MUSIC INTERVIEW - DON PEYOTE
18.01.13 - On release of Heaven
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?
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.
Could you tell us something about your studio
and recording gear? What do you enjoy using most? What's the
recording environment like?
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!
Did you have a particular vision for this new
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
What were the first signs of a new album beginning
||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.
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
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!
Which parts of the Heaven and Earth album appeal most to you
now that it is finished?
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!
What involvement did you have with the
process of releasing an album beyond making the music itself?
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.
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!
to Yvon for allowing us that interview.