Archive for the ‘Steve Roach’ Category

Apr 24

Red Bull Music Academy Daily March 2017

Artist interview > 2017

Unfortunately, the Red Bull Music Academy website is shutting down. We didn’t want to lose Ned Raggett’s in depth March 10, 2017 Steve Roach interview. We’re archiving it here on the Projekt site for posterity….

Synth Musician Steve Roach on Tapping into Currents of Sound

A master of meditative soundscapes shares his creative philosophies

Following his enthusiastic interest in experimental electronic and progressive music as a young man in California in the 1970s, Steve Roach now stands as one of the core figures in the open-ended field. His daunting, astonishingly rich catalog of albums, covering solo work as well as a multitude of collaborations, ranges from cold, grim sequencer voyages through blackest space to warm, bright evocations of vast landscapes, often inspired by the Arizona desert where he and his family have made their home for decades.

While his landmark 1984 release Structures from Silence has received due praise in recent years, any number of other releases deserve recognition. His one-off collaboration with guitarist Roger King, 1998’s Dust to Dust, captures an eerily beautiful sensibility of the high desert, while the multi-volume Immersion series from the mid-2000s explores a series of detailed and sublime compositions measuring hours in length. A contrast can be found in 2012’s Back To Life, which is just as immersive but likewise feels free and open, a movement through space as much as time.

In February 2017, Roach released his latest effort, The Passing, an hour-long composition that was completed and made public on his 62nd birthday. In this career-spanning interview, Roach discusses his creative background and writing process, questions of time and language that persist in his work and advice for younger artists in the field.

photo: Adam Fleishman

If we could start with the creative impulse – what, where and when was your first sense of a particular creative or artistic accomplishment that you did in any field?

Before music I was drawn towards using my hands and painting, some sculpting and working with material. The compulsion to make something from nothing, I would say when I was a young teenager, became really at the forefront for me in terms of what I was drawn towards. I was starting to paint on my own and work with that kind of spontaneous expression with color and shape and form, in a nontraditional, completely freeform environment. I wasn’t taking classes or being instructed by anyone, I was just following these inner impulses to create something expressive.

At that time, I would say it was quite connected to a lot of time I was spending in the desert areas of Southern California, out beyond San Diego and the Anza-Borrego desert. There was something there that really opened up doors for me of this kind of space and this kind of creative process that seemed almost like a birthright, like something I was discovering through that process of doing it. Certainly early music from the early days inspired me – the early progressive music, the early music from the Berlin school, Klaus Schulze and Tangerine Dream and early electronic music, Pink Floyd of course. The longer tracks, and tracks that had no vocals and were more what you would think of as sound paintings at that time, were already lighting me up in those ways.

(That was) setting the stage for when I then would first find an affordable portable synthesizer in the late ’70s. That would have been the ARP 2600, the first full-blown synthesizer that I saw in a local store, and combined with hearing the music from Europe, that whole progression became so powerful, so appealing and almost compulsive that I had to have it – to start shifting that sense of painting and shaping and working from abstract forms into forms that seemed more architectural, but formed and shaped in a way that I was almost tasting and seeing in visual form.

I had a lot of the aspects of the arts from a painting and sculpting state of mind, but sound – once I got my hands on those instruments, it was like I already knew the process. I had this sense of, “I know how to do this.” So I continued through my own process of teaching myself how to work with it, just a classic woodshedding story where you lock yourself in your little space for as many hours of the day or night that you could.

You’ve spoken in other interviews in some detail about tactile creation via your chosen instruments. Could you say a little more about the sense of physical approach and how you contrast it with what might be less fulfilling approaches?

It’s interesting, because I was just looking at some soft synth instruments that I was looking to explore, and I’m basically 99.9 percent a hardware instrument composer of electronic music. They have knobs and sliders and there’s a feel to them, they have a whole particular unique combination of aspects to them that you can identify with the same way a guitarist might identify with a Telecaster or a Stratocaster or whatever different guitar you’re drawn to.

But beyond all that would be the sound itself, the quality that one synthesizer at that time would make over another. The subtlety and the nuance that comes from the analog synthesizer and the analog experience is something that is the throughline through all of my work that exists all the way up to this morning, when I woke up and was carving sounds out on another hardware synth that I’m exploring and working with right now.

That connection to an instrument, where there’s zero latency and you’re not interfacing with what seems like a facsimile of a controller into a computer or something like that – they’re so sophisticated now, I know, and there are so many options there that are off the chart, and there’s a whole universe of comparisons that can be made now. But I tried to do that, and I just keep coming back – the experience of creating just doesn’t have that same kind of engagement and that same kind of flow. It’s just fun. It’s a real experience of just connecting with a synth that’s designed really well, and it has an ergonomic flow, and there’s no screen, and you’re not getting locked into the visual. You can get really lost in visual with the screen tracking everything. Then I find that you start to stop listening or hearing in the same way when you take away that element and you just are working through the sound field, meditating, staring, focusing intently on the space between the speakers with no screen. That’s a powerful place.

Just a slight, tiny little adjustment of a few different knobs can make a universe of emotionally engaged difference and perception.

I do use the computer for recording and for arranging and for building my pieces; it’s invaluable. I couldn’t imagine not having a workstation for the nonlinear approach to building these worlds that I do. But in that way, I guess the parallel would be if you’re a filmmaker, then you’re out shooting scenes of things that are happening and you’re capturing performances between actors, you’re capturing light shifting in the afternoon with some occurrence that’s happening there, and you’re completely tuned into that as the experience that you’re capturing.

That’s how I record so much of my music, is more in that context where you’re capturing a living, breathing experience that’s happening right between your very ears and in front of your eyes, and you’re shaping it and carving upon it at the most subtle level that the analog stuff brings, where just a slight, tiny little adjustment of a few different knobs can make a universe of emotionally engaged difference and perception.

So while that’s happening, I’m recording all of this constantly in the studio. A lot of times it’s being recorded as a stereo file. There’ll be maybe 30, 40 tracks up on that board. I have a large analog mixing console to go along with all the different instruments. Then the board itself becomes a palette where the artist mixes his paint. So between the paint-mixing, the levels, the synth, the dialing in and tuning of all these interrelationships between the instruments while they’re running live, then the processing, the reverb, the hands-on aspect of the board itself – I mean, the board is one massive instrument. That’s really another big piece in my music.

