Saturday, March 26, 2011

Interview with Fred from Gaels

Joe/Cryptic Inscriptions:Before we get started I like to say thanks Fred for doing this interview. First off give the readers a brief history on Gaels? What does the name Gaels mean? Why did you use this name?

Fred:Gaels was formed back in late 2006 as a combination post rock/ambient solo project. To date Gaels has over 15 different releases ranging from full lengths to EP’s to split releases with other recording projects. The Gaels are typically referred to as the people of Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man, and I chose the name to reflect my own Irish heritage. Also I just thought it was a really cool name.

Joe:Gaels is an ambient band unlike your other projects (The Leviathans Mandible, Bayi and Gasmask) that are all grind core bands. In your opinion do you think playing other types of music enhances your creativity on writing more original pieces?

Fred:Without a doubt. For myself, playing music from different genres constantly inspires me to create new riffs and song ideas. I can’t tell you how many TLM practices have given me ideas that eventually turn into concrete Gaels songs. The same goes for Bayi, a lot of early Gaels material came from jamming out during Bayi recording sessions and landing on riffs that, while not workable for Bayi, worked great for Gaels. The same things happens in reverse, while I’m working on Gaels tunes I become inspired to write new material for TLM, Bayi or Gas Mask.

Joe:I’ve noticed a lot of your albums have a lot of different landscapes on it. Most of the time depicting winter; is there a particular reason for this?

Fred:Most of the album covers are actually pictures I took during a summer trip to Ireland. I appreciate the stark beauty these photos represent and felt from the beginning that they would go perfect with Gaels, as the mood I am trying to set is one of peace and tranquility with undertones of desolation and melancholy. The fact that they resemble winter is just a coincidence.

Joe:Most of your material is instrumental with the exception of Stupid Girl (featuring Tony DeRosa) on vocals. Was there ever a time where you actually considered getting a vocalist, or wanted more vocal parts on your songs? Why did you decide to put vocals on that one particular song, and what made you decide to use Tony?

Fred:Tony is a friend and we had wanted to collaborate together for a while, so with Stupid Girl we just decided to put our heads together and try to write a song. It was a long time in the works and was as much a personal goal to work with Tony as an artistic one, as he’s a great vocalist and an awesome person. I’ve toyed with the idea of including vocals in more songs and have even gone so far as to play my music for different vocalists I know and have them write some vocals on the spot, but ultimately I feel vocals would distract from the music. I don’t foresee any vocals on future Gaels recordings, although that could change if the circumstances allow for it.

Joe:A lot of ambient doesn’t really use instruments like guitar and drums. They rely mainly on synthesizers and software to create their soundscapes. Do you feel that by having guitars, and drums on your recordings makes it stand apart from other ambient bands?

Fred:Definitely. There’s always been an element of post rock and shoegaze in Gaels’ music; the idea was never to just be an ambient band. I’ve done some ambient only recordings, like the “Atmospheres” full length, but having guitars, bass and drums is vital to the projects overall sound and I couldn’t imagine doing another full length without them.

Joe:What instruments have you all used on the recordings old and new? Have you used anything off the wall on the recordings?

Fred:I’ve used a variety of guitars and basses throughout my time with Gaels, the names and model types escape me at the moment. I have also made extensive use of a microKORG for the more ambient pieces. I can’t say I’ve used any off the wall instruments, though I would love to experiment more in the future with acoustic guitars and other stringed instruments.

Joe:I know you record, produce, mix and master everything yourself. I have to say for DIY it’s pretty impressive. What do you use as far as recording equipment is concerned? How long does it usually take to record an opus?

Fred:Thank you, I try my best! For recording everything is done in Cool Edit Pro 2.0 and occasionally AcidPro for mixing and mastering purposes. For drums I use a program called Acoustica Beatcraft as well as FL Studio 4. I line my guitars and bass directly into my computer using the Line 6 Toneport Gearbox. It usually takes about a week to record a new song but I’ve been known to spend several weeks working on one or two songs because I’m such a goddamn perfectionist. I use a lot of layering in my music and getting everything mixed right can be a long and arduous process.

Joe:What actually inspires you to write music for Gaels? Are the songs and albums based on certain personal experiences in your life, are they fictional based concepts you conceived, or are they certain emotions you have at the time that you need to express through music?

Fred:All of the above man, hahaha. I like to draw on real experiences and emotions because I feel those shine through the music and really hit the listener in a meaningful way. At the same time it is a lot of fun to create a fictitious situation and explore where the story takes you. A great example of the latter is the song Iconoclast from the album “Winter Days”, a song that wasn’t about anything in particular except my interpretation of what large, slow moving objects would sound like in musical form. I had a lot of fun writing that song and to date it’s one of the most popular songs among my fans.

Joe:Instrumental music can sometimes almost speak more to a listener than a song with words. It can almost harbor a certain feeling or emotion to the person listening. What’s your opinion on this, and what kind of feeling or emotion does Gaels portray as a band?

Fred:I couldn’t agree with you more. Instrumental music, in my opinion, is more powerful in conveying emotions than music with vocals simply because, unless you are an excellent lyricist, the words lock the song into place with no ability on the part of the listener to interpret the music as they hear it. To put it another way, music with lyrics is like a painting in a museum; they are framed in, structured and only as open to interpretation and introspection as the creator allows them to be. Instrumental music is like a landscape, open and free, and the listener is able to get lost in the music and apply whatever emotion or interpretation they want. That is more interesting to me than listening to a song where some singer tells you how to feel.

As far as Gaels goes, I try to convey a wide range of emotions in my music. Happiness, sadness, hope, triumph, loss, regrets, these are all common themes in Gaels’ music. It depends on what mood I am in when I write a song, and what mood the listener is in when he or she presses play.

Joe:Did you ever consider doing this live, and out of all the recordings you’ve done which one can you say you’ve been the proudest of?

Fred:There is no way this could ever be done live. I would need at least 5-6 different musicians to cover all of the layering and soundscapes I use and to find that many musicians get them all in one room at the same time and recreate these songs would just be too complicated and time consuming. As far as which recording I am most proud of I would have to say the next full length “A Dying Planet Under a Blue Sun” is my best batch of recordings to date. It has been a long and heavy rock to push over the hill and it’s almost ready, so hopefully in a few months others will be able to listen and hear why I am so proud of this record.

Joe: What’s new as far as Gaels is concerned? Any last words to the readers?

Fred:Well, like I mentioned before I am almost done with a new full length, which I am very excited about. It should be done in the next couple of months barring any kind of distraction from “real” life. I’m also doing a split CD with a project called The Eaters of the Dead, which is a solo project of Travis, vocalist for TLM and my best friend. I am also extremely excited about that; I’ve heard TEOTD’s tracks and they are VERY good. There’s also a noise EP on the back burner, however it’s such a departure from everything Gaels has done before that I am not sure if I am going to release it. That’s basically it, I just want to thank all of the people who have supported this project, all the people who have downloaded and listened to my music and especially Joe for doing this interview. It’s been a real honor.

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