Archive for the ‘Artists’ Category
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On Tuesday, I sent the mixes of These fleeting moments to Howard, my mastering guy. That followed a weekend of driving myself a bit batty, finding small changes that seemed urgently necessary (“Is the first half of that word a db too loud? Could the drums go up .3 db in the instrumental section?”) It’s the sort of obsessive stuff that loops in my brain right at the end of the mix. But you know what? The album sounds amazing! So much good stuff, I cannot wait for the world to hear it.
The album has a May 5 deadline to meet the release date for the distributor. That means in the next few weeks I will shoot the cover photo and design the packaging. Next week, I will shoot a photo of Grace for the booklet. In 10 days I will shoot the cover photos (I am still searching for a location). Right after that, I fly to NYC to photograph Brian for the booklet. And I have to do the graphic design as well.
I just came in from the yard, and dusted myself off after making the first “modification” to the bass. I cut it open; next I will check if Mercy fits inside as is. I think I will need to do some work to make it wider, but maybe she’s petite enough?
As I was setting up the scraps for the third photo, I got a great idea for the top premium on the Kickstarter for the Deluxe CD. I’ll make a few Joseph Cornell Box-like boxes using pieces of the bass, outtake photographs, and other bits that fit the mood. That will be a fun thing to make for a few lucky backers!
Two weeks ago, I drove 600 miles into California to record with Mark Seelig. As mentioned to my Patreon patrons recently, Mark plays bansuri flutes on the Fleeting track “Meditations on the Skeleton.” R. Scot Johns commented, “I really like Mark’s flute, but would much prefer the track with no vocal…” Your wish is my command! The backstory on this track is a bit long, you can read the full blog at Patreon. The short version is that I am going to create a bonus album, an extended version of this track as an ambient/electronic journey. I will go into the studio to work with the tracks I recorded with Mark. Process, edit, texturize. My next studio project… Soon.
You might remember the Bike Shop vinyl EP that I Kickstarted back in September. Guess what! It’s almost finished. The plant says the vinyl will be pressed mid-April. OMG, vinyl takes forever! Sorry about this, but it’s been in slow-motion at the plant for a while. I’m ready to ship them, as soon as I have them in hand.
After I get These fleeting moments designed, I am going to launch the Kickstarter for the deluxe CD edition. I have interesting design ideas for the release, ideas are still spinning & forming in my head. Stay tuned for details. I hope you will support this release. It’s the first Black tape for a blue girl album in seven years, and it’s a great one! I am thrilled with Oscar Herrera’s return to the band. He says this is the best Blacktape album yet! I love hearing his voice in the music again; it was great creating these songs for him to sing! The album met my intention of sounding like it was born from the same place as the classic 90s Blacktape albums.
There’s a blog here from January, with links to videos of the band in the studio.
It’s going to be a busy two months, there is a lot for a Black Tape For A Blue Girl fan to look forward to! Thank you so much for your interest in my work, and your support.
I thought I’d share some of the visuals I’ve been looking at lately…
1 At the very top is a close up of Mark Seelig’s flutes. Starting below that on the left and then working clockwise…
2 The Bike Shop Vinyl test pressings. The 2nd set of test pressings. I’ve sent copies out to three of the Time Trial level supporters.
3 I dropped by Cascade and picked up some samples of the 12″ cover and insert for Bike Shop. Ooooooh, they look nice. Amber Shine on the cover is just about life size. You can’t do that on a CD! Read a short blog about it (with larger photo) on the Kickstarter Update page. Michael Plaster has signed copies of the cover, and mailed them to me for my signature (these are for the backers, but there will be some leftovers for sale on the Projekt site, after all the backer packages have been mailed.)
4 Paulo in Portugal purchased a copy of the Remnants of a deeper purity vinyl release. I prepared it, signed it, and shipped it off to him. There are still around 50 copies left. If you would like a signed copy for yourself, be sure to tell Joe when you order, and also message me.
5 I designed a 4″ Projekt beer coaster. It’s at the printer.
6 I sent in the 20th anniversary CD edition of Remnants. Yes, really. It’s 20 years this summer! Wow. It will be a 6-panel digipak with 2-CDs (digi design shown here), with a deluxe 16-page booklet, and also a 1-color sticker (see that image on Facebook). This package is super deluxe thanks to the backing I receive at Patreon.
