Archive for the ‘Inside Projekt’ Category
Sam picked eight albums that sort of / kind of represent the history of the Projekt sound at the Bandcamp Daily. See what he chose.
Eight Projekt titles are on sale at iTunes through October 27, 2016.
PJK-ED-318 As Lonely As Dave Bowman Monolith PJA-ED-138 Erik Wøllo Star’s End 2015 (Silent Currents 4) PJK-CD-328 Erik Wøllo & Byron Metcalf Earth Luminous PJK-CD-103 Forrest Fang Gongland PJK-CD-231 Mark Seelig Disciple PJK-CD-099 Steve Roach Midnight Moon PJK-CD-060 Steve Roach & vidnaObmana Well of Souls PJA-CD-15 vidnaObmana Twilight of PerceptionTwo pay-what-you-can downloads at Bandcamp: Various Artists: Victor Frankenstein (music for a dark evening) Pay-what-you-can at Bandcamp.< Black Tape For A Blue Girl: The Collection Pay-what-you-can at Bandcamp. Mercury Antennae have an in-depth interview in the online zine Raw Alternative. A review of Loren Nerell’s The Venerable Dark Cloud in Italian at OndaRock. A review of Steve Roach & Robert Logan’s Biosonic/Second Nature in Italian at Darkroom Magazine Sam Rosenthal interviewed about the new Black Tape For A Blue Girl album and Projekt records at Chain DLK Democracy: Season Finale. Finally, I can vote for Hillary! (images at Facebook) Don’t believe that hoax that Trump is not on the ballot in Oregon. From Star Trek TOS “Spectre Of The Gun:” SPOCK: Physical reality is consistent with universal laws. Where the laws do not operate, there is no reality. All of this is unreal. We judge reality by the response of our senses. Once we are convinced of the reality of a given situation, we abide by its rules. Mortiis’ 5-year-old son saw the cover of the new Black Tape For A Blue Girl album and thought the standup bass had fallen from the sky, and cracked open with the girl inside.
From Projekt’s Sam Rosenthal August has been a busy month at the Projekt webstore. Joe’s sending lots of your packages out the door. Thanks for your orders and your interest in our new batch of releases. Scroll down for the top sellers from the last 6 weeks.
#1Steve Roach: Shadow of Time / This Place to Be 2-pack with bonus third disc.
“Three profound sonic environments born from deep intuition for the power of sound, refined by years of technical mastery.” – Stephen Hill, Hearts of Space Order CDs for $25 | Digital: Bandcamp or iTunes or Spotted Peccary High Res.
#2Black tape for a blue girl: These fleeting moments
Deluxe-CD, limited edition of 500. “Gently lit by the existential gleam of a dying sun” – Soundscape Magazine. Picking up Blacktape’s classic 90s darkwave, ethereal sound; original vocalist Oscar returns on their 30th anniversary. Order limited edition CD for $20 || Digital: Bandcamp or iTunes.
#3Erik Wollo: Star’s End 2015 (Silent Currents 4)
Limited edition of 300. “During these late-night sonic excursions, time, for the musician, seems longer and wider. Each vignette builds slowly, performed with perfect assurance, flowing beautifully across this hour-long realization.” -Chuck van Zyl/ Star’s End blog. Order CD for $16 || Digital: Bandcamp or iTunes or Spotted Peccary High Res.
#4Black tape for a blue girl: The Rope Tshirt
Back in print for 2016, available in S – XXL. Printed in North Carolina on American-made American Apparel #2001 fitted shirts. See image below. order t-shirt for $19
#5Erik Wollo & Byron Metcalf: Earth Luminous
An elegant album weaving melodic, vibrant soundscapes with subtle, grounding rhythms. Byron’s tight-to-the-grid substratum pulse serves as a conduit to Erik’s lush, emotive and expansive atmospheres. Order CD for $14 || Digital: Bandcamp or iTunes or Spotted Peccary High Res.
