you resource for all things shoegaze & dream pop.

28 March 2011

Interview: Daniel Land of the Engineers, the Modern Painters and riverrun.

Where to begin with the amazing Daniel Land? He first hit our radar in 2007, as a part of the Manchester based shoegaze outfit Daniel Land & The Modern Painters (vocals/guitar).In 2010 both he and Ulrich Schnauss were invited to join Engineers (who are amazing) and then he has his lesser known but just as awe-inspiring side project, called riverrun, Daniel Land has essentially been blowing us away since the first note. His various projects have been described as like "immersing yourself in hazy, shimmering sound" and able to cause "a deep emotional resonance; the music itself has an overwhelming sense of purity and beauty that you can completely immerse yourself in..." and we can't really argue with, nor add to the truth of those statements. They are wholly fact. Daniel Land is an extremely talented and important artist in the music world, working with many sounds and weaving many genres into one another, creating things altogether new, and always gorgeous. When The Sun Hits is proud to feature the following interview with Daniel Land; enjoy, and if you haven't heard any or all of his musical output, now is the time. He will be remembered as legendary, of this we have no doubt.

1. Can you tell us what you've been working on and what you've got forthcoming in the near future (recording, tour, etc?)?

Daniel Land & the Modern Painters. Lostening.

Well, the first Daniel Land & The Modern Painters album came out at the end 2009, so once we'd released and toured that album, 2010 ended up being more about having time out to do outside projects and things like that. But the main priority for 2011 is the work on the second Daniel Land & The Modern Painters record, which I hope will be a really strong return. A really good record label approached us and asked if they could release it, so I think it's really important to get it just right. There are various tunes for it in half-completed states and I've been writing lyrics for most of the year, on and off, so we're just beginning to get a sense of what the shape of that record might be. We've met a great sound engineer who's going to be working with us to "up" the production values overall, and we've got a couple of studios available (in addition to home studios) so it's all looking very positive.

Other than that, last year I contributed some vocals to the new Engineers album (In Praise of More), and then joined the band as a bass player and vocalist, so I imagine at some point we'll start thinking about new material. I've also been playing guitar for Jayn Hanna's band, The Steals, which has been going on since just after their debut album Static Kingdom was released. I'm hoping to be contributing to their next record. And then there's my ambient side-project riverrun: there's a couple more records on the way for that one, one of which is a collection of piano recordings I've been working on for a couple of years now. Anyway, none of this stuff will probably be released for a while yet, because the overriding concern is finishing the second Daniel Land & The Modern Painters album. I hope it's going to be something really, really special - more musical and more varied, texturally, than the last record.

2. What sort of set up/gear do you use? What is the most important piece of gear for your "shoegaze" sound?

Generally, I try not to rely on any particular set up over and over again, and I never use any factory presets, because if you do, things can end up sounding very formulaic very quickly. I like to work with things that are generally quite unfashionable or have been around for a few years. The best things in my own set up are really old pedals that I've never seen anywhere else. I've got a RockTek chorus which I think is an old analog one from the 80s or maybe even the late 70s. It's really retro and noisy, but it's the best chorus I've ever used. I've got a few things like that, that are unique and have a character of their own. Plus when they start to fail, they generally do so in interesting ways - ways that you can exploit musically.

Engineers. In Praise of More.

3. What shoegaze bands/artists (or whoever) have most influenced your work?

If we're talking shoegaze bands I'd say it almost entirely begins and ends with the Cocteau Twins, to be honest with you! I listened to almost nothing but the Cocteaus for about two years when I was a teenager and it obviously had a deep effect. Later on, I discovered Slowdive and loved them, and then more recently through Ulrich Schnauss I was introduced to the band Sway from California - The Millia Pink & Green EP was very influential to me around the time of making Voss. Other than that, I don't spend a lot of time listening to shoegaze, to be honest. I listen to a lot of bands like Sun Kil Moon and Mojave 3, and some of the great solo artists like Peter Gabriel and Brian Eno. And a lot of world music.

4. Tell us a little about what you are currently into (bands, books, films, etc)?

Funny you should ask about books, because I feel like I've been in a more literary phase recently. I've been writing lyrics and keeping a journal, and so I've been reading a lot more than I would usually.

I've had two very major literary phases running concurrently recently - one is Virginia Woolf, who I'm reading all over again for the first time since I was 19 or so. I read pretty much everything she'd written in about 18 months when I was younger, and it's been a delight to rediscover all of that. I'm also reading my way through a lot of Anthony Burgess's books, starting with the epics like Any Old Iron and Earthly Powers and moving on to some of the more obscure ones that fell out of print, like Beard's Roman Women and Abba Abba.

Aside from this, I've got a kind of fascination with the Clinton years, so I've been reading some of the excellent political books about that time - particularly Robert Reich's Locked In The Cabinet and also David Brock's Blinded by The Right, which is an excellent mea-culpa written by somebody involved in smearing the Clinton presidency. Regardless of where you stand politically, it's a fascinating document of the times.

5. Can we expect to see Engineers and/or The Modern Painters on the road in the near future?

Both, hopefully. But probably not until any new material is released, whenever that is.

6. Do you consider what you are doing "shoegaze"?

Yes and no. With regards to the Painters, I guess I see that as writing good, simple songs and then presenting them within a shoegaze context. That's a slightly different approach I think. I'd like to think the ultimately I could present my songs totally stripped down, voice-and-acoustic-guitar treatment, and they'd still be effective, and it'd be nice do something acoustic-y like that in the future actually, when there's time. The next Painters album though will be combining the shoegaze elements with a whole range of other influences so I'm not really sure we can call it "shoegaze" any more...

Engineers. How Do You Say Goodbye.

7. What do you think of modern shoegaze/dream pop artists, any favorites?

I like some of them, but not all. I tend to like my new shoegaze cut with something more modern... the most satisfying bands to listen to, for me, are the ones that incorporate shoegaze sounds as just one element of a much bigger stylistic idea, particularly the US shoegaze bands like Mahogany, plus other bands like Auburn Lull, Elika and so on. I like bands who take a whole load of disparate things and force them into something that's uniquely their own.

