Contributor Cameron Crumpler sat down with Sonic Geometry himself to get a better insight into his songwriting process, intentions for his music and what directions he sees himself and the music community at large taking as we dive deeper and deeper into the future. L4LM: Can you start by giving us an overview of your creative process and your inspirations for this EP and your style as a whole?SG: When I sit down to write a new song, I like to start with some sort of nucleus, some sort of distilled idea that can be the framework around which I build a piece of music. I would call it a hook, but it’s not always the most obvious part; sometimes it’s a guitar riff, sometimes it’s a synth melody, and sometimes it’s a sample of something kind of random or it’s a step sequencer part that plays in the intro or background, but it’s always something that contains a large amount of the essential groove or vibe of the song. I started experimenting with this style of writing using guitar riffs and recorded to a click track, and then I would write all the beats, synths, and whatever else on top of that riff to capture its groove while putting the arrangement together. I explored this technique a with a little more focus and intention with this EP because I wanted a liveliness and emotional character to these tracks that develops well with this writing style. Rather than trying to come up with the whole track at once, I started with a single idea that could be a sort of theme to each song and once I had that, the production flowed very smoothly and the ideas presented themselves very fluidly and easily.To get a lot of the sounds on this EP, I recorded household objects and then sampled the sounds into midi sequences, or resampled and effected them for textures. I made a lot of use of recorded sound on this EP including beatboxing, sampling individual guitar notes, blowing on bottles, banging on different things, and even making stretching sounds with rubber gloves on one song. This added to the uniqueness of the music and helped breathe a vigorous life into the tracks that made them more inspiring and entertaining to work with.L4LM: This EP in particular seems to be a departure from your previous work of more a glitchy, rock oriented sound, to a more textural, tropical, and in my opinion more unique sound. Tell us a little bit about how this EP came to fruition, and, to your knowledge, how this album will have an effect on future Sonic Geometry releases.SG: I started writing the music for this EP when I was going through a phase of deep musical dysphoria. I had been trying to create a sound that other people wanted to hear based on years of taking different peoples’ tastes and expectations a little too close to heart. I felt hollow because I didn’t enjoy the music I was making, and since I got into music to enjoy myself and to be inspired, it was like music was pointless. I took a break for a few weeks from writing music and doing anything related to it.After I took this break I wrote Plush Waves, which came about after collecting a bunch of random household objects and sampling them along with some beatbox sounds to make drum kits and melodic instruments. I first put together the beat and the melody, and the rest of the song just kind of formed around that. I loved the mood immediately. it was relaxed, not forced, and had this much more expansive feeling to it than all the funk and dance-oriented music I had been trying to produce. Before I had really started communicating with Street Ritual about doing the EP, I knew I wanted to put together a collection of music like this. I was brimming with ideas of beaches in outer space, oceans that stretched for lightyears across the sky to celestial beaches, and I wanted to make a collection of recordings that followed this theme of aquatic outer space. Concept albums always fascinated me, and so I approached this release that way, and I really hope to carry that concept approach over to future releases and develop it. L4LM: Priming music for releases, how much do you have the audience’s expectations in mind? It has always been fascinating for me to see how artists walk this tightrope of making unique, creative music that comes from within their heart, to making music that is appealing to the masses. Are you making music entirely for yourself, or are you making it to ‘share’ with the public, or a combination of both?SG: I think these are really two sides of one coin.On one side you have the matter of creating music for the simple joy of the experience, and I think this is the most important part of music making. For me, it is essential for it to be a joyous, fun, exciting, or otherwise overwhelmingly positive experience. It might not be all like this all the time, there will be times and places where I must sweat and ache for the music, but overall the creation must be something I enjoy and something that gives me pride and satisfaction in its creation.On the other side I believe that music is meant to be a shared experience, and that it is meant to bring people together because it can put everyone on the same page and tune everyone in to the same feeling of joy that its’ creator tapped into during the music’s inception. Sharing music multiplies it’s power of positivity for everyone involved, because they are not only experiencing the ecstasy of the music but they are experiencing the ecstasy of togetherness and companionship, and furthermore the ecstasy of common