| Band: Aalacho|
Interviewer: Julie Johnson
Grave Concerns E-Zine Questions: EBM / Synthpop
GC: What is the name of your band, and who are the current members?
A: aalacho is a solo studio project with an evolving list of guest musicians. Helmed by Seattle producer/songwriter Nathan Scott, aalacho has incorporated guest performances by guitarists Sam McIlvain (Tryst, The Davenports, Spank), Chris “Reemus” Brown (Jasper the Cat), Derek Armstrong (The Vacants) and Brendan Titrud (Poseur), as well as indie-vocalists Hannah Vaughan, Holly Ayster, Joe Randazzo and Trevor Hesse.
GC: What are your musical influences?
A: aalacho is a hybrid of musical influences, ranging from the more ambient, minimal electronics of Brian Eno and Kraftwerk to the more dense and aggressive structures of bands like Nine Inch Nails and My Bloody Valentine. I play these influences off each other, seeking to balance the melodic yet overly mannered atmospherics of the former against the raw, gritty emotions of the latter.
GC: How do you go about writing songs?
A: I write songs both on the guitar and on the synthesizer. ‘electro’ is comprised of six songs and one remix – 3 of the songs were written solely on the guitar and then translated into an electro-rock format (“pompeii”, “i’ll climb you” and, of course, the Lennon/McCartney penned “ticket to ride”) and the other three were structured around house beats, bass lines and layer upon layer of electric guitar riffage (“lift”, “it’s not about love” and “atomic playboy”). Writing songs both on the guitar and within the Logic recording program allows me to, again, balance the synthetic and the organic approach to song-structures against each other, resulting in a more fluid and textured production style
GC:Pick one of your latest songs and talk about everything from writing it, meanings, the challenges of recording it?
A: People continuously ask me about why I chose to record a cover version of The Beatles’ “Ticket to Ride”. It is, after all, a Beatles song, and I knew that I would be opening myself up to criticism from purists for daring to taint their recollection of innocent sixties pop with my own jaundiced, post-modern approach. But I love the Beatles, have an utter and continuously amazed reaction to their sonic daring, and I wanted, somehow, to convey my respect for the innovative and darkly psychedelic directions in which they pushed rock and roll. Doing a strict, by-the-numbers cover version seemed anti-climactic and unnecessary, so I pushed myself to create a version that was respectful to the song’s graceful melodics while also being experimental and unique in its interpretation. I’m sure some critics will claim that John Lennon would roll over in his grave if he heard what I did to “Ticket to Ride”, but my response to them would be that he married Yoko Ono, so I think he might actually have appreciated my audacity.
GC: Remixes – do you have any and are you working on any?
A: I’ve been fortunate so far in the remixes that have been produced for songs from my CD’s. “satellite”, “mr. monster” and “pompeii” have all been turned into killer dance-floor mixes, with “pompeii” being my favorite so far because of its ingenious mix of retro and new-skool electronics. Felix da Housecat is one of my newfound musical idols, and it was such a privilege that he agreed to work on a remix for “pompeii”. The minimal techno-funk approach he brought to the track was a real eye-opener for me regarding creative directions I feel aalacho can reasonably explore within experimental electronica. He has a very early-Prince feel to his tracks, and I love it. As far as what’s coming next – there are so many talented remixers out there. I’m waiting until I finish the songs for the next project before I can really make any decisions as to who I’d like to hook up with next (though Fischerspooner and The Pet Shop Boys easily spring to mind).
GC: How do you keep changing your music from album to album, or plan to change it?
A:The music of aalacho evolves with my own skills and willingness to experiment as a producer and arranger, along with critical and listener feedback. Independent radio has willingly embraced aalacho, first with ‘sugar’, and now with the latest release, ‘electro’. It’s great to see the positive response to ‘electro’ increase by orders of magnitude over the positive but more limited response I received with ‘sugar’. There’s a definite audience for quirky, experimental electro-rock, and each CD I produce will adapt its sound to what I would consider my strengths as an experimental songwriter and arranger.
How are people currently reacting to your music?
There’s a very positive response to aalacho within the independent radio community. I worked with Space 380 Promotions with ‘sugar’, and went back with them again for ‘electro’ because they seemed to have a very good sense of how to talk to college and satellite radio about new music and new artists. ‘electro’ has received its share of critical drubbing from print journalists, but the response at radio has been overwhelmingly enthusiastic for an unsigned artist. I’m currently in the middle of the promotional campaign for ‘electro’, and I’m hitting top 10 electronic playlists all across the country. Whereas the critics seem to be missing the point with ‘electro’, reviewing it as if it’s a Dance CD, independent radio has affectionately embraced it for its quirky pop-rock charms, and that’s been really great to see.
GC: Where do you hope to be in 5 years with your band?
While I’m currently aiming my creative output at the experimental-pop audience, my ultimate goal is to work on film soundtracks. There’s a specific set of challenges involved in creating a mood and setting a scene, layering an emotion across a visual rather than intruding upon the atmosphere, and this is the kind of challenge that most appeals to my aesthetic ambitions. To me, music is simply another form of dialogue, a different type of conversation with an audience than simply words on a paper, or lines from a script. I eventually want to engage in that kind of subtle, unconscious conversation with an audience within the deliberate structure of film and as an adjunct to the visual image.
GC: What music do you currently listen to, and why?
I currently have my Ipod on shuffle play, which requires my brain to wrap itself around unexpected and sometimes strange musical juxtapositions. It keeps me on my creative toes when I hear Marvin Gay, The Smithereens, Kraftwerk, Led Zeppelin, N*E*R*D, Pink Floyd and Miss Kitten within the same thirty minutes.
GC: What would be the top 3 reasons to listen to your band?
The top 3 reasons to listen to aalacho would be for its moody sense of atmosphere, its unique combination of retro-sonics and progressive rhythms, and for the terrific indie-rock guitar riffage layered across a number of the tracks.
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