Archive for the ‘Artists’ Category
Hi everyone…. I’ve been meaning to start a video series of updates of what’s been going on with the Remnants of a deeper purity Kickstarter. I finally got the camera set up, and shot the first installment.Watch the video at youTube Preorder the vinyl album at Projekt
Here’s the text:
I’d say if all goes well, we’re six weeks out from having the finished vinyl in our hands and ready to send out to you. I’ve sent in all the audio files, the cover files, the label files, the stickers that go on the outside. And I already have back the CD that’s going inside it, which is the remastered version. So you can listen to the CD if you don’t have the ability to play the records.
I have back the booklets too. And here it is, the booklet that’s going inside the jacket. It’s massive. It’s really cool. Let me show you one page here. That’s the inside cover spread, you probably remember it from the CD, but now it’s eleven inches square. These are done and look really nice (sniff sniff), and they smell really good because they have a ton of ink on them because the coverage is really solid.
On the vinyl itself, I’ve received one set of test pressings, but they had some technical problems so they have to redo them. I’m getting another set next week and hopefully those will be cool so they can begin the actual pressing on the colored vinyl.
Then all the pieces come to me and I’m going to put them together and then we’re going to ship them out to you. And if it all goes well, like I said six weeks, that would be wonderful: to get this all to you.
There’s also this cool CD coming up, it’s Projekt’s three hundredth release, called redefine my pure faith, which is All my faith lost… doing covers of Black Tape For A Blue Girl’s songs. They’re an Italian band, sort of ethereal, heavenly voices; they’ve chosen six songs to cover, two of which are off Remnants of a deeper purity. And it’s going to be available at the same time (early Aprili-sh), so you’ll be hearing more about that really soon.
I guess that’s where we’re at right now, that’s a really quick update. I want to thank you all for having Kickstarted the release, for making it happen. And for keeping up on what’s going on. Thank you so much for your support in all of this. Bye Bye…
Various Artists: No41 | Winter 2014
An hour of music from Projekt’s latest releases (including new Archive digital editions). A nine track download album available at Bandcamp for “name your price” — it could be zero, or you could chip in a little something if you’re feeling it.
Check out the latest Projekt releases & discover something new that excites you.Black Tape For A Blue Girl: the best of… (deluxe edition)
Download 2-CDs worth of ‘Best of’ for $6 at Bandcamp Disc 1 was released as A RETROSPECTIVE in 2008 on Russia’s Shadowplay Records. Disc 2 was release as A TEARDROP LEFT BEHIND in 1991 on Germany’s Hyperium Records. That’s two CDs-worth of best-ofs for just six bucks! That’s a lot of best! : )
Try before you buy: Listen to a few tracks and see what you think!Makaras Pen: Journeys to the End
$4 at Bandcamp. For the next 4 days, use discount code “makaras” (without the quotes) to get 25% off
Makaras Pen’s indie rock, dreampop stylings create a wall of captivating sounds. The driving beat and cascading guitars are punctuated and accented by crashing percussion and Jenna Willis’ incredible soaring vocals. The tracks go from soft and simple, to strong, lush and distorted, following that shoegaze pattern of delicate and sweet at first rushing headlong to a powerful climax. Atop the ringing guitars (provided by Doug White and Jon Nemi), Jenna’s sensitive and heartfelt vocals sing sad yet hopeful lyrics. Doug says, “The guitars on this EP try to balance a very somber mood, keeping it epic to counter the new-found positive inspiration in Jenna’s lyrics.”The Arms of Someone New: Every Seventh Wave EP (2014 Remaster)
$2 at Bandcamp
The Arms of Someone New formed in 1983 when Mel Eberle and Steve Jones almost coincidentally began making music together. Steve managed and helped record Mel’s band The First Things; while in the studio to demo some of Mel’s songs, they started collaborating. Drawing inspiration from the Beatles, the Cure, the Teardrop Explodes and Jesus Couldn’t Drum (among others), as The Arms of Someone New they went on to release three full lengths, two eps, and numerous cassettes between 1984 and 1992.
Erik Wollo’s Timelines is Echoes Radio’s February CD of the month. Echoes is a nationally syndicated daily two-hour music radio program hosted by John Diliberto featuring a soundscape of ambient, space, electronica, and New Age music.
This is a big deal for us over here at Projekt! We like it when new fans are exposed to our artists’ great music.
Echoes writes, “Norwegian guitarist and synthesist Erik Wøllo returns with his< devastatingly beautiful CD of electro-orchestrated moods." $14 CD at Projekt | $10 Download at Bandcamp (FLAC, MP3s, etc) $10 Download at iTunes | $14.58 CD at Amazon
TRY BEFORE YOU BUY. Listen to a few tracks and see what you think!
The 1995 2-CD tribal/ambient debut from Roach/Obmana, Well of Souls, has been added to the Projekt bandcamp page. Use the discount code “well_of_souls” to get 30% off (1 week only).
Our January 21st releases are now in stock at our webstore and available at Amazon and iTunes. Thanks for supporting art with your purchases. – Sam
Steve Roach / Kelly David: The Long Night
Atmospheres for the night journey. The Long Night is a deep-breathing sigh of the eternal nocturnal: gossamer atmospheres for the still hours of the night.
“From one who has used this type of music as accompaniment for meditation, slumber, and travels into deeper states of consciousness for at least two decades, it truly doesn’t get much better than this. This is not pretty new-age music, there is no form, rhythm or melodic color here, no sequences or anything like that. This is a slow-evolving exploration of sonic textures in its purest form.”– Expose
A captivating electro-ambient journey into interior space, weaving visions of strong emotional impact. Sylvi’s heavenly voice drifts within the highly processed acoustic sounds created by Alio Die: a hybrid between – sonorous soundscapes and acoustic mysticism.
