Tell us about the album.
The Album is titled Midnight Latitudes. It is a
collaboration between myself and Mars Syndicate. It is being released through
Con Troppo Records and will be available through all the usual suspects.
The album is a sort of aural-noir movie revolving around a
character known only as The Detective. It incorporates elements of
spoken word/acting, music and ambient soundscapes to tell an open ended,
While there is a definite story, we left a lot opaque. If the
story had been done in more of a traditional style, after you learn what
happens to everyone it would sort of lose tension upon repeated listening.
There are lots of things open to interpretation as far as the narrative goes.
While, to some extent all the pieces are connected, they can be listened to
individually without one getting the sense that they are only glimpsing the
truncated part of a larger body of work.
Above all else, mood and a work of art which is compelling
enough for repeated listening was our mission, our goal.
What inspired you to start this very different project?
I am always up for trying a collaboration. Under the ideal
situation both artists give the other a new way of viewing and creating their
art. The timing had been, by pure chance, perfect. I had just spent a year
delving into the music and theories of some of the 20th Century
composers (Schoenberg, Ligetti, Le Sixe et al), I had just started tinkering
around (again) with instruments myself. I had made one other album and after
that experience and what I am doing now and what I am into now, those
experiences helped solidify in my head exactly what I wanted and the best way
to go about it. Done a year or two ago, this album would be good but not as
How did you get together with Mars Syndicate?
There is a great online arts journal called Arts
Aside from their site, they have an online radio station too. The station had
been featuring a single from my first CD. They heard that and dropped me a
line. We met in a little no-name bar and over some Laphroig discussed the
possibilities of doing this project. We come from very different places, but it
very quickly became apparent that the project would work and be an experience.
What have you learned in the process?
To further evolve every artist must leave their comfort zone.
There were times during recording I felt self conscious about singing or
acting as opposed to doing just a dry reading which I often
resorted to in the past, but I sucked it up and did it. As uncomfortable as I
felt at the time, the album sounds all the better for it. I had a little mantra
I would say sometimes before recording, concerning how no one could see the
silly faces I would make while trying to hit the notes, and to just go for it.
A few of the pieces are based off of stories I had written way
before the project had surfaced. I would never have thought they could be
performed in any way orally, since they jumped from perspective and changed
tenses, being too rhythmically complex for an audience to follow. At best, the
audience would have walked away with an image from these stories which they
enjoyed. Now the story is, without having been changed, understandable. Those
types of limitations, the concept of the proper medium for me to get a story
across, have drastically changed now.
What is the sound like?
Unlike my last project 95% of what you hear is real musicians
playing. When we first started we had an idea of a noir-like feel and theme. We
wanted to avoid any type of semblance towards nostalgia or any type of homage.
We allowed for influences, but really, used those as starting point references.
We initially used some of my more recent stories which all were
linked in some way. Very quickly I became inspired and wrote new stuff
specifically for the album.
We solidified the plot which then introduced rules.
We imagined the main character in some Latin American country, Argentina. I
liked the idea that to some extant there is a European influence, so you can go
to an opera, sit in a café, but the weather is different, the sky is
different. It is alien without being too much so, to the point of distraction.
We purposely kept it timeless, but since it was this imagined Argentina, we
tried to use mainly acoustic instruments, jazz instruments. Now and then we did
break our own rules, of course. There is one piece which is a dark, trancy
Gamelan piece. This of course has nothing to do with the land the main
character is living out his exile in, but it has such mood and power, it works
Josh Mad-Chops is a multi instrumentalist from a
musical family. He is actually a double threat in that he is also a studio
wizard. The album is full of layered little sonic candies, in many ways it is
the return of the headphone album, a dying art.
When we were first planning this whole adventure out, I had
expressed my wish to be closely involved, more so than just coming in and
knocking out the vocals. We have actually written some of the music together.
And were constantly brain storming on the over all feel and sonic lay of the
land. Sonically it is very much a joint effort, which for me was an unexpected
pleasure. From being more hands on in the music part it opened up new rhythmic
possibilities in my writing.
He has some old and obscure equipment too, a sort of musical
version of the island of forgotten toys. Aside from vocal aspects I appear on
the album noodling around on E-Bowed guitar, electric sitar, and piano. My
humble performances, instrument wise are on top of all the things he has going
on. I think, for some of this equipment it is their last session and that
crumbling beauty he managed to capture further adds depth to what we have done.
For the recording, I had turned the text into a sort of script,
everybody got a copy. Each character had their own back story. The back stories
do not actually appear on the CD, but when it was time for everybody to record
their parts, it gave both their characters and performance more of an organic
What kind of music do you listen to?
I have really big ears, but my main thing is classical and
Jazz. John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk, Gustav Mahler and Stravinsky are the guys
I listen to all the time. I like some eclectic stuff too. Long have I talked
about my enjoyment of The Paris Combo and my crush on Belle Du Berry. Music is
such an inspiration to me, I always have something on. What I have on depends
upon my mood and what I am doing.
After the album is released we will promote that. We are looking
into logistics of some type of small tour. Both of us being jazz fans, we are
looking forward to doing some of the pieces live, in a completely different way
than they appear on the album.
While we were doing this album we had other musical ideas, more
electronic in nature, which did not fit with what we were doing. We will do an
album, drastically different than this one, of that type of thing. That is down
the road a ways though.