For the way I have evolved as an electronic music artist and what remains important to me… To start at the top, the list would be just the emotional impact of the sound, and then right there, almost at the same level, is how you’re extracting it, how you’re tuning into it with your body. If your body’s an instrument, which I feel it is for me – it’s one of the first instruments – then the tools, the surgical tools of sonic surgery, just need to be something that I have this relationship that I’ve also built and developed over almost 40 years. So all of those are important things to stay connected to and to not give up.

How does the conception of time figure into the limitations of recording technology in this sense? You’ve seen everything from the specific limits in terms of how much music can be presented from vinyl to cassettes to CDs to now the theoretically infinite space online presentation can give you. Is there a constant struggle between where and how to draw the lines, or how to act as an editor of your own work?

The dynamic of the listening process, the idea that something is going on too long or not long enough – it’s still completely as vital as ever. Now we have the ability to have basically an eternal space where I can just broadcast it out. Let’s say I’ve set up a station on one of my sites, and I can have music and dronescapes and all that sort of things just going on from here ’til the end of electricity. That’s a world that I really love to live in, this whole immersion world, and the Immersion series I started years ago really grew out of wanting to not leave the sound current. I always connect to this sense that there’s sound running in this current all the time, all around me, and I’m tapping into it, reaching and grabbing a section of it for a while and shaping it and presenting it out into a form that captures a certain limited sense of time.

Somehow the CD became a 74 minute medium, and now through different ways of presenting files, compressed or whatnot, you can have things extend for a long time or, like I say, a live broadcast of something running off into infinity. But the idea of composition and the way I work with time, and the way I work with sonic motifs – when I say “motifs” I’m moving beyond what would be a melody or a harmonic chord structure, but it’s something that’s so prevalent in electronic music, these episodes of sound that become signatures, and they can be completely abstract or completely unique to themselves. But there’s still an aesthetic to them that you can connect to and listen to and engage with. At a certain point you have to know when it’s overstayed its welcome, for example, or when something has made the statement and it needs to shift into the next place, or that sometimes something cannot sustain or breathe long enough to let you settle into the space and let your body engage with it.

There’s a big piece of the music that emerges from body awareness, and there’s the conscious mind awareness, and then there’s the subtle energy awareness of something that can play forever. I would learn early on I would have certain pieces that would be too short, essentially, and I would hear from listeners that it was too short. “I wanted to hear it for another 45 minutes.” [laughs] And I would agree with that in some cases.

But especially in the days when I was moving away from the influences of the European electronic music, I was consciously interested in shortening pieces and making a point and then moving to the next place, and evolving that to where the statement is made within a seven or eight minute space, which would be a shorter time frame when you grew up listening to 30 minute sides of an album.

Eventually I would return to the longer forms, and that’s probably what my preference is now, to have these movements happen within these longer forms to that sense of altering of time, where you’re slowing time down, where you take markers of time out of that space, where you’re in this continuous amniotic fluid and you’re almost floating in a womb-like state that’s not just ‘tape some keys down on a keyboard and then make lunch and come back.’

The sustained drone zone music, if you’re fully engaged with it, there’s a whole thing happening down at a molecular level with that stuff, way down inside, where movement and interaction and layers all work together in the way that, when you see large-scale abstract paintings that have a vibration and a frequency, there’s this compelling, magnetic quality to them that pulls you in and lets you experience yourself outside of normal perception and enhances your perception and expands your boundaries of your perception at the same time.

The new piece I just released called The Passing came together pretty quickly. I like to release a piece or do a concert or do something to mark that moment in time when I happen to have another birthday, and so this one, through Bandcamp, finishes up the thought with your sense of when something goes on too long, or “what’s the timing on it” or “too short.” It’s this theme I created in the mid-’90s for a compilation, and at that time it just felt so truncated and unrealized. It was really like a sketch that normally I wouldn’t have let out into the world. It had so much energy to it and had this emotional resonance to it that felt like it needed to just completely be allowed to breathe and develop. So it took a lot of years later, but that inspired me a few weeks ago just in terms of the emotion in the piece.

Album and song titles, by default, provide a linguistic context to your work that otherwise has no such element, in terms of there not being any lyrics. Do you struggle with the “right” titles for albums or songs, or is it more casual or random or easy than that?

I wish it was casual, random and easy. It is that, sometimes. But it’s still having a title that has a very significant and profound connection to the piece. Let’s say I’m working on a piece that’s come through just from the direct experience of all these different influences that are bringing me into the studio and creating the desire to go in this direction or that direction. It can be spontaneous, it can be completely unconnected to what I thought I was going in to do, but ultimately the titles are so important in the music in terms of the reflection that they can shine upon your perception when you hear the title and then you see the cover and then you hear the music, and then those things can work together for me.

It’s like a door that has three locks on it, and all three of those locks can have even more impact if those words resonate with the feeling in the music and the cover image is also connected congruently to that. So you think of Structures from Silence, or (1988’s) Dreamtime Return, for example, at a certain point the words will start emerging, shaping and carving the album into shape.

If nothing’s come through by the time that I’m at the mastering stage, then I just put full focus on listening, sometimes all afternoon into the evening, and I just keep going deeper and deeper into the place that the music’s taking me without any engagement of technical aspects like EQ or mastering. I’m just listening to it in a way that’s active and stimulating the mythic imagination, let’s say, and letting the music take me to the places that I’m hoping that it takes the listeners to.

Sometimes it takes quite a while to birth the title after the music is complete. I’ll have that discussion with Sam (Rosenthal), who runs Projekt (Records), and we’ve got everything ready – we might even have the album cover ready to go, and there’s no titles on anything. It’s sitting there waiting for that stage. I can take it that far into the birthing process of finding that. But I’ll always have working titles, or usually have working titles or words that convey the feeling. If I’m talking to visual artists, then I’ll use those kinds of descriptions to help draw material through visually. Or else I’ll take photos myself, or do whatever it takes. Really, it’s a complete engagement, and it’s way more complex than I think a lot of people would be aware of from the outside, where they just think, “Well, he’s having fun cranking out some music, and now he’s got this album out.”