“Trance-like atmospheres that a listener can easily get lost within. This is one of those discs you’ll want to set on endless repeat and listen to over and over until the first light of day arrives.” – Expose
Paulina Cassidy: Sugar Wingshiver
* The first 25 copies include a signed card from Paulina * Whimsical, quirky dreampop. Paulina uses her sultry, rich voice as a potent ethereal instrument in combination with her fluidly-layered compositions, drawing the listener into her fascinating world. “Cassidy’s half-whispered dreamscapes don’t need a lot of time to work their way into your mind and soul… she’s rapidly becoming one of my preferred artists.” – Hypnagogue
We’ve just added a free bonus track to Sugar Wingshiver. Get the mostly instrumental, “the mesmerist” at Bandcamp. If you own the album, if you’re considering buying the album, or if you just like free stuff, it’s yours!
Thanks for your support of these artists’ creative explorations.
Remnants of a deeper purity turns 18 with a deluxe 2-LP swirled vinyl edition that the band’s fans are funding on Kickstarter
People often ask if I am going to put out something from Black tape for a blue girl on vinyl. In fact, there was vinyl years ago for the first two albums. But that was a different era, and now it’s time for us to put out vinyl again. When I say “us,” I mean you and me; because together, we can make Remnants of a deeper purity exist on vinyl. It’s your support at Kickstarter that will raise the money so this project can happen.
Listen to some tracks from the album on our bandcamp page.
Blacktape’s 1996 Remnants album is the best seller for the band; and not only that, recently on Facebook the fans voted it their favorite album. It’s the perfect release to put out on vinyl. Keep in mind that the Kickstarter only works when we hit our $7000 goal. So it’s your support, and spreading the word, that is going to get the album funded.
The music business has changed drastically in the 17 years since the release of Remnants. The way I see it, (for underground artists) the music business is now a patronage system. Instead of Kings supporting the arts, you – the fans – are the patrons of the art you love. I have created three Kickstarters – all of which have funded – and I am amazed and thankful to have fans like you who care enough about what I do to support my art.
Back in 1996 when I recorded Remnants with Oscar, Lucian, Vicki and Mera, we had no idea the album would touch so many people and have such a lasting impact. It feels really great to be here, almost 18 years later, getting ready to celebrate Remnants again. Join us at Kickstarter
Thanks so much for your help in that.
Pull up a chair, grab your coffee, or your lunch…
Reflections on the 90s, a new start and plans for the future
Hi. I’ve been quite delinquent on creating art lately, but I feel poised for a fresh start. You see, a couple of months ago I moved from Brooklyn, New York, to Portland, Oregon. Planning and moving and finding a place to live took 5 months of my life; time I planned to use writing the sequel to Rye and writing new music. That didn’t happen.
But there’s an upside to this move. The stereotypes are true: life is easier in Portland. Things aren’t as expensive, people are friendly, I’ll have my studio set-up again, and my son now has a house to grow up in. All great stuff.
I’ve been thinking a lot about time and what is important to me. I want to get back to the way things were in the first half of the 90s. Back then, the label and my music took up equal parts of my time. Thinking back on it, I created a lot of great music in the first half of the 90s: This lush garden within, Terrace of memories, two collaborations with Patrick Ogle in Thanatos, and I recorded almost half of Remnants of a deeper purity. Not too shabby for 5 years of work! In comparison, the last Blacktape studio album was 4 years ago, and the Passage was 2 years ago.
That’s what I want to do here in PDX: get back to work on art. Black tape for a blue girl, as well as solo electronic stuff. And also write the sequel to Rye: we must find out what the three of them do next!
I am often asked, “What’s going to happen to the band, now that you’ve moved?” The answer is that the band will continue, of course! The band exists so long as I feel like creating music. Back in the 90s, band members didn’t live in Los Angeles, they flew in to record, and that worked out quite nicely. I still plan to work with Athan and Laurie and Valerie. And play live again soon-ish (when there’s some new music to peform).
And I’m getting started with working on art. In the next week I’ll begin a Kickstarter to fund a 2-LP Vinyl edition of Remnants of a deeper purity. [ Update, the Kickstarter is now live ]. It is going to be very sweet! Very deluxe. I’m always asked about putting out vinyl, and this Kickstarter will let me know if the interest is there to support it. I hope you all will get on board to make it a reality.
The music business has changed drastically in the last 10 years. The way I see it (for underground artists), the music business is now a patronage system. Instead of Kings supporting the arts, you – the fans – are the patrons of the art you love. I have created three Kickstarters – all of which have funded – and I am amazed and thankful to have fans like you who care enough about what I do to support my art. During the 2nd half of the 90s and the 00s, I felt a growing disconnect. People stopped writing letters, and the internet didn’t pick up the slack. Now on Facebook, and through Kickstarter and Bandcamp, I feel in touch with you, again. I know many of my fans by name, and get to know you and what matters to you. This feels nice.
Also, going out and doing the intimate “Reading From Rye” events allowed me to hang-out and meet people. Which was a lot more fun than when the band is on tour, and I end up being a roadie and driver for my own band. I enjoyed the connection we made on the Rye tour: meeting new people, sharing a few laughs and a drink….
…(pause)…. Ok, I’m back now. I just got a phone call from my son. He had to update me on school today. And what his mom’s dog is up to.
Speaking of Kickstarter, Patrick of Thanatos has a Kickstarter to raise funds to record an album of all new songs [ Update: the Kickstarter funded. Thanks! ]. A little secret on this one: if he raises enough, I might get involved and play on a few songs. Patrick performed an acoustic show in NYC recently, you can watch clips at YouTube. “Red Rocks, Coyotes” live video.
I envision the next Black tape for a blue girl album will be an experience that brings you into the studio, providing insider access to work in progress, creative ideas, and serve as a place for us to privately discuss the creative process. I want to give those who love the music more than just “the finished product.” I want you to know what goes into the creation of the music. You will get to hear the songs evolve, and hear the scraps that get discarded, read the thoughts of the artist at work. Sure, that’s not for everyone, which is why there will be different levels of involvement. I imagine this as a “backstage pass” or “studio access” (I am still trying to come up with just the right word for this concept – suggestions?). Aside from downloads of music, I want it to have a blog component, and a once in a while chat, so you can give me your thoughts and reflections on what you are hearing.