I also like the kind of dream-pop bands who exhibit really strong songwriting skills - bands like Sway and Ask For Joy, and the band Orange Yellow Red, from the south of England. I think that quality of songwriting in those bands is excellent. There's probably a few more but I find it hard to think of them off the top of my head.

8. What is your philosophy (on life), if any, that you live by?

That's an interesting question. I'd find it difficult to do justice to it in a paragraph in an interview, and there's no way of answering it without being a bit self-centered, but here goes anyway: I guess I could say that I've tried to live my life in a very compassionate way, but then like most people who devote themselves to such obsessive work, I can be a bit prickly at times!

And recently I feel like my whole outlook on life has changed anyway... the big lyrical inspiration behind the forthcoming second Painters album was the break-up of a long-term relationship that happened in a couple of years ago, and then another relationship which quickly followed that - at the same time I've been spending a year in therapy dealing with some unresolved things, and the result of all these things has been a big change in my outlook on life, a process of trying to change and improve how I relate to other people. It's made me more resolved to live life in a humble, grounded, and genuine way, and ultimately the hope is that this change reflects in my lyrics and in the kind of work we (or I) produce...

I guess what I'm trying to say is that it's a bit like that Blue Nile ideal - the idea of living a life that is down to earth and "normal" by almost every standard, and that by doing so, you're going to create music that has real empathy in it, a type compassion that's very consoling to the listener. It's all I think about really...

Free Download: Insect Guide. Hearts Don't Break (piano version).

27 March 2011

News: More Details for "Rock Back for Japan" Compilations Revealed.

Almost immediately after the recent disaster in Japan, When The Sun Hits began to hear rumblings amid the shoegaze community about what we could do to help. The outpouring of ideas and compassion was unbelievable, and Tom Lugo, a musician of note himself, as well as the President of Patetico Recordings, had the brilliant idea to create a shoegaze/bliss pop/psychedelia-based compilation disc, from which the profits would contribute to a disaster relief fund for Japan. What was originally a one disc compilation has now grown to 6 (yes SIX) volumes - a mega compilation entitled Rock Back for Japan - of various artists, because so many bands wanted to be involved. That, in itself, is something to be proud of. Our musical community has really reached out with the tools that we have to help, and we are proud of all of the contributors, supporters, and a special thank you to Tom Lugo, who, with a little help from his friends, orchestrated it all.

Patetico Recordings will be releasing the Rock Back for Japan - Disaster Relief Fund compilation series over the next couple of weeks via digital download, and soon after, hard copies will be available for purchase through Amazon.

You can (and should) become a member of Patetico's website for updates as they become available. This is a cause worth supporting, and after you catch a glimpse of the track lists, you'll be lusting after the comps. Top notch.

Thus far, this is the information we have regarding the compilations and artists involved. Our hearts our with you, Japan.

Rock Back for Japan Vol. 1

01. Purple Bloom. Kisses bloomed
02. Apple Orchard. Half steps towards bright skies
03. SPC ECO. Silo Too High
04. Tahaki Miyaki. Something is better than nothing
05. Insect Guide. (?)
06. Black Swan Lane. Age end
07. Un.Real. Angel 75
08. Spotlight Kid. All is real
09. Tally Ho! Rainbow
10. Counterfeit i. Atlantis
11. Panophonic. Disappear into the night
12. Spell 336. Silence
13. Orangenoise. Trust
14. The DeFog. A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

Rock Back for Japan Vol. 2

01. Stellarium. Chocolate & Strawberry
02. Absence of Ocean. Open Heart (Open Fire)
03. Hemming. Swinging at Ghosts
04. Slowness. Slowboat
05. Dead Leaf Echo. Baby Eyes
06. The Ludvico Treatment. Enter secondary character
07. Wavvement. The Girl in the Denim Vest
08. Anthing+After. Disconnected
09. The Bavarian Druglords. WorldofSound
10. Ten Pound Troy. Unchained
11. Boy Party. July
12. Pilot Cloud. Meridian
13. Short to the Ground. No Time
14. This Scarlet Mourning. Shine

Rock Back for Japan Vol. 3

01.Ceremony. Control
02.Golden Gardens. The High Priestess 2
03.Bosques. Dorstein Rejse
04.Oblisk. Around the sound
05.Stone Darling. All I wanna Do
06.Resplandor. Twilight
07.Ludwyg. Phantom
08.Dirty Pulp Theatre. Excessive Noise
09. Hope. Wolfredt
10.After Sun. Walking Through This Door Again
11.Wavefield. Automatic Electronic Machines
12.Neorev. The Stars Above Us
13.Jesus Deluxe. No Middle Ground
14.Sway. Thirty Seven Miles Beside the Ocean

Rock Back for Japan Vol. 4

01.Plumerai. Empty Graves
02.Leaving Richmod. Your personal infinity
03.Jazzblaster. Dream
04.93millionmilesfromearth. Sorrow Song
05.Anne. Perfect teeth
06.The Psychocandies. High Love
07.Periscope. Freak Beat
08.Music For Headphones. Life inside a parka
09.Anji Cheung. Vessel of the Earth
10.Last Remaining Pinnacles. Students of V.U.
11.Phantom Vibrations. Burlington
12.Bloody Knives. Let me out
13.The Sunshine Factory. Sugar Sister
14. Chatham Rise. Air Feat (Featuring EJ Hagen)

Rock Back for Japan Vol. 5

01.Screen Vinyl Image. Too much speed
02.Tone Rodent. These Blues
03.Deep Cut. Decision
04.The Tweeds. Christmas Time
05.Victorie & Hyde. Fire we were
06.Presents for Sally. Three
07. SER.ES. Satélite
08. The Hope Slide. The Survivor
09. The High Violets. The Orchard
10.Whirl. Leave
11. FRACTAL. Niña Flor
12.Westkust. Falling through the floor
13.The Telewire. Silence
14. Stellarscope. You always know

Rock Back for Japan Vol. 6 (Still waiting on some tracks)

01.The Lost Patrol. Justine
02.Niels Nielson. Step Aside!
03.Isabela Music Club. What were you thinking?
04.Thrushes. Crystals
05.Elika. Seam
06.Patrik Torsson. Summary
07.The Second Floor. More science than soul
08.Mechanism for People. The taste of a sweet life
09.Starry Saints. The Long Fade
10.Her Vanished Grace. Blue
11.Ill-iteracy. Inside ya mind
12.C’est la Mort. Paper Ships
13.One Unique Signal. Bishops

26 March 2011

New Release: The Consolation Project. Everything is Sacred.