Then, the details that go in behind the scenes with the mastering and the subtlety that goes on there – I’m really having some great success working with Howard Givens, who owns the Spotted Peccary label with partners. His whole setup is ultra high-end, analog front-end mastering tools. It’s making a big difference for me. I can hear it and I can see it in the response, also. So between Howard and Sam with that end of the production, we’ve got a great team, and I’m just really grateful to be working with those guys at this point.

If a younger artist in any field approaches you and asks for advice or even a simple suggestion about what to keep in mind for the future, what would be your response?

I would probably first ask them questions about their creative process to get a sense of what it is that they’re drawn to, what they’re aiming to express. Then I would have to ask them if they’re coming to me and they’re interested in what I’m doing, regardless of their age or my age, or just the art form itself. I would share the techniques that we’ve talked about in this interview thus far, and I would talk about their connection to yourself as a person before you approach any instrument or any tool. It’s just getting your intention and your clarity and getting a wide view of what it is you’re wanting to express.

Even if you don’t quite understand it enough to articulate it with words, finding that emotional landscape to draw from, and then trying to stay connected to what really feels right for you, for the artist, rather than being seduced by all the newest, most recent innovations in technology or the flavor-of-the-month stuff. I know it’s quite affordable, and you can build a whole studio’s worth of material inside of a MacBook Pro, but it doesn’t take much to bring in a few hardware pieces that just give you that hands-on subtlety. Really listen and draw from the things that inspire you. It could be musically or non-musically, but find the pulse inside of that.

I just also remind younger listeners when they respond to some of my classic titles like Structures or Dreamtime that those were all created on what would be considered very archaic, very simple equipment at that time. There’s this sense that I wanted to defy the technology all the way along. It really didn’t matter what I was using; I would use things that people would come back around and say, “You used that? To create that? Recorded that on a four-track or a cassette player?” I have a lot of pieces that were recorded on a Nakamichi cassette player, and captured at that level. That’s basically the multifaceted question towards a younger composer of today.

Feb 06

Projekt’s Steve Roach receives his second consecutive Grammy™ nomination

December 16 2018:

Tucson-based electronic/ambient pioneer Steve Roach received his second Grammy nomination with 2018’s Molecules of Motion album. Chosen in the Best New Age Album category, it follows last year’s nominated Spiral Revelation.

For Molecules, Roach calls upon an expansive 35-year legacy at the forefront of electronic music creation on a masterful album with roots in the Berlin School and a foot in the transcendent unknown of the future flowing into the present moment. Shimmering, pulsing, moving, emotional and engaging, the album is a sonic marvel: a tapestry of sequencer-spun patterns floating upon an atmosphere of lush emotive textures alive with a vibrant, life-affirming glow.

Always reaching towards what’s next on the horizon, Roach refuses to be tied down in any one stylistic direction. His worldwide audience continues to grow, and his innovations continue to inspire new and long-time listeners. Listening to a Steve Roach album, you hear the momentum of a lifetime dedicated to the soundcurrent, an artist operating at the pinnacle of his artform, with dedication, passion and an unbroken focus on creating a personal vision of electronic music.

Roach’s hypnotic meditations upon elegant motion and electro-sensual space makes Molecules of Motion unlike anything nominated for a Grammy this year. It’s just one facet of the multi-faceted soundworlds that are paramount to his work.

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Contact sr.projekt@gmail for a download code; or stream at: https://projektrecords.bandcamp.com/album/molecules-of-motion If tweeting, please @ProjektRecords Steve is available for phone or in-person interviews Image download: http://www.projekt.com/store/assets/artistphoto.html

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Visit the Steve Roach Photo Gallery. 2018 Steve Roach bio: welcome to the vortex. Steve talks about his career and second consecutive Grammy Nomination in Tucson Weekly!

Congrats to Steve Roach!

Projekt Records’ Steve Roach was nominated for a GRAMMY for the 2nd year in a row! His 2018 Molecules of Motion has been nominated for Best New Age Album of the year (the Grammys don’t have an “electronic music” category, so a wide variety of styles are placed within New Age). Around this time last year, we were telling you about Steve’s 2017 Spiral Revelation getting nominated for the Grammy! It’s a wonderful second opportunity to claim the prize. The award ceremony is in February.

Amazing news!

Sprial Revelations | Projekt webstore | Projekt Bandcamp

Molecules of Motion | Projekt webstore | Projekt Bandcamp

Check out Steve’s new release, in stores January 4 2019: Mercurius | Projekt webstore | Projekt Bandcamp

There’s a Steve Roach article in Psychology Today: 2019 Grammy Nominee Is A Synesthete.

Steve talks about his career and second consecutive Grammy Nomination in Tucson Weekly!

February 7 2019 addition from Projekt’s Sam Rosenthal:

Steve Roach is nominated for his second consecutive Grammy Award, for the album Molecules of Motion; it’s in the Best New Age Album category. Steve travels to Los Angeles for Sunday’s Premiere Ceremony. Over the weekend he will post updates on his Facebook page. I’m really quite curious what it’s like when an independent artist goes to the Grammys!

I talk with Steve all the time, discussing his albums that we have in production for Projekt and Timeroom, albums that he’s started working on, the music business, creativity, and so much more. Getting nominated for a Grammy was never on the list of things we talked about… until last year’s nomination for Spiral Revelation. Well, that was interesting, I thought. Then nominated for the second year in a row? As Steve says, lightning struck twice.

Steve has dedicated so many years to his art, I totally think he should have a Grammy! And so do his listeners! I regularly get emails and read facebook post from people who were monumentally touched and affected by Steve’s music. I know there’s love out there from all of you. But from the music industry? I know the biz is very focused on big sales, and flashy promotion…. Though Steve did get to the final-5 twice, so that tells me the voters are listening and know Steve’s work. Winning an actual Grammy award!? As I said, it’s was never on our radar. Sunday afternoon! Let’s see what happens!

There are over 80 categories in the Grammys; most awards are not televised in the primetime event. Instead they can be watched in the streaming afternoon ceremony.