Thanks for your interest, and taking the time to read this.
Stay tune for the Fleeting deluxe CD Kickstarter, launching in May.
Projekt’s first new release in a while on the darkwave side of the label is Beneath the Serene from Mercury’s Antennae. This is a perfect release for all fans of Projekt’s classic ethereal, shoegaze, dreampop sound. The duo of Erick and Dru are joined by bassist Cindy for a beautifully dynamic set of songs.
I’ll be talking about the album more in the coming weeks. Today, check out the printer’s proof of the ecoWallet. We expect to have the CD in hand early next week, then Joe will start shipping from Philly. You can stake your claim on one of the 300 copies with a pre-order at the introductory price of $12.
New Releases for FebruarySteve Roach: Emotions Revealed CD or download A delayed transmission from the early 80s. These lost tracks created just prior to the Structures from Silence era represent two then-emerging sides of Steve’s artistic muse. Erik Wøllo: Visions CD or download This remastered $7 budget-priced collection brings together 8 standout tracks from the 12 Projekt releases by this renowned Norwegian electronic artist. Visionsinvites you into an hour of the impressive and kinetic music of Erik Wollo. Steve Roach: Live In Tucson – Pinnacle Moments CD or download Limited edition of 300. Recorded February 14th, 2015 at Tucson’s Solar Culture Galactic Center. The flow of energy this music holds offers an empowering way to ride an emotional soundwave into the present moment.
I was in the studio this weekend recording vocals with Oscar & Dani Herrera for the upcoming Black Tape For A Blue Girl album, These fleeting moments. As you might know, Oscar was the band’s original vocalist from 1986-1999, performing on the first 7 of our 10 studio albums. Oscar sings eight songs on These fleeting moments. Dani – his daughter – sings three; Dani was not even a year old when vocals were laid down for our The Rope debut 30 years ago.
This was our second weekend of recording, after a session back in August. I’m excited! The vocals are all done, and they sound amazing. In fact, the entire recording for the album might be finished! I have to do some more rough mixes, and listen through and see if there’s anything else I’d like to add. But yeah, I think it might be done. Wow! The album will have a Kickstarter campaign and then a release in mid-2016.
This time I shot some video in the studio of Oscar and Dani. I made one minute clips for you:I’m limitless
Read more about this track on my Patreon postOne promised love She’s gone The vastness of life
The recording of this album is supported by the patrons at patreon.com/Blacktapeforabluegirl
Do you know that there’s a lot of people who didn’t realize that Black Tape For A Blue Girl is still making music. I often get Facebook friend requests with a message like, “Wow! It was so cool to find you here. I used to listen to your music in college, nice to see you’re still active.” If you could help spread the word, that would be great!
Previous statement:Oscar Herrera returns to Black Tape For A Blue Girl
Sixteen years after he last sang with the band, original Blacktape vocalist Oscar Herrera is back in the studio with Sam Rosenthal recording These Fleeting Moments. This is more than just a nostalgic one-song appearance — Oscar sings eight songs on the new album. Complementing Oscar is his daughter Dani who sings three songs; she was not even a year old when vocals were laid down for the band’s The Rope debut 30 years ago. Here is a video with an excerpt from one of the new tracks, “The vastness of life,” followed by the duo on Sam’s couch performing the 1989 Blacktape song “Through sky blue rooms.” Recorded in August of 2015, it’s all the more poignant because of the Bowie magazine cover playfully propped up to watch over them. Oscar and Dani return to Portland in late January to record the remaining vocals on These Fleeting Moments. Sam’s lyrics emotionally confront an awareness of time’s passage, questioning where we are in life and love. The album of all new material will be Kickstarted and then released in the spring.
< Forrest Fang: The Sleepwalker’s Ocean (2-CD)
Listen to two unreleased songs on Forrest’s Soundcloud page.
Forrest talks about the pieces: I’d like to share these two recent pieces with my listeners as a thank you. The first piece, “Chimera,” is an outtake from my recordings for the Projekt release, The Sleepwalker’s Ocean. I left it off the album only because it didn’t seem to fit anywhere. The piece has elements that were composed at different times and were blended together much later. The second piece, “Arrow,” is a short experimental piece I recorded recently just for fun. It incorporates two instruments that date back to my childhood: a drum with a cardboard frame that my father helped me make in Indian Guides and a pair of maracas given to my family by a visiting exchange student. I’ve included a picture of them.