understanding and common consciousness through music. Thus, the music must be enjoyed by its audience to have the fullest effect that it possibly can.I know I’m not going to please all the people all the time, but I can please some of the people most of the time. I know the music I write is going to attract a certain segment of society, and it’s not going to necessarily have this mass appeal right off the bat like a pop song, but I know already that there are some people who seem to “understand what I’m saying” with this music (even though I don’t know what I’m saying with it half the time, but I feel like it is more the listener’s job than mine to figure that out for themselves). It seems like they have this feeling that they understand something about the music, that there were layers to it and they were able to see inside and connect to it in a deep way. It’s these people I feel I write for the most, and all the people who listen to the music and feel something from it, though it’s not like I’m thinking of these people and writing music for them. It’s just that somewhere in our personalities we have some kind of a connection, and the things I create inspire you in some way, which inspires me, and now we have a symbiotic relationship of inspiration and creativity.L4LM: Do you feel you fall into ruts or habits composing music? When you feel you run into creative blocks, what are some of the ways you bust out of that and create something fresh and new? Something like ‘Islands of the Blessed’ is such a contrast from your other work it seems as though some sort of artistic and personal growth took place in the process of its creation.SG: I like to throw different techniques at the wall and see what sticks. I know that sometimes I am going to rehash chord progressions and melodies, but I don’t necessarily try to fight that so much because I feel like those are elements that contribute to a signature style. I think it’s more a matter of regularly introducing new influences and creative processes to the pool from which you draw naturally. Transcription exercises are a big way for me to expand my musical vocabulary, and using new plugins, editing techniques, or mixing techniques expand my sound design vocabulary. I might put a fresh sounding arpeggio over a recycled chord progression I’ve played with hundreds of times, like the chords in the track “Shipwreck” on this EP, and then allOn the track “Shipwreck” from this new EP, I had a chord progression I have toyed with hundreds of times, and have even used in other songs before, but when I played it over the synth textures and an arpeggiated marimba-type sound it took on this whole new energy, and then I added the whistling and lonesome guitar and it had this really emotional and evocative air to it and I loved it. This was a situation in which several existing and several new elements came together to make something slightly familiar and very refreshing.This refreshing union of musical ideas happened a lot for me in Islands of the Blessed and it was an integral part of bringing the EP to life. It came from honest inspiration and a drive to create a believable musical universe. Through writing this EP, I came up with new ways to clarify intention and create inspired, thematic music that tells a story. That’s what I want to carry with to future releases.L4LM: What is your opinion of the current state of electronic music? What directions do you see “EDM” taking in the next few years? More importantly, what part do you want to play in these changes?SG: I hear this movement towards a more lush soundscape, one that’s really rich in textures. Lately, especially in the wake of SFX’s failure, I feel like we’re seeing this shift away from the big huge dancefloor banger thing and more towards an expansive aesthetic in electronic music. Even in the mainstream channels, I’m hearing these lush, melodic, and atmospheric elements come out in pop songs and people are dying for it. There’s a lot of soul and emotion coming back into electronic music that was missing for a while.I feel like the music I’ve been writing lately fits in a lot with this, not because I tried to, but because it was this atmospheric mood music I was interested in creating all along. Fortunately, I pulled my head out of the sand and started producing music form the heart, not music based on genres and trends that are bound to dry up and whither away. I think musicians now have a unique opportunity to redefine not only what sounds are being made, but how they are made, how they are performed, and how we can translate the emotional character of this music in a life performance. I want to be part of that cutting edge that innovates in the way music is experienced.L4LM: What artist(s) would you like collaborate with in the near future? What do you see said artists adding to the Sonic G sound?SG: Lots of locals, honestly. That’s what’s on my mind a lot. There are producers around Denver, like JJ Evanoff, Homemade Spaceship, and Toy Box who I think are doing really cool things in one way or another and it would value us as musicians and the whole scene to work together to come up with new ideas. There are musicians who I want to record with, different players from different bands around town who have something special to offer. I would also love to work with Indian singers or any other musicians playing some traditional instruments that would add a totally different atmosphere and “setting” if you will to the