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MORPHEUS MUSIC INTERVIEW - RESONANT DRIFT

22.06.09 - anticipating release of The Call

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Q: Can you give us a bit about your personal background as musicians?   Bill: I formally studied various instruments in my younger years. However, in college I got busy and put it aside for several years.

Gary: As a teenager I studied drums with noted jazz drummer, Chuck Flores, in Los Angeles. I also played guitar, keyboards and woodwinds. I was an art major and music minor all the way through college studying jazz, Bach and electronic music at UCLA. I've been in local southern California bands from my teens until now. I've played a variety of styles from rock, blues, funk, country, classical to jazz. I currently gig around San Diego playing contemporary jazz. Over the years, I've opened for various acts like Charlie Daniels Band, J. Geils Band, Doug Supernaw, and Brian McKnight. Over the last five years, I've drifted towards ambient and electronic music. As an artist, I find ambient soundscapes analogous to painting. The "sound canvas" has elements of texture, color, composition, values, edges, atmosphere, etc.. The sounds of Steve Roach, Robert Rich and Michael Stearns got me hooked on ambient. Over the last year, I've had the good fortune to study and learn from Steve Roach. He's been a huge influence on my approach, sound and studio set up.
  Q:  What got Resonant Drift going back in 2004?   It was nothing more than the need to express some emotional and spiritual thoughts and feelings through this medium.

 

   
             
Q:  How did Gary Johnson get involved with the previously solo Resonant Drift project?
  We met at a master workshop given by Steve Roach at the Timeroom studio in Arizona in May of 2008 where we and four other students studied with Steve for an intensive week of ambient bliss. Besides the obvious connection with the music, we found we lived an hour away from each other so we thought it would be nice to get together and make some sounds together. We found that we had a real synergy and that our interest and talents really complemented each other.   Q: This is now your fourth album – how would you say it builds on previous releases?  

Bill: The addition of Gary really took the sound to a new level. We consciously were focused on a more deepspace and consistent sound.

Gary: I think our collaboration on this album reflects much of what we gleaned from Steve and the synergy, between Bill and I, created a space that neither one of us would have reached individually.

             
Q:  Did you have a conscious goal when setting out to record The Call or did the music take its own direction?  

Bill: I knew I wanted something more deepspace and consistent than previous releases. It was nice as that was the exact direction Gary was looking to go as well. But also much of the recording did take a life of its own. It was more like “discovering” the music more than “creating” it.

Gary: I agree with Bill. We both had a similar point of reference and the recording was very spontaneous, much of it first takes.

  Q:  When you work together, who does what?   In general, Gary plays the guitars and Bill does the synthesizers though at times we lay down tracks on both instruments. However, there are other elements such as the field recordings (Gary), looping (Bill), sequencing (Gary) and we both play percussion and ethnic instruments.
             
 
     
Q:  What crucial pieces of equipment make up your studio?   Gary: The guitars I used on "The Call" are a John Suhr - Scott Henderson model strat style guitar, a Danelectro baritone guitar I bought from Steve Roach, and a Fernandes Revelle sustaining guitar. Many of the "melodies" on the CD were done with the Fernandes. I processed the guitars through a Digitech Space Station, before running them through a rack full of reverbs, delays, loopers and effects. The synths I used on the CD are a Nord Lead 2, an Oberheim Xpander, and Blacet modular synths. My essential studio gear would be my Mackie Onyx 3280 mixing board, Lexicon PCM-91 reverb, Line 6 Echo Pro delay, Eventide Eclipse, Looperlative looper and Doepfer MAQ 16/3 Sequencer. Again, I credit Steve Roach and Roger King with helping me put my studio together. Much of what I have is cloned from Steve's studio setup.

Bill: Roland JP-8000, Moog LP, Alesis Micron, Korg Radius, Looperlative LP1, Lexicon MPX 550, Mackie Onyx 24-4 , Spectrasonics Atmosphere, computers, Acid Pro, Sound Forge, Cubase, Ableton Live
  Q:  Steve Roach is credited on The Call – how did you involve him and what exactly did his ‘sonic enhancement’ consist of?
  Steve mastered the CD which consists of EQ, cross fades, eliminating hiss/pops and adjusting sound levels for the tracks and the CD as a whole. The sonic enhancements are processing effects applied to the tracks. The sonic enhancements are Steve's blend of custom reverbs and delays, the "Secret Sauce" as he calls it. Because of his expertise and artisic credentials, naturally, we gave him complete freedom to do whatever would make the recordings the best they could be. His master touch really pushed the sound and sonic quality to a higher level.
             
Q:  There is a lot of music being released nowadays in this genre, what would you say makes a good ambient album?
  Bill: A good ambient album is one that strikes a chord with those that produce it. It has to say something and mean something to the people that make it. It has to have a feeling and create an atmosphere and space for the listener.

Gary: Indeed, ambient music is more of a personal expression than commercially produced Top 40 music. When making music that speaks to the deepest part of our being, you have to stay true to your artistic vision. Anything else would just sound contrived and corny. I personally like to listen to ambient music that makes the "sky open up", so to speak. Music that somehow changes your level of awareness. If your music can do that, wow, what a gift to your listener.
  Q:  We always like to know what’s ahead – any future plans for your music?   We are marketing and promoting the current CD. Beyond that we are already talking about and conceptualizing new music and we have a few collaborations with other artists on the table. We both are very pleased with our first effort together, but feel like we've just scratched the surface of our potential. We look forward to exploring many more soundworlds and atmospheres. We'll just let the music take us where it will, go with the "drift", if you will.

 

           

Thanks to Bill and Gary for allowing us that interview.

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