The Sleepwalker’s Ocean is a hypnotic deep-ambient exploration through the fantastical, elusive realm of the subconscious. Disc 2 is a first for Fang: a 54-minute electronic landscape that explores an interior world of elusive and impressionistic thoughts and images. Embracing the American minimalists and ambient soundscape artists, Fang blends electronics with acoustic instruments within a framework influenced by traditional Asian music.
Limited edition of 300
A review from Eurock.com Forrest Fang – The Sleepwalkers Ocean Forrest Fang is one of my 35-year long musical heroes. As a student at university, in 1980 he brought me a copy of his very first album composing experiment, Music from the Blackboard Jungle. Since then he has had a career outside the music industry while continuing to peruse his musical dreams releasing a total of 13 albums to date.
His brand new double album is entitled The Sleepwalker’s Ocean, a masterpiece of sonic architecture that combines the deep ebb and flow of electronic earth tones with swirling jet stream sound currents and free-floating celestial melodies. Forest creates intricate sonic textures and timbers using synth/ keyboards & guitar intertwined with exotica – Mandolin/ Marxolin/Saron/Lavta & Cántaro.
The album’s extended five-part title track and the whole of disc two entitled “An Alternate Ocean (The Salton Sea)” contain music that transcends any genre while transporting you to another time and place.
Fifteen years post-millennium we are plunging headlong into the era of diminishing returns. Music production is fast becoming simply a ghost in the machine. You can still buy CDs, but have to pay again to play and promote it on radio. The digital domain has destroyed the spirit of humanity in producing music while filling the coffers of the Tech gods.
The few sacred stores still surviving recycle old musical artifacts and detritus from the present. Fortunately, artists like Forrest Fang have continued their path for decades defying the continuing shift of the zeitgeist making music for art’s sake, stimulating the senses and fortifying the soul. “If music be the food of love, then play on.”
January webstore top-5 Forrest Fang: The Sleepwalker’s Ocean (2-CD) Steve Roach: Emotions Revealed (CD) Klaus Schulze & Pete Namlook: Dark Side Of The Moog Vol. 1-4 (5CD Box) (Pre-Order, Mid-Feb) Steve Roach: Vortex 2-Pack Forrest Fang: Phantoms (CD) – 70% Off
Forrest Fang’s The Sleepwalker’s Ocean (2-CD) is the #1 seller (of the past 30 days) in the Projekt webstore. This very cool hypnotic deep-ambient exploration CD is limited to 300 physical copies. It’s also available for download at Bandcamp.
kjb wrote “OK, I took the bait. The list of instruments on The Sleepwalker’s Ocean ranged from typical to Mediterranean-like names, but I had to look up what a Marxolin is. Great thing about Projekt music is all the literary references and oddities contained therein.”
I asked Forrest to tell us more about the Marxolin:
The Marxolin is anan instrument which appears occasionally on my albums, including my latest one, “The Sleepwalker’s Ocean.” The Marxolin was a zither-like folk instrument created in the early 20th Century by inventor Henry Marx, and was manufactured through his company, The Marxochime Colony, in Troy, Michigan. The instrument was marketed to farmers by travelling salesmen who trumpeted its ease of use, but I find it hard to imagine that anyone had an easy time playing them. Ideally, the chords are to be played with little hammers while a bow plays the melody on individual strings. Not easy to do, as I have found. I’ve always had a weakness for unusual musical instruments, beginning with a plastic hose from a vacuum cleaner I had while in college. I picked up my Marxolin when an online retailer was liquidating the few instruments remaining in the Marxochime warehouse. Above is a picture of it on my living room floor. Mine was probably a late model. You can hear me play the hammers from the Marxolin on “Gone To Ground” from the new album. Thanks for your interest.
The Sleepwalker’s Ocean is a hypnotic deep-ambient exploration through the fantastical, elusive realm of the subconscious. Disc 2 is a first for Fang: a 54-minute electronic landscape that explores an interior world of elusive and impressionistic thoughts and images. Embracing the American minimalists and ambient soundscape artists, Fang blends electronics with acoustic instruments within a framework influenced by traditional Asian music. Purchase a copy today.
The following was part of the post the weekend of January 8th. The promotion has ended. Thanks to the 600 people who downloaded.
