The Freio Music Podcast
Episode 025 - Banshee Tree
The featured artists in this episode of the Freio Music Podcast are Michelle Pietrafitta, Thom Lafond, Jason Bertone and Nick Carter of Banshee Tree. These friends and creative allies are taking their careers in a new direction by exploring a new sound. A distinct break from the past, the new album features new members and styles. The conversation is a fun one and explores the necessity for clarity of mind, sobriety, and the courage to explore the unknown.
The Freio Music Podcast
Episode 022 - ill-esha
The featured artist in this episode of the Freio Music Podcast is Ill-Esha AKA Elysha Zaide. She is a Vancouver-born and Colorado-based music producer, artist and DJ. ill-esha has crafted a long-standing soundscape of bass music throughout her career, continuously evolving her musical stylings and bridging gaps between electronic, hip hop and soul. Recognized as an extremely rare and diverse artist in the EDM scene, ill-esha is constantly pushing the boundaries of live sets with everything from loop pedals to keytars. Constantly evolving her dynamic and versatile musical taste, she is a perfect example of electronic music’s transition towards live instrumentation and indie pop sensibility.
The Freio Music Podcast
Episode 017 - Godlazer
The featured artist in this episode of the Freio Music Podcast is Chris Caligaris aka Godlazer. Chris produces some heavy and funky beats that traverse genres and bend expectations. He started out in a death metal band and now drops dubstep on the regular.
The Freio Music Podcast
Episode 01 - HÄANA
This episode's featured artist is HÄANA. She shares some amazing stories about her life's journey and her travels throughout the world. HÄANA is a classically trained violinist who utilizes electronic (digital) and organic (analog) elements to blend her creations into delicate works of art. HÄANA will take you on her journey from playing on the streets of Europe to playing festivals and shows around the world!
This episode's featured artist is HÄANA. She shares many entertaining stories including one about nearly drowning in water during the creation of her music video. She also shares a pivotal moment when she found herself penniless on the streets of Europe with only her violin to earn a living. HÄANA is a classically trained violinist who utilizes electronic and organic elements to blend her creations into delicate works of art. This episode is on the longer side but will keep your ears gripped to the speakers as she reveals details about her life and career that have never been shared on record. She discusses collaborations with some of the top artists in the electronic field as well as the process she uses to finalize her creations. Haana Thiem is a violinist, producer, and creator / founder of two record labels Paper Gold Records and Deep Sonos. Stay tuned!
HÄANA Podcast Transcription
Start out by introducing yourself
My name is Haana Thiem, I go by HÄANA on stage. I am very particular about my brand because it is recognizable, and what people read, see and hear. I live in L.A. now. I used to live in New York and the east coast for about 10 years, before New York was Boston. I am kind of a nomadic individual. I love the question “where have you been?” rather than “where do you live?” or “where were you born?” because that doesn’t say a lot about a person, I think.
In that light then, where are some of the highlights of where you have been?
Well some of the most special places, I lived in Germany for a year. I lived in Spain for almost a year. I lived in Granada . I lived on an island in the Mediterranean called Formentera, which is just south of Ibiza. Then I traveled through Greece. I was studying Greek and I was going to move to Crete, but instead I moved to Boston somehow. They are kinda parallel, kinda not. I studied German, studied Spanish. I have had opportunities to play in a whole bunch of different places but, for a moment I realized that, all the traveling was kind of confusing me. But what I wanted to do instead, was hone my art, and my craft, and my offering and then travel. Which is how it has turned out.
Great, so where were you honing your craft? Was it in the Mediterranean?
It kinda started there. The really interesting turn of events. Should we get into it?
Sure. Ya, lets get into it. That’s why we are here.
