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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Eraas Interview - Foreboding Percussive Synthscapes

"Black House" leads off Brooklyn band Eraas’ self-titled album with an under two-minute instrumental of sustained textures. The track starts out mysteriously pensive, but ultimately transforms to a more dark and foreboding mood. This unsettling feeling is a theme that runs throughout the whole album. Deeper tracks like "A Presence" use metallic klang and deep tom percussion counterpoints against atmospheric synths and guitars. Vocals are delivered in hushed cadences. The rise and ebb of percussive pulses and sustained sound washes create tension and anticipation. "At Heart" begins with (then reprises) mechanical clacks that sound like pumping oil rigs off in the distance. Rolling toms and a dominant bass line create a foundation for falsetto vocals over top. “Ghost” emerges by way of slow, distant buildup.


Sleigh bell percussion shakes over a pulsing, heartbeat pattern as guitars engage in call and response open note structures. Block piano chords and cave-dweller drumming sets the pace for “Skinning” as various sustained melodies weave in and around it. Vocals are more discernible, with the tandem falsetto paired against a lower pitched tenor. “Moon” serves as an ambient interlude into “Briar Path,” which comes on driven by a clearly defined bass progression. The descending vocal melody line in “Fang” pairs nicely against a commanding bass line, while shorter percussion enhanced tracks like the aforementioned “Moon” and “Crosscut” place emphasis on overall ambience.



* * * * *

Q: The sound quality of the entire recording makes for a wonderful headphone listening experience. What did you use to create the sonic textures on the opening track “Black House?” Was it a difficult, labored recording process? Or did the tracks and ideas come together relatively quickly?

A: Thanks. Yeah that track is actually some bits of viola, violin and cello and some other things mixed in. Wind chimes in a strong wind. I think the landscape from Days Of Heaven was in mind for that track. The recording process was fairly labored, though I don't want to sensationalize it as bands often do. Bands love to say "Making this record was a nightmare" or amp up the fact that it was really difficult. We love the process and won't release the result til we're happy with it. A lot of work went into writing and recording ERAAS, but it was quite rewarding actually. A lot of it was about discovery and chance. I think it's important to be as specific as one feels necessary in order to execute something to their intention, but it's also bad to get caught up in analyzing things too much. I feel that more than 50% of the time "first thought - best thought" applies.


Q: What inspires the design of a track like “A Presence?” Do you create it with cinematic thoughts in mind?

A: I think this song has a "repetition as a form of change" vibe in mind, though it's not too repetitive on the whole, more the bass and drums in it that are after that. It was created, as most of this album was, with as you put it "cinematic thoughts in mind" - I think music is really visual for us, so whenever we're working on stuff it's less focused on the machinations of the elements than it is on the overall mood that we're trying to create. When we make music we're really just focused on creating a mood.



Q: There is an impression given at points within your song"At Heart" that sound like oil rigs clanging off in the distance. While rolling tom tom percussion create a feeling not dissimilar to the seminal work of Kate Bush and her groundbreaking "Hounds of Love" album, in particular the track "Running Up That Hill." What is it about the mood created by atmospheric washes and rolling percussion that appeals to you? Do you feel this kind of listening experience creates a time shift in ones perception?

A: Interesting comment on the oil rigs, and arguably more interesting about Kate Bush. We did not have that in mind at all. I'm not really sure we were thinking about a time shift in one's perception. But I will say that the atmospheric washes as you described did inform the rest of the song. It was started by recording chimes on a tape recorder that weighs about 8 lbs - then recording the warbled playback of that through a mic and manipulating it. That set the tone for the song and we built the rest of it around that sample. Vocals were last.



Q: Your track “Ghost” evokes thoughts of spiritual forces that have been with humanity since the very beginning. Who or what are the ghosts that impact your life?

A: I guess memories, nostalgia, romanticizing the past as well as the future - and decidedly *not* romanticizing the past or the future. The song is actually more political/social than anything regarding the direct relationship one has with a ghost or ghosts from their past/present. The first line is "Down the stairs of broken hope while torches light the big wall.." - it resolves into a destructive force that comes to aid in an unjust situation.



Q: The lyrics for “Briar Path” emerge by way of high/low vocal tandem, contributing to a sense of mystery and wonder. It’s more likely that the “briar” referenced is less about tangled plantlife, but instead suggests a difficult place or problem - a prickly situation in life. Would this be a more accurate interpretation? What else can you tell us about this song?

A: For Briar Path the idea was about escape. Someone escaping something adverse to them - not necessarily a person or a force, but a situation. It addresses the idea of not living up to your peers, falling short of rites of passage that are often bullshit anyway, but still you feel a bit of pressure. Trying to sort that out. Or just falling short of one's own expectations, trying to understand why you keep turning up empty no matter how often you try to surpass it.