One of the fun things about running Projekt Records is introducing people to great music; hearing is believing! With that in mind, through Sunday evening I’ve made Forrest’s 2000 release, Gongland, a name-your-price download. Gongland was his first CD on Projekt (though he released 7 albums before it); you should hear it.
Download this weekend at Bandcamp.
“On Gongland, Fang produces soundscapes suffused with peace and a sense of floating and drifting beauty that are wondrous to explore.” – Alternate Music Press (Ben Kettlewell)
Download Gongland for $7 at Bandcamp.
A few days ago on a post at the Black Tape For A Blue Girl Patreon, I replied: In “Absolute zero” he knows its hopeless and yet he’s still hopeful. In “Cabin” he’s resigned. In “Vega” he’s resigned. And in “She’s Gone” he’s sort of reached the point of, “Oh fuck it! I’m just going to move on and try again…”
Kervin Brungardt commented: I heartily approve of the story arc and stages in attitude in Bike Shop. It happens that way so often and you have captured the emotional landscape so well. Trivia – Dennis Hopper grew up in Dodge City, KS 80 miles 18 years from where I grew up. Always proud of a fellow High Plains person.
And here’s my reply.
Hey Kervin… Dennis is is a home town boy. How cool! Here’s how the idea came to me to include him in the song.
Usually I spend time listening to the music track as I craft words into lyrics. But “The Cabin” and “Vega” were written a bit differently. I had the music recorded, and I wrote some words (first half of photo above) that I thought fit the mood. Nothing polished, just source material for the song. I brought that sheet into the studio and began recording guide melodies over the music. Shaping them into lines that fit the lengths of the lines.
That was verse one. Now what? When I look at that sheet of paper, I see I thought, “What happens next? Oh! Why doesn’t Dennis Hopper show up to give Mike’s character some dating advice!”
“Seems legit!” as my son would say. : )
But why Dennis Hopper?
I was listening to a lot of early Neil Young when writing the tracks for Bike Shop. In “Pocahontas” (from Rust Never Sleeps – 1979 – actually not so early of an album) Neil sings, “And maybe Marlon Brando will be there by the fire; We’ll sit and talk of Hollywood and the good things there for hire.” That line has been in my mind for over 35 years…. so heading into the 2nd verse, I blurted out (as you can see above), “and maybe a young dennis hopper would sit with us here by the fire, laughing and saying, “man, what are you talking about…” (if you’ve ever seen a Hopper interview on Letterman, you know how he loved to laugh and say “man”) and then I continued, “you’re not gonna deny her, your still caught up i desire…” I just started writing out a string of sentences that rhymed with “fire” to get to the joke at the end of the verse.
Later, I reread the words to “Pocahontas” and made a small change to the first line to make it more similar…
and maybe a young dennis hopper, would be there by the fire, sayin’, “man you can’t deny her, you’re still caught up in desire, get her on that ole’ telephone wire, and do what it takes. don’t let your love expire, you’ve gotta go out on the high wire, let your passion burn like fire.” It’s a bunch of somewhat cliche advice that you might hear from a friend, as you’re thinking, “Naw. Nope. Not gonna happen. Way too late.”
Thus the song ends with:
dennis loved to speak in words that rhymed, but i can’t see that they apply to me so i don’t think i’ll go back to that cabin anymore.
And yes, there is a cabin. And I’ve since visited again. I dusted myself off and tried again.
Have I ever mention to you that artists are a crazy lot? We can get obsessed over a trivial detail which – quite frankly – nobody in the world will ever even notice. And if they did hear it, they wouldn’t call it a “problem.”
Two weeks ago, Josh mastered the four tracks for the “Bike Shop” vinyl ep. They sound great; very “live” and present. However, the first verse of “The Cabin” seemed too loud to me, and not compressed well. This wasn’t Josh’s fault, it happened in my mix, and then was accentuated by the EQ and compression in the mastering. Gotta fix it!
I sent Josh a new mix of the track, to compensate. Guess what!?! On the version 2 mastering the vocals in the first verse sound very consistent (as far as the volume from word to word), but they all sounds a bit too soft.
Yeah, right! Probably half a Db too soft. Anyone going to notice?
Now I am going to try Josh’s patience by suggesting an EQ fix to the problem.
