Tell us about ‘Boom chr Paige’?
I started out as a solo producer after winning a two year fight with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma at the beginning of the millennium. I’d migrated from “bandmate” to remixing other electronic acts pretty regularly and really wanted to start making my own sound. The more I wrote, the more textured I started making things, and that sound culminated into a soundscape unreleased album called “Luciferin” under the moniker Veev. I was seeking out a sound that was soulfully akin to feedback from the guitar as opposed to being icy cold and digital. I wanted to find a sound in electronic music that wasn’t sterile and calculated, but more breathing, slipping from perfection.
So after January of this year, with all the wild rides and quarantined times, I decided that it was time to collect my thoughts of recent events and shape that into a new soundscape of 13 tracks – which I’d call “Membranes.” I’d set rules for myself to capture an urgency with every track and very deliberately refrain from overthinking, just hit record and see what would happen.
What is your favorite work from your own catalogue so far?
“Above London” finished quite nicely in my honest opinion. I’m in love with the chords, as well as the 3D ambience and howling resonance. It does its job well of placing the listener in the seat of a plane circling above its destination. That track is very similar to the way I think of guitar feedback, where I’m trying to coax out new evolving tones with gentle physical changes in the controls.
I’m tempted to say I have a second favorite. Truthfully, I’m quite pleased with how everything turned out. I feel that I captured a character in every one of the tracks, and I dig that character in each.
What artists do you look up to?
The list can get numbing sometimes. My icons made noises you wouldn’t expect, treating their instruments outside of the boundary lines like guitarists Andy Summers, Paul Reynolds, and Kim Thayill. Each taught me to break the rules. I grew up with icons like Vangelis, Suzanne Cianni, cevin Key, and Kraftwerk in relation to synthesizers, this lot defining and redefining what electronic music should be.
What are some things to do to keep your creativity sharp?
Working quickly. I know it goes against best principles and practices in mixing and producing, but I feel like taking too much time in the studio can lead to the sterility of music. Sometimes mulling over an audio problem is necessary, maybe even worthwhile, but I really enjoy these digital tools to help facilitate getting what’s in the head and heart into other people’s ears and minds sooner than later.
Having a concept to fulfill is a great invigoration, even when it’s as thin as “I wanna write music for a vinyl record.” That helps me organize with a starting and, more importantly, an ending point. Never having to push the button for “complete” is very detrimental for me, and projects tend to fall off the radar.
Next is experimenting openly, being strong enough to go out on a limb. Taking chances and letting something rip is extremely healthy, and always making certain that the recorder is on when I do.
Lastly is minimizing time to allow for comparison to other acts. I do the most damage to my creativity when I saturate myself in comparison to something else. This especially goes for the more nebulous “perception” of other acts. So a great way to beat this out is to reconnect with musicians I know and just talk about ideas – get back to a human to human level with other artists versus getting sucked into putting musicians on pedestals.
Who are you binge listening to these days?
Stuff that has grabbed my attention recently is Royal Blood’s “Typhoons” and Plaid’s “Polymer.” These two are very bouncing, upbeat, forward vibe kinda music. I hadn’t heard of Royal Blood prior to this album – reminiscent of a peppier Muse stripping down to White Stripes’ modus operandi. Plaid has been on my radar for years, somewhere in that Future Sound of London hippie-esque space. Polymer for me really sounds organized and punchy.
Before the lock-downs, I’d usually blast Xilent’s “We Are Dust” back to back with CHVRCHES’ “Love Is Dead” on daily long drives from Maryland back to Pennsylvania. Both of those are very moody, which suited my headspace at that time.
Favorite movie or TV show?
For a long time, my two favorite movies were “There Will Be Blood” and “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.” Recently, I’ve become a big fan of Denis Villeneuve’s work, once I saw the movie “Sicario.” That movie’s glue hits when the lead character Kate (Emily Blunt) gets the low down from her boss (Victor Garber): “If your fear is operating out of bounds, I’m telling you that you’re not. The bounds have been moved.” It’s an amazing amount of story and depth in just a few words, nuanced glances, and drawn out moments of tension.