Well, lately i have been posting old photos of me from when I was 21 living in Formentera and living in Spain. It is a really Inspiring story. I think it is important to share the back story. I feel like people want to know about that. I tend to shroud myself in a bit of mystery. I want to let more people in, so thank you for the opportunity. I was living in Granada, Spain and at that point I wasn’t performing on violin that much. I started playing Violin when I was three but I was studying languages in college. So, I bought a violin while in Spain and started playing casually on the street. It wasn’t until, this was the turning point of my whole career, somebody stole my wallet. I had no money. So, I decided that I would go put on a costume with a beautiful shirt and shall or something. I don’t know, It wasn’t really a costume, but something to make me feel different and embolden me. Then I went to this restaurant, near where I lived in the old Arab district, and performed outside for all the people dining. Then I went around and asked for a tip. People gave me, at that point it was the one and two Euro coins, so you could make a decent amount. It wasn’t really the money but the validation that people really enjoyed it. So was making up beautiful songs and performing very firey, and they loved it. So I was like wow, I can do this. So I would start to make my rounds in the evenings and would make about 80 Euros in about 15 minutes. Then my new debit card finally came so I could have access to my money but I had started a whole new career path.
Wow that is amazing. A lot of people would be very upset and let the it ruin their day or week for vacation or moment but you were able to seize opportunity in the difficulty. Now tell me about that costume, I am just interested. You said “embolden you”, was it like armor against negative thoughts, or a hater out there would ‘boo’ at the first show?
Kinda of. Hahah. Well, just to give you a little more backstory, I started classically. Sometimes it is really hard to get out of that classical mode and to make up your own music. To improvise. To be free. To not read music off of a sheet. At that point, I was really feeling not very inspired by playing dead people’s music. You know? And how to put the emotion into it? When i started to improvise, I was sort of tapping into this feeling. I am naturally an introvert. A lot of people don’t know that about me either because I am up on these big stages all the time. I have diagnosed myself recently as being an extroverted-introvert.
Ok? If you don’t mind, go on about that (being an extroverted-introvert) how does that happen?
Ok, but I would like to explain one more piece to the Spain story. The costume itself helped pull me out of my shell. Helped me feel like a different person. Like oh, if this fails or doesn’t work out, than nobody knew it was me. So, I was a different person.
Did it help break you free of the classical mindset, being dressed up in a costume?
Ya, I ended up meeting a dancer from Barcelona, her name was Sophia. She would do this flamingo-mime ballet movements. My music would inspire her movements and the reverse. We ended up traveling to Barcelona. She lived on an organic compound just outside of Barcelona. So we ended up traveling to Formentera and living on an island in the mediterranean and performing every day. It was amazing. To this day, I still perform with dancers, especially with ballerinas. You never know where life will take you.
Thats awesome. If you could go back to the ‘Extroverted Introvert’. What does that mean to you?
So I used to be extremely shy. To the point of not really even knowing how to talk to people. Not that extreme but as a kid I was a thinker. I loved to read and hang out by myself. I was always an artist drawing and photographing. My dad gave me a camera when I was four or five, which its also my parallel career as a photographer. My older sister was always very extroverted. I feel that in birth order the kids want to be different than their siblings. I was more the quiet thinker. The pensive one. Then what actually happened is that I started working in a restaurant. When you have a role, there are things you need to say to have people order food. I would just make jokes. I started my standup comedian career at that moment. To get people to laugh to interact to get to meet them. You don’t have to go very deep. You just have conversations. Through that i learned how to be a bit more extroverted. To this day when I meet people, I really try to get to the root of who they are. Rather than “how are you?” “where are you from?” “what do you do?”. Those questions are so boring. Ask interesting questions. Sometimes making a silly joke or asking something interesting, where it feels natural but getting to the heart of the person. That’s how i like to interact with people. I still remain a very one-on-one person. I don’t really like big groups. But there is something about being on a stage where I just embody this energy. Where I am pulling everyone into my world. Kind of captivating. I am definitely an extrovert but in an introverted role. But I don’t know, I’m sure there are other people like me out there. [laughter / chuckles]
I’m sure there are. When you are on stage does it feel like the crowd is giving you energy?
