Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Space Blues”?
“Space Blues” is a slow contemplative piece about the vast cosmos and the distances between people. It’s full of metaphors about isolation, longing, and the worlds within and without us.
Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?
When we started writing the album, we were in a small cabin in the middle of the Mojave Desert. It was was on top of a hill and had 360 degree views. The stars were AMAZING and every night I’d sit outside the cabin on the hillside, stargaze, and work on the songs from the album in my head. Standing alone beneath the stark canopy of stars fills you with awe and wonder, but can also make you feel small against the vastness of everything, especially if you consider the scientific description of what’s taking place beyond the firmament. “Space Blues” is really about looking into the stars from wherever, looking into yourself, and then looking into the stars again.
How was the filming process and the experience behind the video?
Making a good video is always a challenge. We want to try to tell a story, but we don’t want that story to define the meaning of the song, but rather just suggest one of many ways of looking at it. A lot of the video was culled from stock footage that we manipulated to achieve the effects we wanted.
The single comes off your new album Safe Passage – what’s the story behind the title?
Safe Passage is what we all want – to travel whatever road we are on without inhibition or intrusion. It might be the road through this life, the road to the next, or the road to other worlds. By taking on different perspectives from voices in various situations, the album asks: What constitutes Safe Passage? From where to where? Who provides it for others? Who denies it? Is it ever attainable?
How was the recording and writing process?
We travel with a mobile recording rig and work on the road a lot. I wrote the first half of the album in the Mojave Desert and the second half in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Once the basic songs were written, we chose the instrumentation for each song, and I set to work on the arrangements. We wanted to make a purely acoustic album that would challenge us and the listener from track to track.
We let the songs decide what their instrumentation would be. For example, “Plunge” seemed to want vibrant excitement, and nothing does that better than strings. “Space Blues” wanted an expansive melancholy, so cello was chosen for its plaintive quality and flute because it echoes better than most things. We tried different instrumentation for “The Troubled Road” but nothing fit. It jammed up the space and we wanted to vocals to sound detached or disembodied. So, in the end we left them a cappella and built an evocative soundscape around them.
Much of the album was recorded on-site in cabins and warehouses in the United States.
How Steven Wilson and Simon & Garfunkel has influence your writing?
They’re actually not huge influences on our writing, they are just two acts to which our sound is often compared. I’m not sure if it comes through in the music, but I’ve probably been influenced more by Alice In Chains, Beethoven, or Skip James. I discovered a lot of what I like about vocal harmony from Alice In Chains. Skip James evoked such a haunted sorrow in his music. There’s so much space in it, yet it’s complete with just guitar and voice. Beethoven is still the Maestro.
What role does Denver play in your music?
Denver has big open spaces and great views. You definitely feel that you are a mile high when you are there. Even better, the Rocky mountains are an hour or so away and are full of great vistas and star-dense skies. We live a mostly nomadic life, but we usually only stay put for a stretch in places where there are mountains and views.
How have films like 2001: A Space Odyssey influenced the writing on this album?
Descriptively, it mostly influenced “Space Blues.” But the pacing of the film is incredible and is mirrored in the album. 2001: A Space Odyssey builds tension and suspense by moving so slowly. It’s unnerving. We play our music slow, so slow that sometimes the musicians have a hard time bringing their energy down to perform them. The listener, too, has to slow down to really get anything from the music. It’s on a different energetic level than the one on which most of the current population exists.
What aspect of the space and cosmos did you get to capture on this record?
The expansiveness. And the possibilities. The album is about mortality, struggle, isolation, and the movement between worlds, and looking into the cosmos with awe and wonder can’t help but stir notions of such things within the viewer. Our modern idea of space forces the question of materialism vs. spiritualism. Is the cosmos a dead material exchange of energy? If so, what are we? Or is it alive? Is it a holographic image projected from another’s mind? What are the possible dimensions to reality? What happens in a black hole? How do we travel the distances that we can barely conceive of in our minds?
Where else did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?
Meditation, psychedelics, living, reading, thinking, and above all LISTENING.
Any plans to hit the road?
We are hoping to put a tour together for the spring. But regardless, we are perpetual wanderers so we are often in travel somewhere in the world.
What else is happening next in Astralingua’s world?
We have 2 more album’s worth of material written and ready to record. As soon as this album is released, we will begin pre-production.