segunda-feira, 14 de setembro de 2015

A Glass of Tears Half Empty with Aura Blaze - An Interview

Depois de ouvir Lonerism do Tame Impama, Rhode Rachel resolveu incorporar seu alter ego e criou o Aura Blaze.

Um trip psicodelica que sonoramente tem conexões apenas nas referências com sua banda inspiradora, já que o Aura Blaze é deveras mais psicodélico e viajante do que o Tame Impala. O debute homônimo é um máquina do tempo que te leva diretamente aos anos sessenta ou vice e versa.

Uma viagem recheada de cores cintilantes dando uma doce acidez ao belo trabalho criado por Rhode.

Que venha a próxima trip do Aura Blaze.

***** Interview with Aura Blaze ****

Q. When did Aura Blaze start? Tell us about the history...
The earliest iteration of what would eventually become Aura Blaze began in the late spring of 2013 when I accidentally discovered Tame Impala’s "Lonerism." At the time I had an electronic project I was involved with called 11:11 and as much as I originally enjoyed the energy inherent in the genre, electronic music just wasn’t doing it for me anymore. My desire to get back to the organic approach to producing — to write rock songs using actual instruments rather than sitting behind a computer, programming synth software and layering drum samples — became too strong to ignore. And so it was around this time that I chanced upon Tame Impala’s album "Lonerism" while browsing Youtube one night. I mark that first Tame experience as the moment I officially knew I wanted to drop my experiment in electronica and get back to my roots in rock, exploring that retro-psychedelic sphere that Kevin Parker is so adept at capturing in his Tame Impala recordings. I went into my studio and recorded a few demo tracks throughout the summer of 2013 and by the winter of the following year I had my debut single “A Glass of Tears Half Empty” fully recorded along with my interpretation of “The Crystal Ship” by The Doors, another band that I had finally taken the time to get into, long overdue as it was.

Q: Who are your influences?
My music tastes are quite eclectic. I love everything from classical to black metal. As I have mentioned, Tame Impala has had an indelible impression upon me concerning my approach to songwriting, as have The Doors, Pink Floyd, Strawberry Alarm Clock, Crosby Stills & Nash, The Beatles, and so many others. As a child I would listen to oldies music on the radio while falling asleep and I can’t help but think that that experience has played a huge part in developing my fondness for memorable, timeless melodies. Even what was considered “pop” music back then was good. You compare the catchiness of a song like “Let’s Hang On!” by Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons to something like Rihanna and you would think your ears have committed auditory hari-kiri. Of course “To each his own,” some might be quick to argue, and that’s fine, but when it comes down to musicality, spirit, vibe, and not least the sheer degree of talent required to pull off what they did back then, the superlativeness of the former is undeniable. In another realm of influence lies my penchant for metal. Anyone who knows me well knows I am a huge metalhead. I grew up on bands like Fear Factory, who I actually just saw last weekend in Philadelphia. They have been my favorite band since I bought the game “Test Drive 5” as a kid and watched their music video for “Replica” which was included as a bonus in the game. Fear Factory alone shaped my perception on what was possible in music, combining contrasting elements into something cohesive and moving in its own right. The singer Burton is recognized as being the first metal singer to mix death metal screaming with clean singing in the same song, the result of which is nothing short of otherworldly brilliance. As for my non-musical influences: women and trees.

Q. Make a list of 5 albums of all time…
In no particular order…
Tame Impala – "Lonerism" (If not for this album Aura Blaze might never have come to be)

Fear Factory – "Demanufacture" (This album proceeded to get me into metal and metal proceeded to get me into the concept of atmosphere)

Deadsy – "Commencement" (One of the most unique albums I have ever heard. Got this one as a kid and have been profoundly influenced by it)

Type O Negative – "October Rust" (T.O.N. is undoubtedly one of my favorite bands of all time. This album is the epitome of autumn nostalgia)

 Grateful Dead – "American Beauty" (What Type O Negative exemplifies for the autumn, this album is for the summer. Astounding vocal harmonies, great musicianship, all-around classic)

Q. How do you feel playing live?
Aura Blaze is currently a studio project of which I write, record, and produce everything singlehandedly. Live shows are not happening just yet. That said, it is certainly on the menu for the near future to assemble a live lineup, sort of in the manner that Kevin Parker has going with Tame Impala. I envision taking the core elements of my songs and extrapolating upon them in drawn-out trippy jams ala White Hills or Goat. The live experience itself though is incredible, despite my habit of getting a bit anxious beforehand. I have been in numerous bands throughout the years as a guitarist, keyboardist, and vocalist. I was even the lead singer (screamer) of the New Jersey-based black metal band Mortum for a while. There is no feeling more energizing and invigorating than playing your stuff live, being really on point and knowing it, and seeing all the hot girls in the audience getting into it. Those are the moments where I find myself pondering, “Hey, I wonder what blondie over there thinks of this…” Good stuff.

Q. How do you describe Aura Blaze sounds?
I suppose Aura Blaze can most simply be described as psychedelic rock with ‘60s and ‘70s pop influence. I incorporate elements from a wide variety of genres into my music such as jazz and classical and even a bit of new age during some of the more ambient passages, as can be heard in “Sub-Earthen Patchwork Torus” for example. One key component in my approach to crafting psychedelic music is the emphasis of the contrast between harmony and dissonance. The intention of drawing sonic polarities together in organized compositions has been the foundation upon which I assemble my songs. A common thread that runs throughout the greatest pieces of art, at least in my own observation, is the concept of contrast. You can observe this idea in the play between light and shadow in paintings of the Romantic era and in the crescendos of Mahler’s 9th, the swelling from the storm-like cacophony of the piece’s opening moments into a tumultuous peak that explodes not into chaos but into the most beautiful musical representation of tranquility one might ever hope to hear. That’s the sort of spiritual, ineffable emotion I am endeavoring to explore with Aura Blaze. The splendor of chaos, the horrors of beauty — the Mind’s Antipodes, as Aldous Huxley would call it.