It does. So you kinda take in that group collective energy. That is great. Well now that you have made it difficult for me to ask good questions because you have ruled out all the shitty questions.
Haha. No you can ask me those boring questions. I don’t care.
I have one that is super general and kind of a curveball but I am curious where everyone takes it. What is music to you?
Music is a universal language. You can talk to everyone about it. Even people who are deaf. They can still feel vibrations.
I have seen at some shows there is a deaf area where there are balloons for people to hold and feel the vibrations.
Or I think the sub-pack as well. My friend David Starfire and Zach are working with Sub-Pack and I am pretty sure they do these workshops with Deaf children and everyone wears this sub-pack that you can feel the vibrations, especially the bass frequencies.
I couldn’t agree more that it [Music] is a universal language. Being yourself, well traveled, how do you associate the different cultures that you have been with and how do they meld or culminate in your sound.
I have spent a good amount of time in Iceland. That was such a beautiful and inspiring time there. My solo-project started just after my first time in Iceland. I didn’t realize…. now reflecting upon it I see the inspiration that that gave me and where I started to take the music. Before that, I had a band called ‘Copal’ and I also had an electronic project called ‘Nixis’. Then I studied at ‘Dub Spot’ and got into my own music production. As in producing all of the music. Not just writing the melodies & harmonies and having other people to the other content, the rhythms and bass lines. The very first song that I produced for my solo project, HÄANA, was called “Brym Al Mar” . I have a music video for that out. It was the biggest project manifestation of my artistic vision to that point. So that in itself was incredible. Brym, the word, means the salt spray hitting the rocks or surf. But surf sounds funny. Salt spray sounds more romantic. Al Mar, is in Spanish, of the sea. The melody itself was inspired by a Norwegian folk song. The video goes into life and death and multiple iterations. Also this folktale about the ‘Norns’. In Nordic mythology these three sisters who weave the threads of past, present, and future. So you will see this in the video. It is kind of abstract but I love things to be mysterious. You will see the Norns weaving the threads of life and you will see me going through this iteration. Being in a white dress on top of a cliff and then fall into the water and emerge as this badass with a mohawk wearing all black with a black hardanger fiddle by the fire. So it is incorporating a lot of the elements.
There are a lot of people out there who don’t have a music video and who do have music. In that light, did you dream up this vision of yourself in the music video? How did it come to be? Were you working with a producer?
Well, I met this dear friend, a very creative individual, “Armin Matine” (sp?) in New York. I knew that this song really needed a music video. I knew that that’s what I wanted before I released it. So I told him about my idea. I am a photographer, I don’t think in moving pictures. I think in fames, snapshots and composition. I told him what my idea was. Then he really dove deep into it. He is this incredible creative individual. He works on big commercial projects in New York but this he took on as a personal project. So he did a lot of research. He discovered the Norns. I didn’t even know they existed. He wove all these different story threads. I was like wow, how are we ever going to be able to do this? I don’t have that much money to pull this off.
Ya, and the song is only so long.
Ya. He does CGI [computer generated images] and After-Affects.
So you didn’t actually take a cliff dive?