This idea came to me while I was in the final stages of writing Rye. Once the novel had gone through the 2nd round with my editor, I sent it out to a few friends to read. I’d give them one section at a time, so they could report back their reflections and I’d integrate it into my changes. I realized it was really fun to read and discuss how they were experiencing the book and the characters. For me, art is about an exchange and about connection. And hearing thoughts on my characters helped me understand if they were getting their message across. It was surprisingly fun for me!
This new album will be an interesting experiment: sort of like a realtime reality show of the making of my album.
That’s something for 2014. But for now, look forward to a follow-up email in the next few days about the Remnants of a Deeper Purity Kickstarter.
And thanks for being a supporter of my art.
PS: Could you write a review of Remnants of a Deeper Purity (or your favorite Blacktape album) at iTunes. The one that’s up there now is pretty awful…. thanks!
PSS: Black Tape For A Blue Girl’s Facebook page. Join us!
If you want to share this on Facebook, it is posted here
Interview with Mike VanPortfleet conducted August 2013.
Sam: The new Lycia album, Quiet Moments is out this week. I read that it’s been 12 years since LYCIA had a new album out? Is that accurate? What made you decide to record a new album?
Mike: Well, we had the Fifth Sun digital EP out in 2010, but in regards to a fully realized full length that goes back to 2002 and Tripping Back Into The Broken Days, so that would be 11 years. But even that is a little fuzzy because right up to the pressing time we had planned to used the Estraya name as opposed to Lycia. I sort of see Quiet Moments as picking up from where Estrella left-off back in 1998. As always with me and Lycia, everything is a bit blurry and even questions that would seem to have clear answers don’t. Even though Lycia was pretty low profile throughout the 2000s I was always messing around in the studio. After helping Tara with a solo show back in 2008 it sort of lit the fire again, and that led to us working on Fifth Sun. After that I immediately began working on Quiet Moments, which also involved me finishing some songs that were started back in the mid 2000s.
Sam: The return of LYCIA began when Handmade Birds released a Vinyl edition of your 1996 album Cold. What were your thoughts on Cold, hearing it all these years later?
Mike: Cold was Lycia’s high point in my opinion. Everything fell right into place at the right time. To me it’s a special release. Listening to it again during the preparation for the Cold LP brought back a lot of memories from those initial Ohio years. Which was good and bad at the same time. Those days were Lycia’s best so it’s nice to remember, but sad that they are so far away.
Sam: Is there anything you miss about the 90s, and all the road-work Lycia did?
Mike: I miss the way 1995 was. We were pushing forward and so many things happened. The ’95 tours were filled with such hope and excitement. Later tours I felt a bit jaded.
Sam: A lot of past LYCIA albums has a mood of nostalgia, loss, sadness, & hope. Is that still in your lyrics?
Mike: It is still very present and still very important. In fact that description would be a perfect one for Quiet Moments. If I had to describe each individual song on Quiet Moments with one word, I could use the four you just stated, and have an answer for each song. I would say that Quiet Moments is the most nostalgic release I’ve ever done. It is the most personal by far.
Sam: How are you a different person than back in the late 80s, when you were mailing me the “dreaded white cassettes” with LYCIA demos on them?
Mike: A good yet very hard question. I’d like to think that my musical vision is the same. I think it is, but obviously the way that I make music now is light years away from the way that John and I worked back then. Despite the different tools I think the end result creates a very similar mood though. I see it that way. Lifestyle though I’m a million miles away. So is my perception of things around me. But who wouldn’t be? That was 25 years ago. Oh, the dreaded white cassettes. What an idiot I was using those horrible cheap tapes. If I would have used quality cassettes back then there would at least be a chance for me to restore hours of never released music. But that will never happen.
Sam: Final question. You said Quiet Moments is sort of like a follow-up to Estrella. How do you think old-school fans will like this album?
Mike: In terms of the Lycia timeline and how it feels to me, I see Quiet Moments as a continuation of our 90s work. Estrella was the last in that line. But really I see Quiet Moments as a follow-up, in regards to mood and style, to A Day In The Stark Corner. They are the two most personal releases for me. They both have ambient and noise experimenting. In both cases I layered sound beyond what I thought I initially could. I see them a sister releases. I didn’t go into the recording with this in mind, though I did want to reconnect with the slow motion atmospheric side of Lycia’s sound again. I’m thinking that the old school people, the ones that were into Ionia and A Day In The Stark Corner, will like Quiet Moments. Well, I’m hoping they like it. For years I’ve received e-mails (and before that letters) asking for a return to that style. Well here it is.
Steve Roach iTunes $2 off Sale
Well! Here's something exciting for Projekt. Our new digital distributor arranged a Steve Roach iTunes $2 Off Sale. 20 titles on sale for 2 weeks. What a great chance to stock up on releases you missed; or grab some you have on CD buried in a box somewhere in the basement. Whatever the reason, now is a great time to buy Steve Roach at iTunes!
Here are some of the releases included: All is Now, Destination Beyond, Dreamtime Return, Empetus, Immersion: One, the Serpent's Lair (with Byron Metcalf), Stream of Thought (with Erik Wollo), Structures from Silence, Trance Spirits (with Jefferey Fayman & Robert Fripp), Traveler…
Look through Steve's vast catalog, to find more selections
From Sam Rosenthal | December 25 2010 | Last year I started a Projekt holiday tradition. Rather than an eList filled with things for you to purchase, I decided to give something back. Some insight from Projekt’s artist. In 2009, I gave you our thoughts on Success. I really liked what was said. This year, I asked the artists to share a bit about:
“My Creative Process”
Sam Rosenthal of Black Tape For A Blue Girl and Projekt
I was out with a painter friend; she was telling me she hardly remembers making her paintings. She goes into a chaotic / productive state and works without thinking. That’s really different from how I create music. For me, it’s a very orderly process (editing, thinking, refining, working with all the other musicians, etc). However in reading what my friends wrote, I see elements from each that makes perfect sense to how I create. I especially relate to Michael’s idea of “play” — because for me, making music is fun. “It is fun to play,” perhaps, is as good of reason as any for creating. It is fun. It is joyous. It is making something exist that previously did not exist. Creating something that I enjoy listening to. It is an opportunity to go from nothing to something, without ever really knowing WHY it happened. Mystery.