music…and more fancifully I think it would really be cool to do a track with Shpongle/Simon Posford. Or Ozric Tentacles. Both of those bands get it on a whole other level for me.L4LM: What is your intention for your career as Sonic Geometry in the next five years? How would you like to see all this work you’re putting in manifest outwardly in the world?SG: My personal goals with Sonic G are simple. I want a self-sustaining career as a musician so I can put my working hours into music and eventually be able to spend more time enjoying many different aspects of life. I think the greatest thing about being a full-time musician is that not only do you get to put in the work you need to, but you are able to experience so many more things than just the day job and the moonlight dream job.L4LM: Is there anything you would like the audience to know about this album that may not be apparent to them when listening to it for the first time? SG: Just that they should listen to it and find a meaning in it for themselves. So much of the beauty of music is discovering new things as time goes on, becoming aware of details and sounds that were not apparent through the first listen, or the first five listens. The more you can go back to a recording and uncover more layers of mystery, the more mystical and inspiring it becomes.Photos by Cody Deel, words by Cameron Crumpler. Sonic Geometry has been honing and expanding his sound in the past few years in the Colorado music scene. His first official release on the Street Ritual label has catapulted him to a new level of esteem in the music world. Gracefully taking creative and compositional integrity back into the EDM world, his new EP Islands of the Blessed is a must listen for any fan of good music. The four-track future chill album features original sound design, lush textures, and a collaboration with another blossoming Colorado livetronica act, Second Species.Listen to Islands of the Blessed below:
Last Friday was something of a monumental day for Greensky Bluegrass. The jamgrass group found their way to Safeco Field, home of the MLB team Seattle Mariners, to perform ahead of a Bernie Sanders rally. They even welcomed out beloved harmonica player John Popper for the occasion, accompanying him on a couple of Blues Traveler songs.Later that night, Greensky Bluegrass could be found throwing it down at the Showbox in Seattle, WA, hosting their very own celebration. Popper again joined the group, as well as saxophonist Skerik. The Seattle native joined for the majority of the second set, including a potent “Tarpology > Gumboots > Tarpology.” The whole segment, including the Paul Simon cover, is just a tremendous piece of music.Thanks to YouTube user Embervine TwoOhSix, we have full footage of Skerik’s sit-in on “Gumboots.” Enjoy!Setlist: Greensky Bluegrass at The Showbox, Seattle, WA – 3/25/16Set 1: We’re an American Band, Burn Them, Rafters, Old Barns, Mr Charlie*, Hook*, Breadbox, Great Atomic Power, KeroseneSet 2: Just to Lie **, Tarpology ** > Gumboots ** > Tarpology **, I’d Probably Kill You **, Demons **, Down the Road, 33443 > Wings for Wheels, Leap YearEncore: After Midnight****-w/ John Popper** – w/Skerik (sax)*** – w/ Keith Kinnear tambourine shake
Last night, as previously promised, Madonna led an emotional tribute to the late great Prince. While some questioned the choice of Madonna, the mononymed pop star was directly influenced by Prince’s music and performance style, and her singing was certainly emotionally earnest. There’s no one that compares to Prince, but Madonna singing “Nothing Compares 2 U” helped bring music to aching hearts in mourning of the late great Purple One.The segment started with a speech from Questlove eulogizing the pop star, saying “No matter what kind of music we make, no matter how long we’ve made it, no matter our race, our color, our creed, our sexual orientation, all of us live in the land of music,” he began. “And his departure from it was an earthquake.” After that, Madonna sang a stripped down version of “Nothing Compares 2 U,” before calling on the great Stevie Wonder to harmonize on the iconic “Purple Rain.”Watch the full video below: It’s certainly incredible that a man like Prince could have such a diverse following, such that our readers and the fans in attendance at the Billboard Music Awards can share in the grieving. RIP Purple One.
Every year, Warren Haynes brings Christmas to his hometown of Asheville, NC with the famed Christmas Jam festival. Scheduled for December 10th at the U.S. Cellular Center in Asheville, Haynes has finally revealed the lineup for this exciting event.Today we’ve learned that Gov’t Mule will be headlining, as well as Bob Weir, Michael McDonald, and Jamey Johnson + Alison Krauss. The festival will also feature a special tribute to The Last Waltz from a unique ensemble called The Last Waltz Band, which features the likes of Warren Haynes, Michael McDonald, Don Was, Jamey Johnson, John Medeski, Terence Higgins and more.The festival also has a stacked roster of special guests, including Branford Marsalis, George Porter Jr., Steve Kimock, Marcus King, Kevn Kinney, Audle Freed, Bob Margolin and Mike Barnes. Pre-sale tickets will be released on October 24th, with the full on sale scheduled for November 1st. Details about the festival can be found here. Proceeds from the event will go to benefit the Asheville Area Habitat For Humanity, so don’t miss a chance to support an incredible cause with great music.
