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AR3A - interview (2010)
2010-05-29 | Katarzyna NINa Górnisiewicz and Marco Gariboldi | e-mail interview
Marco: You released "Pieces Of Life" in February of this year, but you're already focused on the next album. Could you give us a sneak preview or insight of your future projects?

David: It's not so much that we're already at work on our next album, as much as we're just constantly writing and recording. There were songs that were almost finished for "Pieces of Life", that I really wanted to include on the release. But, the truth is; you have to just call it done at some point and move on. There has to be a cutoff point, or you'll never release anything. But, you're right about our focus. However hard it is to draw the line in the sand, call an album done, and release it with songs (in our mind) "missing", it's also very liberating. It frees you to narrow your focus onto the next batch of songs and ideas. It's (hopefully) a never ending cycle. That said, the next album is going to be very similar to "Pieces of Life"; after all, we've spent years discovering and fine-tuning our overall sound. But, it's got a lot of new influences as well; not "other band" influences, but rather life and experience influences. This next release will have some experimental tracks that include instruments not typical of our music or genre and some lyrical content that is even more personal in nature.

Marco: In "Pieces of Life" I hear many different influences: IDM, broken beats, ambient, but also a familiarity with the latest Korn albums produced by Atticus Ross (NIN). Have you been influenced by these genres or do your roots have other sources?

David: AR3A's sound began with the influences of some of our favorite bands; Depeche Mode, Front 242, Gary Numan, Skinny Puppy, Kraftwerk, Nitzer Ebb, and the list goes on. That was the foundation of our early sound. These same influences were the groundwork of other artists' music as well, around this time. That was about eighteen years ago, which makes me pretty nauseous to say out loud. But, when you consider that we've spent those years experimenting, with many of the same tools and in the same mind-set as NIN and the like, it's no surprise that we all arrive at sounds that are at least somewhat reminiscent of one another. I've personally kept AR3A locked away and hidden, resulting in a very select few who know we exist. So, understandably, people think our sound is directly influenced by bands that are really just much more ambitious peers of ours. Don't get me wrong though; we listen to and admire the work of Trent, Rob Zombie, Korn, and lots of others. There's a lot of really great music out there.

NINa: What song on "Pieces of Life" did you spend the most time working on, and why?

David: That would have to be "CR45H". Believe it or not, that song was written back in 1992. It was then recorded in 1994 and the studio tapes were stolen, which resulted in the cancellation of what would have been AR3A's first full-length studio release. We recorded it again the next year I believe, back when we recorded exclusively on 2" multi-track tape decks. And, the tape deck died right in the middle of recording the final vocals. No problem, we thought… we'll record it again another time. Well, James left the disks containing the samples and sequence files for the song in his car one day. We live in Houston… it's not hot as hell here… it's HOTTER. So, those disks were completely melted and destroyed. That song seemed to have been doomed to seclusion; like our music wasn't already hard enough to find! So, long after James moved out of state and AR3A became a solo project for me, I decided it had been long enough. I recreated "CR45H" from scratch, using all new sounds that were as close to the original as possible, where appropriate. I took advantage of hindsight and technological improvements and updated some sounds. But, it remains very close to our original vision. When it was complete, I thought… wow… finally! I sent it to James and he loved it… couldn't believe it. For both of us, it was a really long time in the making. There are some other songs from those stolen and melted tapes that are slated to appear on this next release… stay tuned for those.

NINa: Are you focused more on writing musical arrangements, melodies or lyrics?

David: Honestly, the answer to that is all over the map. I don't write the same way every time. I write some songs in a traditional, linear fashion; sit down with a guitar or at the piano and give birth to a song that I'm hearing in my head. But, often times, I don't write like that at all. I carry a notebook with me and I write a lot of phrases and ideological concepts in there, as they come to mind; realizations and observations that I come to. Sometimes, I scribble an entire verse or chorus lyric in my notebook, with no music in mind at all. I also have a small studio in my house where I record tons of music concepts as they come to me. Some are nearly complete all at once, and some are small 10 second clips. I put all the audio ideas on a USB stick and drive around in my Jeep listening to them all. There, I start to hear clips and pieces that I can tell belong together. I also start to listen while reading through my notebook of thoughts and ideas and before you know it, lyrical ideas and musical ideas begin to naturally find each other. From there, I just keep fine tuning and shaping them until I feel they're ready. All of that said, I also hear fully completed songs in my dreams sometimes. They're fully produced and everything. So, when I wake up I make a mad dash to the studio to try and get it out and into the world, just as I heard it in my dream. In those instances, I'm really just a facilitator and just try to stay out of the music's way.

