs previously in that state, in order to listen to them and evaluate if they need some refinements. So, at the end, hundreds of revisions of the same song are produced in some cases! In addition, we are two different people with so different ideas about the project and the themes treated in the project. It’s just like a mutual influence. Both of us want the total control of the whole process. It must be perfect…. and remember that we are a couple in life, so there’s a strong relationship between us. But we believe that this dualism creates the right combination and chemistry, and our creative process is linked to our frame of mood, our suffering, our questions about the existence of this state of loss and despair… and the album has all these questions within…
Phantoms Forrest Fang I have a somewhat chaotic process for creating music. More recently, I’ve tried to give my instincts full rein, at least in the initial stages; I go through an extended “demo” phase, where I try to record as much raw material as I can, without thinking too much about it. Sometimes this involves creating ambient textures, other times, fragments of a melody or rhythm. A lot of material is just experimentation that doesn’t stand on its own, but may give me idea to record a variation on it later. The hard part is listening to all of this to catalog the most interesting bits. Sometimes this stage takes longer than the original recording. I then try to conceptualize an entire album from these sounds, by thinking of the textures I want to appear at different stages of the album. The recording I do after this is more structured, but often the recordings end up being more appropriate for other projects! This might be because I’ve tricked myself into playing more spontaneously by not caring if it gets used. An example of this chaotic process is “Little Angklung” off of my Phantoms CD. This piece started as an experiment with an algorithmic program called “Angklung.” Over the course of a year, the direction of the piece changed when I junked what was the “backing track” based on Angklung, and replaced it with a gamelan improv I had originally recorded for another project. This new backing track suggested other instruments, which I added, but I kept much of the original ambient material I had recorded over the original backing
Makaras Pen Doug White of Makaras Pen Makaras Pen has been hard at work recording a follow-up CD. After a summer of area shows and some out of town road work we are 8 songs into what we think might be an 11 song full length. Videos have become a really great creative outlet for us so we have a new high end one in the works for our song “What’s Really Happening” that we are super excited about. We hope to have it back from the film company to release in early January. Our creative writing and recording process has changed a lot for this new CD. Our drummer Dennis really likes to hear a final product before he decides on drum takes. Of course in the process of indie/shoegaze recording there can be so many layers it’s hard to tell early on what might be the sound and arrangement in the end. So Val and Doug have been writing and recording full songs to a click and having drums go down last as the finishing touch. This has really gave a new element of power and creativity to the new Makaras Pen material. Emma has been deep in lyric writing mode. It’s been a great release and outlet for her thoughts and emotions. It is really nice to watch somebody become more comfortable writing and expressing themselves through music that they love. Some of her new melodyies have given us shivers.
There is a deep friendship and bond with Makaras Pen band members that is hard to describe but we hope to portrait it in our music to fans. We sure appreciate all of the overwhelming support and mail we have gotten. It is truly satisfying to hear from so many people who enjoy what we do.
Moments in Time Johnny Indovina of Human Drama I’ve never sat down to work on songs. Like, it’s time to write… I only sit down when I feel something, and hear that feeling musically. Then I try to complete the task of getting it on tape. Sometimes it starts with a phrase, sometimes with a mumbled melody. Sometimes it starts with looking into a stranger’s eyes. Also, I never try to finish. I let it finish when it wants to. “This Forgotten Love” started at midnight and was finished by 6am. “King of Loneliness” started in 1991 and didn’t finish ’til 1998… One more part of my writing is that I never have written a song based on who I thought my audience was. I think a writer must write for himself (or herself), complete the idea so that it best captures the original feeling, then send it out. The song is an extension of the writer. Let the audience come if it moves them.
I enjoy the process, but I cannot say I enjoy a lot of the feelings or themes I write about. But that is my work.
[a lantern carried in blood and skin] Joshua of Lux Interna Weave my skin on the spiritloom tight Fill my flesh with the blood of light Oh, come down, Oh, draw with up On creating.