Despite already releasing two other exceptional LPs in March 2011 (With Darkened Eyes Remove the Veil and It Hurts But Remains Beautiful), Ron Cavagnaro of The Consolation Project (read our recent interview with Ron HERE) has, once again, blown When The Sun Hits' minds with a brand new album released less than a week ago, and entitled Everything is Sacred. (That makes THREE full length records released thus far, in March 2011 alone, by THP. Let us pause and reflect on that.)

The entire album can be streamed from The Consolation Project's bandcamp page, but we highly suggest you pay the measly 10 bucks and own it. This music is amazing, and we need to do our part to support it. An yes, of COURSE he is already working on a new record. Prolific is an understatement!

Listen to a sneak peak track from Everything is Sacred:

Free Download: IATP Podcast feat. Mark Gardener of Ride and Fleeting Joys.

To download podcast, click the link below.

The ninth edition of one of When The Sun Hits' favorite podcasts is now available for download, with Ryan L Abato, I Am The Programmer's creator, at the helm. This podcast features chat sessions with none other than Mark Gardener of Ride, as well as with Fleeting Joys (read our interview with them HERE) and The Ice Choir (the new project by Kurt Feldman [read our interview with Kurt HERE] of the Pains of Being Pure at Heart and the now defunct Depreciation
Guild), and tons more.

Click. Download. Enjoy.

This podcast download is free, but definitely subscribe to iTunes and show some love in the comment section. Quality stuff, this.

22 March 2011

Video: The Stargazer Lilies. Fukitol.

Quote of the month: Adam Franklin from Swervedriver. Taken from the Drowned in Sound article "Franklin dissects shoegaze" (2009).

"A guy I know is friends with Scott Walker and tells me: "Scott is a fan of shoegaze". That makes perfect sense to me somehow. Walker's music has always had a unique kind of ambience and I think you can probably hear a connection with Slowdive's music and the Bacharach-style chords and melodies Kevin Shields plays on Loveless - as he's simultaneously hitting you over the head with a Ron Asheton-sized sledgehammer of course. Shoegaze though eh? pfft. A musical genre with the word "shoe" in it? - Lordy! Just as well the shoes in question (Russell Yates from Moose's shoes) were a rather smart pair of brothel creepers. Not that I really know who they mean when they say shoegaze, although I suspect they sometimes mean me, the bastards. Still it's somewhat amusing and completely ridiculous that the term stuck and that there are bands in all corners of the globe perfectly happy to list themselves as 'Shoegaze' on their MySpace pages." ~Adam Franklin.

Video: Sky Flying By. Hold Your Fire.

Interview: Spotlight Kid.

Spotlight Kid is a shoegaze/dream pop band based in Nottingham. Does the name sound familiar? It should! We recently posted a free download of Spotlight Kid's new track, "Haunting" (see that article HERE), and the band was also featured prominently in our Record Label Spotlight Series, featuring Northern Star Records (read that piece HERE.)

After releasing the Departure LP in 2006 to critical acclaim, the band was fairly quiet until 2010, which saw the release of an excellent EP entitled Crystal Dreams, as well as the All is Real/April 7 inch, featuring the new single, "All is Real". If you like your gaze guitar drenched and fuzzed out in the vein of MBV and Slowdive, you need to check out Spotlight Kid immediately. Enjoy getting to know a bit about this awesome band by reading the interview below. Thanks again to
Spotlight Kid for making time to interview with When The Sun Hits. High fives and hearts all around. You can also follow the band's blog here!

We assume the band name, "Spotlight Kid", must be a Captain Beefheart reference…what’s the significance of the reference?

Chris D chose this title as the band name I think solely because he likes that album. Personally, I don't think the other guys including myself know too much about Mr. Beefheart or his music.

Spotlight Kid. April.

How was Spotlight Kid formed?

Spotlight Kid was formed by Chris D after Six by Seven finished, I think he needed an avenue to get his music out and if you listen to the first album you hear that it's totally different to the sound of Six By Seven.

Katty was a natural choice singer and from there the band kind of evolved over time with different members. Karl's been in the band for a while, myself (Chris) and Rob joined after our last band called it a day and Matt is the latest member joining last year following the split of his old band, The Black Light Parade, (R.I.P). At present I think we all feel that it's the best band we've been in, there's a really nice vibe about it.

Can you tell us what you've been working on and what you've got forthcoming in the near future (new releases, tour, etc)?

We popped over to our favorite recording studio in Norwich (called Purple Studios) for a long weekend before Christmas and recorded the entire album live over the course of the 2/3 days. We'd been playing around with some new ideas a few months leading to December and decided that we were going to capture it live. Purple Studio has an amazing live room and we all kind of circled around Chris D and treated it as long practice. Our amps were set up in different booths so we had isolation. It took a bit of time getting used to the sound but I think we captured it perfect.

We've been back since to mix four tracks which sound fantastic (thanks to Lol and Rob at Purple Studios) and we're due to go back again shortly to finish the rest of the mixing. I think the plan is to look at getting this album out as soon as possible, along with a single release too.

Playing wise, we've played 2 great gigs recently which were supporting Esben and The Witch in Nottingham and the Joy Formidable in Leeds. Both are great bands, The Joy Formidable gig was the first of 2 gigs that they've personally invited us to play on their tour! We attracted their attention with our last EP (Crystal Dreams) and they've become fans of our sound. The nicest thing about it is that they hadn't met us until the Leeds gig, so they're obviously really into our music, which is a real confidence booster for us. Our next gig with them is at Koko, London in May. I guess we'll be playing many gigs running up to that show.

Spotlight Kid. All is Real.

What is the most important piece of gear for your sound? Any particular guitars/pedals/amps/synths you prefer?