Their website says: Kick off Grammy Sunday, Feb. 10, by kicking back and streaming the Grammy Awards Premiere Ceremony on GRAMMY.com. Starting at 3:30 p.m. ET / 2:30 p.m. CT / 12:30 Pacific, host Shaggy will lead us through the festivities, with all-star presenters such as Lzzy Hale and Questlove and can’t-miss performances by Ángela Aguilar, Natalia Lafourcade, Sofi Tukker and more.

Steam on-line, or check out Steve’s Facebook page with updates from the weekend.

– Sam

Grammy Reflections February 2019, from Steve Roach:

After last year’s surprise nomination for Spiral Revelation — and with this year’s nomination for Molecules of Motion — a lightning bolt hit the tree again. Last weekend’s award ceremony in Los Angeles presented a nearby adventure to visit what felt like another planet.

It’s a planet I know well, having lived on the front lines in LA, the city of ambition, for 10 formative years from 1979-1989. Throughout the Grammy weekend the flood of memories was constant. From my first drive up from San Diego in 1979 in an old yellow VW Bug with the seats removed and filled to capacity with synths, to the endless concerts over that decade throughout SoCal, to jobs at record stores on Sunset Blvd and Wilshire, to a stint as a microbiology lab tech — these were just a few of the threads woven together to support my dream of creating this music day and night. Regular trips to the Joshua Tree Monument to feed my desert soul were vital and helped birth Structures From Silence, Western Spaces and Dreamtime Return. These were just some of the things coming up while sitting in the Microsoft theater for the afternoon Grammy award ceremony, surreal and resonate on many levels.

The idea of the Grammys connected to my music has never been on my radar. It all started with confidant, long time friend, and mastering-guru Howard Givens, a voting member of the Recording Academy; in 2017 he quietly submitted Spiral Revelation for consideration. Sam Rosenthal at Projekt and I knew nothing about this until the morning in late 2017 when the emails about earning the nomination started pouring in. With the January 2018 awards in NYC — and my concerts gearing up around that time — the priorities were clear about going to NYC: not possible. Sam became a voting member last year and submitted Molecules Of Motion as a “why not try this year and see?” and that was that, I was nominated for the second consecutive year.

While the Grammys mean something or nothing to different people, the fact that these albums were voted into the top 5 nomination list twice — with absolutely no campaign on our part — speaks of a real beating heart inside the Recording Academy / Grammy organization. I had no expectations of the outcome this year. Just grateful for the wider recognition and awareness the nomination brings to my music and life’s work.

The weekend was really about feeling the momentum of living life on the creative edge for the last 45 years. There is no winning or losing in this realm. It’s about being fully present, embracing the moment and tuning into what’s next as it’s happening with grace and courage. I have been so blessed to share every molecule of all this with Linda Kohanov since 1989.

Gratitude abounding to the community of soundcurrent friends around the world who have been with me on this journey of one which includes so many.

All my best! Steve February 16, 2019 (64 years on this planet today!)

Jan 31

Steve Roach interviewed in TUCSON WEEKLY

Steve Roach discusses his career and second consecutive Grammy Nomination in the digital and print edition of today’s Tucson Weekly

After decades of making music, influencing multiple genres and crafting a discography spanning more than a hundred hours, ambient/electronic pioneer Steve Roach might finally be hitting his stride. The Tucson-based musician recently received his second-ever Grammy nomination for his 2018 album Molecules of Motion, after receiving his first Grammy nomination only last year.

“It was like lightning hitting a tree twice, when you don’t even expect it to hit once,” Roach said. “But it’s cool to have this new attention. I just keep doing what I do.”

Read the full article at Tucson Weekly

Please retweet: https://twitter.com/ProjektRecords/status/1091038489167233025

Steve’s latest release is Mercurius. Steve’s two Grammy Nominated releases: Molecules of Motion and Spiral Revelation.

Aug 03

Steve Roach live on SomaFM :: two new albums from Steve

Steve Roach live on SomaFM for a worldwide audience this Saturday and Sunday

This weekend Steve performs two sold out shows in Santa Fe, NM. Both concerts will be broadcast live on SomaFM’s Space Station Soma at 8pm Mountain Time (7pm Pacific; 10pm Eastern). Pre and post show will be on SomaFM Live starting an hour before.

Steve says, “These Return To The Dreamtime concerts center around expanded and evolved pieces from Dreamtime Return. The set constantly emerges throughout the weekend, a breathing occurrence connected to the flow of the return to the dreamtime.”

(live photo above by Candice @ Journeyscapes Radio)

Return to the Dreamtime and Electron Birth

Two new albums on Steve’s Timeroom label available individually or in a $25 combo pack. Return to the Dreamtime (2CD $17) presents expanded and evolved pieces from Dreamtime Return, created live at the Galactic Center, Tucson AZ, Feb 10, 2018. Electron Birth (CD $14) is a mesmerizing masterpiece of multi-dimensional analog sequencer-spun music connecting directly to Steve’s passion for the interweaving of pure emotion, energy, delicate grace and driving flow.

pre-Order, estimated late-August shipping

 

jarguna and Friends: Trapped (on CD)

jarguna is Italian sound-artist Marco Billi: ethno-organic-ambient-electronic music in a mandala-like hymn to ethnic, tribal, ritual music. It’s a journey of sounds, feelings, contrasts, acoustics and electronics. TRAPPED Vol 1 and Vol 2 are collaborations with like-minded creators. These releases are limited edition run of 100 4-panel digipaks. These are CD-rs replicated at a pressing plant, not a CD run with a glassmaster.

pre-order: TRAPPED Vol 1 and Vol 2 $14 each.

Feb 01

Steve Roach live this weekend, listen all 3 nights on SomaFM

Sonic innovator Steve Roach makes his return to Tucson’s Solar Culture’s Galactic Center for three nights of ultra psychoactive ambient/electronic adventures in the the deep end of the immersion pool. Presented at the peak of Tucson’s Gem and Mineral show — February 9, 10,& 11 — all shows are now sold out

The momentum is building to a monumental weekend in Tucson. With soundcurrent friends coming in from all over the US and even Europe, combined with all three shows broadcast live on SomaFM, this will be a moment in time that can be experienced where ever you are.