I wrote this to Steve Roach, one day last month: It is pretty amazing how humans train ourselves (and our kids) to use our brain in a very specific, and generally logical, way. Everyday, we put a lot of energy into being practical, thinking “like a human,” putting our pants on before we leave the house. We kind of take it for granted how amazing our brains are. That we can do all of this really complex stuff, and do it again tomorrow……….. I was in the studio this weekend, working on a song. “That volume needs to go up. That needs a bit more high end. That needs to end a second sooner.” It is such a strange process. What makes us “know,” in advance, what it is that needs to be done? What guides us to know, without question, that without that slight volume adjustment, the piece just would not be correct? And we make 10,000 of these seemingly arbitrary choices every time we make music. It might come to us all very naturally. But making art is such a high-form function of our brains. And it is such an amazing process of cellular / animal evolution, that we wake up to this reality every day.< The Blood of My Lady
Michael Laird of Unto Ashes Sam asked me to write about “My Creative Process.” I’m not really sure how to address that, but here goes: Usually what happens is that I will pick up a musical instrument of some kind. This is easy for me, because I make sure to have lots of different kinds of instruments all around me all the time; for instance: acoustic guitars, mandolin, dulcimer, hurdy-gurdy, autoharp, even a viola da gamba. Some of these instruments are not easy to play, but they all have different characteristics, and all of them are welcome distractions for me. I really enjoy taking some time just to *play* music, without any expectation about the end result. I suppose the operating word here is “play.” I am now inclined to believe that this is similar to the kind of “play” that children do: they simply “play” and that’s it. They don’t have to know why they do it; they don’t need to have any kind of finished product to show for what they do. They just play.
Similarly, I might sit down with a musical instrument and just play for awhile until something develops that sounds interesting to me. If I like what I hear I’ll play it over and over, and just let the music go where it wants. Then I’ll put the instrument down for awhile. If, after a day or so, I can’t stop thinking about that particular musical progression or sequence, I’ll come back and play it some more. When that happens, it means that there’s some music out there that wants to find expression of some kind.
That’s when the *work* begins.
For me, the “work” may involve developing a real song structure, thinking about lyrics and actually writing them down, creating parts for other instruments or other voices, thinking about harmonies, and so on. I enjoy this process, but it does take some work.
If I haven’t abandoned the song by this point, then I need to record it. This is a process that also involves “work.” Don’t get me wrong: I love to record, but it can be a lot of “work” (as compared to “play”). It’s time consuming, it can be exhausting and even expensive. But I still enjoy doing it. And if I don’t have a lot of fixed ideas about what I want to accomplish in the studio, then the recording process is a lot closer to “play” than it is to “work.” It’s still work — but I’m not complaining! In fact, I think I like “working” on music even more than I like “playing” it. But that’s just me.
To summarize, I would say that my creative process involves a flash of inspiration while “playing,” followed by a long process of “working” towards the realization of that which inspired me initially.
Erik Wøllo My creative process has always been divided into several stages. The first phase is where I am preparing and collecting ideas. This can be collecting sounds, writing patches for my instruments or just rehearsing. I am kind of setting up an environment where I can be inspired. The next phase would be just trying to create something. Letting my conscious and subconscious mind work freely. This is a very fragile stage and I try not to be interrupted by things around me. And if I am lucky, I am given these moments where everything seems to flow: The music leads me, not the other way around. The next stage is where I do an evaluation of what I have created so far. Like doing the arranging, editing and the mixing. But I always try to follow that first, original impulse or idea. Not forgetting why I saved this particular song.
Disciple Mark Seelig My Creative Process: recording initial tracks for Wachuma’s Wave and Disciple in India. I was lucky enough to slip all my recording gear past Indian customs and had set aside about 6 weeks to stay in an Ashram in India to practice my bamboo flute with my Indian teacher, and do some recording. Indian musicians like to chew ‘Pan’, a mixture of Bethel Nut with some other ingredients. It gives them a small high and lots of stamina, kind of like the Coca leaves people in the Andes use for their arduous lives. After having tasted ‘Pan’ a couple of times I decided that all it really does is give a steep rise in blood pressure and energy. I wanted to offer my Indian flute teacher, who is from a remote shamanic tribal area in Manipur, East India, something better and more fun and told him about the San Pedro Cactus (native name ‘Wachuma’ or Huachuma). He was thrilled and said he definitely wanted to try it.
We both ingested a fair amount, and after some time of playing our flutes, with him explaining things in his heavily broken English with that special Indian twang, the cactus started taking effect. We keep playing, and after a while he pauses, grins at me and says: “Veddy nice feelink coming to de head.” I smiled and noticed his reserve (he is from an aristocratic tribe in Manipur). We keep playing, getting deep into the Ragas with closed eyes, losing all sense of time, and then after a while he pauses again, and now with a wide unbridled smile across his Tibetan looking face he says: “Now REALLY nice feelink coming to de head.” I laughed out loud in delight, continued playing after he left, and eventually started toning with voice and playing the flute interchangeably, laying down some basic tracks which later found their way into Wachuma’s Wave and Disciple in the collaborations with Byron Metcalf and Steve Roach.