Well I will get into that, if we want to. Depends on how long you want to make this interview. So then he presented it to Alice. Alice Miller, who is an incredible cinematographer in New York. She apparently has been obsessed with the Norns since she was a little girl. so she was like “yes! I want to do this”. So she took it on as a personal project as well. The three of us were very interested in creating a piece of art. Sometimes when people really take on an idea and take ownership of it, a lot more beauty can come out of it. Because it is not just the dollar sign. It’s not the commercial product. Its the art mission. The passion. So then everyone that we hired for the team…. You know, we had a budget. Everyone wasn’t getting their commercial rate but everyone was pulling 200% of their energy. We had this incredible assistant photographer and an incredible lighting designer. Part of the shoot was done underwater. We used the black-light cannons. They basically spent the whole day setting up this part of the shoot, that you can see in the video, that is under water. It was incredible. The piece that they didn’t do. They didn’t heat the pool, and it was May. I was supposed to fall into the pool backwards from a diving board into the water. I was like “ok, calm face. Calm face. It’s going to be great. It is going to be wonderful”. But, you know there is fear involved. Wearing this long dress. We added more fabric to the dress because we went shopping for fabrics that would glow with the blacklight cannon. I was envisioning how it would be in the water. I bought a cheap throwaway violin on Ebay for like $30. So the violin was going to go into the water. I was envisioning me twirling in the water look in the water, playing violin in this whole romantic beautiful scene. The reality is…. I fall into the water backwards. I’m sure my face had some sort of grimace on it. I fall in and then I am trying to swim up but my dress wrapped around my legs. I could not swim. I couldn’t move. So we have slow motion footage of the lighting designer diving in to rescue me and pull me to the surface. All this water came out of my nose and ears. It was like I was waterboarded. Oh, also I had this makeup artist Jess Toth (sp?), who did this waterproof makeup look on me. My makeup did not budge one bit, thanks to her. So she was like “you can’t do that again”. She was like “if you don’t feel good we can stop this right now”. I was like “no, no we can do it”. So we did that sequence a couple more times. One of the best shots we did was, I holding on to the edge of the pool because I didn’t want to fall in again. With my dress and with the violin in the water, waving it back and forth, creating this abstract texture, which you can see in the physical CD. I did a beautiful print of that particular shot, inside [the CD]. That was a pretty incredible experience. It was a three day shoot and the end result was something that looked like we spent twenty grand on it. We just pulled our resources. It was just something that I was feeling so passionate about it and I just knew I needed to invest what ever I could in it. I really truly believe that if you think big, and if you act big, than even if you are not quite there yet, you will get there. Also thinking of it like a legacy. This is a forever project. So I didn’t want to put anything out there that wasn’t top top top quality. Top caliber. I also didn’t want to do a Kickstarter campaign for it because I would prefer that it was something that I am funding, I am not asking people for money. I think that sometimes those things [Kickstarter Campaign] can be successful, but sometimes it is sort of a more begging thing.
It is kind of like losing control because you don’t have control over the budget and can’t plan accordingly.
I think it is important to put out the best quality work you can, because it will be for forever. Well, we don’t know really what the future holds but I’m thinking it will live for forever.
Forever, as long as foreseeable. Working with that production team but also musically… building your albums and recording it… Collaborating with other musicians and sound engineers… How do you build and cultivate a team that helps you succeed? Can you speak to the building of teams?
Sure. Well, “Brym Al Mar” was the first song I did for my solo project, I actually went through a few iterations with a few different producers. My friend Benny Cante (sp?) did some of the dubstep growls and textures. Empsh Subatomic worked with me. [He said] “before we actually mix this, I think we need to go into the sounds, themselves. Let's get the best kick drum sound we can. Let's get the best textures. Because if you have the best quality audio, than everything else will follow”. He also had there idea to merge, you know when you are doing electronic music with violin and vocals. Kinda merging those elements so that it is not this cold, stark electronic content. When I went into the studio I recorded peppercorns rice shakers, these organic shaker textures and then also this Icelandic jaw harp I had. Just in the act of having a few organic percussive elements helped fuze those two worlds together. The digital and analogue. From there I had it mixed by Ming, who is another producer in New York, who Empsh introduced me to. It is kind of like you connect with one person and another person and another person. But really I wanted to find the person who really fit, and really understood what I was doing and really got me. Working with Ming, super fast and efficient. There are some moments in the song where there are transitions, I didn’t really know how that would work. But it [the song] still wasn’t there. Even after all those people. Then I finally brought it to Dave Sharma. He mixed that whole EP that I released. I basically sat with him for a bunch of the sessions. The processes with that is finding where the song wants to live, which is interesting. Each song actually has a place where it wants to live. I have approached a lot of my music as an artistic expression, that's really important. I am not producing something that anyone else has any quality control over. It's not a commercial label that has this specific thing that they want me to fit into. Its my expression. I am ultimately giving the “yes” or “no” to the final product. I really felt that Dave got my vision. [He] was pulling out elements of each song. When we were working on [the song] ‘Phavet’, which is inspired by a Finnish a capella women’s chorus, as represented by violins. I had a particular way that I thought the track should go, but he was like “no, let's try it this way”. I was like "ok, well I’m open to it”. I am very happy with that direction we took. Then finding a mastering engineer, that's another critical piece. I have been working with AudibleOddities. He [Shawn Hatfield] has worked with some of the top electronic artists like Amon Tobin. I am an audiophile. Finding people who really care about audio and sound quality. The first track I sent him to master came back perfect. No need to revise things.