After recently announcing an exciting move to the beautiful, desert setting of the Pima County Fairgrounds, the annual Gem & Jam festival has announced a killer lineup for their 2017 event. Taking place from February 3rd to 5th in Tucson, Arizona, the 11th annual Gem & Jam lineup looks to be one of their best yet!Headlining the festival will be Gramatik, but the full lineup features an incredible array of artists! The Floozies, Lotus, The Trancident ft. Kyle Hollingsworth, Michael Travis, Michael Kang & Jason Hann of The String Cheese Incident, EOTO and Friends, G Jones, The Infamous Stringdusters, Poolside, Com Truise, Steve Kimock & Friends ft. Jeff Chimenti, Bobby Vega and Willy Ingram, Opiuo and The Motet.The full lineup includes: 8 Minutes to Burn, Adem Joel, Another Monkey, The Bennu, Cool Nasty, Desert Hearts Showcase, featuring Mikey Lion, Lee Reynolds and Marbs, Dimond Saints, Electric Feel, Endoplasmic, Evanoff, Flying Skulls, The Funk Hunters, Gipsy Moon, Jaw Gems, Keli & the Big Dream, Kitchen Dwellers, kLL sMTH, Kyle Hollingsworth Band, Kyma, Late Night Radio, Maddy O’Neal, Majitope, M-Q, The New Deal, Onism Qi, Party People, Rebel Disco, The Russ Liquid Test, Smash & Grab, Smokovich, Thriftworks, Tnertle and Unlimited Aspect. This is only an initial lineup too, so get ready for more exciting artists to be announced by Gem & Jam.“It is exciting to be able to showcase a lineup as dynamic as what we are bringing to Gem & Jam 2017,” says festival co-producer Josh Pollack. “Couple this with our new venue, which now allows us to be a true camping festival and you have the recipe for the best Gem & Jam yet.”Located on 640 acres and just 20 miles south of downtown Tucson, the Pima County Fairgrounds is surrounded by nature and resides in a desert environment, creating an expansive setting perfect for Gem & Jam. You can see the full lineup below, and find tickets and more information on the festival’s website.
The stage at the new Brooklyn Steel venue is set for Vulfpeck, as the funky group will return to Brooklyn for two nights on September 8th and 9th. Though Vulfpeck has not formally announced the shows, they have surfaced on the Brooklyn Steel website with tickets going on sale this Friday, January 13th.Vulfpeck’s last trip to Brooklyn included a multi-night run at the famed Brooklyn Bowl, but with Vulfpeck’s ever-growing fanbase, it would make sense for the band to choose a larger venue for their return. Brooklyn Steel is operated by Bowery Presents, and will open this April with a three night run by The Decemberists. Brooklyn Steel can hold 1,800, while the Bowl has a more intimate capacity of 600.Before these September shows, Vulfpeck will be touring heavily (for their standards) in 2017. They have a tour scheduled through the month of May into June, which includes a set opening for Trey Anastasio Band at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, as well as performances in St. Paul, Chicago, Toronto, Ann Arbor, Portland OR, Los Angeles, Santa Ana, and San Francisco. With no dates on the East Coast scheduled, we’re certainly hopeful that these two Brooklyn shows are indicative of larger plans for the band.For more information about the two shows, be sure to head to the Brooklyn Steel website.
Load remaining images Over weekend, Phish spent three nights performing in Riviera Maya, Mexico for fans who made the journey across the border. Those fans were met with three great shows, including a top notch finale that featured takes on “Tweezer,” “Ghost,” “Fluffhead,” “Slave To The Traffic,” “Harry Hood” and countless others. Of course, one of the appealing aspect of Mexico is the location itself, as the beautiful sandy shores and palm trees provide an idyllic backdrop for the Vermont jam band.Fortunately, photographer Chad Smith was on hand and able to send over images from the three night run. See them in a full gallery, below.