In “She’s Gone” I wrote, “Love’s a lot like insanity anyway.” Well, hey. Being a musician is a lot like insanity, too. : )
I found a model that I think would look great on the cover. I’ve sent her a message, but no answer yet. I made a mock-up of the cover, but I have to hear back from her before I can share it.
Things are moving along…
We’ve gotten an enthusiastic response to our free downloads. It’s a chance to check out a Projekt album from the catalog that you might not have heard — or one you have on CD that you’re too busy to rip in. Either way! Here’s another great album for you.
Grab your copy, tell friends, spread the word on Facebook and Twitter…
Through Sunday evening (Nov 15), download Lovesliescrushing‘s Voirshn for free on Bandcamp If you want to leave a little donation, that’s cool, but not required.
And if you like Physical Objects, you can buy the CD for $10 at the Projekt webstore.
2002’s Voirshn is a synthesis of processed ambient gloss and lo-fi grit, creating a digital-analog hybrid that Scott terms ‘glitch-bliss’. Songs were compiled from a palette of sonorities extrapolated from a collection of voice and guitars, warped into rumbling subsonics, staticblast hiss, hazy chord clusters, extended infinite tone loops, melody spirals, avian-like whistles, glistening overtones, voices cut-up into splintered fragments, thoughtforms suspended over warm tonesheets like a ghost cloud, indistinct and luminous.
All Music Guide: Nearly ten years on from the spectacular Bloweyelashwish debut, Cortez and singer Melissa Arpin-Henry show once more that the particular magic of the duo is ever present. Cortez has more technical toys to play with this time out, but the basic principle of four-track bedroom recordings translated into stunning post-shoegaze remains. If there’s a bit less of a rough edge on many of the songs, it’s only because Cortez has gotten ever more detailed with the sound.
We collected questions from followers on the Steve Roach Facebook page. Here are Steve’s answers:
David DeWolf: Steve, what inspires you the most in creating sounds? Thank you for the endless beauty within your music!
Steve: Creating sounds from a blank slate is like mixing your own colors to paint with; there is a kind of blending of many senses during this process. The sensual nature of hearing and feeling sound is vital in this, and it’s what defines an artist’s “voice.” The pathways into one’s perception as these sounds are developed over time is an experience I crave on a daily basis. The inspirations come from living life itself with a curious mind, from the subtle points of awareness that can’t be described with words. The same feeling I receive when discovering a new place out in nature for example. The sound carving impulses are also certainly drawn from the larger more dynamic episodes of the day to day as well. In most cases the creation of the sounds comes first, then the music emerges.
Louie Bourland: Steve, it was your music that introduced me to the sounds of the didgeridoo. Can you please share how you first came in contact with the didgeridoo? Also, what advice or tips do you have for musicians that are just learning how to play the didgeridoo?
Steve: I first heard the didgeridoo in the movie the Last Wave in the late 70′s. Immediately the sound spoke to to me the same way certain organic synth drones did in those days.
Eventually I started on the early ideas that would become Dreamtime Return. As fate would have it, I was reading more on aboriginal culture and working on the music when a filmmaker heard my music and contacted me to score a documentary on the Aboriginal Rock painting art of the Australian Aborigines of Cape York. The very book I was reading was part of what the film was drawing from.
Soon I was traveling to Australia to experience all this firsthand with a expedition into the deep of the outback and the sacred sites that few westerners had ever seen. During the adventure I met Aboriginal Didg player David Hudson as part of the music/dance group he led in Cairns. This meeting was pivotal for me and the didgeridoo infusion. In the late 80s, I recorded David’s Wollunda. At that time there were no CDs of solo didgerdoo music anywhere on the planet that we could find, Wollunda was the first. I had to convince the owner of the record company there there was audience for this.
Eventually I learned to play from him. As for new players and ways to learn, there has to be a lot of youtube demos. Back then, I was giving day-long workshops on how to play.
Also for learning, playing along with didg albums is a great way to entrain the brain to circular breath. I continue to use the didg in various modes morphed and blended with the electronics and play it for fun and health benefits – deep breathing!
David Leavitt: Steve, what similarities do you see or feel between mountain biking and the process of making music? : )
Steve: David! Yes we have had some great rides in the outback of Tucson. The movement of the rotating mass is highly psychoactive for me, and it’s been fueling the music for years. I have been riding mountain bikes since the mid 80′s; this is great way to get out there and – at the same time – deeper in there. With the kind of mountain bike rides I do, the power breathing, cardio and brain functions are all working towards a sweet spot of what I like to call the endorphin dreamtime, otherwise known as the zone. I access a lot of insights and just pure raw emotion, unassigned joy, and body ecstasy from this state. It feeds the creative fire immensely and might help me to live a bit longer too.