For this release that I did with Desert Dwellers they put Leya, I think I release it in 2015. It was Laya and then four remixes by a few different artists; Haj I Ji, An-Ten-Nae, Kaminanda, and Twin Shape. They used a different mastering engineer. I think we went through four or five different revisions with that one.
So it pays to get the right person.
Again investing just a little more, because it is a legacy that will live forever.
Thanks for sharing. Tell me about Paper Gold Records.
Well... Paper Gold Records is actually my label. At the moment I am the only artist on it, but my vision with it, which could tie into what you are doing, is to inspire young girls and women to pursue a career in music, and the whole world of electronic music. There could be definitely be a lot more women that could take on that challenge. So with Paper Gold, it is currently a vanity label but my vision is to take that to the next level and have it be a platform for other artists to release their music on.
How do you make a record label? Not all artists are willing to put in the work. Tell me how that is for you and how you balance dealing with the record label and all of the political/ legal hoops that you need to jump through.
It is getting easier and easier to release your own music and to be an independent artist. Sometimes it is good to have an additional avenue to release your music. First of all, its quality control. Also if I own all the pieces of my music, than getting it placed for television, for a commercial, for films… If I own of my publishing and all of my mastering… The down side to it though is that when you are part of a bigger label you are part of a bigger network. If you want to do it on your own, you build your own team. Everyone starts somewhere. Everyone starts small and grows. If it is the right thing the path might be easy and if it is not the right thing, than the path might be a little more difficult. It depends also on how much you really want it. The important key element that I found was distribution. I work with Symphonic Distribution and they’re amazing. That is how I get my music up on Spotify and iTunes. Soundcloud is different but all the digital distribution happens through my distributor. Ya, it’s not too difficult to start your own business in that way.
Well, you have to be bold and take that first step.
Yes. Ya, and come up with a good name. Really the biggest thing was Paper Gold Label or Paper Gold Records. Ah, they are so similar…
Was that a week, or a month or how long was that debate?
I don’t know, maybe a month or maybe two. I have been spending a lot of… the beginning of this year and last year working on my new EP called Salt. I actually played one of the songs last night at my show on the Green Tree Stage [at Arise Music Festival]. I invited up a guest guitarist for that. Salt is the single I released in June. Then I was touring the east and west coast with it. The lyrics are in Icelandic. I worked with my friend Outsa (sp?) in Reykjavik (Iceland) and she helped me with the diction. I have been studying some icelandic and I am a linguist but I don’t speak Icelandic. Part of my interest in working with different languages… I even have some songs in a made up language. The thing about that is to pull people into your universe, it doesn’t really matter what the words mean. But anyway the lyrics are basically “Tears of the ocean, salt of the sea. Find yourself at the bottom of the sea, white doves over head and drift away”. Then there is this badass Icelandic medal section that drops in. The guy who plays on the track Stephen, in Austin… You know I never ever wanted electric guitar in any of my music but that just worked, really worked. But back to your question earlier about collaborations… I do write a lot for Cello. My new EP will have a few different guitarists on it. A string trio. I recorded a violist Nils Bultmann who works with Blue Tech. Then Jill Berta (sp?) and Adam Maloof (sp?) they are cellists who live in New York. I have a lot of piano on there. I play piano too. You know collaborating with people in the sense that… If you are just one person you have just one expression. But if you pull other people in and their talents in… Wow, it’s so beautiful. Tear drop, the cover I did of Massive Attack, I worked with a Cellist named Raymond who tours with Celine Dion or he did in the past. His expression on the Cello is just this gorgeous… like your heart just goes Oh… and melts. You feel things. I want people to feel things. So that's what I keep in mind with every piece of music that I write.