Last summer, Dead & Company embarked on their first-ever summer tour together. The band, which is made up of original Grateful Dead members Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann, and Bob Weir alongside John Mayer, Oteil Burbridge and Jeff Chimenti, played four tour-closing shows in California after an extensive national run together. The final show ended at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, CA on July 30, 2016, the same venue that the band had thrown a surprise free show at two months earlier. It was only fitting that their summer run should come to a close at Shoreline, right near the Dead’s origins in the Bay Area.Dead & Company has shared a fantastic version of “Terrapin Station” for all those to enjoy, in anticipation of their return later this month. Enjoy:Dead & Company will hit the road from May 27th through June 28th, kicking off the tour in Vegas and hitting major venues across the country. The dates include stops at places like the Hollywood Bowl, Shoreline Amphitheatre, Folsom Field, Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Fenway Park, Citi Field, Wrigley Field and more! You can see the dates below, and head to the band’s website for details.Setlist: Dead & Company | Shoreline Amphitheatre | Mountain View, CA | 7/30/16Help on the Way, Slipknot!, Shakedown Street, Cassidy, Standing on the Moon, Me and My Uncle, Brown-Eyed Women, Franklin’s TowerII: Dark STar, St. Stephen, Eyes of the World, Terrapin Station, Drums, Space, Days Between, Not Fade AwayE: U.S. Blues, Brokedown Palace
Dead & Company‘s summer tour kicks off this Saturday, May 27th at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. As they prepare to hit the road, the band has been treating us to a series of pro-shot videos from last year’s tour to stoke our already-sizable excitement.Dead & Company Is Planning To “Let Oteil Sing” Lead This SummerToday, Dead & Co shared their latest official live video selection: “China Cat Sunflower” from their July 3, 2016 performance at Boulder’s Folson Field, where the band will play a pair of shows this June (6/9, 6/10). You can check out the full performance below, via the band’s YouTube page:Following their Las Vegas opener, Bob Weir, Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann, John Mayer, Jeff Chimenti, and Oteil Burbridge will play Phoenix’s Ak-Chin Pavilion on May 28th before heading to California for a pair of two-night runs at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles and Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View. For a full list of dates on the upcoming Dead & Company tour, or to purchase tickets or travel packages, head to the band’s website.[Cover photo via Dave Vann]You can also check out the other Dead & Company pre-shows and post-shows presented by Boulder Theatre and Fox Theatre here, which will also see performances by Nahko and Medicine for the People w/ Midnight North, Easy Star All-Stars (performing “Radiodread”), The Marcus King Band, Tom Hamilton’s American Babies, White Denim, Circles Around The Sun, Shakedown Street, Dopapod, and Hudson (featuring Jack DeJohnette, Larry Grenadier, John Medeski, and John Scofield).Enter To Win Tickets To Boulder Dead & Company Pre- And Post-Parties Below!
You can check out a full list of dates below. As a bonus, check out the official music video for 4:44 single “The Story of O.J.” below via JayZVEVO:JAY-Z 2017 Tour Dates:09/02-03 – Philadelphia, PA @ Made in America Festival09/15-17 – New York, NY @ The Meadows Music and Arts Festival10/06-08 – Austin, TX @ Austin City Limits Music Festival10/13-15 – Austin, TX @ Austin City Limits Music Festival10/27 – Anaheim, CA @ Honda Center10/28 – Las Vegas, NV @ T-Mobile Arena11/01 – Fresno, CA @ Save Mart Center at Fresno State11/03 – Phoenix, AZ @ Talking Stick Resort Arena11/05 – Denver, CO @ Pepsi Center Arena11/07 – Dallas, TX @ American Airlines Center11/08 – Houston, TX @ Toyota Center11/09 – New Orleans, LA @ Smoothie King Center11/11 – Orlando, FL @ Amway Center11/12 – Miami, FL @ American Airlines Arena11/14 – Atlanta, GA @ Philips Arena11/15 – Nashville, TN @ Bridgestone Arena11/16 – Charlotte, NC @ Spectrum Center11/18 – Detroit, MI @ Little Caesars Arena11/19 – Cleveland, OH @ Quicken Loans Arena11/21 – Montreal, QC @ Bell Centre11/22 – Toronto, ON @ Air Canada Centre11/25 – Boston, MA @ TD Garden11/26 – Brooklyn, NY @ Barclays Center11/29 – Washington, DC @ Verizon Center12/02 – Uniondale, NY @ Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum12/05 – Chicago, IL @ United Center12/06 – Lincoln, NE @ Pinnacle Bank Arena12/09 – Edmonton, AB @ Rogers Place12/11 – Vancouver, BC @ Pepsi Live at Rogers Arena12/13 – Seattle, WA @ KeyArena12/14 – Portland, OR @ Moda Center12/16 – Oakland, CA @ Oracle Arena12/17 – Sacramento, CA @ Golden 1 Center12/19 – San Diego, CA @ Viejas Arena12/21 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Forum[h/t – Consequence of Sound] Riding high on the buzz around his acclaimed new album, 4:44, released with considerable fanfare on June 30th, Jay Z has announced an extensive tour in support of the LP. After three high-profile festival headlining sets (at Made In America, The Meadows, and Austin City Limits) early this fall, the 31-show late-autumn run will begin at Anaheim, CA’s Honda Center and circle its way around the U.S. and Canada, touching virtually every corner of the country before wrapping up on December 21st at The Forum in LA. Jay Z Announces New Album “4:44,” Details Unorthodox RolloutJust like the album itself, initial pre-sale tickets will be made available exclusively through Jay’s TIDAL streaming service app, beginning today at noon, EST. For more information, head here.