There are seats and couches in the Galactic Center, as well as some space for you to bring your own mode of comfort for laying down.

To accommodate the worldwide audience for these monumental performances, San Francisco’s SomaFM will simulcast all three shows live on their network.

Details:

Each night’s performance start at 8pm MST (7pm PST, 10PM EST, 3:00 AM GMT the following day). Live coverage starts at least an hour beforehand on SomaFM’s Special Live Events channel, with a simulcast on Drone Zone (Friday) and Space Station Soma (Saturday and Sunday) starting at 7 PST.

SomaFM live will feature everything, including the pre-show drones and the sounds of the audience arriving and maybe some “play by play color commentary.”

Drone Zone will feature Friday’s show live, starting at 7pm PST

Space Station Soma will feature Saturday and Sunday’s shows live, starting at 7pm PST

Steve Roach is a pioneer in the evolution of ambient/electronic music, shaping it into what it is today. The extremely prolific American artist has a discography of over 125 albums. Following his 1982 debut, landmark recordings include Structures from Silence, Dreamtime Return and 2017’s Grammy-nominated Spiral Revelation. Tireless in his creative focus, Roach constantly challenges boundaries in work ranging in style from rhythmic analog sequencer music, pure floating spaces, primordial tribal-ambient and long-form drift ambient. He brings to the table years of dedication and experience exploring sound via hands-on synthesis. With the sense of an artist working in three dimensional space, Steve creates a sonic experience that breathe power, passion and vital life energy.

Drawing from a vast, unique, deeply personal authenticity, his releases cover a wide range of dynamic styles all of which bear his signature voice. A this point in his work, the boundaries of classification have disappeared as his skill in creating pure floating spaces, analog sequencer music, primordial tribal, rhythmic ambient, dark ambient, long-form ‘drift ambient,’ and avant garde atonal ambient continues to reach beyond into new uncharted terrain

In concert, Steve creates transcendent electronic music emerging from an elemental instinctual mode. These events bring together an audience from around the country and as far away as Europe, all looking to experience the on-the-edge experience that erupts in the live setting. This makes Steve’s concerts an entirely different experience from the recorded medium. With months of preparation absorbed into his system, evocative soundscapes blend with ecstatic rhythmic sections born from hands-on analog sound creation and sonic shapeshifting. This visceral experience emerges literally from playing the dynamics of the sound system itself. The result is a direct transference of creative energy from the artist through his instruments out to the listener. Live performances are the place where Steve’s music thrives, created at the leading edge of now.

“With his distinctive melange of analogue and digital synthesizers, acoustic instrumentation and highly imaginative soundscaping, Steve Roach is a giant in modern ambient and one of the most respected electronic musicians in the world. He’s been noted for the deep inspiration he draws from the European electronic tradition, and you can certainly hear the legacy of German psychedelic electronica and spacemusic throughout his work; sometimes not in melody, but certainly in its atmosphere and large, reverberant spaces. Another major source of inspiration for Roach is desert wilderness, including the starkly beautiful deserts and wide open spaces of his Arizona home which continue to color his music to this day. After four decades of recording, Steve Roach’s well of inspiration remains as deep as ever. Steve Roach has an enormous catalogue of releases for fans to explore. His total number of solo albums, collaborations and live recordings now numbers well over 100. Ever-productive, always thoughtful and refusing to be tied down to any one style, his music commands a large, devoted following and his innovations have inspired a whole generation of downtempo electro-acoustic composers and sound designers.” — Mike Watson, Australia

Jan 17

Steve Roach: welcome to the vortex

by Mike G Electronic and ambient pioneer Steve Roach started creating his music during the late ‘70s golden age of analog synthesizers, a time when the digital variety was only visible on the horizon. So it’s refreshing that an album which continues that hands-on tradition, Spiral Revelation (2017), garnered his first-ever Grammy nomination.* Chosen in the Best New Age Album category, the album is crafted almost entirely with modular and stand-alone synthesizers, its sound grounded in the dynamic, spiraling interweave of melodic and rhythmic sequencer forms.

With its analog leanings, Spiral Revelation sounds utterly contemporary thanks to Roach’s technological sophistication and creative maturity. Yet the bubbling, kinetic melodies point to his origins, making it a natural place to begin the story of how far and wide he has travelled.

* Roach was nominated for a second grammy for Molecules of Motion (2018)

Born 1955 in La Mesa, California, Steve Roach self-released his first solo album in 1982. His early music was part of a wider progressive ambient movement that rose concurrently with new age music on America’s West Coast during the 1970s and peaked in the late ‘80s. Although it often intermingled easily with the best of the early new age genre, Roach’s music has always been created completely on its own terms, essentially defining his own genre. He drew upon his unique perspective, deeply rooted in a connection to the starkly beautiful landscapes and open spaces of the southwestern desert in which he grew up, to pioneer the inherently expansive breathing quality of his early releases.

“My life at that time was purely focused on drawing out an inner voice that had been building over many years: a feeling born from my immersion in the quiet spaces of the desert environment,” Roach reflects. “I could channel this feeling, this expansive atmosphere and blooming inner awareness. I was uncovering and discovering a palpable sense of stillness emanating from a soundcurrent of ‘silence.’”

Today, with a passionately prolific drive, Roach stands among the giants of modern ambient and is one of the most respected electronic musicians in the world. His discography is enormous with well over 100 releases. All of it is “ambient” in a way, but it’s better understood by singling out three major strands in his sound.

Firstly, there is the deep inspiration Roach draws from the German and European electronic space music tradition. You can certainly hear the legacy running throughout his work from Now (1982), Empetus (1986), Skeleton Keys (2015) and most recent Spiral Revelations (2017). There’s a through-line in these releases, where patterned, sequencer-driven music activates the consciousness with an invigorating sense of heightened perception; emotional and mind-expanding spiraling mandalas of sound are made from interwoven tapestries of melody, rhythm, tone and musical space.