Tell me about your first performance and if you had any anxieties and how you overcame that.
Wow, rolling back the time. I started playing violin when I was three but then we took a bit of a break with that. I kept envisioning me in a pink dress in front of an orchestra soloing. Then my very first recital for my Suzuki concert, my mother and I sowed a pink dress. I thought about that later and was like “wow, I really actually manifested that”. Haha. I was extremely nervous, I was so young. For my class in school, when I was just learning, I would bring my violin and my Suzuki book to school and I would have them pick out a song and then play for them. I was kind of bold then. When I auditioned at New England conservatory for the master’s program in Boston. That was a deathly horrifying nerve racking experience. Somebody later told me about taking beta-blockers. It was so bad. When you are so nervous that your hands are shaking. Then my knee started to shake. So I did a graceful move to [try] to stop shaking. Like my knee was about to fall of or something. haha. I was like I hope they don’t see this. So I got through that interview or that audition process. At that moment I didn’t make it in, which was disappointing. I feel like performing on stage is a very different thing than auditioning. Auditioning is nerve racking
Well they are judges not fans.
Ya, they are all just sitting there staring at you. Its intimidating.
How did you overcome your fear? Did you get yourself into a mental mindset? Do you use meditation to clarify your vision before you step out and the curtains open? How do you get yourself ready mentally?
I do try to do that. If at all possible I try to have the green room cleared right before my set. Spend a few moments centering and grounding. Two years ago I played Lighting in the Bottle at the Thunder stage, and I tried something new there. I arrived in the evening. My set was maybe two days later. I arrived to the space and it was at night and everything’s closed. I just did a visualization there. I closed my eyes and envisioned the whole space filled with light and setting intention to really inspire people. Envisioning the whole space, this enormous ball of energy. That was really powerful. Arriving to a space, setting an intention. Really doing some visualizations. It doesn’t happen every time, especially at festivals. Sometimes those change overs are so rapid and there are just a million things and chaos. and the rain… why does it have to rain…. And there is also all that adrenaline. So sometimes it is a little bit rushed. And maybe not that grand. You know it is not always the ____ Stage, and then Grand Reveal, and then I enter. You kinda have to roll with whatever is given to you and make the most of it. One important practice I do too… of course it is ideal if ever performance you have you have the best lighting, the best sound, the best ambiance, the best audience. But if you don’t have all those elements you just ‘fake it’. What I am saying by that is that let’s say I can’t hear myself very well on stage or if something shifted with the audio. You roll with it. You don’t make a big deal about it. Unless it is something that will really affect your performance. The most important thing is that people… Their watching, they are listening, they are there for an experience, they showed up. They want whatever it is you are going to give them. To break the flow, I don’t like to do that. I like to proceed. If it is not ideal, its ok. It’s improvising in the moment as well.
Ya, I remember watching a set… it was actually here at Arise… it was Linx, is who it was. Her computer restarted on her mid-song and she didn’t lose a beat. She was beatboxing over the track and then suddenly everything cut out, and she kept beatboxing without losing the rhythm. Then later on revealed “so I hope you liked that last one, that was just me beatboxing as my computer restarted but here we go”. I didn’t even catch that there was a crisis on stage. It was just serene, she just rolled with it.