#6 Steve Roach: Shadow of Time Order CD for $14 #7 Klaus Schulze & Pete Namlook: Dark Side Of The Moog Vol. 9-11 (5CD Box) Order for $3 #8 Lycia:Quiet Moments (LAST COPIES!) Order CD for $14 #9 10 Projekt CDs for $25 (2014) Order box for $25 #10 Erik Wollo:Silent Currents (Live at Star’s End) 2-CD (50% Off) Order for $10 Black Tape For A Blue Girl The Rope t-shirts lined up by size and ready to stuff into pre-Order customers’ packages. Joe does the Projekt webstore fulfilment out of his Digital Underground retail store in Philadelphia. Stop by when in town. OrderThe Rope t-shirt for $19
I like creating short headlines in my brain; a string of words that represent a larger concept. Then I can repeat the headline to myself (rather than having to think out every little aspect of the concept) when I want to remember what the hell I am doing!
My new headline is “Two-year plan:” I want to create a lot of Black tape for a blue girl music in the next two years. But before I talk about the future, let me step back into the past.
The core of the recording of These Fleeting Moments began in June of 2014 when I laid down my electronics for “six thirteen.” Friday’s release date marked two years & two months from start to finish on the album.
To recap recent albums: 2002 (14 years ago) The Scavenger Bride 2004 (12 years ago) Halo Star 2008 (8 years ago) Revue Noir side-project 2009 (7 years ago) 10 Neurotics 2016 These Fleeting Moments (additional instrumental albums in there as well, full list here)
The last Blacktape album, 10 Neurotics, came out seven years ago. That was way too long ago! I have plenty of reasonable explanations for why it took so long. I wrote my novel Rye. I worked with Nicki Jaine in a side-project, I made the “Marmalade Cat” video and Tenderotics remix album. I toured to promoteRye. I moved to Oregon. I recorded some instrumental albums. I’m raising my son half of every week.
But there’s another bigger part of the delay; it had to do with enthusiasm. At the beginning of this decade I got down on the idea of making my music, as the recording industry entered financial free fall. I would ask myself, “What’s the point of creating art that nobody wants to hear?” I was just burnt out on it all. Though I’ll admit now that the problem was a mistake in perception. It’s not that nobody wants to hear music, it’s that only a select group of loyal people want to pay for music / support the creation of art.
People love hearing music, they just also love free.
But to make a long story short, contact (via Kickstarter and this Patreon) with people who are dedicated to my art picked me back up. I’ve been in touch with so many of you who love my music and want to see me make more of it. That’s very inspiring.
That gives me back my enthusiasm for making art.How people hear music
The big change in the music industry in the last five years (aside from plummeting sales) is the growth of streaming. Most casual-listeners-of-music stream tracks these days. Back in 1996, Remnants of a deeper purity sold 16,000 CDs! There were a lot more fans of this genre, a lot more casual listeners. As there wasn’t a simple way to hear this type of music, purchasing was the way to go. While it would be wonderful if all 16,000 of those people still wanted to support my art, I am realistic: they don’t. I understand. I can’t turn back the clock, or tilt at windmills.
From Buddhism, I learn, “The first cause of suffering is not knowing the true nature of Reality. The second cause of suffering is grasping or holding onto what is illusory or insubstantial.” And the thing that leads to the cessation of suffering? Letting go of illusion. Seeing reality for what it is.
People want music. Lots of music. Only some of you want to pay for it (thank you!), and at the moment streaming is what a lot of the people want. That’s reality.
Streaming is an immediate format. It’s like a river, there’s always music rushing by. This led me to realize that I need to create more music, to keep everything flowing. I don’t want to go seven years between Black Tape For A Blue Girl albums. I need to create music regularly, because I’m an artist, and making music is what I do.
The people who are reading this pay attention to what I create, I appreciate that. But we all know about the average attention span of most consumers of media these days: very short.