Eifelian Scott of Autumn’s Grey Solace My creative process involves using my guitar as an instrument to bring that which is in my being into the physical world. I almost always use one of my nine guitars to start creating a composition. Each guitar has a unique tuning and string arrangement, so they help ignite my creativity and allow me to come up with exotic guitar chords. Also, having a wide range of guitar effects and accessories like EBows, capos, etc. can spawn new ideas when writing. These things help to bring out the music that’s inside me. I usually start with something chordal, either arpeggiated or rhythmic, and compose a series of progressions or riffs which become the structure of the song. I then construct a rhythm section around that and then overdub some more guitars as embellishments. That’s my part, and then Erin composes all of the vocals, vocal overdubs, and lyrics. Erin: The creative process: a chance to express what’s in my imagination by putting together abstract thoughts into something that can make sense, like pieces of a puzzle that show a bigger picture than what’s on each puzzle piece. The process for me must stem from somewhere inside my mind, heart or spirit. External influences that mean something to me like people and nature can paint impressions in my thoughts. I store those impressions inside my head to be used later when I decide to work on music. When I create words with melodies over Scott’s music, I pull from my mind the words and piece them together using what my heart feels and what my spirit is in the mood for. Sometimes the external influences are superficial and that is when I lose my ability to glue together a song because when there is no depth there is no mind, heart or spirit to create with. So with some discipline and drive I proceed with the creative process with careful intentions on using my mind, heart or spirit to feed my imagination.
Spiders, Aether & Rain Ashkelon Sain of Trance to the Sun / Soriah / Blade Fetish / Submarine Fleet I devote a good deal of my visualization process to thinking about what I would like my album to sound like when it’s finished. What elements should each song have in common? In what ways should each song stand apart individually? This helps greatly in deciding how to proceed with new song ideas.
The Hours Federico, (Viola, Fabio and Stefania) of All My Faith Lost… Sam asked us to write and describe the creative process behind their music. We think this is a nice way to give our listeners another point of view on our art. However, we admit it is not easy to speak about and describe what sometime “just happens.” Probably the best way to explain our “Creative Process” is to pick up one of our song and trying to remember how it came to life. We have chosen “Notti Bianche” from our album The Hours just re-printed by Projekt Records and originally released in 2007. “Notti Bianche” – The creative process
Let’s start by saying that this is not the creative process happening for every song. Yes, it is the method we follow most of the times but not the only one. When we composed The Hours we wrote all the lyrics before the music. The Hours is a concept album on literature: we took the authors we love and we wrote about their life, their books and their words. “Notti Bianche” is our personal reiterpretation (in music) of the novel “White Nights” (“Notti Bianche” in Italian) by F. Dostoevskij. Why the title in Italian you ask? Well, “White Nights” sounded too much as a Christmas song title to us.
I remember our studio was full of books, sheets with handwritten lines from our favourite novels. We attached photocopied bookpages on the walls, we hanged pics of Anais Nin, Virginia Woolf and Pier Paolo Pasolini. We created a small world made of paper, ink and music.
“Notti Bianche” was born inside this small world from a guitar arpeggio. Most of our songs grow from guitar lines or arpeggios. Not sophisticated ones. I have to find the “right” one, the one that sounds good in my head, the one that makes me think: “this is the one!” Once the guitar line was done, me and Viola satrted working over the vocal parts and we easily found them out. We spent a little time trying to understand how to split the parts among the two of us and we decided the right thing it was for me to sing only some shorts parts together with Viola. At this point, the song was done … or better, the bones of the song were all put together. The subsequent work was all about the arrangements we were able to do by ourselves. Viola found a warm synth sound, as we wanted an electronic part to overwhelm and sustain the acoustic guitar. We found also an additional guitar part and some other small electronic parts and piano notes.
It was now the time to call Martina Bertoni (Cello) and Fabio Polo (Violin). They listened the song and composed the strings parts. First one to record was Martina and then Fabio added his violin. We think they composed and recorded some lines that give a delicate and at the same time strong feeling to the song.
So, you now know how the creative process of one of the best songs on our album The Hours. I really hope you like this short explanation and I hope it helps tu understand better what there is hidden after a few minutes of our music. The HoursWe wish you all a great Christmas and a happy New Year.
A World We Pretend Todd Loomis of The Twilight Garden Usually for me, things begin with a great sound or a great riff – or really anything inspiring. It could be a lyric idea or a mood I have in my head at first, or a reaction I feel to something happening in the world. Then, I may spend quite a bit of time making a sound or tweaking a synthesizer, or rewiring my guitar effects until I find something I think is really neat to complement the idea. Once I discover it, I’m usually pretty excited by it, and that excitement translates immediately into the creative process. I’ll end up jamming around – working and refining it into something I can actually recreate. Once I have the idea going, I can find another sound to complement the first one; and I can do the same thing again – create a part that works with the first part and layer them together. I can do this over and over to build up a piece of music both vertically in textural layers, and horizontally in time. Eventually, I’ll pull the lyrical ideas together and build the song around the idea and the vocal. Also, I should say that improvisation is a great way for me to instantly connect emotion inside my head to sound in the world outside my head. When I improvise – whether on piano, guitar, vocals, etc., it’s always the same. If I can let my mind wander, my playing will reflect naturally what I might be feeling inside. Usually, it comes really naturally. I just play what I feel. If I find I’m thinking too much, I just go do something else besides music. If the mood is right though, I’ll just play and let the ideas grow into a song. Because I’m just reflecting things, I don’t really even have to try; it just happens when I put myself in front of an instrument and play. Also, I can reflect anything really – so the creative possibilities are endless. I could probably write an ode to mustard if I was in the right place mentally. Anyway, improvisation for me is a way of generating things with very little effort. I find it forces me to relinquish control and to let the notes flow naturally without correction. If I’m a good enough musician, those notes will speak like words in a sentence or paragraph – the idea will be cohesive, and they will not need editing. Of course, if the recorder is running, then a song is in the works.