In my experience many of the best songs seem to come out of nowhere, unawaited. They appear as gifts or guests: spectral entities needing a body. And often, the truly difficult part is to find a form fit for their invisible light. In this sense, I often think of the post-inspirational aspects of songcrafting as steps in the construction of an holy space. One can never force a presence to present itself, but one can prepare, furnish, and decorate a space in order to make the presence welcome. Indeed, especially of late, I’m learning the importance of waiting and listening, treating the song as a subject rather than merely an object upon which I am acting. One of the most exciting parts of creating, for me, is when you hear or feel something in your own creation that surprizes you because it seems to exceed the contents of your own private subjectivity. It is a beautiful – if somewhat eerie – experience to feel that you have somehow been a conduit for something other than your own ideas.
Sam’s memories of Peter Steele April 19 2010
Listening to October Rust as I write this…..
Peter Steele of Type-O Negative passed away a few days ago. I thought I’d put together my recollections of the times my life intersected with Peter’s.
The first time I recall hearing Steele’s name was from Mike VanPortfleet of Lycia. This was after the 1993 release of Lycia’s A Day in the Stark Corner. Peter said complimentary things about Lycia in a few interviews. I do not have the original quotes, but I searched my hard drive and found:
MKUltra Issue #1 (1995) Q: I think the production on Bloody Kisses is phenomenal! Peter Steele: You should be familiar with Lycia. It’s dark, ambient Goth music. The last album is called A Day in the Stark Corner. I would like our next album to sound something like this. It is the most depressing thing I’ve ever heard in my life. If I put it on in the morning when I get up… I’m useless for the rest of the day. It makes me feel like killing myself. It’s like, why even bother getting dressed when I can just slit my wrists. Such simple hypnotic beats. Everything is drowned in reverb, yet the emotion comes through so loud and clear. It’s just devastatingly beautiful, as beautiful as it is devastating. That’s how I want to come through. INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE: Full exchange between Alex and Peter.
Honestly, I wasn’t familiar with Type-O Negative but I got to know the Bloody Kisses album. Peter asked Lycia and The Electric Hellfire Club to open a small Type-O Negative tour in October 1995. I was living in California at the time and flew to the East Coast to be Lycia’s soundmixer. Not long before, the drunken leaders of The Electric Hellfire Club (Thomas and Shane, RIP) had gotten into a confrontation with me at NEO in Chicago, something about my supposed Judeo-Christian beliefs. Total non-event and something I have always found funny / absurd. When I got to the venue in Boston (?) Peter came over, picked up my quite large suitcase and tossed it on his shoulder (he could have picked me up as well as the cabl!). He said something like, “We’re not going to have any problems with the Hellfire Club.” And I was certain he was right!
Oh yeah, speaking of Chicago, I remember now that a woman I knew there was seeing Peter now and then….. so I probably had heard some stories about him by then.
Peter was down-to-earth, charismatic and charming. Peter was totally straight edge. He would talk about other people smoking pot on the bus while he lifted weights in the back. This was during the multi-year touring for Bloody Kisses, when Type O were getting their music out to the fans and developing a strong following. It was great to watch them from the side of the stage as they performed each night at smaller venues, 300 – 500 people. I remember a really lovely old theatre in Poughkeepsie, NY; I was watching from the balcony during sound-check, Type-O were running through covers songs, I think it was DEVO and The Beatles. At one show, Josh’s keyboard was acting up, he pushed it out of the stand and it crashed to the floor. A roadie ran in with a replacement. At the show in Syracuse, I watched the bouncers drag some guy out the back door by his feet, head bouncing on the steps and into the parking lot. Lycia did not get the warm reception Peter expected; stuff was thrown, spit was lobbed. Just a bit too much violence for me.
I believe it was this tour when Type O played the massive Roseland Ballroom in New York City. Really nice to see them on such a big stage, big risers for each member, as if Peter needed to be even taller, to get his point across! ; )
MK Ultra Issue #7, Summer 1996 Q:Two of your favorite bands, Electric Hellfire Club and Lycia, you’ve had the chance to tour with them. Do you feel a responsibility to the public to turn them onto bands like this? Peter: (takes a very deep breath) Um, I think the best way to answer that is to simply say yes. I try to put together an interesting package that I felt if I was a fan I would want to see this package that I would want to see all three bands. Q: How did hardcore fans react to a band like Lycia? Peter: Some of our fans are quite rude. At some points, I felt like I wanted to go out and say something to these few people who were giving the opening bands a hard time, but I figured that might egg them on even more, so I just let it be. Q: Projekt uses the quote you did with us in the first page of the Lycia press kit. Peter: (laughing) Where I said it was “devastatingly beautiful?” Q: And why even bother getting dressed when you can just slit your wrists. They loved that. Peter: (laughing) That’s great music, man.