Like I said, I don’t think seven years until I release more new music is the way to go. Or even every two years. People love hearing new music. This is my idea, the core of the Two-year plan:
I want to create an EP’s worth of music every 6 months and a new album every 18 months.Some of the EP tracks will be on the album, some will not.
Looking at it retroactively, the Bike Shop EP was the first attempt at this concept. It has 4 songs. Only “bike shop/absolute zero” appears in the same exact form onThese fleeting moments. The track “She’s gone” evolved into what you hear on the album. Two are only on the Bike Shop release. I think this is very cool.
Part of what makes this possible is the way the record industry has evolved. It used to be very restricted. Everything was suppose to be focused around THE ALBUM RELEASE. Don’t compete with the album. Don’t distract. Focus two years of energy on one thing. But that’s not the way people ‘consume’ music, these days.
Another thing. Not every bit of music needs a physical release that gets into “stores.” Digital might turn out to be the first priority with the EPs, though I am thinking of something for collectors, too. Perhaps special numbered limited edition CDs. 100? 200? Not sure yet.
I want to make a lot of music. I want to tell you all about this, so you hold me to it! I think it’s worth having an optimistic goal to aim for.
What’s that quote?
“The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark. ” – Michelangelo
So yeah! I want to create a lot of new music. Write a lot of new lyrics. Give you lots of interesting new things to listen to. That’s all part of my Two-year plan.
Thanks for supporting me in making this possible.
SamBlack Tape For A Blue Girl releases & reissues These fleeting moments Deluxe-CD, limited edition of 500 order CD for $20 Digital: Bandcamp or iTunes. Remnants of a deeper purity 20th anniversary reissue order 2-CD for $15 Digital: Bandcamp or iTunes. The Rope Tshirt Back in print for 2016 pre-order t-shirt for $19 the Bike Shop\12″ Limited edition vinyl release order 12″ for $7 (No digital, only Vinyl!) Projekt’s August releases Steve Roach: Shadow of Time / This Place to Be 2-pack with bonus third disc. Order CDs for $25 Digital: Bandcamp or iTunes or Spotted Peccary High Res. Erik Wollo: Star’s End 2015 (Silent Currents 4) Limited edition of 300. Order CD for $16 Digital: Bandcamp or iTunes or Spotted Peccary High Res.
Here are a few paragraphs that covers what it’s about.
…Artists say that aspects of the law that were written in the late 1990s make it too easy for tech companies to ignore rampant piracy on their sites and put too much responsibility on the artists themselves to find the illegal music files.
It may be hard to feel sorry for high-profile artists like Taylor Swift — but you might feel bad for Sam Rosenthal, who runs a small independent label, Projekt Records. He’s been making a living as a musician and producer of electronic music for 30 years. Over the past decade, he says he’s struggled to keep his business alive.
“It involves continuously finding more ways to save and downsizing. And trying to keep ahead of the decline basically,” Rosenthal says. “I had 11 people working for me in the ’90s and now I have two part-time people working for me.”
and then later:
“Google could solve this problem — 90 percent of this problem — with one switch,” Rosenthal says. “And if they were really on the side of the creators they would do something about that.”
To contact Sam, email sr.projekt-at-gmail.com
There were two things I realized while doing this interview.
1) Projekt is more than this silly little thing I do for a living. It’s not just my job, it’s actually a small business, that has served a purpose in the financial ecosystem of many lives. And – unbeknown to most – over the last 20 years Projekt has brought in and spent over $7,500,000! Very little of that stuck to me, mind you. It went out to the artists, and the manufacturing plants, and rent, and salaries, and shipping supplies, and the promotion Projekt has done.
Projekt is one of those “small businesses” you always hear politicians patriotically talking about. I once employed eleven people, many full time, paid a decent salary, and even covered health insurance for some of them for a while. I’ve written checks to artists for a lot of royalties over the years. But so much of that was rapidly destroyed by the changes in the music industry.