Q: Tell us about the process of recording the songs?
My recording process is quite unorthodox. As I understand it, the pros typically have a production workflow that is organized in steps (tracking rhythm first, scratch vocal second, etc. Mix everything only after all the tracking is done, so on and so on). In my case, I have no hard and fast workflow. I do what feels right and what inspires me most at that particular moment. For instance, I might be listening back to a guitar take I just put down and all of a sudden, seemingly out of nowhere, an organ melody might blossom into my mind and I stop everything to go after that melody — to try and capture it in all of its essence before it slips back into unconsciousness. As for my setup, it’s pretty simple. I run Pro Tools 9 on my iMac using stock softsynths for most of the organs and symphonic keyboard parts. I have an Alesis Fusion which also comes in handy when searching for very specific sounds like flutes or cellos with particular degrees of resonance. I only use two mics on my drums: a condenser centered overhead and a dynamic directly in front of the kick. For greater effect and punchiness I add additional snare and kick layers when necessary. I am not a professional drummer by any means, and thus I record my drum parts in bits and pieces in order to capture the exact vibe and feeling I envision. Oftentimes I will have a great beat going, playing everything real smoothly and emotively, and then I would mess up a fill or miss a snare hit or do something stupid like that. In cases such as this I would delete the mistake, leaving the rest of the recording intact up until that point, and then attempt to record the fill over again. I keep trying and trying until I get it right. This process often takes hours but the quality of the end result makes it totally worthwhile. I am sure some people will wonder why I don’t just hire a drummer to handle the drum recordings — a valid question indeed. My answer is that I have extremely specific visions for every aspect in my recordings, drums included. These visions are so strong that I need to be able to record everything myself for the sake of the art. I’m sure Kevin Parker would get where I’m coming from in this regard.

Q. Which new bands do you recommend?
Well, I am just astounded by how the British band Temples exploded in such a short amount of time, going from being basically unknowns to these psych rock gods within the span of a year or so. Their debut album “Sun Structures” is amazing and I highly recommend it for those who love ‘60s-era psychedelia. However, as great of an album as it is, I still cannot seem to wrap my mind around the nature of their ascent to fame with only one record under their belt — an enigma if there ever was one! More power to them. I thoroughly love their sound and am very happy that they have achieved the level of success that they are enjoying now. I can only hope that Aura Blaze will rise to glory in the manner that they have, with forward momentum and ascending notoriety. Temples is an excellent band all around. I also want to make a shoutout to Inner Outlaws, a group out of Brooklyn who is doing some real amazing stuff. I’ve always been a sucker for catchy riffs and beautiful vocal harmonies and they have both of these down to astronomy. I had the pleasure of discovering their music when we were both chosen to be a part of Reddit’s /r/psychedelicrock Indie Mixtape compilation series. Also, White Hills is certainly deserving of a mention. My friend introduced me to their self-titled album a few years ago and I fell in love with the depth and sheer cosmic proportions of the atmosphere they have going on in that release. I caught them in Brooklyn with Psychic Ills at the Bowery Ballroom a while back — nothing short of a spiritual experience. And speaking of how awesome White Hills is, a huge thank you goes out to their bassist Ego Sensation for recommending the talented Heba Kadry to master my album! I highly encourage any band or artist who wants a professional quality mastering job to enlist her services. She will not let you down.

Q: Which band would you love to make a cover version of?
This is an interesting question because there are so many ideas I have for great covers, some of which might seem quite out of the ordinary for a psych rock act to take on. Last week a few buddies and I were hanging around the bonfire drinking beers and talking music and one of them suggested I do a Fear Factory cover. At first it seemed ridiculous, but, the avant-garde enthusiast that I am, it did not take long for my brain to scan through their songs and immediately start conceiving of little ideas and melodies that would translate the essence of their cyber-metal into some pretty interesting psych rock. Their song “Linchpin” is the one I am leaning towards. I also have three Pro Tools sessions in progress for covers of “Time of the Season” by The Zombies ,“Crazy for You” by Best Coast, and the iconic John Lennon number, “Imagine.” Originally, those covers were just spontaneous ideas that I felt compelled to do at the time of their conception, not having any real focus or direction as I had with my Doors cover. Depending on where my inspiration takes me, I may finish these up and put them out there for the hell of it. Who knows — one might even end up as a B-side to my next single.

Q: What are your plans for the future?
Recording for the second Aura Blaze full-length is already underway. I plan on learning as much as I can about production and employing this knowledge to attain greater sonic quality than what I was able to achieve with my debut album, while still leaving just enough rawness and grittiness to maintain that vintage vibe. As I have mentioned earlier, I have the intention of doing live Aura Blaze shows once I can recruit some dependable musicians to take my songs to the stage. Not only would I have to teach them my songs but I will have to relearn much of the guitar and keyboard parts myself as just about everything on the album was written on the spot at the time of recording! So, certainly honing in on my own playing abilities is something that will require a great deal of focus on my part. In the meantime, promoting my album in any way I can reigns paramount.

Q: Any parting words?
Cheers man Thank you so much, Renato, for taking an interest in my music and for conduction this interview with me. I truly appreciate the support and the exposure. Thanks to everyone who supports my music and shares it with the world. This is what I want to do with my life and each person who lends support to this goal of mine is worthy of my sincerest gratitude. A message to the human race in totality: let go of the fear of what other people think. Break the chains of conditioned perception. Create your own reality. Love is All. All is One.