I don't think there is any particular piece of gear that we use to create our sound. From a guitarist point of view Rob, Karl and myself have different guitar sounds; My Jazzmaster guitar is very layered with delays and reverb, whilst Rob’s Fender Jaguar provides the "Big Muff" sound and Karl’s Telecaster is more direct with a dryer sound. Karl is a big fan of the POG pedal, which provides the pitch shift sounds of Spotlight Kid. Personally, it sounds like a trumpet ensemble to me, but that's how different we are. Chris D is a fantastic drummer with his own style of playing and Matt is probably one of the best bassists I've played with. We do use samples from the laptop but these aren't the source of the sound. This combined with the dreamy vocals of Katty and Rob creates our sound.

Do you consider what you are doing to be "shoegaze"? Do you feel that you are part of the shoegaze/dream pop scene, or any scene?

I'd say we have an element of it and it's certainly an influence on our sound, but I wouldn't say we're apart of a scene simply because I don't think there is one as such. It would be great to have a scene come out because I think it provides identity and excitement. I'd love a "shoegaze" type of scene to go mainstream although some fans of the sound would disagree with me there.

What artists (shoegaze/dream pop or otherwise) have most influenced your work?

As a band we're into different music but we could probably find a link which binds us together. A couple of us are into the shoegaze bands such as Slowdive, Swervedriver, MBV and so on, but we're equally, if not all into bands of today such as Interpol, The Horrors, The Joy Formidable etc . I guess they all influence our music in different ways. There certainly isn't one band or genre of music that defines us.

Would you tell us a little about what you are currently into (bands, books, films, etc)?

At the moment I'm really into The Soft Moon and Minks - Completely different bands, but I guess they share a kind of dark wave type of sound. The Soft Moon have some great beats and sounds whilst Minks remind me of the old Cure b-sides, Kiss me Kiss me era. I'm hoping they'll both be in the UK soon.

I read a crazy book recently purchased by my girlfriend for my birthday called, "Nothing In This Book is True, But It's Exactly How Things Are". It's full of conspiracies and new age beliefs along with some geometry for added effect. Very deep but interesting stuff!

I've recently finished the first season of a DVD called Dexter - A story about a forensic scientist / mass murder who kills people who do wrong. Strangely addictive, I need to get the second series.

What do you think of modern shoegaze bands? Any favorites?

There are some great bands about and the sound is so varied I'm not totally sure if you called it shoegaze although there is an underlining link which combines them. I love Solar Field, The Field. The Soft Moon are really cool and I really like Manual too. I've always been a fan of Amusement Parks on Fire - I adore their sound!

If you had to choose one Spotlight Kid track that would be the ultimate definition of your sound and aesthetic, which would it be?

"Can't Let Go (this feeling)" - It defines the band. I love it on record and playing it live, and it's guaranteed to get us a cheer from the crowd. It's a perfect pop song!

What is your philosophy (on life), if any, that you live by?

I guess you only get out what you put in to a degree! It's a good food for thought!

Video: The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. Heart in Your Heartbreak.

Video: This Scarlet Train. Still Rain.

21 March 2011

Video: Skywave. Over and Over.

At this point, this has become a classic. If you don't own Synthstatic, we need to make that happen.

Free Download and News: Ceremony to Release New EP on Custom Made Music. Download Title Track for Free.

Ah, the merging of two of When The Sun Hits favorite entities: the incredible band, Ceremony (read our interview with them HERE), and the record label extraordinaire, Custom Made Music (read our Record Label Spotlight feature about the label HERE), are teaming up once again, and this time to release a brand new EP from Ceremony, entitled Not Tonight. Having been rabid fans of Ceremony since the absolute beginning (aw, I still remember that very first CDR from years ago), we're understandably thrilled. The release date is set for March 29, 2011 (8 days to go!). Custom Made Music is already taking pre-orders for the EP (they'll ship on March 29th), so get thyself to their website.

The track list for the EP is as follows:

1. Not Tonight
2. Leaves Me Cold
3. Dreams Stripped Away

4. Take You Down

Dave Allison of Custom Made Music has been so kind as to share with our readers the title track from Ceremony's new EP, Not Tonight, as a free download. 8 days before the rest of the world! High five. Go get it, gazers, and don't forget to support the release when it comes out by obtaining yourself a glorious tangible copy of release on March 29. Remember, pre-orders are already being taken.

Click below for
FREE DOWNLOAD: Ceremony. Not Tonight.

Upcoming European Ceremony tour dates (their first ever European tour!):

April 8th King Kong Club-Berlin, Germany
April 9th Gruner Jager-Hamberg, Germany
April 11th Koln, Germany
April 12th Exhaus-Trier, Germany
April 13th Sonnenkeller-Balingen, Baden-Wurt Germany
April 14th Zwolfzehn-Stuttgart, Germany
April 15th Kranhalle-Munich, Germany
April 16th Deposito Giordani-Pordenone, Italy

18 March 2011

Upcoming Live Shows: Bloody Knives Tour Video Promo.

Yeah, I'm pretty much going to be at these shows. I will take a bazillion photos.

Promo video: Created by Matt Spear.

Interview: Ron Cavagnaro of The Consolation Project.

You probably haven't yet heard of The Consolation Project. Nor had I until maybe a week ago, and by complete happenstance, but you won't leave this site today without knowing exactly who Ron Cavagnaro of The Consolation Project is. To me, this is the absolute best way to discover new music - no preconceived notions about sound, no idea of the artist's location or affilations, no out-of-context quotes from publications about this or that: I have a straight up, no bull shit blank slate for my first listen. 2 tracks into the album Glaciers and I was floored. As I investigated and got to talking to Ron about his work, I continued to be extremely fucking impressed. Ron, under the moniker The Consolation Project, is essentially a one man band creating some the best music I've heard in a long time in his bedroom, but virtually unknown. More unbelievable - since December 2010, The Consolation Project has released SIX (yes, seriously) albums, each one better than the last. He's released 3 full length albums already this very month (the most recent a mere 3 days ago). YES, SERIOUSLY. Ron is also a visual artist and does a podcast called Creative Underdogs that you must hear: he's recently interviewed both Mark Burgess and Steve Kilbey for the podcast (go here to download these), so CLEARLY this rates high on the kick ass scale. When The Sun Hits was thrilled to recently talk with Ron, and is honored to share his music with you. Quite frankly, it's astounding. Check out the links, MP3s and interview below. We insist. Also check out his bandcamp page, where all of these albums can be streamed for free, and more importantly, are on sale for a mere $10 USD. More than worth the price, believe us. Support this, gazers.