Dies Irae Alessia and Massimiliano of Atrium Animae (a new Projekt signing, from Italy, with their debut coming in April) Well…the creative process takes place through a series of steps in which the instrumental and vocal parts are designed according to an initial idea. Typically, the tracks are conceived as a score composed of several parts, sometimes very different to each others. We devote much attention to the process of transition between all the parts. It’s a very long process, because the tracks are composed of over 40 different elements in some cases, and very complex vocal parts. It’s strange, because the creative process is on the one hand very intimate and friendly, but at the same time a long process of refinement is required to arrive to the final result. For example, Alessia has in mind the final harmony in her head. But only when she sings the different melodies she instinctively understand how to combine them. Meanwhile, the instrumental parts are combined with the voices and the song refined….. and again, with other voices… and again, changing parts… and again… until the reaching of a “stable state.”
At this point, the song is put in a state of “waiting” for a period of time, and we concentrate the attention on other songs previously in that state, in order to listen to them and evaluate if they need some refinements. So, at the end, hundreds of revisions of the same song are produced in some cases! In addition, we are two different people with so different ideas about the project and the themes treated in the project. It’s just like a mutual influence. Both of us want the total control of the whole process. It must be perfect…. and remember that we are a couple in life, so there’s a strong relationship between us. But we believe that this dualism creates the right combination and chemistry, and our creative process is linked to our frame of mood, our suffering, our questions about the existence of this state of loss and despair… and the album has all these questions within…
Phantoms Forrest Fang I have a somewhat chaotic process for creating music. More recently, I’ve tried to give my instincts full rein, at least in the initial stages; I go through an extended “demo” phase, where I try to record as much raw material as I can, without thinking too much about it. Sometimes this involves creating ambient textures, other times, fragments of a melody or rhythm. A lot of material is just experimentation that doesn’t stand on its own, but may give me idea to record a variation on it later. The hard part is listening to all of this to catalog the most interesting bits. Sometimes this stage takes longer than the original recording. I then try to conceptualize an entire album from these sounds, by thinking of the textures I want to appear at different stages of the album. The recording I do after this is more structured, but often the recordings end up being more appropriate for other projects! This might be because I’ve tricked myself into playing more spontaneously by not caring if it gets used. An example of this chaotic process is “Little Angklung” off of my Phantoms CD. This piece started as an experiment with an algorithmic program called “Angklung.” Over the course of a year, the direction of the piece changed when I junked what was the “backing track” based on Angklung, and replaced it with a gamelan improv I had originally recorded for another project. This new backing track suggested other instruments, which I added, but I kept much of the original ambient material I had recorded over the original backing
Makaras Pen Doug White of Makaras Pen Makaras Pen has been hard at work recording a follow-up CD. After a summer of area shows and some out of town road work we are 8 songs into what we think might be an 11 song full length. Videos have become a really great creative outlet for us so we have a new high end one in the works for our song “What’s Really Happening” that we are super excited about. We hope to have it back from the film company to release in early January. Our creative writing and recording process has changed a lot for this new CD. Our drummer Dennis really likes to hear a final product before he decides on drum takes. Of course in the process of indie/shoegaze recording there can be so many layers it’s hard to tell early on what might be the sound and arrangement in the end. So Val and Doug have been writing and recording full songs to a click and having drums go down last as the finishing touch. This has really gave a new element of power and creativity to the new Makaras Pen material. Emma has been deep in lyric writing mode. It’s been a great release and outlet for her thoughts and emotions. It is really nice to watch somebody become more comfortable writing and expressing themselves through music that they love. Some of her new melodyies have given us shivers.
There is a deep friendship and bond with Makaras Pen band members that is hard to describe but we hope to portrait it in our music to fans. We sure appreciate all of the overwhelming support and mail we have gotten. It is truly satisfying to hear from so many people who enjoy what we do.
Moments in Time Johnny Indovina of Human Drama I’ve never sat down to work on songs. Like, it’s time to write… I only sit down when I feel something, and hear that feeling musically. Then I try to complete the task of getting it on tape. Sometimes it starts with a phrase, sometimes with a mumbled melody. Sometimes it starts with looking into a stranger’s eyes. Also, I never try to finish. I let it finish when it wants to. “This Forgotten Love” started at midnight and was finished by 6am. “King of Loneliness” started in 1991 and didn’t finish ’til 1998… One more part of my writing is that I never have written a song based on who I thought my audience was. I think a writer must write for himself (or herself), complete the idea so that it best captures the original feeling, then send it out. The song is an extension of the writer. Let the audience come if it moves them.
I enjoy the process, but I cannot say I enjoy a lot of the feelings or themes I write about. But that is my work.
[a lantern carried in blood and skin] Joshua of Lux Interna Weave my skin on the spiritloom tight Fill my flesh with the blood of light Oh, come down, Oh, draw with up On creating.
In my experience many of the best songs seem to come out of nowhere, unawaited. They appear as gifts or guests: spectral entities needing a body. And often, the truly difficult part is to find a form fit for their invisible light. In this sense, I often think of the post-inspirational aspects of songcrafting as steps in the construction of an holy space. One can never force a presence to present itself, but one can prepare, furnish, and decorate a space in order to make the presence welcome. Indeed, especially of late, I’m learning the importance of waiting and listening, treating the song as a subject rather than merely an object upon which I am acting. One of the most exciting parts of creating, for me, is when you hear or feel something in your own creation that surprizes you because it seems to exceed the contents of your own private subjectivity. It is a beautiful – if somewhat eerie – experience to feel that you have somehow been a conduit for something other than your own ideas.
Sam’s memories of Peter Steele April 19 2010
Listening to October Rust as I write this…..
Peter Steele of Type-O Negative passed away a few days ago. I thought I’d put together my recollections of the times my life intersected with Peter’s.
