About a week ago I received a very polite message from the duo BREATHE asking if I would review their new music, with a considerate invitation to interview them. So without further ado, I give you part one of my interview with English Progressive atmospheric group BREATHE…
1. For those who are unfamiliar with your band, tell us a bit about yourselves and your sound.
Jacob (Guitarist, Bassist, Sequencer and Pianist): It’s difficult to fully sum us up as a band with a particular sound since we are still exploring the act we really are, but our current status is becoming easier to identify with each song we produce (especially as of recently). We are a two piece progressive, ambient, vapourwave group with influences ranging everywhere. I’d say we are a fusion of progressive drumming with a Nordic Giants-esque textural scope, with a social commentary weight bolstering the soul within our music. Complex stuff huh!
Sam (Drums): As a band we are both inspired by a range of different styles of music and bands, but what differences we have in pieces of music we like, we make up for in our combined love for progressive music. I think that the prog genre as a whole inspires you as a musician to try and reach heights of your playing, writing and listening that I haven’t found in many other genres. I feel that the progressive genre has an ability to manipulate emotions in a way that many other styles of music haven’t connected with me, they can take you to far distant places and hypnotise you. I’ve always been really fond of concept albums as listening to full stories in albums just creates much more than just a listening experience. That being said I love all styles of music and am on a never ending journey trying to better myself and produce my own personal instrumental and song writing style using influences from all genres, regardless of whether it is rap, jazz, funk, metal, prog or pop punk. I think that the prog genre gives you a chance to be free from the barriers that genres can often create. Our band combines aspects of electronic music with ambience and the message elements and structures of some progressive music to try and convey messages that we feel are important. We are currently working on ways to greatly integrate this into our music. We are heavily inspired by bands that use ambience like The Contortionist, Nordic Giants and TesseracT and aspire to achieve the way they make you feel as a listener.
2. What are your earliest memories of music?
Jacob: My earliest musical memories consist of me sitting with my dad listening to old Sabbath CD’s and rocking out to some Bon Scott era ACDC. My dad has always been a colossal metal head feeding me on a strict diet of Saxon, Iron Maiden and Zeppelin since I could walk and I wouldn’t change a thing looking back. It helped develop my tastes into what they are now. My earliest personal memory musically is probably when I bought my first CD, or should I say three CD’s. They were ‘One Way Ticket’ by The Darkness and ‘Self-Titled’ and ‘Vol.4’ by Black Sabbath. To this day I still have the copies and put all three up there with some of my favourite casual listening hard rock albums of all time (especially ‘Vol.4’, that album blew my mind).
Sam: My earliest memory of music was hearing Blink 182’s self-titled album in the car, this was the first band I can remember listening to and regardless of my ever changing love for different styles of music Blink will always be a special band for me. There are a few videos of me having the time of my life playing a toy drum kit at the age of 2 or 3 but I was too young to remember that. I’ve always been surrounded by music as my dad’s a guitarist and guitar teacher and as I was little he was always playing shows and jamming with different people, this inspired me to become involved with music, little did I know that it would become my lifelong passion and what I aspire wholeheartedly to do in the future.
3. Do you have a creative process?
Jacob: Yes and actually a surprisingly simple one. I decide what instrumentation and what I want from that instrumentation from the get-go. Whether it be haunted bells or a reverb infused grand piano twiddling the melody away, a sub bass and horns blasting the low frequencies out, or silky strings and electronic pads beefing up the harmonies, it really is all code to me. It’s like an auditory equation, what sounds nice with what to equal the message I’m trying to portray. Structurally we stick to a ternary form but on occasion we like to add something binary just to really hit the listener over the head with well explored themes. In this sense we are actually somewhat minimalistic, we only do what we have to do to portray our message across; we don’t need to gloss it up. When I’m done with the orchestral and theoretical side of things, I record it all in a one/two evening sitting mixing until the later hours of the morning. When I’ve produced that side I send it over to Sam with no instructions whatsoever, I let him do what he wants to do. That helps flesh us out too since we have the creativity amounting together rather than condensing it to please one and other. After he’s laid down some awesome beats, he sends it back and I produce the final mix. We have guest singers appearing on our next few tracks and the process is somewhat the same just with our final mix being sent to that guest singer (also with no instruction). It’s a free spirited, spur of the moment process I guess.
Sam: Our creative process for Breathe is pretty simple, Jacob will pretty much write and record the bulk of the song and then he’ll send it to me and I will write a drum part for it playing along to it on my electric kit and then I’ll record a drum track or write it on EZ Drummer 2 and then send it back to Jacob. After we’re happy that the drum part fits the song nicely we’ll keep listening to the song and just have conversations on what aspects we feel can be changed or tweaked to make us feel satisfied. We’ve started incorporating guitar and bass into our writing recently and also began working with vocalists. I personally want to start incorporating guitar and bass into our music to make a more rounded sound and possibly develop some songs that are reminiscent of the ambience and light and shade that Misha Mansoor made whilst he was Bulb.
To view part two click here
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Listen to their tunes on Reverbnation