Jamie Blackman: What was Jorge Reyes like, not so much as a collaborator, but as a person? He received practically no English-language media coverage, so I’ve never even read an interview with him. Anything you could say would be awesome.
Steve: Jorge was a man of the world. He spoke 5 languages and was quite well versed in many areas from an intellectual dimension and into the shamanic realm he lived so fully within.
There was a certain wild feeling in him as well. I could feel this when he was staying at my house; wild like maybe a kind of animal – a wolf-like feeling.
He was also gentle and had a warm open heart; and then we would go to these places together in the music that were just off the chart – dark and confronting.
His concert with me in Tucson was his first real U.S. appearance. We were planning more, and I know if he was still here he would be much more known in the states now.
He was very well-known in Mexico; he was on TV and played large concerts for thousands on a regular basis. We did some of those together in the 90′s, and these remain the largest audiences I have played for.
Also his presence in Europe was strong. Lots of interviews occurred in Germany, Netherlands, and Spain. He played constantly over there. That’s were we met.
Philippe Jeudi: Almost no musician today has interest for multichannel engineering, although technology for both recording and music playing are more available than ever. Even the companies who promote these technologies have no interest in native multichannel music. Pioneers like Edgar Varèse in the 1950′s would probably have enjoyed it. Is it something you would like to experience for your music?
Steve: While I feel my music is suited for this kind of application I don’t feel the demand is there to support the overall investment this would involve. Or maybe there’s a multichannel world out there I am not aware of. I am just not able to go out on a plank to find out.
Tim Preston: I want to know if Steve would consider coming to the UK or Europe in the near future.
Steve: I played in Europe over the course of 12 years up through 2003. These days I am keeping the travel here in the US. That can change if the right situation appeared with the proper support to make it happen. It’s a complex matter to air travel my gear these days, after 9/11. We will see.
For the time being, my US concerts will continue to be the destination if people want to see me live.
Robert Millsop: Steve, what might you have to say about your experience(s) working with the late Jorge Reyes? I’ve been specifically fascinated with the Forgotten Gods album and how that came about.
Steve: I will add to the part about Jorge above. We met at a festival on the Canary Islands in the early 90′s. Guitarist Suso Saiz was also at this event. The concert was in a volcanic lava cave made into a theater. I would say this set the tone for our entire run as a group and our duo collaborations, playing in locations that feed our process.
We were asked of do a set together and afterwards the connection grew. Some more concerts in Mexico occurred, and we made plans to create an album together at my house in Tucson.
At that time Linda and I had just moved to Tucson so the Timeroom was in the master bedroom of the house. This is where the entire Forgotten Gods album was recorded and mixed over a week’s time.
The album was built in a live mode; we would play and compose through improvisation, and then record live to capture the feeling, adding the final brush strokes in the end. We completed Forgotten Gods in a few days; as soon as it was finished John Diliberto flew in to record a living room concert in our house for the Echoes radio show. We just moved the gear from the studio to the living room, set up and with about 15 friends around – and John recording the music – we performed what we had just created the week before.
We went on to do a tour in Europe and recorded Earth Island in Madrid, Spain, and Osnabruck, Germany.
Philip Thompson: What was the last CD you played in your car?
Steve: Alive In the Vortex – my new release coming in December. I was listening to a test master on the way to the airport for the Philly concert.
Before that the Jimmy Page remastered Led Zeppelin 3.
Parrish S. Knight: How is something like “See Things” scored? It’s hard to see how you could create sheet music for it.
Steve: All of my music is created the way a painter works: starting with blank canvas of silence or no sound and then letting the first impulse be revealed…
From there the interactive process unfolds in the way which I think any creative act evolves as you focus on your intentions, or just going with the flow of no exceptions.
George Martindell: Hi Steve. Being someone who prefers composing and creating music at night, my question to you is this: do you find yourself recording and composing your extraodionary music more so during the night, or in the day hours? Thank you.
