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MORPHEUS MUSIC INTERVIEW - DON PEYOTE

18.01.13 - On release of Heaven and Earth

 
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Q: What would you say has shaped your musical life since the release of Eternal Now and Peyote Dreaming? What has been going on for you?  

After Eternal now came out I had plans to do a follow up to Peyote dreaming, but as I was about to get started, I got offered to work on soundtrack mix and composition for a friend’s short films and animation projects. So Don Peyote was placed on the back burner for a while, then in 2010 I got asked to produce and arrange Japanese Artist Yuiko's album "Felicity", the album involved quite a slow process of swapping musical and vocal recordings across the net. It did stretch my musicianship a bit because I was working on songs sung in Japanese, even with the lyric translation I found I was relying on intuition a lot to find the right back-up sounds. I paid a lot of attention to the quality of pads and drones, often layering 4 or more sounds then mixing everything to a stereo file. The atmospheric approach to "Felicity" made me decide to incorporate a similar soundscape approach with layered ambience and sound effects in Heaven and Earth.

  Q: Could you tell us something about your studio and recording gear? What do you enjoy using most? What's the recording environment like?   The studio is really a small, sound-proofed room in the house. The soundcard Adat outs get re-routed to a Tascam mixer via light pipes, so instead of using the stereo mix of the software , I sub group, rhythm section, lead instruments, synths and effects in their own dedicated channels. The mixer itself an old Tascam DM24 has excellent effects on board. I think this helped with spreading out the mixes and giving that extra depth. I use PMC passive speakers powered by a 200W RMS Bryston amp, I really love the sound coming out of those speakers and never get tired of listening to these at any volumes. I also have an Avalon V1 tube pre-amp, anything I record goes through it. My oldest piece of gear is a Roland JX-8P synth I have owned since they came out in the 80's, it is often used in drones in my ambient work. On Heaven and Earth the lead guitar lines were done using an E-Bow, this is a small magnetic gizmo you hold over the bridge strings, it produces violin-like infinite sustain, I had a lot of fun experimenting with it. It gives that lead sound quite a haunting edge!
 
Q: Did you have a particular vision for this new album?  

Musically my vision for this album was to create a psychedelic journey of melodic soundscapes with beats.
From the beginning I decided to avoid the latest dub-step, crunck, glitch tricks and stick to an old school approach to make it sound more like a 'Classic'; I wanted to keep the human feel by playing live instruments and inviting Dan (flautist) as guest soloist often stirred the songs into a direction I couldn’t have imagined if I played everything myself. Also from the beginning I had decided to feature the electric guitar my first love. The instrument that got me hooked onto musi.
This album is also an homage to the diverse styles of music I was listening to in the late 60's, bands like Gong, Pink floyd, Soft machine, Tangerine Dream and more contemporary influences like Massive attack and Leftfield.
Otherwise through the last decade there was an anxiety about reaching the year 2012, many predicted disasters, End of the Mayan calendar, Alien take over, Christian Armageddon etc... I didn't totally believe it would be the end of the world but in case this could be my last one, I wanted to make a beautiful, lush & heartfelt release I could be proud of!

  Q: What were the first signs of a new album beginning for you?   I guess it started while I was working on Yuiko's album. I am very meticulous with my mixes and can spend hours on end listening to the same piece, so to stop the prolonged listening & mixing from driving me crazy, I would pause it for awhile, open a blank project and have fun for an hour or so.... I eventually got 5 or more stems enough to get me started. Instead of saving those stems as project 1,2,3 etc.... I pulled out a list of song titles I have collected over the years, each representing an event, a person or situation that was relevant to me at the time and started naming the small musical pieces. This gave me a good 'flavour' for each one and having had a title from the beginning seemed to musically push me in a certain direction with the approach in mood, sounds and feel.
 
   
 
Q:  How did you structure the album - did you plan for a certain style of tracks, did you arrange things after recording? How do you decide on what to include and what not?
 

I see “Peyote dreaming” as quite a jolly album, easy on the ears, for the new one I wanted to create a moody, deeper and more introspective sonic journey, a reflection of what I was going through in 2012.
That is why I picked songs in minor keys to start and finish the album. It creates a slight tension and a feeling of seriousness right from the beginning.
On the computer desktop I had this list of keywords:
Dreamy, Etheric, Other Dimension, Cosmic Gate, Peyote, earthy, forest, rivers, psychedelic, dark , mystical.
This list of key-words kept me on track as far as what I was trying to achieve. The song order was dictated in a sense by the keys of the tunes, one song would have to flow into the next, so I can say how the songs begun & ended influenced where they ended up on the cd!

  Q: Which parts of the Heaven and Earth album appeal most to you now that it is finished?
 

Overall I think I have succeeded in creating a beautiful and heartfelt journey for the listener and cannot pick a specific part that appeals to me more than the other. I could say the adding of live instrumentation is something I thoroughly enjoyed and want to explore further in future compositions, I am very happy with the aesthetic look of the CD, Andy Thomas has done a tremendous job at translating my ideas into stunning artwork which complement the music perfectly!

       
Q:  What involvement did you have with the process of releasing an album beyond making the music itself?  

Beyond making the music itself there are still a lot of steps before it reaches people. Once I had the music mixed I contacted Simon Polinski for mastering. We booked Sing Sing studios in Melbourne, because of its beautiful old skool valve processors, we spent a day on it, giving it further EQing and compression to make sure all track levels are matching... Meanwhile, Andy was sending me ideas for the artwork and we fine tuned things by sending work in progress files over the net. Then you have to make a decision on the Text that will appear on the CD, the fonts, you need a bar-code. You really have to make sure you have this tight, because once it has gone into pressing you can’t change your mind!
Once you have your mastered the album & cover artwork it goes to the pressing plant, then again more decisions about the type of packaging.
Eventually you end up with these boxes full of CD’s... because I mostly do production work and seldom play live shows then I have to get the product ‘out there’. I have help with Arabesque UK who look after the distribution. For this album I hired a promoter who has a huge data base of the outdoor festivals and sends out news letters and postings on online music forums. Then there are music packages sent to diverse physical & online radio stations worldwide. For a small label like Don Peyote recordings, getting the music out there requires long hours spent on the computer researching new avenues to get more exposure, because I am a one man band handling all tasks any help I get from my music industry peers is always received with gratitude.

  Q:  What else are you working on? Do you have any specific future plans or dreams even?   I still have an ambient journey album I started back in 2008 in the pipeline, it features the shamanic drumming of Byron Metcalf, it’s not far off the finishing mark and just needs mixing. Also, toying with the idea of releasing a download only 4 track ‘world/dance’ EP .
My dream would be to contribute to the soundtrack of a feature film in the vain of Baraka/Samsara, a sonic tribute to this beautiful planet we live on with amazing visuals!
       
 
     
 
DON PEYOTE - HEAVEN AND EARTH
Thanks to Yvon for allowing us that interview.
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