When exactly did you start making music, and when was The Consolation Project born?

I started making music when I was 13 or so, in 1993 using my computer and old tracker software called ModEdit. It was a dos software which was composing music in a spreadsheet type fashion. The Consolation Project was born when I started playing guitar and mixed it with the computer music. My brother told me to combine it and the project began in 1997 in my senior year in high school.

Since December 2010, you've made at least 5 albums worth of music. What the fuck? Discuss. That's amazing.

Let me correct you. Since December 2010 I have released at least 5 albums of music. I am sitting on about 20 more albums. All of these albums were created since 2007. I write very impulsively and a lot of music has come out of me. It is like breathing to me, and every song I have fully lived out, if that makes sense. It is my living journal documenting my life.

I am a very passionate person, and my music feels like it is more than a hobby. It is my essence.

So what happened between 1997 and 2007? If you released 5 albums since December 2010, I cannot imagine the massive amounts of music that happened in that decade. Were you just basically honing your craft all that time?

During that time, I had made maybe 4 or 5 full length albums. I don't like calling what I do a craft. I could get into personal stories during those times, but I guess you could say I didn't know myself completely during those times, so it was a great struggle to find focus and meaning. I also was refining my equipment and software knowledge.

In 2007, I had a huge shift in awareness and personal discovery due to many tragedies in my life. I had no other option, no one to turn to, but within. Since that time, I have been writing excessively.

You mentioned that your girlfriend, Allie Hartley, has done some of the artwork for your releases. I noticed right away how amazingly the art compliments your music. Was that just a happy accident, or do you guys work on concepts together?

Actually she has only done artwork for Cutting the Strings and photography for Lose All Control. We met because I approached her about possibly doing artwork for my album. That developed into the best relationship I have ever been in.

On the other album covers, I have done pretty much everything else.

And so you essentially do everything on the releases yourself? All the instruments, all the vocals? How many instruments do you play? The fact that you are so multi-instrumental AND so prolific is kinda blowing my mind. You're a tweaker, aren't you? It's the only explanation.

I strictly do everything on every release. It is a very selfish thing, but I learned at the age of 17 that I don't want to be in a band. It is far worse to me than having a demanding girlfriend. I have way too many ideas and feelings to convey, and I know how to get the job done by myself. I play guitar, bass, some violin noises, ocarina, percussion, and keyboard for the rest of it. The drums are all played on the keyboard, if that makes sense. I don't use any premade loops or synth presets.

The Consolation Project. We Should Be Crawling.

Ok, so not a tweaker. Got it.

(laughs) You should go on tour with that sense of humor. I think it would sell.

My humor is only equaled by your obvious sarcasm, sir. Well, what the hell, you realize that kind of prolific output is insane, right?

No, it is very effortless to me. If it's insane, I'm not aware of it.

I kind of don't understand why a lot of musicians take a long time writing and recording songs. I don't spend more than 4 hours a song from start to finish. The way I see it, if I am excited about a song, I don't strangle it to sound perfect. It kills the spark of inspiration for me.

I can listen to my own music as much as I want, and not get analytical about it. It's just like listening to one of my favorite bands.

Awareness alert: it's kinda insane. But in the best way possible!

Okay, well if it is insane, it's hell of a lot better than the highlight of my day being watching a TV show or something.

I don't even feel like I've scratched the surface of all the ideas that come to me. Usually when I sit down, I make the start of a song, then i erase it. This happens about 3-4 times. So probably every song you hear there are 3-4 aborted song ideas that you'll never hear.

Unless the television show is like, an episode of "Firefly" or "Lost". Ok, that's probably just me. (laughs) I guess my point is: this level of proficiency and prolificness is utterly rare, but you have freely admitted to me that you're essentially unknown as a musician right?

I have maybe five fans that I know of. I live in a dying city, and have never been a part of a "scene" before. I haven't had much support in what I do. Most people in my life have put down what I do, I mean completely trashed it. It won't stop me, and I'm not whining, but it really feels like there are people against what I do.

That completely pisses me off. How many musicians are there in the world that aren't as strong as you, who ARE hurt by people putting down their passion, and then turned off from making incredible music? It's kind of baffling, and part of the reason Danny and I even started this fucking blog anyway. I only needed to get about 10 minutes into Glaciers before I was completely blown away.

I admit that I have my eccentricities, and it shows in my music. Maybe I don't sing on key, but I feel like singing off key is something sacred, like a broken native American voice mourning for their losses. I think that my voice can be a big turn off to certain people. Or maybe I just haven't really had the right people hear my music!

I feel kind of trapped, because I don't have the means to go on tour, and there aren't many ways to promote this kind of music. It's exhausting to even think about that. So I'd rather just keep writing songs.

Well, let's switch gears for a second. Talk about your influences. You mentioned that you had a pretty strict christian upbringing, and you gave the example that you hadn't even heard The Cure's Disintegration until like 2001 or 2002. But your music is more than sophisticated, and basically sounds like you grew up on a nice diet of loads of my favorite musicians, plus you and I are about the same age (29 and 30). Again I ask: WTF?

I'm not sure how to respond to that one. But wow! thanks! I really don't know what to say. I just...I write.

The Consolation Project. Flowers in the Graveyard.

Well surely you have influences? I mean, you mentioned The Cure and Radiohead offhandedly before...but are you just kind of in your own world musically?

The Cure, Radiohead, The Verve, The Innocence Mission, Cocteau Twins, The Smiths, Red House Painters, and The Autumns, mainly. I'm always in my own world. Yeah.

Well, those are top notch influences - your work sounds like all of those bands got together and spawned a super awesome mutant baby. And yet, you still DISTINCTLY have your own sound, too.