Q: A number of the shorter, percussion emphasized ambient tracks like “Moon” and “Crosscut” hearken back to Brian Eno ’s seminal recording “Another Green World.” Did that record, or any following that one (which may have been influenced by it) provide inspiration for you to choose this particular path of writing and recording?

A: I'm a pretty big Stars Of The Lid fan but actually Austin did "Moon" on his own. Of course Eno is arguably the pioneer of ambient music and I have great respect for him, but again I think that track is just about something visual, a mood. It's brief and acts as a sort of palette cleanse or moment to step out of things before "Briar Path" begins. Never thought of "Another Green World" in relationship to anything I've done. Perhaps something more like "Apollo: Atmospheres And Soundtracks" that Eno did with Roger Eno and Daniel Lanois . "Crosscut" is more influenced by contemporary electronic music. Simply acts as a hybrid of the drums in "Briar Path" and "Fang" that allows them to go together.

This interview appears in an edited form directly on The Deli Website here:

Blog:

http://nyc.thedelimagazine.com/node/12832

Published Interview Link:

http://www.thedelimagazine.com/band-interview.php?artist=eraas

What You Should Know:

Preferred band Website addresshttp://www.eraasgroup.com

Origins: The Bronx, and southwestern CT.

What it is: Dark, atmospheric, percussive, electronic.

For those who like: The Knife, Glass Ghost, Yvette

Relevant info: Eraas tours the U.S. in February and March supporting TRUST.
Dates can be found here: http://www.undertheradarmag.com/news/trust_announce_headline_tour




Equipment/Recording interview for Delicious Audio

- How much of your recording is done at home versus in the studio?

We do it all in our own space. Wouldn't call it a studio per se and the location changes.

- If you use a studio, what do you record there and what do you record by yourself and why?

We record everything on our own. We're not fond of the idea of someone else having an influence on production/mixing and thus in effect, the songs. We have to do everything ourselves. Not saying we would absolutely *never* work with a producer, but definitely not in the foreseeable future.

- What are the pieces of equipment that you find particularly inspiring when recording at home? 

I can't reveal this. We have some nice equipment and a lot of shitty equipment. We like spring reverb, tape recorders, drum machines. Typical stuff I guess, but we are into chance. Sometimes we use things very conventionally, often we don't, for better or for worse.

- What one piece of hardware/software would you most like to add to your recording setup (cost not an issue)? Why?

Not sure in terms of recording equipment. But I think we might add a bass VI one of these days. Because they sound beautiful.

- Do you expect your next record to be self-produced, or would you like to work with a producer? If it’s the latter, who would you most like to produce your band, and why?

Self produced.

- Do you use rack effects or guitar pedals to forge your own sound? If you do, please list the ones you use the most and let us know why you love them.

We don't use rack effects really. We do use guitar pedals. Unashamedly we use a decent amount of boss pedals. I guess people think that's uncool, but fuck, they're built like tanks. I've been using the same RV-3 for going on 14 years.

- Do you have a particular recording style that you aim for? What techniques do you employ to recreate it?

As I stated there's always an element of chance in our process. I think we just carry on til we have something we both like. We both know when it's done, or almost done.

- Who determines the direction and style of your recordings?

We both do.

- Is there a person outside the band that's been important in perfecting your recorded or live sound?

No.

-What other artists would you say have had the biggest influence in your approach to recording? Why?

Hip Hop. Home recordings of friends. *Some* classical music. Dub.

- Would you say that your live show informs your recording process or that your recording process informs your live show? Both? Neither?

Both. We're always changing our songs. We change them when we write them, when we record them, when we play them live. Sometimes we change the live songs a very long time after they've been recorded, or even a very long time after they've been changed in the live versions themselves. I mean months and years. We're often evaluating how they can be changed, improved, brought more in one direction or another. It just comes about like, "this section has always felt too long to me but I didn't realize till recently, can we try it this way or that?" etc

- Is there a piece of equipment that you find particularly useful on stage?

Not especially to be honest. We liked the SP404 for a while but we've scrapped it for now.

- With bands doing more of everything themselves these days (recording, performing, self-promoting, etc.) and the evermore multimedia nature of the world, how much effort do you put into the visual component of your band - fashion, styling, photography, graphic/web design, etc.? Do you do these things yourself or is there someone that the band works with?

We don't care about fashion. I'm not a flashy dresser, I wear the same things every day. Web design doesn't matter as much to me as it did 7 or 8 years ago. Maybe someday we'll have a big fancy page and all that but I think if you're listening to music in front of the internet it doesn't count for much anyway. I'd rather have people sit in a room and listen to our record front to back not being on the fucking facebook all the time. I realize that's not the way things are going, but still I'd rather not worry about some prestigious artful website right now. At least they can listen to it on a walk with headphones or something to that effect. As long as people can hear the music somewhere online and then if they want, take it elsewhere. However I do think album art is very important to contextualize things, obviously.