Steve: Indeed the more womb-like pieces are often created in the deeper hours, but many are often made at high noon. If it’s an ongoing piece that involves lots of tracks and arrangements, I might work on these throughout day into night. But I would say the initial birthing is more nocturnal for the pieces that have night feeling. I also really love to work on sounds and explore first thing in the early AM. Wake up, cup of coffee and meditate to the carving up of sounds or playing and working on music before the day gets started.
It’s a great way to merge into the day and sometimes before you know it something lights up a small spark from a sound and this could become a larger piece that keeps drawing me to it.
Tweedel Dee: How many licks does it take to get the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop out of your kid’s hair the night before school picture day?
Steve: This seems obvious. The best workaround is to use scissors.
Amay Progrez: A lot of your albums have the spiral shape. What is the significance of the spiral shape, or is there something about the shape that appeals to you?
Steve: The spiral is a visual metaphor for my work on many levels and the unbroken connection of this creative life I live. I always sense a through-line of life when I see this shappe. From the center outwards, or into the center, it’s a visual form I receive energy and grounding from. Also with its presence in the different cultures and ancient rock and cave art and throughout the world, there is the powerful universal imprint contained in this form.
Witek Borkowski: How much of an influence did Jean Michel Jarre have on your music?
Steve: In the early days I listened to his classics always looking to learn and see how people were creating music with the emerging technology.
I can’t say there was big influence but a strong appreciation.
That live performance DVD from a few years ago of him with the group playing Oxygene was pretty amazing.
Rod Smith: What was the set list for your recent show at St. Mary’s Church in Philly? It was one of the best shows I have ever seen?
Steve: Thank you. The set you experienced had, along with some of the familiar themes, a lot of material that was being created on the spot never to happen again.
In this list “new” means it was created in the moment as you were hearing it.
Opening the Space – the piece out front on the solo synth. – new A Majestic Void – new Endorphin Dreamtime Flow State – new Primal Portal – new Looking for Safety Kairos Portal Vortex Immersion Zone Going Gone Melting Gone – new Spiral live part 1 – new Spiral live part 2 – new The Way-back Machine – new Its All Connected This Delicate Life – new Today Structures From Silence – Epilogue version
Jonathan Graham: A two-part question. A: What piece of equipment or instrument (digital, analogue, acoustic or otherwise) have you had the longest and still use? B: the most recent one?
Steve: The Oberheim Xpander-Matrix 12 and the the Oberheim OB8 are the elder analogs. The DSI Prophet 8 and 12 are the recent current synths to join the studio.
The DSI has the deep matrix patching and feels connected to the Oberheim Matrix 12 and Xpander in terms of the intuitive flow, sound exploring options and build quality.
New synths always pass an initial test of my personal needs to get installed in the studio. From there it can still be a few months of working with them to see if they are in for the long run.
Emil Karlsson: Hi Steve, I’m pretty sure I’m one of your fewer younger listeners here, but an avid one all the same. I was just really curious about when you have an idea for a new project, do you do any kind of planning beforehand like many artists/composers? Do you draw out a “map” when you set out, in a figurative sense, or do you simply allow the music and soundworlds to evolve, thus taking on a form of their own in a “spur of the moment” fashion as you work on them in the Timeroom? I hope this isn’t too broad of a question, since it’s really for any of your projects, though if there’s one you’d like to talk about in particular. I’m all ears, and it would be very insightful indeed.
Steve: Great to know you’re listening and curious. Some projects can take months or years to take seed and start to grow, they can live either in the realm of thought before action. Some pieces are created over time that start to reveal a the bigger picture. With Skeleton Keys the desire to create these pure analog-based mandala-like pieces came before the music. As it started to build, it felt like pulling a cord off of a spool, unrolling a connected and highly electrified current. Once you start this kind of connected feeling, the pieces build an energy with a pull that won’t let go.
In this case it was created all live in the studio. Other pieces like Bloodmoon Rising are created in layers and offer the opportunity to listen and work on over time, like a painting on an easel.
This is where the times of day, the magic hour at the end of the day and the light changes in the studio and in the view I have, the deep hours of the night, all inform the process of working on the piece.
Kim Lynn Blackhurst: what is the most favorite piece or composition that you have done and how does it differentiate from your other compositions?