I admit, I do tip my hat to all of those bands. Sometimes I feel like I am ripping them off completely and people tell me it doesn't sound anything like it. So, who knows!

Of your last 5 most recent releases, do you favor any over the others, and if so, why?

That's a really tough question. It's like asking me what page of a journal I prefer. Or what child is the best. Which breath I liked best.

This might come off as pretentious but it's the only way I can conceive of an answer. I love it all.

That IS really pretentious. (laughs) I'm kidding! I love your answer, actually, because maybe I'm a weirdo, but I think of songs as individual entities, almost living things, and to choose among them is just weird.

It's strange. It feels like my music is so close to me but at the same time it's like a band I love. So I'm so detached that it feels like I'm listening to one of my all time favorite bands, but it's me. It's strange.

Makes sense to me. That's the way it should be. So how did you meet Perry and Kim of and end up drumming on one of their releases?

I met Perry on a shoegaze music forum and added him on Facebook, and he made a post about how drum programming is frustrating. So it's not at all to me. It's just like tapping your fingers on your steering wheel to bands you love. Yeah. I bought a huge bunch of drum kits that were prerecorded in a studio, and so its real drum hits. I don't use loops. I make my own beats.

The Consolation Project. Something.

The longer I write for this blog, the more I realize the lines between genres are hazy at best. Pigeonholing art is annoying as hell, but if you had to describe your sound, how would you?

I guess if I had to put it into genre names, it lies somewhere in goth, shoegaze, dreampop, moody british drone rock.

So what else are you into - books, films, art?

I rarely read books. It's not because I am anti-intellectual, it's just hard for me to focus for that long unless it's on a computer screen. Films, I am into a lot. I could go on forever about films, but not enough to bore a moderate film watcher. Art, it's cool. That's not much of an answer.

I don't really have any obsessions or attachments...

Is that a bad answer, Miss Crain?

There is no bad answer. Except: I do not enjoy sci fi and fantasy.




Discuss the track "Returning to my Body" from Glaciers. I'm assuming it's a metaphor, and that you can't actually astrally project. Can you break down this song a little? All of Glaciers seems to be both a metaphor for coldness and alienation, as well as something literally conceptualized in the winter.

That album was written during a crazy time in my life. I felt very detached from myself, even though I had gone through a lot of growth. There was so much I was aware of, and yet so much that I was completely blind to. I had decided to illustrate all of this in a setting of a spiritual struggle through an icy landscape.

"Returning to my Body" was about falling in love with ideas, barely making it through every day feeling okay, not knowing who to trust or love.

So falling in love with "Little Touch" and in love with "crawling" was trying to return to the center of myself after being gone for so long. Loving the journey back, even if I knew it would hurt.

Do then consider It Hurts But Remains Beautiful (released March 2011) is kind of an acceptance of all of this, and finding beauty in it?

That was actually all recordings before Glaciers. (laughs). If you sit and feel what is going far beyond your own perception, there is a lot of pain in the world.

I really love the lyric "may the ghosts of fear stand in line..." (from the Glaciers track "Stand in Line"). Expound on it a little?

Most people, in my approximation, live their lives with an undertone of anxiety or fear. This could be due to many things, but it seems, many seem to give in to this. As if letting blood before true death.

Most fear comes from our past. It is ultimately a waste of energy and time. Instead of moving forward, we often find ourselves in circles. Pretty much, that line is a sort of mantra with intent to dispel this awful cycle.

If we face our fears head on, and not run, we will be stronger than the fear. We will consume the fear and use it for something beautiful, contributing to our life instead of our death.

So whether or not one may see this as a spiritual entity, atmosphere, or personal decision, that line can evoke some pretty interesting visuals

How about the song "Damage" (from the album It Hurts But Remains Beautiful)? You mentioned that it was kind of an homage to the Cocteau Twins, which I can definitely hear, but there is so much more going on. The lyrics are amazing. What was the catalyst for this track?

I had known very close friends who had been betrayed, and it started a seed which grew into that song. There are so many people who lie, cheat, and damage other people's lives, sometimes to the point of no return. I've seen it, I've lived it, and I felt like it must be something that should be addressed.

Still, the song has an inexplicably uplifting feeling to it. At least to my ears. Is this basically acceptance of what you stated above?

Yeah, it was kind of a closure to that open wound. Once I got that out of my system, it became healing.

Raven Wings strikes me as a very melancholy and dark record. It reminds me of that short period when Robert Smith was touring with Siouxie and the Banshees. Upon returning from that tour, if I'm not mistaken, Robert Smith then went on to release The Top as an essentially one man band. Am I way off base?

That album was written during a very confusing and dark time in my life.

Well, what do you mean by the lyric "I am a raven"? (laughs) YES, I understand the concept of a metaphor, but I just want to hear it in your words.

They are visually dark creatures, and have been perceived as tricksters.

And you identify with this because...?

In a very personal sense, it meant kind of being able to get out of a literally psychotic and intensely constraining situation.

Been there, done that. Not to be goth, but your lyric about ghosts is bringing to mind a line from Edgar Allen Poe's The Raven: "And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor." Have you read Poe, does that resonate at all, or am I just projecting my inner gothling on you?

I've never read Poe, ever. I just imagine the raven as being a dark, mysterious creature. With wings.

Yes, in my experience, most birds do, in fact, have wings. You should consider a future album based on owls. Also creatures of the night, with the added plus that they can twist their heads almost completely around on their necks, which is obviously awesome.

Ok, so in your music, you seem to have tapped into a lot of ancient and important metaphors without actually being aware that you are doing this. Heavy metaphors.

I don't analyze my lyrics when I'm writing them.

So it's all stream of consciousness?

Yeah, I'd say 95% stream of consciousness. The song "In the Blood" was 100% stream of consciousness; my vocals and lyrics were completely improvised on the spot. "Come on celebrate my affliction, my death in the graveyard..." was my favorite line in that song.

Sorry if that made you pee your pants.

Oh, it's cool, that's already happened at least 3 other times today.

So moving on...(laughs)

Yeah, so anyway. Yeah, it's stream of consciousness. And no, I don't read books so yeah, it is weird how my music as similarities to things I've never actually heard.

