Sunday, November 25, 2012

Blizzard At Sea: The Interview... The Sequel

In the year between albums, a lot of things have changed in the world of progressive sludge three piece Blizzard At Sea. As if the Iwoa City based band weren't turning enough heads with their debut EP, "Invariance," they have added even more depth of sound and ingenuity to the follow up. We sat down to see how we got from point a to point b, and how "Individuation" came to be.

In the year or so between the release of "Invariance" and "Individuation," there were some changes going on in the Blizzard At Sea camp. Tell us a little bit about that, and how Pat came to join the band. 

Blizzard At Sea:
After recording Invariance last year and going on a short tour, the previous drummer let us know that he was no longer going to be able to commit time and effort to the band, and he left to pursue his studies. We were lucky enough to be sharing our practice space with some other musicians at the time and Pat was one of them. We had met through a mutual friend and just started jamming.  It was very fortunate for us.

With that in mind, how did the writing and recording process differ from the first EP, into "Individuation"?

Blizzard At Sea:
The writing process was similar for both albums. Steve would come up with a structure and some guitar parts and then bring that to the other guys. From there they wrote their parts and we usually did some re-arranging and fine-tuning of the song before we considered it done. Pat also offered a greater range of sounds from the drums, so we were able to try new approaches to the songwriting. As for recording, we were better prepared going in the second time around, and much more open to experimenting with each others inputs while in the studio. We recorded our parts simultaneously in the same room to try and preserve the live dynamics that compliments our music. We added additional instrumentation this time to widen the sound to really make the songs something different from what they were to start. Our engineer Dustin Sisson also took some time to work up some rough mixes while there in the studio, and that helped us understand what we needed to do to get the songs to really feel the way we wanted them to.

With two tracks topping the 10 minute mark, you packed a lot of different elements into a three track EP, with a lot of it showing a mastery of the heavy side, and the progressive side. Is the new balance of sound, and the way it sets you apart from other bands, the meaning behind the name "Individuation"?

Blizzard At Sea:
That's a good interpretation, but we again approached the lyrical and visual themes of the music through the lens of science fiction.  

Tell us about the lyrical content on the album. What are the main themes in the three tracks?

Blizzard At Sea:
Individuation is an album that contemplates, among other things, the future of how we will interact with the machines around us, and how our lives will be effected by the increasingly swift tides of technological innovation. Aside from our own speculative sci-fi elements, there are references to string theory, the many worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics, and the idea of the technological singularity.

What inspired the heavy dose of melody in the new songs? Did you have any reservations or difficulty at all in the writing or recording of the clean vocals?

Blizzard At Sea:
Although brief, we really liked the melodic moments in our first EP Invariance, and wanted to explore that side of our sound more on Individuation. The only reservation was that we knew that the melodic sections had to be used appropriately within the larger context. We needed to retain the heaviness of the rest of the album, while presenting it in an unexpected way. We were also a bit skeptical about what our singing voices were actually going to sound like, as Jesse put it: "I sound weird to myself." Going into the studio, we had already mapped out what we wanted to hear, so there were no unexpected problems recording. We're pretty excited with the results.

I hate to use the word "maturity" to describe these tracks, but I can't seem to escape it. If you had to pick one word to describe the evolution of your sound on this EP, what would it be?
Blizzard At Sea:

When it comes to your albums, we always have to talk artwork. The images you have released so far are just.... surreal. What is the story of this group of images, and how do you think they represent the work you did on "Individuation"?

Blizzard At Sea:
As with Invariance, there is a piece of art to accompany each song on Individuation. The art, much like the lyrics, are meant to encourage contemplative thought. We don't want to have a ultra-specific message to shove at people, or anything like that. We want to encourage people to put in a bit off effort on their own, fill in the gaps, and find some sort of meaning themselves.

Where did the idea to use Kickstarter to fund the album come from? Now that the project made it's projected $2000 goal, how do you feel about the process, and the people that contributed?

Blizzard At Sea:
We were actually pretty skeptical about kickstarter at first, but after some persuasion from our engineer Dustin Sisson, we saw what a useful tool it can be. After successfully raising the funds for our album, we are in full support of the website. It's a great tool for independent artists and musicians to get their projects exposure and funding. In the right hands, Kickstarter seems to be and important part of the new music industry landscape and for DIY supporters, but we've also seen how it can be abused; the potential for misuse is there as well.

One of the interesting aspects of the Kickstarter method is the ability to offer "rewards" based on the donations given. How did you decide what rewards you would offer, and which one seemed to draw the most interest?

Blizzard At Sea:
We wanted to offer our music and merch at reasonable prices so that anyone could help for just a few bucks. We've never had the intention of making a certain amount of money or selling a certain amount of merch, which is why we wanted to keep the reward tiers reasonable. The most popular was the $25 tier, which included both of our albums, a shirt, and stickers.

The CD release show is scheduled to take place on December 21, 2012 at Gabe's in Iowa City. What do you guys have planned to celebrate the special occasion? 

Blizzard At Sea:
 Excessive head banging and an extremely energetic show! Also for the first time, we're planning on some video installations to accompany our music. We're hoping to have a lot going on visually to really get people into the Blizzard at Sea world.

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