Interview on Leading Us Absurd

I'm excited to announce my first interview which sheds some light on the subject on the creation of the new Alphanaut album "Little Sun". Matt Satterfield from the site Leading us Absurd conducted the interview which can be read below. You can also read his review of the album here.

From Leading Us Absurd

“Little Sun” deals with a lot of issues such as companionship, life and of course the after-life. I found it interesting, because it deals with very human emotions but it’s told through the story of Dingo’s life. What was your experience while writing the album?

Creating “Little Sun” was a journey of pure, unedited emotion. Outside of a few early sketches that I worked on during Dingo’s illness, the songs were written in a four-month creative whirlwind between October 2009 and February 2010.
What started out as personal catharsis morphed into something I would never have imagined. Though I have to admit, in their demo stages I felt the songs were far too personal to allow them out of my studio. It took a while to accept the idea of releasing the material. The rawness in it frightened me to some extent when the songs were fresh. There was nothing premeditated. The emotions were just there for me to follow.
Some of the songs are told from Dingo’s perspective did you find it hard to do that? Or did it just come naturally?
It wasn’t at all difficult. The songs evolved organically and having most of them from Dingo’s perspective just seemed natural. During the whole experience of writing I tried to imagine being inside Dingo’s head as if he were a character in a book. I felt if I could occupy that space I could recreate the story. I just had to imagine things like the pleasure of our first meeting, that first walk in our neighborhood, the joy of running on the beach and to experience being bitten by a rattlesnake in our yard. I think in some ways my songs were much harder because they weren’t at all abstract, but real… from the gut.
When did you decide that “Little Sun” would become a concept album?
The first sketch I wrote was “Pretty Chemicals”, which was around the time I was wrapping the recording on “Out of Orbit”. The song came from my struggle with the unanswerable question of why the cancer happened in the first place. It’s lyric was inspired by a report on just how many chemicals the average human being is exposed to in their lifetime; a shocking average of 90,000. I let that statistic sink in and thought how do any of us have any chance against those numbers.
At that point I figured “Pretty Chemicals” might make a good bonus track to a single and had no idea how important a roll it would play on “Little Sun”, considering it’s the turning point in the tale. The following early sketches were for “All Night Crying” and “Pleading with God” but with these I had no solid plan at that point and I figured they’d wind up on future releases some day.
It was two weeks after Dingo’s death that October when the song “Hey Buddy” came to me, a song about being rescued from the pound. This was at a particularly high point in my grieving so I have no idea how such a whimsical song flowed through me, but in less than an hour I had the whole lyric and melody written. Later that evening “Big Day” appeared with the same verve.
What made me realize that I might have a concept album on my hands was a day or two later when “Falling to Earth” was written. First of all, I had never created anything like it, and secondly, it was the one song that made me look at everything else and realize I had a beginning, middle and end of his story. It was at that moment I knew if I could fill in the gaps I could have a concept album of sorts on my hands. So I set on the task of creating songs for other key moments in Dingo’s life with us.
Let’s talk music for a second. The album is very layered and has both modern and older elements within the songs (I noticed some jazz influence). How did you create those atmospheric sounds?
I’m glad you touched on the sense of modern elements and vintage sounds, as that’s exactly what I was going for. I’ve always liked bands or artists that aren’t afraid to experiment and push their own boundaries. I grew up absorbing everything from The Beatles to Bjork; Talk Talk to Miles Davis, so I guess it’s in my nature to reach from a broad palate.
With “Little Sun” I knew I wanted to move things into a much more organic sound space, but not too alien to the foundation I created on “Out of Orbit”. The first record was so dependent on all my crazy sound effects, but this time I subtly wove those sounds around the new songs, keeping their impact very minimal. It was a process of writing parts, chopping them up and reworking them into the atmospheres that remains on the record. On “Big Day” for example, the ‘bird’ loop was part my original drum pattern for the song, and that strange metallic sound at the end started its life as a string part that I processed through multiple FX banks.
Since Dingo’s death, you decided to assist with the efforts of the National Canine Cancer Foundation. How did that evolve?
After losing such an intense battle to keep Dingo well, I did a lot of research online to find people who were trying to make a difference in the fight to find a cure. I ran across the National Canine Cancer Foundation and was immediately drawn to do what I could to assist in their efforts. My goal during the creation and completion of “Little Sun” was to contribute what I could to their cause in the hopes that one day no dog or owner would ever have to go through what we did with Dingo.
Even though “Little Sun” is about Dingo, did you feel that the lyrics are universal? Even knowing the back-story, I felt it tapped into some real issues that aren’t strictly related to Dingo’s life. What do you hope that fans will get out of “Little Sun?”
As I moved through the songs over the nearly three years that it took to create “Little Sun” I knew I wanted the album to be more than just one about Dingo. It was very important to me that people could appreciate the music as music unto itself, regardless of its origins. I was also very conscious of the broader scope and universality of the human experience it tapped into, so I do hope that listeners can relate to it from that grander perspective.
The song “Family Tree” acts as a footnote to the story for me moving beyond grief. The experience of writing the album put a sharp focus on the importance of all those I love in my family, even though many named in the song are no longer with us. It was a way for me to embrace everyone in one imaginary place.
“Look to the Future” sums up what I hope fans will get out of the whole experience of the album. That regardless of loss, we all still have to find strength within ourselves to power forward in life after those we loved have passed.

Leave a comment

Add comment