Black Moon #7, 1996 We did shows with Lycia and the Electric Hellfire Club last October and I thought that the line-up was great. But the management wasn’t happy with the line-up because everything seems to come down to money these days and they would rather put people on the bill that they are sure will draw a lot of people to the show. It sucks that finances have to rear their ugly head.
When you look back on it now, you see a long list of bands that Peter asked to open for Type O Negative, even though the bands might have been obscure and not “adding to the bill” the way management thinks about it, these days. Meaning, Lycia were never asked to pay to get the opening slot, nor did Peter worry about how many heads the band was going to add to the evening. I think Peter genuinely liked helping bands he enjoyed, and he was confident that Type O could draw on their own.
Back in Los Angeles, in the summer of 1995, I caught Type O opening for Queensryche at some massive place, probably the Laker’s Arena. At the end of Type O’s set, roadies walked on stage and wheeled away their equipment, mid-song; staged as a smart ass comment about the 30 minute opener’s set length. Eva-O, Patrick and I didn’t stick around to catch much of Queensryche, we went backstage to hang out with the band. Pat recalls, “Peter was really sick but nonetheless took time to chat before saying we should hang around but that he had to go ’cause he didnt know which end it was gonna be coming out of next!”
Lycia had another opportunity to open for Type-O at an outdoor show, I think it was Toledo. I was living in Chicago at this point so it might have been Summer of 96(?). The sound system was shitte, I think there were no monitors, so Lycia didn’t play. At the end of the set, Type-O’s roadies handed out what seemed like a crate of toilet paper, and a massive toilet paper fight ensued, with long streams of paper flying all over the venue. I just googled “Type O Toilet Paper” and found this fan comment: “Once one guy beaned Pete right in the head with a roll on stage. Peter immediately looked down at the guy and said ‘you should pitch for the Yankees.’ ”
In October 1997, I saw Type-O play the Vic in Chicago, on their October Rust tour (the in-door snow machine was very cool / the blow-up dolls were dumb – but I guess that was the point). As Projekt fans noticed at the time, the album showed sone of the haunting and spacious qualities of Lycia (such as “Red Water (Christmas Mourning)”). Peter lived up to his artistic promise. They were growing, maybe more than his audience wanted. Back stage after the show, a woman had Peter sign her breasts. Another woman sat on his hand and he picked her up as if working a 10 pound weight. As always, Peter was very polite and friendly, he might have been enjoying himself.
Over the years, I heard about Type-O wanting out of their contract with Roadrunner, so they could move to a major label; Roadrunner wasn’t letting them go. I don’t know the politics of this; who was right, who was wrong. I think Peter ended up stepping on too many toes. The band seemed in a holding pattern, it was unfortunate because Type-O had a lot of momentum after the success of Bloody Kisses. I can imagine their frustration, and it spilled out into interviews.
I was doing a catalog mailing one day, and in the Brooklyn addresses I noticed Petrus Ratajczyk. It turns out that years earlier, Peter ordered some CDs and mailed them to his mom’s house. (I remember talking with a manager at one of the shows who told me he sometimes ordered Projekt CDs for Peter.) From that point on, I’d mail a couple of new releases to Mom’s house. It was sort of my “bat signal.” I send something, and a few months later I would get a thank you call. Peter’s deep voice, “Hello Sam….” and a few minutes of jokes and friendly chatter.
Outburn Magazine #11 May 2000 Q: And Type-O Negative toured with Lycia… Peter: They are such a great band. It was such an honor. But unfortunately sometimes our fans can be very ruthless to the opening bands. And there was nothing I could do. I thought it was actually pretty interesting. The October Rust album just came out, and it was all about creepy things and Halloween. I always thought A Day in the Stark Corner was one of the most depressing albums I have ever heard in my entire life…. it actually influenced me somewhat.