(Tangent): I think that’s something very important and some younger musicians don’t do. I have taught Guitar and learned the Guitar myself. And one thing that people do when you are just learning is you hit the wrong cord [or note] and then you stop. You freeze. You’re like oh, that was wrong. And then go back to the beginning. That was the wrong chord but the next chord should be right. So just keep going. Pretend like it [the error] didn’t happen. So I think keeping that flow is important.
So getting into that mental mindset tell me about your meditation music.
So I have this side project called ‘Deep Sonos’ and it is a full-spectrum sound meditation experience. Part of that was I wanted a channel for this more meditative, pretty, contemplative music that I write. I actually did a workshop here on Saturday morning. It was in the dome, the Sunrise Dome and it was basically 2/3rds full. So many people showed up at 9am for this experience. It was basically this full spectrum sound experience, where all my textures, sounds, electronics, bass frequencies, violin, and vocals are pulling people into this really deep effortless space for meditation. I actually have four episodes of these 10 minute meditations out that people can get online at: SoundCloud.com/deepsonos/
I have been doing a lot of those workshops around. I really believe that music can create a very deep mental… ah… almost like a bed. Like you can just fall into it. Like you fall onto this feathered mattress and… there is a cushion… and you just melt. No drugs involved. Haha. So Deep Sonos started, I have a background with Yoga. I have been touring with Wanderlust for about four years. I did all of the U.S. and Canadian festivals. I would take people on these hikes with just my violin in its case. We would go to a beautiful vista. I would sit everyone down and center and ground everyone in nature. Its beautiful. It's on a mountain somewhere. There’s.. Oh, gorgeousness everywhere. Everyone gets really comfortable. They are dropping in, they’re present. They are in nature. Then I start playing violin. About 30-45 minutes I would improvise. Emulating the sounds of the birds, the bugs, the textures, ancient melodies that are coming to me. I am kind of channeling music that comes to me, but I don’t normally say that. But then I also walk around. So as people are in this meditative state, they are hearing now the violin is her… now it's there, now it’s here. It's like this out of body experience.
Just imagine… your eyes are closed. you are in the grass. you are lying down. You hear this beautiful violin. Its to the right of you now it’s left now it’s far away. I’m not moving around that much but it’s this kinda tippy experience because when you are falling into this deep sedated state you are not totally aware of the specifics of what is happening but you are just kinda drifting off in this mellow space. So, I love doing those hikes so much. Some of them were at sunset or early morning. So I did a lot of music accompaniment for Yoga which is how I actually got into my solo electronic project because when people are doing Yoga they are not really paying attention to if you’re turning the right knob or if you played that melody correctly. it is just more about this immersive experience. What can happen with a yoga class [is that] as I am interpreting and feeling the environment, and the class [students], and the teacher, I am providing something for something that is being facilitated by someone else. A couple of years ago I was in Portland for a Yoga event with this teacher Jill Knouse and we added on a meditation experience at this space, that was specifically dedicated to meditation call, Hush. I had a full sound system, a full PA, because the bass frequencies are what are really important for this experience. So I created a whole Deep Sonos sound meditation, an hour long. It was basically like having a pallet, a painters palette. A little green, a little red, a little splash here. I didn’t have anyone to tiptoe around. I was just intuiting, and feeling what these people who were meditating wanted. I was creating this immersive experience for people to drop deep into meditation. That really resonated with me. It really felt like something that I wanted to do more of and curate more. So from there, I produced these ten-minute meditation sequences. This was after a trip to Costa Rica and I recorded textures. Like jungle textures. Like sea pods, and crinkling up leaves, and rubbing two sticks together. haha. I recorded all these things with a Tascam Audio Recorder. Then wove those into this 10-min meditation track. I produced it in Logic and wrote it all in Logic.
In Logic are you working with midi and digital instruments as well as these organic sounds that you are pulling from around the world?
Yes. I use Native Instruments a lot. I use Machine for a lot of my drum sounds. I use a lot of different plugins. So I am doing a lot of studio recorded violin and vocals and sometimes guest cellists and guitarists. Then I use a lot of Sine waves for base. Sometimes I’ll layer that with...