I guess my point seem to have tapped into something universal.

Yeah, maybe I have tapped in to something.

You have. Don't you know this?


Really? How much do you believe in yourself and your talent? Whoa, heavy question. My apologies. But answer it. NOW.

Do I believe what...everything? My story? Yes, I do.

The Consolation Prize. The Grey.

Well that too, but mainly that you have tapped into something without having to seek it out, like most musicians. You already have it inside you...

I believe everyone has it inside of them. But to get there, you have to pay a price for it.

You have to surrender your ego.

True. Giving in to artistic pursuits is the ultimate compromise.

If you're a true and gifted songwriter, it makes stripping look like it's an easy job. Because not only are you laying your entire soul bare, but you are wide open to light and darkness.

FYI, stripping is easy. If I can do it, anyone can. I usually strip to MBV’s “Loomer”. NOT a crowd pleaser. (laughs) Kidding.

Okay, if music didn't exist, what do you think you would be doing instead?

Playing video games, watching movies, creating video games, making 2d/3d artwork and animation.

The uber-geek in me is slightly excited about you creating video games, but let's move on. "In the Blood" (from Lose All Control) sounds like a marked departure from your usual sound, which in itself is already hard to pin down. Why is this?

Let's just say that the publicly released albums only display a small fraction of the different styles that I have worked with. "In the Blood" happened to be a fluke, I suppose! I don't feel that I control the entire process, it seems to be more of an organic flow that I follow, unsure of the final goal.

Additionally, it was a lonely time in my life.

So do you think the difficult times in your life are completely related to you creating music?

Not necessarily. A lot of my favorite songs were made during very blissful moments in my life as well. They all serve as something significant to me. More than taking a picture of a moment, or writing down a few words about my experiences.

How about gear? Any particular gear you use that is absolutely necessary to your sound? Or do you like to experiment with a variety of gear?

I am all software driven... So the gear is effects and effect chains. I need to use Ableton Live, and have my software set up on my studio computer. Within that, I love experimenting. If that doesn't already show in my albums already released.

It does. Despite being obviously detail oriented, there is also this fluidity of experimentalism that keeps the details sounding effortless. I think you mentioned that most of your songs were done in 4 hours or less, and never tinkered with again.

There is an order to it, though. It's not complete chaos. I have to be writing a song of some sort.

Well, naturally. You lay down very strong melodic foundations, but you don't let these foundations limit you as you flesh out a song. The end result sounds really free and fluid.

Yes. That is affirmative, captain. It is free. I find freedom in making music. So much in life, it feels, is trying to pull us from that kind of freedom.

Have you released anything tangible and do you have any interest at all in becoming involved with a label?

I have released a few booklets and cdr's of Cutting the Strings. I actually played a handful of the songs live on stage by myself at my girlfriend's art show opening in a record store. But none sold. If I were approached with a decent deal, I would be interested in being involved with a label.

So, Amber, why the fuck are you interviewing me? Now I'm turning the tables. What is going on here, why are you doing a feature on me for your blog?

I'm interviewing you because I get countless submissions every single day for the blog, from people who want me to hear their music. Once in a blue moon, one of those bands is awesome. And in your case, you blew my fucking mind. I cannot believe you are unknown.

I'm known to myself. Sometimes it feels like a lot of musicians try to, you know, prove something. I don't really have anything to lose or to prove.

So do you make music more for yourself than for others? Is it a personal thing, and whether others hear it or not doesn't matter?

Maybe that's why you might seem impressed, I am very humble about this stuff. It's just what I love. I write songs in a way that it goes places so much to the point where I'm not bored. There is a lot of music out there, and I'll say this: A lot of shoegazer music these days seem to be trying to prove that they are in a scene.

I write for myself, and I write for the hurting, the lost, the struggling. I create medicine music. It feels like fate calling me, and I simply follow it. I'm following my heart, not a dollar bill, or any other earthly prospect.

I'm not at all impressed by your humbleness. You are too humble. As far as the term "shoegaze" goes, even I have problems with it. It is essentially a journalism term. That's it. It's just a way to talk about something much deeper.

All we have are words when we want to talk or write about something. Words. And when all you have is words, you have to invent ones to talk about something that has no name. So we invent genre terms. It means more than what the word can convey, and encompasses more. But I do agree with your scene assessment. The shoegaze revival is kind of upsetting, only because I'm afraid the term will be ruined. The original meaning of the term has been diluted. And the original term was almost derogatory, and then became a positive term for a genre. It's an interesting progression.

You have to admit there are a lot of people making tuna fish sandwich and glass of milk shoegazer music. It's not just a journalism term. I'm not saying this to every band that has that label. I just need something amazing and unique. I need to be wowed.

I think there is something lasting from that movement that is NOT being replicated. The only reason I love shoegaze music is that the atmosphere moves my heart, my spirit.

It is THIS atmosphere that I speak of is of a genuine expression. I admit, I have my influences, man. But I'm not leeching off of them. People told me I sounded like The Cure or Radiohead before I ever heard them. You see?

Yes, that is exactly what I mean. To me, shoegaze isn't a particular sound. Tt's an atmosphere, it's a feeling, it's this shared mindspace. You hear it and you recognize it for what it is.


But all we have is words. And so we use what we have. "Shoegaze" is all we have, but there is so much meaning and variation in that one term.

If a guitar tone can break through my cynicism towards music, like Ride's "Polar Bear", I am SOLD.

Exactly. "Shoegaze" has its hallmarks, like guitar tone, feedback, distortion, atmosphere...but really, how much does that encompass? so much. I consider the Silver Apples to be proto gaze. They were 60s. Velvet Underground. Proto. The Beatles' "Strawberry Fields Forever" is a shoegaze/dream pop fetus. All of this, to me, plays it's role.

Right. I always have epic feelings. All the time. It's an open faucet. Sometimes I wish I didn't have all of this inside of me. It doesn't stop. And it's not a mental illness, it's a spiritual energy. I've had it since I was very young.

Every day is awash with emotions, light, shadows. Every moment is new to my eyes. As if I am born every second. I am constantly inspired by everything around me. I mean of course I am going to get deeply into something like music and technology to reflect some of this.