- What do you find to be the most challenging aspects of the recording process? On the flipside, what aspects are the most rewarding?

I think the most challenging was learning how to make something without thinking what anyone is gonna say about it. You should treat everything you do like it's your first project. Also treat everything you do like no one is going to hear it, you're just making it for yourself. You can be yourself that way, and take risks and go to places you wouldn't otherwise. If you're thinking about what people will think a lot of the time, you're not doing it right. Also if you're hinging on your influences too much, that's not a good way to be in either. I find the best things happen when I tune out my influences and let things come more naturally. Might sound pretentious but that's really the way I've made the material I'm most excited about, and that lasts the longest for me without reeking of influences or sounding unsure of itself. I think the challenge in recording/writing is finding your voice and staying true to it. Emulating your influences is not inspiration no matter how well you do it. It should be about taking different things that mean something to you (music and not music) and making something new with that.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Teen Interview - Psych Gospel Pop

Fresh from honing her craft as a member of Here We Go Magic, creative force Teeny Lieberson embarks on a more personal project with her sisters, the psych gospel project TEEN. There is a retro feel to their debut album “In Limbo,” with the initial example being the opening track “Better.” Buzzy brass synth beds and jammy melodic keyboard lines run throughout. The lyric “I’ll do it better than anybody else” is repeated in a chanting cadence that serves as a hypnotic mantra of confidence. Though synths dominate, it definitely is not “dance music” by any stretch, as the drum track is firmly rooted in the rock canon.


The spirit of 60s girl groups like the Shangri-Las run through an ambitious in length, over six minute sprawler simply called “Charlie.” Methodically paced and bordering on David Lynch/Julee Cruise hypnagogia, a surreal element hovers over it all. Another slow building epic-length track is the meditative "Roses & Wine." With a steady bass pulse providing anchor for hypnotic, swirling vocals to weave around, clever word-play emerges from the lyrical content. "I break for roses and wine- for just a little more time - for there to be sparrows where there are crows - for the nest to pull into the undertow," ultimately putting forth the universal question "will you be missed when you're gone?"

* * * * *

Q: What motivated you to choose the uniquely retro musical style for songs like “Better?” Can keyboard rock once again carve out its own meaningful niche in present times guitar dominated indie rock?

A: When I wrote that song I was listening to a ton of Neu! and Brian Eno. That's where the 'retro' part comes in, I suppose. I wanted for drum tracks to just go on and on. I was doubling synth over synth to get that really thick sound that happens a lot in Brian Eno recordings. At that time, I wasn't really playing guitar, but now I'm playing it exclusively. So hopefully keyboard and guitar rock can merge it's own powerful thing.



Q: Presenting universal themes that are easily related to can quickly endear artists to their listeners. Is this kind of personal revelation cathartic once recorded? Is there sometimes a point where a song becomes less about you personal, and exists simply as a literary theme?

A: Absolutely. I find as a songwriter, if it's too close to home, the song can lose some sort of imagination. I don't really like to talk about my personal life that much, so by creating a character, the music becomes more inspiring, more like a play. It morphs into something magical and less intellectual. A cartoon version of yourself.



Q: Many of the songs on this album are over five minutes in length, with more than a few well over six. Do you see any risks in putting tracks this long out there, especially in today’s quick soundbite driven environment?

A: You know, I didn't really consider it because I just wanted to do what felt natural. We were all listening to a lot of kraut and psych so having long songs didn't seem like a big deal. But people definitely have less patience for it now. I'm still not sure if we'll take that into consideration for our new music.


Q: Did you intend “Roses & Wine” as a declaration to make time for the good things in life? The song seems to evolve into an internal rumination on having an impact on the world, or at the very least - some else's life. Would that be an accurate interpretation? Any other thoughts on what you might expect a listener to take from this track?

A: Yea, that's pretty close! I wrote it while my father was very sick and practically immobile. All I wanted was for him to be able to experience simple things like talking a walk, eating a big meal. I would've done anything to help him achieve that. So I wrote this song as a sort of prayer.



Q: How was the experience of working with producer Sonic Boom on the tracks for In Limbo? Did he offer advice on how certain things should sound?

A: Pete's wonderful. We really had a great time working with him. He really took basic ideas and turned them into swirling space. When he came into the project, our songs were full of track on top of track. He eliminated about half of them immediately. He's also a master at lifting things off the ground, and by taking the drums out, or the lows out of the bass, he would achieve that "alien" sound. It was really exciting to watch him work and understand that simplicity is key.