A second strand present in Roach’s releases is floating ambience inspired by a sense of environmental space, time-expansion and silence. These diaphanous chords and suspended harmonics were first heard on his meditative masterpiece Structures From Silence (1984). Here and elsewhere in Roach’s rich oeuvre are outstanding examples of the evolving “breathing chords” central to his ongoing quest to humanize the music and release his machines from their mechanical moorings. This extraordinary sense of natural breath is an organic quality not easily realized with synthesizers. Diverse examples can be heard on the 3-CD Quiet Music (1986), the 4-cd opus Mystic Chords and Sacred Spaces (2003), running right up through the recent Nostalgia for the Future (2017) and Long Thoughts (2017).

Thirdly, there is an intoxicating tribal-ambient strand that runs deep in Roach’s music. On his recordings from the ‘90s he pioneered this subgenre, a dark electro-acoustic hybrid that today commands a devoted underground following. It all started with the epic Australia-inspired double-LP Dreamtime Return (1988) forged with tribal percussion, warm washes of synthesizer and location recordings of indigenous music and instrument samples. Later on came a number of benchmark collaborations with the shamanic Mexican musician Jorge Reyes such as Earth Island (1994), and his work with percussionist Byron Metcalf on eight releases including The Serpent’s Lair (2000) and Monuments of Ecstasy (2015). It’s dark-edged global exotica enveloped in Roach’s widescreen soundscapes.

At a Steve Roach live experience you might be fortunate enough to hear all these strands in a single show. Roach is an artist in his element on stage; from the very beginning of his career he has presented live electronic music in venues around the world, bringing this sound to life in the present moment with all its complexity, emotion and visionary nature. Roach invites the listener’s adventurous spirit to surrender to the dynamic journey that unwinds with power and grace. Whether it’s large scale shows in cities like San Francisco or Los Angeles, or more intimate performances in his hometown of Tucson, it is a remarkable immersive soundworld performed in real time. There is something deeply elemental about it; a sounding of the earth and the cosmos that’s been rendered into tones, visuals, and emotions that can be felt viscerally.

Always reaching towards what’s next on the horizon, Roach refuses to be tied down in any one stylistic direction. His worldwide audience continues to grow, and his innovations continue to inspire new and long-time listeners. Listening to a Steve Roach album, you’re hearing the momentum of a lifetime dedicated to the soundcurrent, an artist operating at the pinnacle of his artform, with dedication, passion and an unbroken focus on creating a personal vision of electronic music. Roach’s hypnotic swirl and kaleidoscopic sounds makes Spiral Revelation unlike anything else nominated for a Grammy this year and quite possibly, any previous year. It’s just one facet of a multi-faceted soundworld that stretches back four decades.

Welcome to the vortex.

Mike G is a music journalist, DJ, radio producer and founder of the music reference website AmbientMusicGuide.com Facebook | Twitter | Podcast | Mixcloud

Other Steve Roach articles:

• Feature article in the San Diego Union Tribune. • Radio interview on Tucson NPR’s Arizona Spotlight. Edited interview within the show in the top podcast, full interview in the podcast below. • A page on Steve’s upcoming February 2018 live appearance in Tucson, here • Projekt’s original Grammy-nomination post, November 2017 here

Extended Steve Roach interview:

Steve Roach hour-long interview podcast with Echoes. “As he’s just been nominated for a Grammy Award, I thought it would be a good time to talk to Steve Roach, the critically acclaimed electronic music artist who has released over a hundred albums since his debut in 1982. But his 2016 album, Spiral Revelation, is his first ever nomination in his 40 year career. He’s in the New Age category alongside Brian Eno, Kitaro, Peter Kater and inexplicably, India.Arie. Unlike other Echoes Podcasts, this is pretty much a raw interview in which Steve talked about the Grammys, his musical process, and his guilty music pleasure.”

Nov 29

Steve Roach nominated for GRAMMY

Click for the 2018 Steve Roach Bio

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Sonic innovator Steve Roach received a Grammy Award nomination for his inspired Spiral Revelation release! As one of the original architects of the ambient/electronic genre, Roach’s 40 years of creating genre-defying soundworld experiences immersed with vital life energy and passion has been recognized by the members of the Recording Academy in this Grammy nomination for “Best New Age Album.”

“Spiral Revelation stands out as a true, mind-tripping, trance inducing album. (It’s) a quintessential example of Roach’s sequencer driven oeuvre.” – John Diliberto, Echoes syndicated radio program

The 60th Grammy Awards will be held in New York City on January 28, 2018. For info: grammy.com

An emotional through-line brings life to Spiral Revelation as the unfurling of time’s windings connects to the vivid present, life-affirming and illuminated. The release is a masterful expression of an artist who has infused his soul into the art form of electronic music through years of dedication exploring sound via hands-on synthesis.

Purchase the album from Projekt.com, on sale for $10 Stream the album at Bandcamp Image downloads Longer bio (from 2018) |

Image Download

Downloadable Steve Roach image at Wikipedia by Linda Kohanov Additional Steve Roach images at the Projekt artist photo download page

Additional information on the artist, album & label

Steve Roach is a pioneer in the evolution of ambient/electronic music, shaping it into what it is today. The extremely prolific American artist has a discography of over 125 albums. Following his 1982 debut, landmark recordings include Structures from Silence, Dreamtime Return and 2017’s Grammy-nominated Spiral Revelation. Tireless in his creative focus, Roach constantly challenges boundaries in work ranging in style from rhythmic analog sequencer music, pure floating spaces, primordial tribal-ambient and long-form drift ambient. He brings to the table years of dedication and experience exploring sound via hands-on synthesis. With the sense of an artist working in three dimensional space, Steve creates a sonic experience that breathe power, passion and vital life energy.

Spiral Revelations. The sound of life, interconnected and unfurling. The spiral – a visual symbol of eternity – is a reoccurring metaphoric theme in Steve Roach’s pioneering electronic work. Interpreted into musical form, these six spiraling sonic experiences offer a living activation that connects with a sense of the infinite. Roach’s long history and love of analog sequencer-based styles reveal a continuing, evolving awakening within Spiral Revelation’s 63 minutes. Focussing the mind’s ear upon a filigree of intricate patterns woven with a direct hands-on approach, the artist sculpts and caresses sound into being in real time. An emotional through-line brings life to these pieces as the unfurling of time’s windings connects to the vivid present, life-affirming and illuminated. A masterful expression of an artist who has infused his soul into the art form of electronic music.