Think about $7,500,000. That’s a lot of cash that Projekt has swirled around the economy; especially when you consider that Projekt is a teeny-tiny little label that 99.9% of the people who listen to NPR have never heard of.
2) I really *do* blame the tech industry for the destruction that has befallen artists: musicians, filmmakers, video game makers, porn makers. We’ve all become the content that consumers want for free; the content the tech industry wants to provide for free, without having to pay anything for it.
When I said “Google could solve this problem,” I wasn’t actually talking about Google talking the files down, which is the way the article frames it. What I specifically meant was that Google knows exactly who the bad actors are. Google’s Transparency Report is a running tally of DMCA complaints filed with Google, for sites that post links and post illegal content. There were over eighty-eight million (88,171,520) reports filed in the last month! 4shared.com has over 3 million in the last month and fourty-two million since they started keeping track.
I highly doubt 4shared is doing something legitimate.
Google could flip a switch and block 4shared from their search engines across the world. Problem solved.
I know. Some will cry censorship. And others will cry, “Yeah, but what if Google gets complaints about my website and block it?” Well listen, you’re not getting 3 million DMCA complaints a month, are you? (If you are, you’re doing something wrong). Google could establish a threshold. How about, “If your site gets 250,000 complaints in a month, you have to clean up your act and reduce that number by 99%. If you get the same or more the next month, and then the next month, Bam! You’re off the Google search engine.”
Cry censorship, but that’s not what this is. This is blocking bad actors who continue with unethical activities that kill other businesses. Like I said, I used to have 11 employees. Now I have one, and two part-time helpers. All these tech companies are screwing the artists you love as well as the people who work in the artistic industries. And you know why? Because tech companies (and the illegal hosting sites) are making money from doing this. Nobody in the tech world wants to change; not when they’re getting rich off of us.
But something has to change.
Google and the other tech companies could solve problems without the government rewriting the DMCA. While the major labels are renegotiating just how screwed they’ll allow themseves to be by youTube, why don’t they hold out until Google makes some changes to search?
Seems like a deal that should be struck.Left, unsaid
There was something that didn’t make it into the interview.
When I mentioned this self-curating of the bad actors, Laura said something like, “Well the tech companies would say this is infringing on the free flow of information…” And I shot back, “Well of course they would say that, because saying that is in their best financial interest.”
What they are not saying is it would infringe on their freedom to make money off the work of artists and creators. Google pays nothing – but gets rich – off other people’s content when they share these links to illegal content and sell ad space around it. Has Google paid an advance to an artist to create music? Has Google funded an artists’ tours? Their videos? No. They don’t support creativity.
Yet they certainly love making money off creator’s labor!
Honestly, I feel this is an old fight that I have personally moved on from. I know artists have lost and tech companies have won. I can’t keep re-arguing an ethically correct (but real-world unsuccessful) argument. I am finding new ways to continue making a living, keeping Projekt in business, earning income for the artists who work with me, while following my vision for what Projekt should be.
I am resigned to the fact that the tech companies will keep making money off creators, while screwing me and my friends.
But I do thank those of you who support artists with your purchases. You’re the good guys.
From Facebook:August releases on Projekt from Sam Rosenthal:
Picking up Blacktape’s classic 90s darkwave, ethereal, darkAmbient sound; original vocalist Oscar Herrera returns on their 30th anniversary.
Black Tape For A Blue Girl: These fleeting moments
Deluxe-CD, limited edition of 500, order CD for $20 Deluxe packaging: CD in a 7″ x 5″ landscape-shaped dvd-sized digipak with internal pocket holding the 12-page booklet. Matte varnish. Thick stock. Signed by Sam.