The first time I recall hearing Steele’s name was from Mike VanPortfleet of Lycia. This was after the 1993 release of Lycia’s A Day in the Stark Corner. Peter said complimentary things about Lycia in a few interviews. I do not have the original quotes, but I searched my hard drive and found:
MKUltra Issue #1 (1995) Q: I think the production on Bloody Kisses is phenomenal! Peter Steele: You should be familiar with Lycia. It’s dark, ambient Goth music. The last album is called A Day in the Stark Corner. I would like our next album to sound something like this. It is the most depressing thing I’ve ever heard in my life. If I put it on in the morning when I get up… I’m useless for the rest of the day. It makes me feel like killing myself. It’s like, why even bother getting dressed when I can just slit my wrists. Such simple hypnotic beats. Everything is drowned in reverb, yet the emotion comes through so loud and clear. It’s just devastatingly beautiful, as beautiful as it is devastating. That’s how I want to come through. INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE: Full exchange between Alex and Peter.
Honestly, I wasn’t familiar with Type-O Negative but I got to know the Bloody Kisses album. Peter asked Lycia and The Electric Hellfire Club to open a small Type-O Negative tour in October 1995. I was living in California at the time and flew to the East Coast to be Lycia’s soundmixer. Not long before, the drunken leaders of The Electric Hellfire Club (Thomas and Shane, RIP) had gotten into a confrontation with me at NEO in Chicago, something about my supposed Judeo-Christian beliefs. Total non-event and something I have always found funny / absurd. When I got to the venue in Boston (?) Peter came over, picked up my quite large suitcase and tossed it on his shoulder (he could have picked me up as well as the cabl!). He said something like, “We’re not going to have any problems with the Hellfire Club.” And I was certain he was right!
Oh yeah, speaking of Chicago, I remember now that a woman I knew there was seeing Peter now and then….. so I probably had heard some stories about him by then.
Peter was down-to-earth, charismatic and charming. Peter was totally straight edge. He would talk about other people smoking pot on the bus while he lifted weights in the back. This was during the multi-year touring for Bloody Kisses, when Type O were getting their music out to the fans and developing a strong following. It was great to watch them from the side of the stage as they performed each night at smaller venues, 300 – 500 people. I remember a really lovely old theatre in Poughkeepsie, NY; I was watching from the balcony during sound-check, Type-O were running through covers songs, I think it was DEVO and The Beatles. At one show, Josh’s keyboard was acting up, he pushed it out of the stand and it crashed to the floor. A roadie ran in with a replacement. At the show in Syracuse, I watched the bouncers drag some guy out the back door by his feet, head bouncing on the steps and into the parking lot. Lycia did not get the warm reception Peter expected; stuff was thrown, spit was lobbed. Just a bit too much violence for me.
I believe it was this tour when Type O played the massive Roseland Ballroom in New York City. Really nice to see them on such a big stage, big risers for each member, as if Peter needed to be even taller, to get his point across! ; )
MK Ultra Issue #7, Summer 1996 Q:Two of your favorite bands, Electric Hellfire Club and Lycia, you’ve had the chance to tour with them. Do you feel a responsibility to the public to turn them onto bands like this? Peter: (takes a very deep breath) Um, I think the best way to answer that is to simply say yes. I try to put together an interesting package that I felt if I was a fan I would want to see this package that I would want to see all three bands. Q: How did hardcore fans react to a band like Lycia? Peter: Some of our fans are quite rude. At some points, I felt like I wanted to go out and say something to these few people who were giving the opening bands a hard time, but I figured that might egg them on even more, so I just let it be. Q: Projekt uses the quote you did with us in the first page of the Lycia press kit. Peter: (laughing) Where I said it was “devastatingly beautiful?” Q: And why even bother getting dressed when you can just slit your wrists. They loved that. Peter: (laughing) That’s great music, man.
Black Moon #7, 1996 We did shows with Lycia and the Electric Hellfire Club last October and I thought that the line-up was great. But the management wasn’t happy with the line-up because everything seems to come down to money these days and they would rather put people on the bill that they are sure will draw a lot of people to the show. It sucks that finances have to rear their ugly head.
When you look back on it now, you see a long list of bands that Peter asked to open for Type O Negative, even though the bands might have been obscure and not “adding to the bill” the way management thinks about it, these days. Meaning, Lycia were never asked to pay to get the opening slot, nor did Peter worry about how many heads the band was going to add to the evening. I think Peter genuinely liked helping bands he enjoyed, and he was confident that Type O could draw on their own.
Back in Los Angeles, in the summer of 1995, I caught Type O opening for Queensryche at some massive place, probably the Laker’s Arena. At the end of Type O’s set, roadies walked on stage and wheeled away their equipment, mid-song; staged as a smart ass comment about the 30 minute opener’s set length. Eva-O, Patrick and I didn’t stick around to catch much of Queensryche, we went backstage to hang out with the band. Pat recalls, “Peter was really sick but nonetheless took time to chat before saying we should hang around but that he had to go ’cause he didnt know which end it was gonna be coming out of next!”
Lycia had another opportunity to open for Type-O at an outdoor show, I think it was Toledo. I was living in Chicago at this point so it might have been Summer of 96(?). The sound system was shitte, I think there were no monitors, so Lycia didn’t play. At the end of the set, Type-O’s roadies handed out what seemed like a crate of toilet paper, and a massive toilet paper fight ensued, with long streams of paper flying all over the venue. I just googled “Type O Toilet Paper” and found this fan comment: “Once one guy beaned Pete right in the head with a roll on stage. Peter immediately looked down at the guy and said ‘you should pitch for the Yankees.’ ”
In October 1997, I saw Type-O play the Vic in Chicago, on their October Rust tour (the in-door snow machine was very cool / the blow-up dolls were dumb – but I guess that was the point). As Projekt fans noticed at the time, the album showed sone of the haunting and spacious qualities of Lycia (such as “Red Water (Christmas Mourning)”). Peter lived up to his artistic promise. They were growing, maybe more than his audience wanted. Back stage after the show, a woman had Peter sign her breasts. Another woman sat on his hand and he picked her up as if working a 10 pound weight. As always, Peter was very polite and friendly, he might have been enjoying himself.