As for television, I don’t watch that much TV at all, but I do buy the Rick & Morty blu-rays when they come available. And I still enjoy the uncensored Hell’s Kitchen episodes.
Tell us about your latest release and how it came about
The quarantines during the pandemic put my mind into a space where I began to miss listening to an album end to end, versus just picking individual songs, or even just parts of songs. So I started thinking about records, and then wanting to write something specifically with a 2 sided record in mind. I didn’t want to focus on songs as much as I was fascinated with making textures and spaces. The goal going in was to collect 40 minutes of instrumentals that didn’t come across like a sound effects record or a horror movie soundtrack, but didn’t have any typical verse-chorus, verse-chorus kind of flow. Again, similar to the soundscapes I’d done on the Veev collection, I wanted less “pop” definition in these.
So I’d go into the studio with a raw concept of a visual in mind, something like “circular motion underwater” or “fabric dragged over a bed of nails” and then just go. I’d do everything possible to finish tracking and mixing the same night I’d started. The overarching theme was homing in on two separate days in the pandemic, one day in Spring when things were crazy, but still hopeful, and another day in Fall where hope and dream had faltered, and the fatigue of the pandemic was in full effect. These were organized into side A and side B for the record.
How do you feel about live music coming back and do you have any peculiar pre or post show rituals?
Ah, playing shows, can’t wait to do that again. Pre-show I am quite inclined to spend an hour with a cigar if it’s at all possible to give up that much time prior. I prefer not to drink before, try to keep to a lot of water prior and during. Afterwards, it’s all fair game.
What are your main goals for the future?
I definitely want to grow this sound and start refining the best way to present this in a live environment. My previous live shows are very compact: a laptop, a keyboard, sometimes drums, and I’ve really enjoyed having that DJ-like maneuverability, not to mention cost control. I’m talking to my visual arts friends to step things up a notch to imagine this as a more immersive experience.
Who inspires your style and aesthetics?
I tend to copy my style from that of ’40s / ’50s period looks, the “Mad Men” aesthetic. I also remember watching a sitcom as a kid where this Brit hardcore punk band were dressed up in full suits. While I didn’t want to thrash about any longer, I’d already had it in my head that thrashing about in a suit was perfectly acceptable behavior, so there’s always an out. The goal is 75% class, 25% iffy. Also, when dressed sharply, you are ready for anything. I grew up watching Duran Duran videos, so…
What is the achievement or moment in your career you are the most proud of and why?
I’m very present day focused, to be honest. Getting to a point where I can release this record under my own terms is actually a very exciting place for me, and it’s hard for me to discount that. I’ve enjoyed the successes I’ve had in the past, but I don’t like to spend too much time dwelling on or highlighting them. Every moment in the sun did end up with a burn afterward, so the present is a great space to celebrate.
If I were to thank my past self for an accomplishment, it would be getting over the fears that held me back on any given day.
What do you think is the best way to make it as an artist nowadays?
Believe in your goals for now, and be ready to stretch yourself further when the opportunities arise. Be honest with yourself – if you can’t envision it, don’t chase it, find another route. “Making it” means a lot of different things to different people, so define that clearly in your head and drive to that success. Be available, but do not be gullible. The wrong version of “making it” is when the expense of it far outweighs the income.
What would you change in the music and entertainment industry especially after this past year?
It isn’t just after this year, it’s just come more into focus in the past year, especially with Twitch & YouTube. The industry is still utilizing unproven mechanisms to still manage copyrights and it’s spinning out of control again. We’re at a place where a gamer can’t have their favorite music playing in the background without the record company crying “foul” and shutting people down. I can’t even imagine if every podcaster out there all of a sudden started getting cease and desist letters from record companies. Just half baked ideas that get out there in the wild and become a new normal.
It’s gonna be tough because the tech industry wants to be the great disrupter, while the music industry keeps holding the previous torch. Would love to see more synthesis between these industries.