John Soulacybin’s been humbly raising the bar on sound design dance music with every release. Since our discovery of Soulacybin’s music we’ve appreciated his laser like focus and attention to detail. His new album with Gravitas Records entitled “Stazi” is a culmination of years of hard work and pure intent. These tracks represent what we believe to be the sound Soulacybin has been working towards since he began with this project. John is a true musicians producer. His percussion background is heard clearly through the hypnotic and technical rhythms present in his music. With an array of sonic influences, Soulacybin uses recognizable sounds to create calming nostalgia among a tidal wave of glitched novelty. Organic instruments drenched in “Dub” delays and reverb tails create a psychotropic auditory landscape for the listener. A production style developed by studio engineering demigods King Tubby and Lee “Scratch” Perry, modernized and encoded with a modern gospel of the present day. The comforting and accessible nature of dub reggae makes a perfect sugar for the spoon fed hyper dimensional sonic medicine that which is Soulacybin’s “Stazi”.
Soulacybin – “Stazi” – Gravitas Recordings Dec 15th
[LiS]Describe the motif of the new album?
The motif of the album comes from the emotional thread I was experiencing during the writing process, and therefore projected into the music; mainly that of feeling appreciation for and expressing it to the people and things in my life that matter most. I was receiving lessons and opportunities to more fully embody the practice of living in gratitude and re-learning the power of not taking people and their presence for granted. It’s all too easy in our over-stimulated world to lose sight of what makes our heart’s truly happy, and to forget how powerful the act of giving ourselves in full presence can be. If something or someone in life holds great importance to us, there’s no excuse to not express those feelings clearly and sincerely, then back them up with actions consistent with our feelings. In short, listen to your heart and live sincerely.
What brought together with Gravitas Recordings?
[Soulacybin] It’s very exciting to be finally releasing an album with Gravitas Recordings! We had discussed doing this sooner, but as always, everything happens in it’s right time. I have always been attracted to their unrelenting support of quality art, regardless of genre or style. They have an extremely professional team and offer substantial support to their artists, and their releases are refreshingly diverse while maintaining a high level of craftsmanship; which were two main aspects of my choice to release with them. My booking is also currently handled by Pivotal Agency (alongside Clozee, Fine Cut Bodies, Somatoast, The Digital Connection, Cloudchord, AMB, and more) who serves as a sister-company to Gravitas, allowing for releases to support touring and touring to support releases in a more harmonious manner.
What about Gravitas Recordings as a label inspires you?
[Soulacybin] Gravitas has committed their label to releasing music that sounds as great as it feels, and they always have the best interest of each release in mind. The label is run by Jesse Brede and John Burcham/Psymbionic, and together they possess an intelligent, experienced, and thoughtful approach to propagating music and artists that they believe in. Through this release process, both have been very vocal in expressing their ideas, and very helpful in bringing those ideas to fruition in order to help mold this album into something that we are all very proud of. They’ve also listened to and honored my feelings regarding my art, and given me full freedom to express myself through the music. I feel ample value, trust, and understanding from the label, and think that their support will help propel this release out into the world with love and care.
Do you survive financially entirely off of music or do you supplement your income by other means?
[Soulacybin] These days it really depends on the month… a few good bookings can cover my living expenses, but a lighter month could leave things a little tight financially. For the past two years, I’ve supplemented my income by working in a legal dispensary grow operation here in Boulder, CO. My good friend Aaron/Cualli got me the job and it’s been a huge blessing as a traveling musician (go check out Aaron’s new release through Merkaba Music!). I am able to work a few days a week when I’m in town. They give me the freedom to travel and take time off as bookings dictate. Before this part-time employment, I’d made the leap to earning income full-time through my music. It was liberating in some ways, but stressful in more. I discovered a few things through the premature leap to financially relying on my art, and I’m pretty vocal to producer peers about the experience. I understanding that we all have different living situations, but more common than not, it’s difficult as a younger artist to continuously earn enough through your creations to live comfortably. When the income wasn’t sufficient for a month, the feelings of financial frustration got inaccurately displaced onto the quality of my art itself. This lead to excessive doubts regarding my music and my direction with it, and impeded my forward momentum. I was confused what the source of frustration was, and causing myself unnecessary suffering. Once I established the cushion of outside income again, I was able to re-focus on creating the best music I could, and no longer placed extra pressure on it to provide living expenses. Even if creating art for a career is your dream, there’s no shame in having a day job to cover living expenses until things really take off. It’s hard to create quality art when your electricity goes out and your empty stomach growling is louder than the beat you’re working on.
What is your current studio Hardware & Software set up looking like these days?
My studio occupies an extra bedroom of my new house, and is relatively simple. There are a lot more crystals than gear, but so far that hasn’t seemed to hurt the music. I use a Roland Gaia
synth, along with an APC40
while writing, and run it all through an Apogee Duet
interface and Dynaudio BM5 Mk2
monitors. I produce all in Ableton and primarily use plug-ins to create and shape the sounds. For VST’s, I use Sylenth
as my main synth, along with Serum
, and more recently Z3ta+2
. I am a huge fan of Tone2’s BiFilter
and Sugar Byte’s WOW
filter for extra shaping. I use a few Waves plug-ins
such as SSL Compressor
extensively, and my absolute favorite delay unit, the Waves H-Delay
can be found throughout every song I’ve written in the past two years. I’ve started EQ’ing and mixing using the Slate Virtual Mix Rack
, and the effects of their Neve EQ
replica can be heard throughout the new album. I love using field recordings for added textures or starting points for audio manipulation for added atmosphere. There’s an un-replicable magic to using the sounds of special moments and places within your music.
Favorite Free VST
[Soulacybin] The VST LiveCut was put out a few years ago, and it is great for generating random glitches and stutters. I’ll apply it to a running loop or sequence of audio like drums or atmosphere layers, then resample the effected audio. From there I’ll mine through the re-sampled audio and extract the bits that sound interesting…which is usually a very small portion. This is a really fun way of harvesting ideas beyond my own conventions of thought, and adds some spontaneity to the creative process.
Tell us a bit about Ghost Root your new progressive project. How does it differ from Soulacybin?
[Soulacybin] Ghost Root is my developing Progressive Psy-Trance project. I’ve got about 45 – 60 minutes of music that’s been written over the course of this year, with intention to release a full album in 2016. The sounds are inspired by artists like Pspiralife (my absolute favorite), Sensient, Terrafractyl, Smilk, Merkaba, Smoke Sign, Sourone, Hypnagog, Brujo’s Bowl, Ryanosaurus and most of the Zenon Records catalogue. I focus my psy on 128-136 bpm, and as with Soulacybin, fill it out with melody and dense layers. Sometimes when parameters are set in place, such as general beat structure and tempo, the possibilities open up immensely with how to explore those parameters creatively. It’s a whole lot of fun to make, and really fun to share with a receptive audience…something i’m hoping to do more of in 2016!