Over the years, I heard about Type-O wanting out of their contract with Roadrunner, so they could move to a major label; Roadrunner wasn’t letting them go. I don’t know the politics of this; who was right, who was wrong. I think Peter ended up stepping on too many toes. The band seemed in a holding pattern, it was unfortunate because Type-O had a lot of momentum after the success of Bloody Kisses. I can imagine their frustration, and it spilled out into interviews.
I was doing a catalog mailing one day, and in the Brooklyn addresses I noticed Petrus Ratajczyk. It turns out that years earlier, Peter ordered some CDs and mailed them to his mom’s house. (I remember talking with a manager at one of the shows who told me he sometimes ordered Projekt CDs for Peter.) From that point on, I’d mail a couple of new releases to Mom’s house. It was sort of my “bat signal.” I send something, and a few months later I would get a thank you call. Peter’s deep voice, “Hello Sam….” and a few minutes of jokes and friendly chatter.
Outburn Magazine #11 May 2000 Q: And Type-O Negative toured with Lycia… Peter: They are such a great band. It was such an honor. But unfortunately sometimes our fans can be very ruthless to the opening bands. And there was nothing I could do. I thought it was actually pretty interesting. The October Rust album just came out, and it was all about creepy things and Halloween. I always thought A Day in the Stark Corner was one of the most depressing albums I have ever heard in my entire life…. it actually influenced me somewhat.
Revue Noir, my band with Nicki, had a show in New York City in 2005, I sent a postcard to Mom’s. A few months after the show, I got THE CALL. My son was a few years old, I was getting ready to get divorced; my life was frazzled. But Peter’s life was hell. I had read that he went through rehab, but had fallen back into his old ways. Peter called to say he’d like to come see us play some day; he said he was glad I was happy with my son, but that people like him should never be permitted to breed. The conversation devolved (and I paraphrase) to: “I would like to plunge off the Coney Island Parachute Jump, except I will not do it because that would just make them happy. They have my place bugged. I dismantled and smashed everything to find out where the listening devices were hidden. They were in the lamps and in the sockets in the wall.” Them. Them. Death. Suicide. Destruction. Paranoia. Some of what he said was about getting into Catholicism and that being a good thing for him, but most of what he said was really sad and scary stuff. I kept wondering “Why are you telling ME this?” Had everyone around Peter heard it to the point where they were sick of it, and he needed new ears for this story? We talked (which means, me listening) for about 45 minutes. Said goodbye. The next day I called a business friend who worked with his management at Roadrunner. “Can you ask them to check in with Peter, see if he’s Ok. See if he needs help or something?”
I was on the guest list to see Type-O Negative at Irving Plaza (May 8 2007). The band was really tight, but Peter was so annoying. It sounded like he was intentionally mumbling the lyrics to the songs. The melody was there but the words were not. I had a feeling he was doing it to annoy the other guys in the band. Midway through the set, Peter said something about “eating a bad slice of pizza and having to go throw up,” and the band left the stage. There was 5 – 10 minutes of cartoon music playing through the sound system, and then Peter came back to mumble his way through the rest of the set. If I had paid, I would have been really pissed. I spoke to somebody in California, who said Type O took the same mid-set break at the show there, and he thinks Peter went off-stage to breath from an Oxygen tank.
December 2007, Peter called and asked if I’d be interested in releasing Carnivore’s new album on Projekt. I was honest and said I did not know the material (“Lucky you,” he quipped) and was not sure if it was my style; but I would certainly work with him on releasing it, if it was something he thought made sense for his career (meaning I felt that while Projekt had the distribution network, he needed a bigger label with a budget). I made a few follow-up calls, but never heard more about the idea.
I sent another card to Mom’s house in the fall of 2008. I was working on the 10 Neurotics album, and looking for a vocalist. I thought it might be interesting to have Peter sing a song or two, he could do a really unique interpretation of “Sailor Boy,” or “The Perfect Pervert.” Over the years, Peter has offered to work with at least 5 people I know, but he was always busy and things never materialized. My expectations were very realistic. I just thought it was a cool idea. We talked and Peter said, “Sure send me something to listen to.” I sent him the album in progress; he called back and said he had met somebody and was living in Pennsylvania. “Yeah, I’d like to do something on the album, but can you wait? I’m going into rehab for a month, and I won’t be available until January. Here’s her phone number, if anything comes up and you need to get a message to me.” Of course I could wait, taking care of himself was more important than recording a song.
In January I called, and after a few false starts, we set up a time to record. He was going to drop by my studio in Brooklyn on a Saturday. The day came, I didn’t hear from Peter, then got the expected call. “Hey Sam, sorry about this. But I blew out the tranny on my car, it’s gonna cost me $300 to get it fixed man, I cannot make it today, maybe we can reschedule?”
A transmission doesn’t cost $300 to fix these days; I bet Peter has used this line since high school, when he needed to ditch somebody. You gotta laugh at life and move on. He had his reasons, it wasn’t mine to question them.
I never sent another CD to Mom’s. Peter didn’t call again. I never again heard that baritone “Hello Sam…” nor dreaded the scary reality that might follow.
As you can tell, I know little about Peter Steele and his life…. just how it intersected with mine. It is a pity that Peter is dead, but I think he has gone off to a better place. What I witnessed was a very sad story about a caring and talented guy whose demons got the best of him. Life turns out that way, sometimes.
A few years later The final part of this story is that a few years later I got a phone call. I think it was Peter’s sister, or maybe his ex? They said they were going through Peter’s CDs, and there was a copy of my solo-electronic release, Pod by As Lonely As Dave Bowman. Along with it was a note I wrote with my phone number. She called just to say Hi, and Peter had saved my CD from among the tons of things he received from people over the years. That was nice of them to call about.