Steve: It’s nearly impossible to choose any one piece. Something like Dreamtime Return has some very deep memories infused into it. Going to Australia as part of the creation of the music, and that time frame over all. There was so much opening up within myself and in the world around this music at that time. Each recording has this kind of imprint of the life I am living at the time infused into the music; even if it’s not something a listener will ever be aware of, it’s there and I can hear it and feel it years later. It might be a subtle awareness that is recalled when I hear the piece or a reconnection to one of those Ah-ha moments.
Johnathan Woodson: Would you ever consider reissuing Structures From Silence on vinyl?
Steve: There is talk of it now with a few people maybe for next year.
Next up on vinyl is NOW, my first release. This will include a unreleased 23 minute-piece from that era. I should have this in November.
Robert Logan: Hi Steve! How did you get such a great sound in the live acoustic percussion recordings on your ‘tribal’ releases – particularly on something like Trance Spirits? (Sorry for such an engineery question . . . But it’s all part of the depths of feeling in the music!)
Steve: The acoustic percussion was recorded in a studio with a collection of great microphones by Jeff Fayman. It was recorded with a few percussionists all locked in together, and that energy is captured in the tracks and processed and enhanced the final tracks and built the pieces on these foundations.
Patrick Van de Ven: Steve, while listening to your more sequencer-approached music, I’ve often wondered if you’ve ever played with/considered odd time-measures like 7/8 or 9/8. A good example of a 9/8 sequence part is in Kit Watkins’ “The Impulse of Flow”.
Steve: I always go with a feeling that sits in the body and mind when carving out these sequencer pieces. I often use different length sequences set against each other. That’s a big part of the beauty of this style of music: the way the patterns interlock and then cycle around and back into phase. I tend to go for a feeling in sequence music that hits a kind of sweet spot, where it grooves and hits you at that body pulse place, so really the groove element is essential in this music for me. There is an infinite calculation of options to what you’re talking about, and we all have a different take on it. Speaking of Kt Watkins, one of my favorite pieces in the style you mention is from his group Happy The Man and the song “Service With A Smile,” great track!
Maarten van Valen: Are there any artists who you would like to collaborate with which would draw you out of your comfort zone?
Steve: I would like to combine my comfort zone with Jon Hassell’s to tell you the truth. I know Jon a bit and was in contact with him back in the late 80′s when he first moved to LA.
Right now I have so many ideas in my own universe I am consumed with, I am mostly focused on my solo work.
I do have a wicked collaboration coming with a young electronic artist based in London. His name is Robert Logan, you can find his music online. We have been working on tracks for a few years along side all the other work. It’s very kinetic and the generational difference is creating a nice melting pot. He is in his 20′s and brings a different perspective on things. At the same the time, he was drawn to a lot of my music both in the deep ambient and pieces like Body Electric, listened to a lot of this in his formative years. He has a brilliant feeling for creating the full range of this music, talented and musically wise beyond his years. 2016 will see the release of our album BioMass.
Thomas Lowther: Not sure if anyone asked this yet. How do you come up with your track titles?
Steve: Sometimes the titles emerge first, and I will live with them for long time before any music is made for that set of words or title. They gather an atmosphere and energy and work like keys to a place that help visualize the music. Other times when the piece comes first, the hours of living with the music will reveal the title or set phrases or words that are born from the essence of the piece. It’s a ongoing mysterious process.
Andy Barbara Dent: Does the desert remain a mainspring of inspiration?
Steve: The desert remains my soul tone zone from which I can return to for recalibration and renewal. At least 3 days a week I venture out into my local outback areas and never take it for granted.
Blair Harrington: Hi, you were the only person I’ve ever listened to that has the ability to to create three dimensional music. I would like to know how you created this. How can you make it sound like you’re playing in a canyon or landscape? Your subtle, very quiet and distant echoes of some of the sounds actually create the landscape around you as you shut your eyes and listen to it.
Steve: Thank you Blair, there is no easy answer as to how this happens. I think the complexities of being human are what defines the soul of an artist. It’s the way of an artist to apply this understanding to the process of creating and pushing the boundaries of one’s self. Indeed I use a lot of modern tools to make this music now; but even 30 years ago — when the tools I used were considered modern and are now vintage — the feeling and desire to make these spaces transcends the technology at hand. In this way I see something that plugs into the wall for power the same as elemental instruments made of wood, clay, stone, or metal; they are all working together to create the expansive, transcendent picture. I am driven to keep reaching for the inexplicable and bring it into form.