Revue Noir, my band with Nicki, had a show in New York City in 2005, I sent a postcard to Mom’s. A few months after the show, I got THE CALL. My son was a few years old, I was getting ready to get divorced; my life was frazzled. But Peter’s life was hell. I had read that he went through rehab, but had fallen back into his old ways. Peter called to say he’d like to come see us play some day; he said he was glad I was happy with my son, but that people like him should never be permitted to breed. The conversation devolved (and I paraphrase) to: “I would like to plunge off the Coney Island Parachute Jump, except I will not do it because that would just make them happy. They have my place bugged. I dismantled and smashed everything to find out where the listening devices were hidden. They were in the lamps and in the sockets in the wall.” Them. Them. Death. Suicide. Destruction. Paranoia. Some of what he said was about getting into Catholicism and that being a good thing for him, but most of what he said was really sad and scary stuff. I kept wondering “Why are you telling ME this?” Had everyone around Peter heard it to the point where they were sick of it, and he needed new ears for this story? We talked (which means, me listening) for about 45 minutes. Said goodbye. The next day I called a business friend who worked with his management at Roadrunner. “Can you ask them to check in with Peter, see if he’s Ok. See if he needs help or something?”
I was on the guest list to see Type-O Negative at Irving Plaza (May 8 2007). The band was really tight, but Peter was so annoying. It sounded like he was intentionally mumbling the lyrics to the songs. The melody was there but the words were not. I had a feeling he was doing it to annoy the other guys in the band. Midway through the set, Peter said something about “eating a bad slice of pizza and having to go throw up,” and the band left the stage. There was 5 – 10 minutes of cartoon music playing through the sound system, and then Peter came back to mumble his way through the rest of the set. If I had paid, I would have been really pissed. I spoke to somebody in California, who said Type O took the same mid-set break at the show there, and he thinks Peter went off-stage to breath from an Oxygen tank.
December 2007, Peter called and asked if I’d be interested in releasing Carnivore’s new album on Projekt. I was honest and said I did not know the material (“Lucky you,” he quipped) and was not sure if it was my style; but I would certainly work with him on releasing it, if it was something he thought made sense for his career (meaning I felt that while Projekt had the distribution network, he needed a bigger label with a budget). I made a few follow-up calls, but never heard more about the idea.
I sent another card to Mom’s house in the fall of 2008. I was working on the 10 Neurotics album, and looking for a vocalist. I thought it might be interesting to have Peter sing a song or two, he could do a really unique interpretation of “Sailor Boy,” or “The Perfect Pervert.” Over the years, Peter has offered to work with at least 5 people I know, but he was always busy and things never materialized. My expectations were very realistic. I just thought it was a cool idea. We talked and Peter said, “Sure send me something to listen to.” I sent him the album in progress; he called back and said he had met somebody and was living in Pennsylvania. “Yeah, I’d like to do something on the album, but can you wait? I’m going into rehab for a month, and I won’t be available until January. Here’s her phone number, if anything comes up and you need to get a message to me.” Of course I could wait, taking care of himself was more important than recording a song.
In January I called, and after a few false starts, we set up a time to record. He was going to drop by my studio in Brooklyn on a Saturday. The day came, I didn’t hear from Peter, then got the expected call. “Hey Sam, sorry about this. But I blew out the tranny on my car, it’s gonna cost me $300 to get it fixed man, I cannot make it today, maybe we can reschedule?”
A transmission doesn’t cost $300 to fix these days; I bet Peter has used this line since high school, when he needed to ditch somebody. You gotta laugh at life and move on. He had his reasons, it wasn’t mine to question them.
I never sent another CD to Mom’s. Peter didn’t call again. I never again heard that baritone “Hello Sam…” nor dreaded the scary reality that might follow.
As you can tell, I know little about Peter Steele and his life…. just how it intersected with mine. It is a pity that Peter is dead, but I think he has gone off to a better place. What I witnessed was a very sad story about a caring and talented guy whose demons got the best of him. Life turns out that way, sometimes.
A few years later The final part of this story is that a few years later I got a phone call. I think it was Peter’s sister, or maybe his ex? They said they were going through Peter’s CDs, and there was a copy of my solo-electronic release, Pod by As Lonely As Dave Bowman. Along with it was a note I wrote with my phone number. She called just to say Hi, and Peter had saved my CD from among the tons of things he received from people over the years. That was nice of them to call about.