Artist Spotlight Interview - Silence_castor
With the fresh new release of A Question Of Time, Silence_castor takes us on a trip out of a musical journey.
Spinning synths and ethereal neo-vaporwave style blend together and explode into a VHS dream.
This 4 track EP has a lot to soak in and its pretty damn fun to do just that.
With tracks that feel like a vast desert soundscape and others that are indie-pop with floating vibes, the record feels like falling into a dream.
Obviously we had to talk with these guys about the release and more.
RAG: Okay so let's start with A Question Of Time. This is a very ethereal and ambient EP that brings several genres together and creates quite an atmosphere of its own. Where did this EP come from?
Silence_castor: This EP was the culmination of a group of tracks I had been playing in my live set for a while. I started playing gigs and live-streaming right before COVID became our reality, so by the time I wanted to release these, it felt like I was in a bit of a different place mentally and musically. With that in mind, I just decided to flesh these tracks out completely and have them all be part of one intense bite sized EP.
RAG: It sounds like a lot went into this record, did it take a long time to create?
Silence_castor: I'd been jamming on a couple of these tracks for a few months and honing them into what I wanted, but the other two (Fester and Moors of Reason) were just products of one or two jam sessions. They were both very much "I heard it in my head. Let's get it recorded"-type situations. All in all, I'd say this album took a grand total of 6 months to refine and have mastered, which feels quick to me. In comparison, my first album and my upcoming album have taken a year on average.
RAG: With so many sounds on this EP, I was wondering what were your biggest influences? Are there artists or bands that really changed you?
Silence_castor: My biggest influences throughout my life have definitely been Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails, and Black Flag. All three are incredibly different, but have affected my understanding of music in their own significant ways at different points in my life. However, since most of my recent listening has been electronic music, some more current influences include Lorn, Jon Hopkins, and Clark.
RAG: How did this all begin for you?
Silence_castor: I have played guitar, bass, trumpet, and piano for most of my life. I luckily had a curriculum in my elementary school that pushed kids to at least try 1 year of any instrument and I think that played a huge role. I wound up sticking with the school band all the way up until highschool, at which point I was playing electric guitar/bass guitar for the school jazz band. Through college and up until a few years ago, I was in a punk band with my best friend called Zodiac Sutra. That experience tends to factor heavily into the gnarlier sounds in my music. I played guitar religiously up until these last 3 years or so, when I started dipping my toe into the electronic world. I had a friend who introduced me to his DJ setup which involved a turntable, a mixer with a Kaoss Pad able to pull samples on the fly, and an Arturia MicroBrute. He was able to pull out these super inspiring beats with lightning speed... I was hooked. What started with an MPK Mini playing instruments in Fruity Loops, ended up as a table full of synths, sequencers, etc. I think when things really started clicking for me creatively however, was when I purchased my first Elektron, the Digitakt.
RAG: Is there anything coming next for you? Anything in the works even now?
Silence_castor: I'm currently working on my second full length album, Portals, as well as the second album for my band Void Castor with my good friend Audible Void. Portals will involve a wider range of sounds, as well as some new vocal work from Danielle Ferrara, another friend of mine. I'm really excited about it and I'm hoping to wrap it up soon(ish)!
RAG: How do you record your stuff? The production is really in depth.
Silence_castor: So up until recently, I had been recording a lot of my tracks into an old analog Mackie mixer, then mixing and refining everything in FL Studio. The vast majority of tracks were primarily written/sequenced on the Digitakt, which I would then send into a stereo channel, then my Prophet or any of the synths being sequenced by the Digitakt's MIDI tracks would go through separate channels, which would all finally be funneled into the Left and Right ins of my audio interface. Last year, I decided to upgrade my Mackie to the new Tascam Model 12, which happens to be an analog mixer/interface combo, allowing me to record each channel separately and simultaneously. Since then, recording has been a breeze. All of my recording is done from my desk at home. On one side of the desk I have my computer tower where Fruity Loops (and an extensive collection of video games) lives. On the other half of my desk is an Elektron Digitakt, Octatrack, and Analog Heat; a Moog DFAM, Mother32, and Modular Rack; a Sequential Prophet REV2; and a Yamaha Reface CP. All of these beauties can be run through the Empress Effects ZOIA or the modular for any number of FX. Once I finish an album, I send it over to my favorite local recording spot, Robot Dog Studio, where my friend Ryan Cohen does an incredible job mastering. I tend to really enjoy tape saturation, so I will often record tracks to cassette in my Tascam, or have Ryan record them on reel to reel.
RAG: Would you ever try and perform these live? And if so how would you pull that off?
Silence_castor: I have performed some of A Question of Time and Sounds of the Enemy, but I only started playing shows last year and had only had the chance to line 2 up before the quarantine. I've also done a handful of livestreams since then. Playing live involves a lot of set up for me, as I like to have complete control during a show. Every time I am about to play, I will go through the whole set a few times, sample down any live synth parts to the Digitakt or Octatrack (saves me having to haul the Prophet to a venue), and take notes on pattern lengths, song layout, and transitions. So far, I have only played live shows with the Digitakt, Analog Heat, and the Prophet combo. Although it's a solid setup, I felt like I had a bit of a lack of control in improvisational and remix abilities. Since purchasing the Octatrack, that limitation has been obliterated.
RAG: This feels like a concept record, is that true?
Silence_castor: I think in some way most of my albums or planned albums tend to be conceptual in nature. My original plan for a career was becoming a comic book artist, so I can't help myself when it comes to telling a story. A Question of Time's message definitely plays to the current climate in the world, be it political, ethical, or personal. It almost plays in reverse chronological order, starting with The Island, which is meant to be a post apocalyptic radiation drenched sci-fi setting. Moors of Reason plays out almost as if you are living during the actual fall, with the melancholy lyrics pondering the life about to be lost. Plates of course is the deliberation and panic felt before society's meltdown, and the questions that would be asked. Then finally, Fester, is where I felt I was stuck during the writing of it; trapped indoors watching time go by through computer screens and hoping normality would soon return.
RAG: Sounds like music takes up a lot of your life. What do you do when you're NOT working on music?
Silence_castor: Quite honestly, it's been increasingly difficult to motivate myself to write music or jam at all during this crisis. Luckily, I work as a Web Developer during the day and freelance as a Graphic Designer for my side hustle. These things have both kept me busy and sane this last year. I love to draw, hike, camp, snowboard... I'm definitely a huge fan of the outdoors, as well as high intensity adrenaline junkie type activities.
RAG: Is there anything you'd like to express to fans of the music?
Silence_castor: I just want to give a genuinely heartfelt thank you to any and all fans. I used to write music and record it just for my own enjoyment and really didn't put much online at all up until about 3 years ago. A good friend of mine heard a few of my tracks and started pushing me to share it. Within a few weeks, I had an Instagram and had built out pages on Spotify, Bandcamp, and Soundcloud. Since then, I have connected with so many other artists and groups. It really is amazing how enjoyable something can become when you have a bunch of creatives to share it with. Some of the artistsI listen to daily now, I've found and become friends with through Instagram!
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