How was this EP recorded?
These songs were all recorded using Ableton Live, an RME Fireface 400 Digital Audio Interface, and various combinations of hardware (synthesizers, drum machines, hand percussion, effects), and software (synthesizers, drum machines, samples, effects, and processing). I pretty consistently use a Korg Volca Keys these days, running through guitar effects pedals. I also often use a Novation K-Station. There is much larger cast of characters, though, that makes regular appearances.
Can you tell me about the idea behind it?
Alpha brain waves! Actually, these songs span about a 3-year period, which makes it a bit more complicated! Kimochi Sound was interested in my sound, and ended up choosing these from a number of songs I sent them. The songs do have their own stories, of course! These are some ideas behind the music: ‘8 Weeks In Wedding’ was recorded in December of 2014 in Berlin. I had come over from Tokyo that October with a laptop running Ableton Live, a Korg Volca Keys, a Novation K-Station, and a midi controller. For the first eight weeks in Berlin I lived in Wedding, and wrote 6 songs there using that setup. When my apartment situation suddenly turned into a nightmare, I ended up sharing a flat with my friend Pier Bucci. His place became something of a shelter in a storm. I wrote two more songs there using the same equipment. ‘8 Weeks In Wedding’ is one of them, inspired by the intensity of the first eight weeks in Berlin, and light at the end of the tunnel.
‘Bab Aylen’ was recorded in Berlin the middle of summer 2016 after a short trip to Marrakech in Morocco. We stayed in the southeastern part of the Medina near Bab Aylen – one of the gates into the city. Three days in Marrakech seemed much longer, and the beautiful house near Bab Aylen was our home there. Vivid colors, blue of the sky, dry heat in the sun and cool in the shade. The berber music we heard in Jemma-el-Fna market inspired some of the rhythms in this tune. I purchased several traditional Moroccan hand drums in Marrakech, and these feature prominently. I believe I used a Roland JX-3P on this, and a Roland SH-3A was definitely involved. ‘Windswept Penninsula’ was recorded in Tokyo in November of 2013 I believe. Earlier that year I had played an outdoor gig on the coast in Chiba, across the bay from Tokyo. It was February; cold, clear, and windy. Palm trees blowing in the vivid blue sky. Green-blue waves heaving and exploding on black rocks. An all-night dance party in a gigantic greenhouse. Back in the studio in Tokyo, I found myself gripped by the memories of this intense natural display of beauty and force with a dance soundtrack. Korg Volca Keys and Roland MC-303 form the backbone of the track. This was not intended, but I find myself listening to this song and being reminded of some of the progressive house nights at Womb in the early 2000s. ‘Sun Hides On A Sunny Day’ was written in Berlin in early spring 2016. Sun dodging in and out of clouds in the low northern European sky, but a chill in the air. Things hadn’t turned out the way they were supposed to have gone that day. And it had been a long dark winter. Put the headphones on, got into a couple big German bottles of beer, and the Novation K-Station took care of the rest. This one took about 2 hours to complete – just one of those times it all came together real quick! I don’t do all that many songs without beats, but this one was apparently just waiting to be written. It really glad that this one made it onto the EP!
What is your favorite piece of gear/software?
This is really an impossible question to answer you know, but if I had to get rid of every piece of hardware I own except one I would most likely keep the Novation K-Station. It was the first synthesizer I bought and I still love its low end, rave-like filters, and sweet arpeggiator. Having said that, I really get a lot of mileage out of the Volca Keys, and will always have a place for a Roland MC-303 in my studio. As far as software goes, I wouldn’t be able to do it without Ableton Live. Really getting into the PSP FETpressor compressor recently. And I use the PSP Echo quite a lot, too.
Who are your inspirations/influences?
Hmmm… wow. So many .. Synth-pop, Grateful Dead, post-punk, groups of people, individuals, street sounds, airports, cities, nature, places I’ve never been, love, colors, etc! Cabaret Voltaire for sure. Underworld! And too many talented dance music producers to list.
How was 2017 for you? Any highlights you could share?
2017 was pretty crazy! Started working for a store that sells gongs. Had several releases come out on my label Continental Drift Records, including an album and two vinyl EPs. Played in the forest outside of Chicago. Went to New York City for the first time and played a gig in Brooklyn. And now the release of Solitude on Kimochi Sound. It has been a super year!
What are you up to in 2018?
Playing live as much as possible! I’m working on an Asian tour for late summer and would like to make it over to Europe in the spring and perhaps autumn as well. Hoping to play NYC a few more times, and a trip to Chile may be in the works as well. I’m also planning to work more with acoustic guitars and world percussion – I have been considering this project for awhile and 2018 will be the year to do it. Cheers!