Projekt is a Portland, Oregon-based independent record label that specializes in electronic, ambient, gothic and darkwave, started by Sam Rosenthal in 1983. Prominent Projekt artists include Rosenthal’s own Black Tape for a Blue Girl, Steve Roach, Eric Wollo, Voltaire and Lycia. With over 350 releases, it is one of America’s longest running independently-owned recording labels specializing in the electronic music genre.

Recent press on Steve’s Grammy nomination

musictap.com synthtopia.com Echoes Radio. John Diliberto writes: Steve Roach tops this excellent 2017 Grammy New Age cast. Spiral Revelation stands out as a true, mind-tripping, trance inducing album. Roach has been recording since the early 1980s, he’s approaching 200 releases, and he’s one of the first names mentioned in certain areas of electronic music. But he’s never been nominated for a Grammy award. But this year, through some quirk of coincidence, talent, artistry and persistence, he’s broken in with Spiral Revelation, a quintessential example of Roach’s sequencer driven oeuvre.

Downloadable Spiral poster

Download a free 11×17 poster at http://www.projekt.com/Posters/PRO336-Poster.jpg . Print it on your color printer, or at a local printshop. And please email a photo of the poster at work, at home, etc, and we’ll post your photos on Steve’s Facebook Page.

Nov 06

The Story of Structures

For several months before actually committing the title track “Structures from Silence” to tape, I would live with the music throughout my daily activities. Often I would sleep and wake with the music playing (since it is stored in the computer memory, it can play indefinitely). This gave me the opportunity to fine tune the piece to a very sublime level. At the time I did not listen to any other music. I also spent much time in silence, a beautiful place. Feeling the music move through that space was vital in its development . . . For me the essence of this music is what is felt when it ends, a returning to the silence. Steve Roach, 1984

The return to vinyl

Thirty-three years after its release, Structures From Silence returns to its vinyl origins. Steve Roach talks with Ambient Music Guide’s Mike G about the sublimely meditative album’s creation and reflects on this bona fide ambient classic.

With his distinctive mélange of analog and digital synthesizers, acoustic instrumentation and imaginative soundscapes, American composer Steve Roach is a giant in modern ambient music and one of the most respected electronic musicians in the world. Active since the late 1970s, Roach has an enormous discography of solo albums, collaborations and compilations; his range of styles and influence is vast.

1984’s Structures From Silence marked a move away from the sequencer-driven, kinetic Berlin-school trance of his earliest releases toward an album-length foray into beatless ambience. There are just three pieces – all extraordinarily delicate. The slow-motion melodic strains of the 30-minute title track, in particular, breathe with exquisite gentleness.

Roach’s music is part of a wider progressive, electronic-ambient movement that rose concurrently with the new age scene on America’s West Coast during the 1970s and 80s. Initially the pathway to the audience was neither through an artist nor a record label, but a radio show: Music From The Hearts Of Space. This groundbreaking public radio program was founded in 1973 in San Francisco by sound designer, producer and former architect Stephen Hill and the late Anna Turner. In 1983 it went national and is still on the air today. Although it was not the only radio show of its type, its influence and importance cannot be overstated – both its role in the development of American-based electronic artists and the part it played in bringing ambient styles to a wider audience.

By the 1980s this California-based scene was rich with adventurous musicians giving birth to an extraordinary new direction in music. It was within this creative ferment that Structures From Silence was birthed. Roach says, “That time was exciting. All that mattered to me was living inside this soundworld I was discovering and wanting to share with those who were open to it. I was creating from a purely instinctual place; I had no concern of genres or boundaries.”

Structures-era Timeroom Photos by Thomas Ronkin

On the air

Radio was the medium of the day and was crucial to the album’s initial success in America. Structures was originally a self-released cassette when it caught Stephen Hill’s attention. He heard the album through his friendship with Michael Stearns and Kevin Braheny, two accomplished West Coast ambient composers who were living near Roach in L.A. at the time and helped him with mastering and spatial enhancements on the album.

“I remember right after it was released in 1984,” Roach says. “Stephen came to my tiny bungalow in L.A. near the MGM film studios – to see what this guy was all about. Those little gingerbread-looking houses were originally built in the 1940s for the workers at MGM a few blocks away. There was a vibrant beehive feeling all around with fellow visual artists, film and music people. My early albums from Now to Empetus were all created in that Timeroom (Roach’s official name for his studio) or perhaps better described as the Timewomb.”

Hill describes the meeting, “I vividly remember visiting him in that bungalow in Culver City, where he was living a monk-like existence. It was a stucco motel-looking place. The main room had been turned into an early Timeroom, with all his equipment set up and purring out fat analog waveforms 24/7. I don’t recall seeing a bed – he was probably sleeping in the studio – but there were two folding wooden chairs so I sat down and he offered me a glass of water. We had everything in common artistically, and we talked for hours.”

Roach laughs on hearing this, “Well if I slept, it was standing up or sitting at the Oberheim. Pretty much the same as now.”

From that encounter, big things grew. “The music was perfect for Hearts of Space,” says Hill, “and we used it on the national radio program immediately. The track ‘Quiet Friend’ became a kind of closing theme song for a while. This was before we started HOS Records, so I recommended he contact Ethan Edgecombe of Fortuna distribution who was building his own label. Ethan put it out right away on vinyl and cassette. That release on Fortuna helped Steve establish himself as an electronic artist to pay attention to. His raw talent and awesome work ethic did the rest.”

#10 best album of the 80s! “Steve Roach’s Structures From Silence remains one of the most important ambient albums ever crafted… its enduring influence has been unmistakably visible in the three decades since its release. It has never been more relevant.”

– FACT Magazine

Breathing the deep

The pieces on Structures From Silence evolved outside of the direct influence of the 1980s time zone in which it was created.