NINa: Does it seem to you that things happen too quickly and easily in our current era, causing people loose vigor and become mere consumers seeking instant gratification? Or perhaps, is it a situation of overwhelming competition overdosing people since everyone has access to the same tools and services available with modern technology?

David: You know, I try to avoid absolute statements, because there's a lot of gray area in life. I can see both some positive and negative effects of this "life in the so-called space age". I think, like anything, it's all about balance. Use the technology when it improves, and leave it alone when it doesn't. I try to live by the adage of "just because you can, doesn't mean you should". So, whether it's stealing music from my musical idols, or crapping out an entire album of subpar Auto-Tuned vocals and pre-made loops… I just try to avoid the abuse of technology. That said, I use and embrace the many positives at our finger tips these days. To be honest, if it weren't for the Internet being the direct link to our fans and potential fans, we may not have even released "Pieces of Life". Personally, I have to agree with the reference you made to people being overdosed with so many releases. The ease of obtaining recording equipment and getting music out is certainly a double-edged sword. It allows all these people with very little talent to record and spread their rubbish to the entire world. But, it's also allowing some people with significant talent to do the same; people whose art might otherwise not have a voice at all. So, for me, double-edged sword or not, I'm glad that we're where we are now. I really do have to sift through a lot of absolutely horrible music before I find a gem… but at the end of the day, you have to ask yourself if it's worth it. For me… the answer is yes; yes, it is worth the trouble. I'm pleased beyond words every single time I discover some unsigned artist that has a real gift and some kind of loyal fan base. Those artists and those fans are nails in the coffin of the traditional; "rape the artist and control the audience" record company.

NINa: It appears that many artists complain about the decrease in traditional record sales, on the other hand even more artist complain about piracy, although music is now delivered digitally & can be sold via the Internet. You've refused to have any contracts with major or even indie labels and released the album DIY. What would you propose as the next business model of the music industry? What considerations would be necessary to build a trustworthy operation worthy of expansion?

David: I definitely wouldn't count our band as a financial success So, I don't know if I'm the right person to propose the next business model for the music industry. But, like other industries, I think there's room for more than one business model. There's a place in this world for your larger than life, rock star puppet. But, there's room in this world for artists that just want to create their art, on their own terms, and make a decent living doing so. They're not a household name; they don't have a mob chasing them down for autographs. They just wake up every morning (OK, afternoon… we're musicians after all), create their art, and make it available to their loyal fans and followers. They play live to satisfy their fan base and supplement their income… and yes, to have fun. I really don't see it as the "either or", "big label versus indie artist" issue that some do. In the end, I think good music will be appreciated as such, and the artist will make as much or as little money as they are willing to work for within their chosen business model.

NINa: What's your biggest fear when it comes to making music?

David: That it will suck. No, seriously; I don't think I have any fears about making music. It's probably the one thing that I don't worry about too much. In my youth, I would have said that my biggest fear about making music is that it would be misunderstood. But, I don't know; that's not a concern of mine anymore either. If the public gets it, awesome… if not, that's fine too.

Marco: Since the "End of the World" topic is so popular, here's a good 'apocalyptic' question: Where would you go and what would you do with 3 days notice?

David: Wow, good question. Do you want the romantic, Hollywood version or the truth? The truth is, I would probably just stay in with my family; eating all the bad food I don't get to eat right now and playing with my daughter.

Marco: The Internet has definitely set English as the common language for all people, but an auxiliary language already exists - Esperanto founded in 1887 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Esperanto Do you think that the use of the English language is straining the modern global culture due to the overwhelming British/American power over the past 200 years?

