With Between The Rings, Stellardrone has began to make a smooth transition into the realms of rhythmically infused downtempo and psychill.
While we have seen glimmers of this shift throughout his work for some time now (perhaps most notably the titular track from 2013's Light Years) this EP marks the first effort that can be seen as an attempt to subvert the ideas we have attributed to Stellardrone's usual sonics.
Make no mistake, the expansive, sweeping crescendos that we have come to know and love are still act as the backbone during this transition, but we are definitely witnessing an evolution from the Lithuanian product.
Here he discusses why he has decided to incorporate more drums into his pieces, Between The Rings, and his future as Stellardrone.
Prox: What was the motivation behind your latest EP, Between The Rings? How does it differ from other albums in your discography?
SD: Since my latest album Light Years I began experimenting more with rhythmic tracks because ambient music without drums didn't sound good to me anymore and did not bring the same enjoyment as before. I wanted it to be more lively and on the downtempo side. Something uplifting, energetic and sad at the same time and it was not an easy task for me. That's why I spent almost a year on each track, polishing and tweaking various parts even though the basic ideas were created pretty quickly.
Proper sounding beats were hard to do, however I felt like I needed to make them by myself instead of just using loops by other people. I started from scratch each time and did my best not to overdo it so that rhythmic parts would gently blend into the general atmosphere and wouldn't feel out of place.
I only had an EP length project in mind since the beginning because I felt like I lack the inspiration for a full length, 9-10 track album. It was now all about quality not quantity with no filler tracks, like I call them. Many half finished and quite wonderful sounding ideas were not included because of that. Though I have plans on working on them in the future.
Prox: Why did you select the title? How does it convey the project’s sonic message?
SD: Title selection wasn't easy and I changed it a few times before settling on Between The Rings. The name itself was taken from one of the photographs from APOD website. It is my first go to place when I want to be inspired.
And since I previously had trouble finding a title for a 5th track of an EP, after few weeks of thinking I decided to choose that as my album title as well. I think it sounds original enough and has the same spacey, cosmic theme like all of my albums.
Prox: I noticed that this release was a bit busier than some of your older works. Is this a result of any personal, musical, or spiritual revelations?
SD: Every time I start creating new music, I do it solely in ambient style first, no drums or faster tempos, just pads, a melodic sequence and a bass line. However when I began working on the Between The Rings EP I realized that something was missing from me and I could no longer create just space ambient. Always being a fan of psychill and downtempo bands I wanted to bring this new style into Stellardrone's world a bit more. Not exactly copying what others did, but doing it my way and I like to think I succeeded at doing exactly that.
Prox: Could you give us a breakdown of your favorite track on the project? What went into it musically and creatively?
SD: Rendezvous With Rama is probably the most sonically complex track I have ever done.
I can't remember exactly how much time I spent on it, definitely less than a month since it was flowing by itself and I did not have trouble finding ideas, sounds and instruments that would fit into it. However creatively I put more soul into it than any other track, though it always sounded quite weird to me for some reason. I more than likely used all the knowledge I gained over the course of 10 years to finalize it.
Prox: As time progresses, what do you think Stellardrone represents? How has your perception of your work evolved in recent years?
SD: I think I started putting in more detail and work in general. Always being a perfectionist, if something doesn't sound well, I delete it entirely. Stellardrone, as always, was a space themed project and I doubt it changed much over the years.
Prox: Who or what are some new artists, books, movies, or TV shows you’ve been enjoying since our first interview?
SD: It has been just too many to remember them all, but at one time I was very much into new retro, synth wave genre music which kind of inspired me on some tracks. It also gave me certain ideas on how to make music sound more old-school.
Speaking of movies, I don't watch them quite often, and even those that I do are forgettable nowadays, like most summer blockbusters.
Prox: What’s next for you? Do you have any shows or tracks lined up for the near future?
SD: I currently do not have any plans for new albums. There are a couple of unfinished tracks left from my last EP that I come back to once in a while trying to improve them. I'd like to gather enough inspiration to create a full length album in the far future again. Though that's highly unlikely.
Prox: Final thoughts?
SD: Music to me always was just a way of expressing myself and dealing with my own monsters so to speak and at the same time wanting to help others too. Sound itself definitely has lots of healing advantages, mostly psychological. I've been listening to music for more than half of my life.
It's hard to put any price tag on it, especially considering the fact that I never intended it to be so well received. I am very thankful to all the people who keep listening and sharing it with everybody. It means more than just words, seeing my music in somebody else's videos or other kind of projects just makes me happy. I appreciate it, so thanks to everyone for that.
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