I just know a lot of musicians that labor over a single album for years, and it still can't touch one of yours.

I wouldn't know that much. You know, I'm very much in my own world, most of the time.

Well so there's your answer. This is why you are special. This is why I wanted to interview you.

It is hard to have a lot of friends because I am constantly awash with ideas and piecing them together. When I talk to people, sometimes they have no idea how I went from topic A to topic Z in 10 seconds. So I could sit down and tell them what thought led to the next, but, hey, that's a waste of my time.

I'm much the same way. And quite frankly, I don't want a point by point description of how you make a song! (laughs)

It all makes sense, you know. If I explain it.

Of course it does.

There's no way I would ever subject anyone to that. Not even you, Amber.

Its like, well, modern day magic. I don't need to know. You just do it. You do what you do. I do what I do. We don't need to explain. We just need to do it. There is no other option. To me, art is magic. Yes, there is technique, there has to be. But that spark has to exist, too, that rare spark, and it can't be explained. Nor should it be. It's been a mystery since...always.

I feel like I weave all of this information into what I do. I am moved, and have this almost incessant urge deep inside of me to move others. When I say move, I mean emotionally wake up people. Wake them up to themselves, to the beauty inside of them, the sadness inside of them, the pain of existence, the truth within them. I don't understand it when I show someone a song, and they can only say "Oh, that's cool."

It's unrealistic to expect anything more than that, but at the same time, I am shocked that people don't get it.

This wordless thing. It's not a product. I often feel like an outcast in this world. Even when interacting with a lot of other musicians or artists.

The Consolation Project. Let It Surround.

That's because even around like-minded individuals, we have our own magic. Completely individual.

Yet, when I do my Creative Underdogs podcast and interview really great musicians who I really appreciate, we completely relate.

The connection is passion. Not identical mind sets.

Yes! I am very visual when I make songs. When I say make songs, I play and sing at the same time. Right now, I'm listening to one of my albums, and I swear to god it's like a movie soundtrack. Everything.

Random, but: Do you ever experience synesthesia while making art?

I think I do experience that. Not to any extremes. But even as a child, I remember eating oatmeal cookies and peeking around the corner and David Lynch's Dune was on. Remember that fat baron, when he was dying and bleeding everywhere? The oatmeal cookies had jam in the center. So I'm standing there watching this fat guy with bumps all over his face bleeding everywhere and gurgling.

I completely felt like the texture in my mouth was what I was watching, and it made me gag like crazy. Needless to say, I don't think I can ever eat an oatmeal cookie like that without thinking of that scene. Ever again.

It's really not abstract, you know. Orange doesn't play a C# with a church organ or anything.

(laughs) I disagree! Well, not about orange in particular.

Bring it.

Are you saying I can eat an oatmeal cookie and not think of that scene? Maybe there's hope for me?

Synesthesia is more about using another one of your five senses to interact with something that should only hit, say, your ears. For instance, there are music notes to me that are colors. There are colors to me that make me think of sound, or of texture. You don't see a color when you hear a warm guitar tone versus a cold one?

This might sound weird, but maybe not. Like, when I hear lovesliescrushing, my mind's eye opens to spiralling, complex spires. Glowing crystal structures. My mind's eye gets very mystical and complex. It's never something simple.

YES. Fucking exactly, man. It's like another dimension. It IS another dimension. For example, to me, Ride's guitars sparkle. In my mind, they sparkle. And they sound like colors of the sky, in all its permutations. Blue, grey, stormy, dawn, dusk, noon. Cheesy, but true.

And you must know, none of my music has ever been written or recorded or performed with any substance other than nicotine.

Substances can enhance these experiences, but in different ways. Ultimately, the most important is the natural way. That's the real thing.

I reach states of being high naturally...I'm usually a very spacey person too. When I'm making songs, I lose all sense of time.

I get so excited that I have to stand up and pace around, light a cigarette. In five minutes time, I have just finished the song in my mind, even more words, even more ideas on where to go next.

And you know what, when I'm done making an album, and I listen to the one I did before that, I usually don't remember how the HELL I made it

It's kind of a weird phenomenon for myself.

Because you lose yourself in it. And you SHOULD.


You can only gain by first learning to lose.

Everything is a paradox, and the deeper you try to analyze it, the heavier each side of the paradox weighs. It's like those chinese finger traps. That's like the entire spiritual condition for human beings. The riddle becomes tighter the further you go into it.

Exactly. I think a lot of people only think of their own lives, that's all there is. Them. All I have to do is look up at the sky to know how small I am. But I am both huge and small.

Yes. And so here I am, instinctually making these, you know, literal vibrations, and capturing them, and being moved by these spheres of meaning that I catch along the way. Songs.

Do you feel that they come completely from inside you? Or do you feel that you are simultaneously tapping into something larger than you?

To be honest, I have no answer to that. Yes and no. The deeper I get into it, the heavier the paradoxical trappings.

In my mind, it's a collaboration between you and all time - past, present and future. If that makes sense.

It does.

The Consolation Project. You Collide.

I think we have whole universes inside of us. (laughs) Don't laugh at me! I do. Even our brain cells resemble, in structure, galaxies.

We have our own universe inside of us, and we explore it at the same time exploring this world, and even beyond. If we can let go of the trappings of this person we are now, and let all of that in, we can do more than we ever thought.

As do branches, water, lightning strikes...

So pretty much, yeah. Unless we put up a huge fight, or are completely unaware and ignorant, we will do what our natural inclinations lead us to. We're not just throwing down ideas and philosophies here to just say them. This is ALL encompassed in what we do. In what I do.

We are more than just bags of flesh and bone wandering the planet. There is something skeletal in the undertow that has so much meaning, weight, and depth, and I'll tell you, I can see it clearly.

If you had to identify a philosophy about life that you hold, what would it be (if any)?

Change is the only constant, nothing is permanent, and we're all going to die. So to live in the best way, we should be grateful for what we have, not whining about what we don't have.

*All artwork and photography images in this piece were done by Ron Cavagnaro or Allie Hartley.