Just straight clean sine-wave for bass?
I’ll synthesize sounds or do a little oscillation or wobble in there to give it a little texture. The challenge for Deep Sonos to do these segments at 432 Hz. I wanted to try it and see if that indeed felt more meditative. They do say…
Tell me about 432
There are lots of theories about… I am not an expert but from what I have gathered… 440 Hz is what most music is produced at. The frequency… I don’t know if we should even get into this.
Well if you don’t want to, we don’t have to.
Well, I am not the most scientific about it. 440, 432… Apparently, Tibetan singing bowls, if you put a tuner to it, the frequency that it emits is 432, not 440. 440 is a bit of a contrived frequency.
Well, there are theories about controlling people and I don’t know. I don’t even want to get into that. But, I wanted to try it because people do say that 432 is the sound of the universe, of nature, of the sphere and some people claim that it is more meditative. It is challenging.
What about in your experience?
I honestly don’t feel a difference. That’s my take on it. But what’s interesting the challenge to produce at 432hz. My ear is so trained to play my violin at 440 that to down tune it just 8 herz. It’s like oh am I playing out of tune or is this not right? And then all of the plugins like Native Instruments, Konnect Medal (sp?), and I love Alicia's Keys, it’s a plugin for Contact for piano. And a lot of these instruments you can change the tuning. You can change it to 432 and some others you really have to dive in. It was a good challenge.
Now these, ten minute… You called it a sequence of meditations… Are they meant to be listed to in order?
No. They live on their own. The first one called Vernal the next one is called Ephemére and then Autumné and then Viintara. They’re kinda seasonally based. But yea they are intended… Take ten. In the morning. In the night. You know when the song is up it has been ten minutes. I live in L.A. I go to the Beach. I listen without any music just the sound of the waves. I put my timer on. Inevitably at one moment, I will look. “Oh, it must have been 10 minutes already. Did I miss it? Oh, no there’s two minutes left”. I find that when I am meditating to one of those episodes, I really like Ephemére, I’ll actually drift off into this out of body experience and maybe I’ll be asleep for 30 minutes. Then I wake up and like ‘wo, where did I go?” And I feel refreshed like I took a 5 hour nap but it was only 30 minutes. And the fact that it can do that to me, and I created it, I mean… I channeled it, is pretty amazing.
What Meditation does is gives your brain a chance to calm down. We have so much stimulus. So many things going on. So much distraction. I think a lot of us feel like we are running around like a chicken, with our heads cut off. Giving your brain and your body a moment to just calm down. To center and ground and to focus. Also to not have to worry about anything. I have found that with music it allows you to be effortless with this space of just calming your mind. So you are not worrying. The brain likes to run around. “Did I plan my dinner” or “my plans for the week”. If you can just calm it all down. So at one of my Deep Sonos workshops. I do these one hour sound meditation workshops and this one guy said “wow, I was actually scared to come to this workshop. How am I going to meditate for an hour?” And he said [after] the first five minutes of music his mind was a complete blank slate. It was completely blank. He said “I have never ever experienced that” to just have a completely calm mind. I think he has a little A.D.D. I think it is super healthy. You can read all the benefits of it Meditation. I know for myself, when I have a regular practice of it [meditation] I can approach my day with a lot more clarity.
My assumption is, that you want to share that clarity with your listeners and that is why you have created Deep Sonos.
Is Deep Sonos also intended to expand to other artists or is this a solo-project?
At the moment it is a solo-project but I do have bigger visions for it.
Well we are going to have to stay tuned.
All of my music can be found here: ThisIsHÄANA.com
What do you call the A with a double dot [Ä]?
Umlaut. Yes it is German.
And where is the best place to listen to Deep Songs
Well thank you for taking the time to talk with us and I really appreciate all of the wisdom you have shared. I wish you safe travels throughout the U.S. and to Australia and beyond.
Thank you so much.