Q: Do you perceive your sound as a new twist on what is part of the psych-rock genre? That is, with emphasis on floating layers of vocals, as opposed to extended instrumental guitar jams?

A: Yes I would. And I hope other people do too. Our vocals are key to our sound because they're used as another instrument, another texture. I rely on them as a writer to do things that a guitar or a keyboard could. But I wouldn't count out guitar jams in the future. We might have some coming.

This interview appears in an edited form in The Deli Magazine, Print Issue No. 33, which can be found here:

http://nyc.thedelimagazine.com/12385/deli-nyc-issue-33-people-get-read-high-high-babies-chrome-canyon-electronic-scene-nyc-more

And directly on The Deli Website here:

Http://www.thedelimagazine.com/band-interview.php?artist=teen

What you should know:

Preferred band Website address :
http://www.facebook.com/teentheband

Origins: Halifax, NS & Maplewood, NJ.

What it is: Psych + Gospel + Pop + Psych.

For those who like: Warpaint, Pond, Maroon 5

Relevant info: TEEN's debut LP, 'In Limbo' was released 8/28 on Carpark Records. Produced by Sonic Boom. Played shows with Ariel Pink, Dean Wareham and Santigold + toured with Hospitality. "Better" was #38 on Rolling Stone's 50 Best Songs of 2012


Equipment/Recording interview for Delicious Audio

- How much of your recording is done at home versus in the studio?

About half and half.

- If you use a studio, what do you record there and what do you record by yourself and why?

It's fun to record on your own because you have absolute control. It can get so much more experimental when it's just you. But going into the studio allows the sound to be that much bigger and that much better.

- What are the pieces of equipment that you find particularly inspiring when recording at home?

Tascam 424 Portastudio- 4 tracks just do things on their own accord, so you never know what you're gonna get. Sequential Circuits TOM- great drum machine... the sounds are wacky and tunable.

- What one piece of hardware/software would you most like to add to your recording setup (cost not an issue)? Why?

Anything that would make my vocals sound the best that they can. I still can't totally get them sounding as clear or beautiful as I want them too. Oh and a Korg MS-20 because it's my favorite synth ever.

- Do you expect your next record to be self-produced, or would you like to work with a producer? If it’s the latter, who would you most like to produce your band, and why?

Nah- we're gonna work with a producer I think...No more home sessions with the band. I'm really hoping to work with my friend Daniel Schlett at Strange Weather on some future music. He's super talented.

- Do you use rack effects or guitar pedals to forge your own sound? If you do, please list the ones you use the most and let us know why you love them.

Pete (Sonic Boom) used a Roland SDE 1000 on our vocals (I think that what the unit was) and it sounded great. And Space Echo always get the job done.

- Do you have a particular recording style that you aim for? What techniques do you employ to recreate it?

I approach things differently with different groups of people. When by myself, it's all spontaneous. I don't write anything beforehand. But with TEEN, we're trying to only track what we can play live, so that requires some rehearsing.



- Who determines the direction and style of your recordings?

Depends on who I'm working with!

- Is there a person outside the band that's been important in perfecting your recorded or live sound?

Sonic Boom.

-What other artists would you say have had the biggest influence in your approach to recording? Why?

The whole Here We Go Magic crew. I kind of learned everything I know from them. They taught me the value in improvisation, looseness. Nigel Godrich was amazing to work with because he wouldn't let you get too in your head. Mistakes can be happy.

- Would you say that your live show informs your recording process or that your recording process informs your live show? Both? Neither?

Both. I think they naturally influence one another.

- Is there a piece of equipment that you find particularly useful on stage?

Boss Metal Zone. Dirty and kinda cheesy.

- With bands doing more of everything themselves these days (recording, performing, self-promoting, etc.) and the evermore multimedia nature of the world, how much effort do you put into the visual component of your band - fashion, styling, photography, graphic/web design, etc.? Do you do these things yourself or is there someone that the band works with?

We've worked with a lot of people, all of whom have been amazing. Valerie Gnaedig + Annie Lenon (winsomebrave.com) did our website. Sam Fleischner + Megha Barnabas worked with us on the "Electric" video. Janis Vogel has done two videos for us now. I think the visual aspect can be equally as interesting as the music and we're always aiming for that. We've been very lucky to work with these amazing artists.

- What do you find to be the most challenging aspects of the recording process? On the flipside, what aspects are the most rewarding?

Self-criticism. Allowing things be loose. You don't want to lose spirit but it's so easy to get caught up in minutia. It's much better to let things be.... But when you get out of the heady struggle of mixing and you feel kind of proud, being able to share your music with your friends is the most rewarding.