“My life at that time was purely focussed on drawing out an inner voice that had been building over many years: a feeling born from my immersion in the quiet spaces of the desert environment. My connection to the profound atmosphere of the desert areas of Southern California – Joshua Tree, Anza-Borrego, Death Valley, the Mojave Desert – was essential. I finally had my hands on the tools with which I could channel this feeling, this expansive atmosphere and blooming inner awareness. I was uncovering and discovering a palpable sense of stillness emanating from a soundcurrent of ‘silence.’”

One of the album’s extraordinary qualities is the sense of natural breath in the music, an organic quality not easily realized with synthesizers. These diaphanous chords and suspended harmonics would become the DNA of Roach’s music as he sought to release his machines from their mechanical moorings.

He explains, “I wasn’t hearing this quality in electronic music at that time. With an acoustic instrument you have to be 100% there to make a sound. Traditional instruments draw from the physical body’s interaction. With synthesizers emerging in the 80s, it was clear that you could almost stop breathing, lose the body connection, sit disconnected in a chair, and still manage to make sounds. This realization was a big piece of my entire waking and sleeping focus. I worked to deepen and nourish the connection to the essence of sound, body, mind and breath awareness when creating with synths. This was directly translated into Structures From Silence – conscious breathing, the sigh and the expansion of this place in-between. Creating from within this present moment, and playing that state through the analog warmth of the Oberheim OB8 was a sacrament of sound. The intention was direct and pure.”

The Oberheim OB8 synthesizer – the source of the resonate voice of the title track – had recently been designed and built in nearby Santa Monica, California. The new synth could play up to eight notes at once, making it the gold standard for polyphonic analog synths in the early 1980s. By his own admission Roach became utterly obsessed with owning one. Priced well beyond what the young sonic aspirant could afford from the wages of working at a local record store, he eventually secured the instrument with a very high interest loan. This consequential move would prove to have a long lasting impact in his life’s work.

The OB8 remains in regular use in his studio today. “You can buy a software version of this instrument now, but it’s like comparing a Formica-countertop laminate and a rich exotic wood. You can’t match the original in terms of texture, warmth and emotional impact, not to mention the fact that it’s a beautiful hardware instrument I feel drawn to today, in the same way as in 1983.”

“Structures From Silence is like riding the perfect wave in slow motion… as if sculpting liquid, Roach carefully shapes his sounds into a stately crescendo for an eternal dawn.”

– John Diliberto, Echoes Radio

The listeners speak

Structures From Silence is the album that brought Roach’s work to a global audience of listeners, radio broadcasters, fellow composers, music fans and deep listeners alike. The album has been praised over the years by magazines, fanzines, therapists, Yoga practitioners, and medical MDs; it continues to appear in best of polls, often topping current lists of all-time ambient albums. It struck a chord with a diverse cross-cultural audience from varied backgrounds. The epiphanies of Roach’s formative years of inspiration drawn from the desert and nature’s dreamtime found its way indelibly into his work and his unique personal voice. The stories continue to come in from around the world on how the album breathes life with original and new listeners.

In 2014 the Quiet Friends tribute was released with sixteen electronic artists creating Structures-inspired pieces in honor of the album and timed to the remastered 30th Anniversary 3-CD re-issue.

Top-40 Best Ambient Albums of All Time “Contemplative bliss, full of purring drones and high notes that shimmer and fade. Like a desert mirage, these structures hover forever at the horizon, an oasis from the din surrounding it.”

– Pitchfork.com

Then and now

When asked how he sees the album today in 2017, Roach reflects, “It’s like looking at a picture of home from years past – one of comfort and peace, warmth and safety. The emotional and personal resonance of the pieces remains connected to my core and part of an uninterrupted continuum from that point to now.”

This limited vinyl edition has been remastered at high-definition 24bit – 96kHz and sourced from the master analog reel-to-reel tapes, highlighting all the subtle detail and harmonic content always present in the studio recording but not fully realized in the original vinyl release.

As Echoes radio producer John Diliberto says, “I think the more important aspect is not when I first heard it, but how resonant and undated it sounds 33 years later.”

Whether you were there in the 80s or discovered the album later, Structures From Silence continues to resonate – across time, cultures, and musical genres. In creating the album, Roach infused the music with yearning emotions and a powerful sense of stillness. Like timeless art from any genre, a rarified expression of humanity is present in this work. That, perhaps, is the key to the enduring appeal of Structures From Silence.

Steve Roach Photo Gallery

Aug 06

Downloadable posters (Steve Roach & Erik Wollo)

Hi…. Projekt no longer prints posters for our new releases; they’re bulky, hard to store and expensive to ship. But I had an idea! With color printers in every office, I’ll make you a downloadable 11×17 poster that you can print yourself. And it’s free! Enjoy! – Sam

1 – Print it on your color printer, or at a local printshop. 2 – Email a photo of the poster at work, at home, etc, and we’ll post on our Facebook Pages.

Erik Wollo: Cinematic 11×17 poster at http://www.projekt.com/Posters/PRO344-poster.tif Projekt CD | Bandcamp Download | Spotted Peccary High Res Studio Masters

Steve Roach: Long Thoughts 11×17 poster at http://www.projekt.com/Posters/PRO343-poster.tif Projekt CD & Cassette | Bandcamp Download | Spotted Peccary High Res Studio Masters

Steve Roach: Nostalgia For The Future 11×17 poster at http://www.projekt.com/Posters/TM42-poster.tif Timeroom CD & Cassette | Bandcamp Download | Spotted Peccary High Res Studio Masters

Steve Roach: Spiral Revelation 11×17 poster at http://www.projekt.com/Posters/PRO336-Poster.jpg Projekt CD | Bandcamp Download | Spotted Peccary High Res Studio Masters

Black Tape For A Blue Girl: These fleeting moments 11×17 poster at http://www.projekt.com/Posters/PRO331-Poster.jpg Projekt CD or LP | Bandcamp Download

Jan 27

Steve Roach Empetus back in print with a free download

The 30th anniversary edition of this electronic classic is back in print, reissued on CD in digipak with original artwork. To celebrate, the CD is on sale for just $10 through midnight on Monday January 30th! At Projekt’s Bandcamp page, you can grab the deluxe digital download for name-your-price, through midnight on Monday January 30th. It includes The Early Years rarities tracks.