Q&A with: Deathstar Convertible.
Unsigned, UK-based musician Deathstar Convertible apples a wide range of influences (in particular epic post-rock, electronica and alternative rock) to form his own home-produced, film-score style sounds. Written during 2014, 'Shadows Smile' is the first 6-track, mini-album release by the man behind the moniker.
The album's opening track 'Parallax' is currently running in this month's Richer Unsigned competition. With only three days left of the competition, where every vote counts, and Deathstar Convertible holding strong in second place, we decided to give the musician behind the name a grilling and got to know him a whole lot better.
1. For those who are yet to hear 'Shadows Smile' could you give us a track by track breakdown of the album?"Although 'Shadows Smile' album is an instrumental album blending post-rock, alternative rock and electronica, I've tried to ensure each track has its own different character:
'Parallax': This is perhaps the most 'instant' track on the album (hence why I've been using this to promote the album) and seemed a good starter with the quiet piano intro followed by layered sections. This was one of my first attempts to combine electronica with more post-rock guitar elements, such as the guitar solo in the middle, and came together fairly quickly. I think its a good distillation of the different sounds/genres I'm trying to combine.
'Tricks The Gods Play On Men': The last track written for the album. The riffs were written on an acoustic guitar and then translated to a series of complementing keyboard sounds, with simple post-rock guitar fills. The longish middle crescendo is a nod to my love of atmospheric instrumental music, the outro a nod to pure noise!
'Lost in Neon': I had a serious love/hate relationship with this track to get it to a point I was finally happy, and it's gone through a number of different versions. Possibly the most 'post-rock' track on the album, although I'm now really pleased with the contrast of dark, quiet first half and explosion of noise in the second. I'm a left-handed self-taught 'guitarist', solos don't come very naturally to me! I also think it's a nice mid-point to the album.
'My (New) Little Secret': I originally wrote this music for an indie band I used to play in, and thought it might be something fun to play about with when learning to record music on my own. This is one of the more electronic tracks on the album, with an obvious verse-chorus structure, although the piano breakdown at the end aimed to bring things down following the energy of the second verse/chorus outro.
'Star Gather, Slowly Merge': The first track I wrote for this album, a good few years ago. It's pretty much all keyboards, again using layers of sounds to build the track. The quiet middle happened a bit by accident but the use of string sounds is again a nod to my love of post rock and soundtrack-style atmospherics.
'Bring All Souls Might': The track I'm most proud of - although its pretty long! Again, a mix of electronica and guitars at the start but adding a big rock riff in the middle to provide a contrast. Possibly milked the ending a little but it hopefully concludes the album nicely!"
Buy 'Shadows Smile' || Bandcamp
2. Can you give us five bands./ artists that you draw inspiration from as a musician?
"I'm a big fan of music in general, so this is a tough one. I'd go for Sigur Ros (they reach the pinnacle in terms of sheer artistry in my opinion), Oceansize (amazing progressive rock); Deftones (a combination of cool riffs, atmospherics and songs which must be great fun to play live); This Will Destroy You (intelligent, well-crafted music, beautifully combining electronic/post rock elements)... and I'll go Jeff Buckley for the last one just because I think he had music flowing through his veins. A genius."
3. Tell us a little about Deathstar Convertible. How did you come up with the name and how long have you been making music under this alias?
"Hmmm, the name. A good friend came up with it years ago when I talked about trying to put some music online as a bit of fun. I don't think I could ever decide on a name so it's sort of stuck with me. Hopefully people focus on the music! I've probably been writing these sort of tracks for about five years. I decided recently to pull my favourite tracks together and have a real go at promoting, just to see what anyone thinks... no regrets and all that!"
4. Imagine you are hosting a dinner party. You can invite 5 fictional characters. Who would be sitting at your table?
"After careful consideration: Indiana Jones (good stories I'd wager), Velma from Scooby Doo (science geek chic), Alan Partridge (he can wash up, I'd let him know as he walked through the door), Princess Amidala (royal sophistication) and Jax Teller (he can ensure Alan washes up...)."
5. Imagine you were to have someone do guest vocals on one of your instrumentals. Who would be the ideal voice to accompany your music?
"I think haunting female vocals would probably work best with my music. I've actually a friend who goes by the artist name of Timid Deer, who's written a lovely acoustic folk album called Mountains, and we've talked about collaborating. Watch this space!"