These fleeting moments
Black Tape For A Blue Girl returns to their evocative ethereal, neoclassical, darkAmbient, gothic roots with an album exploring the existential predicaments of time’s passage, choices questioned, and loves lost. Original vocalist Oscar Herrera rejoins the band after a 17-year absence. His darkly dramatic vocals are complemented by Dani Herrera’s emotional and heartfelt voice, Nick Shadow’s visceral viola, Brian Viglione’s (The Dresden Dolls) driving drums, and band-founder Sam Rosenthal’s pensive electronics and revelatory songwriting. These fleeting moments, their 11th studio release, is 70 minutes of powerful, gorgeously yearning tracks born from the same place as their 90s classics Remnants of a Deeper Purity and A Chaos of Desire.
1 Lycia: A Line That Connects CD (out of print) 2 Erik Wøllo: Echotides (ep) 3 Alio Die & Lorenzo Montanà: Holographic Codex CD 4 Erik Wollo: Blue Radiance CD 5 Dirk Serries & Stratophere: 2-pack CDs 6 Steve Roach: Etheric Imprints CD 7 Lycia: Quiet Moments CD 8 Forrest Fang: Letters To The Farthest Star CD 9 Steve Roach: Skeleton 2-Pack CDs 10 Mirabilis: Here and the Hereafter CD (with 2 bonus CDs)Projekt Webstore Top-5 for the previous 30 days:
1 Forrest Fang: The Sleepwalker’s Ocean 2-CD 2 Steve Roach: Vortex 2-Pack 2-CD 3 Steve Roach: Emotions Revealed CD 4 Steve Roach & Mark Seelig: Nightbloom (50% OFF) CD 5 Steve Roach: immersion : three (50% OFF) 3-CD
Doing a Kickstarter? Here’s my #1 piece of advice for your last 3 hours.
Once your campaign ends, the main page is locked down and you cannot make any changes. Your Kickstarter page will be up for ETERNITY; consider what you want people to do in 6 months when they drop by the page. I add a graphic to the top of my page with a link to a website; I want to provide an easy way for people to find more info about the THING that I spent all that time Kickstartering.
Don’t make them dig three clicks in to find the link!
Here’s one I created for my friend….
and here’s one I made for Black Tape For A Blue Girl
Yes, streaming is growing, while physical & download sales are shrinking. Projekt has seen this pattern, like most other labels. I would love to see a chart that shows TOTAL dollars year over year for the last decade, then breaks that pie out out between physical, digital download, and streams. I am quite curious what that would look like. If you have such a chart, send me a link.
From my perspective (as the guy running Projekt), I sense there are many people who have switched to streaming as their primary source of music (with perhaps a couple purchases a year of limited edition titles from their favorite artists). While many artists reflect nostalgically about the way it was in the 90s, I am a realist; I have to think about what is happening NOW, because (alas) we cannot go back to the way it was. As a business person, I’m always looking ahead and following along with the formats that the audience is interested in. If people aren’t buying CDs (or downloads) anymore, then Projekt as a label (on behalf of my artists) has to pick up the pennies wherever I can.
I don’t think the streaming model can sustain smaller artists, the pay rate is too low. However, it’s a case of SOMETHING vs. nothing at all. Yes, I know; it sounds like I’m “endorsing” streaming. Not exactly; but at this point what’s the other option? You can’t force customers to buy something when so many have given up on buying. Loyal fans (like those of you who buy CDs from us here at the Projekt site, our Bandcamp page or iTunes), can be relied on to buy objects. But it’s tough for that to support a small act’s $14 standard retail release CD.
I tell anyone who wants to listen that things aren’t over for us artists. It’s about (a) using all the distribution/funding tools available, and (b) having a conversation with fans that financial support is really important to help us pay the costs involved in creating art.
In the end, streaming is the way a lot of the listeners are headed. Nearly all labels I speak with report substantial streaming growth in the last two years; it’s now part of how we stay in business. You can’t leave the pennies on the floor. You gotta pick them up.
I still love when people buy from Projekt, and at the same time I realize that isn’t the way everyone wants to get their music. I do what seems best for the artists I work with.
Thanks for your support.
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.