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10.04.11 - on release of Medusazoa



Q: Can you tell us something of your introduction to music?   My upbringing brought huge amounts of musical influence. My parents were always playing music in the house. All kinds, classical, jazz, folk, early classic rock, show tunes/Broadway, standards...pretty much everything.
My mom was always playing piano: Chopin, Schumann, Mozart and the like. She forced piano lessons on me at the early age of 5. I hated it. Then at around 9 years old, I asked to take guitar lessons.
My mom was very encouraging and receptive to this as long as I learned it well, i.e. learning theory and such as well as how to play notes and chords. Then in Jr. High I took a music appreciation class. After one written "test" was handed in, my teacher immediately picked me out and asked me if I was willing to learn to play double stand up bass for the school orchestra.
I told him I had no idea how to begin to play such a behemoth of an instrument. His reply: "I think you'll learn it fast with no problem."
And so he handed me a beginners manuscript booklet, taught me some basics and let me go. I guess I did o.k. on my own after that, for later on I tried out for the districts Honor Orchestra and made it past the auditions to be chosen as one of only two bass players in that group.
From there, I took some music courses in college; jazz guitar, composition, harmony, more theory etc...
That is pretty much my intro to music.

  Q:  How did you find your way into ambient?   This also was kind of a long process.
After my long love affair with classical music, I got into progressive rock. I was listening to Yes, Genesis, Pink Floyd, Rush, King Crimson, and others like that. Mostly I was finding that in general, I was digging the long instrumental processes that these guys would go through. This was my first intro to other types of long form music besides classical. Then this led me to find Tangerine Dream, Steve Roach, Steve Reich, Patrick O'Hearn, Brian Eno and others like them. I was in music finders heaven at this time.
During this period I was starting to get serious about making money at music. I had always been a pretty good song writer, so I tried that for a while. I did the whole song arena pitching thing; mailing demos, honing the craft, joining ASCAP, learning the rules of the trade, trying to please others. I didn't like it, and thought maybe I wasn't really good enough at that "field" or "genre" anyway. So it was then that I tried my hand at the recording studio scene.
I got some more education for this, did an internship, and then started developing my own home studio. I had plans to work in a real 'commercial' facility.
Then I went through the whole, "do I really want to record other people's music all day and night?" thing. This and the fact that I was finding out that getting into this scene was difficult without a huge, long commute, and, that it is a field that doesn't really pay that well unless you're a standout place recording big name acts.
But during all this, learning how to record my own demos led me to another path. It's the one I'm still on and I haven't looked back. I decided to start making more instrumental music in my own studio.
Particularly, using sound in whatever way possible to make music out of it, and then record it, process it, manipulate it, do anything I wanted to it to make it what ever I wanted out of it. It was completely liberating to find a format that had no "rules", "formulas", "stipulations" or a "dogmatic chain of events" as music goes.
To me it meant expressing "pure" emotion.
I think I got a little beyond the question here.
Q:  With a considerable discography now in place - what would you say marks Dan Pound's unique place in the ambient music genre?   I suppose it's kind of unique, although some others are doing it and have been doing it, and that's the combining modern electronics and hardware with ancient ethnic instruments. There's something primal about pounding on a frame drum or dragging a rock across a slate to make a sound. Also, as I used to sing lyrics to my songs, now I sing from my heart's core, and the sounds that come out are much more pure than before. There are no actual words, but the feeling is there, and it's powerful. I guess you could call it chanting or something like that. Besides that, I suppose my music runs at a deep emotional level as well as being ambient and visual.

  Q: When you were first planning the Medusazoa album - what were the initial goals and concepts?  

I always have a relative theme of sorts for each album. Although there are no words, there is a definite story to be told with each track. in this case, it was the amazing qualities of the jelly fish that captured my attention, so I wanted to make music to accompany their movements and visual displays of magic, mystery and beauty. I felt that a typical new age sound was not what I was going for, but more of a sound collage with very non-melodic structures that would be hypnotic, a little dark, but still with that meditative quality.

Q:  How did you go about starting the project and how did it develop?  

I knew this time around I would be exploring and experimenting with my analog modular system more. I would use these sounds and structures to base each track upon. I felt that this type of layering would be fluid, motion filled and very visual. It's not your typical use of pads, string sounds and such, but much more organic sounding. Real life earth/oceanic sounds was what I was going for.

  Q:  Were there any specific techniques used that characterize Medusazoa?   Just that....using the modular as a catapult for each piece's development.

Q:  Can you tell us a bit about your studio set up?   My studio is named The Shed, and it really is that...a 120 sq.ft. shed that I had converted into a fully tuned and treated studio. There is no live room, tracking room, or anything separate. Everything is right there. I am surrounded by equipment. I use mostly hardware so there are a lot of pieces. Keyboards, outboard processors, mixers, samplers, guitars, the analog modular, lots of various shamanic percussion, my flute collection, a couple of didgeridoos, mics, and of course computers, and other noise making apparatuses.   Q:  You did all of your own artwork for Medusazoa - where did the pictures come from?   I took those at a popular aquarium exhibit. Then did some slight manipulation in Adobe's Photoshop program.

Q:  How do you find running your own label compares to working for others?

  I have always worked better on my own, under my own terms. I believe wholeheartedly in making your own goals and ambitions turn into something real and tangible.
To put in the time, work, sweat and what have you to make the outcome something lucrative is a very satisfying accomplishment. Especially when it's due to something you made and produced on your own in your own way.
No compromises. No limits. Just you and the creation.

  Q:  Do you have any other projects currently on the go?   Always. It's a project that is similar to Medusa, working title is "Cocoon".
It's very ambient and flowing but has some elements of electronica and techno as well, (at least so far).

Q:  What long term plans do you have musically?

  To continue to develop my studio and its contents. I have a Doepfer sequencer in mind. Also, to incorporate more guitar in my work.
As well I have been pondering a live performance and maybe hitting some festivals down the line.

Thanks to Dan Pound for allowing us that interview.