David: Living everyday in the United States, I'm probably not in the best position to speak to what kind of strain the English language may or may not have on modern global culture. I can only speculate that it probably does in certain regions; especially places where there is very little western population, but increasing western influence. I can imagine that if you start to become bombarded with westernized terms and ideology, with very little to no actual western people to interact with, it might be more than a little frustrating. Also, certain parts of the world may not appreciate American and/or British culture or political stances, and might resent having to speak those cultures' language just to do business. I can appreciate that. That problem exists for all of us, I suppose to varying degrees in today's global village. So, if Esperanto or some other politically neutral language were to become more widely adopted and preferred throughout the world, I would definitely be supportive and willing to learn the language.

NINa: What did you dream of becoming as adult when you were a child?

David: A more successful version of exactly what I am today . As a child, I carried a guitar around with me everywhere I went. I thought I could really play that thing too and would put on shows for friends and family… even strangers. When I was about four years old, my dad brought me down to the pub with him to put me up on the bar and let me play some of my "songs" for his buddies. I'm sure they thought that was the cutest thing ever. To me, this was serious business. As time went on, I outgrew the desire to be famous. Over time, I began to see my music and myself as two separate entities. I wanted my music to be famous, known, and appreciated. I, myself, no longer cared for the famous part. So, I'm really doing just what I've always wanted. I'm pretty fortunate in that regard.

Marco: Another shameful guilt, for which the church will be remembered, is the recent pedophilia/sexual abuse scandal that has exploded in Europe. What do you think of this latest sordid crime perpetuated by these religious institutions and covered up even by the Pope, who hastily and with impunity classified it as "idle chatter"? How is it possible in your opinion that this caste has so much power still in 2010?

David: If anyone reads my lyrics, it's really no secret that I have been at odds with the very concept of organized religion for many years. Today though, I see the gray area of this topic a little clearer. Placebo or real, I've seen how believing in a higher power and even following a particular religion, can have really positive effects on a person's life. However, I spoke earlier about balance. Here is just another example of how anything, taken to extremes and abused, will have a negative outcome. In this case, you have a gigantic organization with power and faith in such abundance, that it becomes easy for individuals inside of those organizations to use and abuse those powers. They gain access to victims through their faith, and then hide behind the power of the organization. It's truly a sad situation. Children go to the churches because they're told to go. So, they have to be there. At that point, they're completely and totally at the mercy of the individuals there to not abuse the faith and trust that the parents had in them; and that the child has for their parents, and subsequently for the church staff. Violating those faiths is bad enough; but for the religious leaders to learn of these crimes and choose to deny or minimize them, just goes against the very ideals they purportedly believe in. As to how they still have so much power, that's easy. When you're taught from birth to believe a certain way and are chastised and reprimanded anytime you question the concept, it doesn't take long for that unquestioned and unchallenged entity to accumulate power.

NINa: You've been looking for live musicians (synths, bass, drums) from around the Houston area. What kind of people are you seeking to recruit?

David: We have most positions in the band filled now, but are actively looking for a drummer. It's difficult to find a drummer who can play along with a click track, intermittent loops, and still stay on beat; much less to actually rock it out. You add to that, the requirement that they're not a total douche bag and someone you actually want to hang out with afterward, and you can see how difficult it can be. As for the kind of people we're interested in; I'd say "real"… Just people with nothing to prove, but that take their art very seriously. I guess you could sum it up as "people who take their art more seriously than themselves".

NINa: Do you tour? Are there any live shows scheduled for 2010?

David: No, not historically. There are not any plans for a tour right now either. To be honest, we turn down a lot of shows. We're just so busy creating, and that seems to be where our passion really lies. Now, I don't mean to minimize the importance of playing live. After all, what is the point in creating if no one hears it? So far, we haven't had to make that choice. We've been happy with our modest fan base; small in numbers, but huge in heart and loyalty. So, no full-blown touring in the works, but we are planning a live set. The plan is to play strategic shows in various locations… but nothing along the lines of an "all at once" scheduled tour. What drives that strategy? Our fans; if you're a fan and you want to hear AR3A live, speak up. We listen! If enough of you within a given area express interest, that drives our plan a great deal.


AR3A at Myspace | www.ar3a.com
Pictures come from AR3A archive, all copyrights reserved by their respective owners. Questions proofreading: Scott M. Owens. Must not be used for promotional or commercial purposes. See a Legal Note for the copyrights below.
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