Monday, March 5, 2018

THE ONE AND ONLY ANIMUS REX

“Animus Rex, that's an interesting name, how did you dream that up?”
When I first started recording and publishing music a couple years ago, I chose “The Soothsayers” as a project name and had all these grand notions of collaborating with other like-spirits, using the Internet as a medium to make connections that could be followed up in real life,…as a family man, and primary caregiver to four children for the previous couple decades, I really hadn’t established many revolutionary rock & roll connections, so other than taking advantage of the very liberal busking laws in my beautiful home city of Portland, OR and regularly playing my robust music as a street artist, I pinned a lot of hope on the Internet as a medium to connect with people to share music & a humanist message, about Love & Liberty,…as reality accumulated and expectations changed, I found myself standing in that holy place [the bathroom], reflecting, lamenting the human behavior I perceived, the pain I experienced, I had a sort of epiphany, my path became clearer,… the ‘words’ “Animus Rex” issued from my throat and I heard it then for the first time,…I knew who I had become as an artist in that moment, …a couple months later I googled the latin terms to find semantics, Animus = Soul, & Rex = King,…weird huh?
“What inspired you to play music and what do you most try to get across in your music?”
An overwhelming passion to create, heal, connect, & inspire is buried somewhere deep in there, but sculpting sound is a fun thing to do,…for me. And, after I was inspired to experiment with music in different kinds of spaces, I discovered, with rapt experience, that it was ‘fun’ for others too.
Early on in childhood, not many opportunities unfolded for my musical development. My grandparents’ piano ended up being off limits because my aunt insisted that I would knock the piano out of tune playing with it the way I did, and if I wanted to play the thing I should take lessons from the same old bird that she took them from, otherwise, hands off. First, nobody was offering to pay for, nor were they encouraging lessons, the rationale was a means to keep me from making ‘noise’ on the piano, and second but probably first, I would not have tolerated lessons very well, the rote repetition and silly beginner songs, …torturous,…to me. Other than singing in church, sometimes earnestly, the only other musical opportunity I remember was when my uncle gifted me a harmonica. I was about 11, sitting by myself in the backroom, off the kitchen at my grandparents house where extended family would often congregate on Saturday mornings, first time I had a harmonica in my hands, so I just started playing some tunes and experimenting, when I felt played out, I went out into the kitchen expecting that people would be as pleased as I was at the musical sounds…apparently I had been playing TAPS at some point, probably for far too long, and my grandma explained to me in a very kind and gracious way that the music I was playing upset grandpa, because it is a song played at military burials,…and it seemed to make him feel sad. I assured her I wouldn’t play that music anymore, and inside decided that my music sucked, and wouldn’t bother with it…
I experienced music whenever it was available, without any limit to genre, a classic audiophile, without the motivation to collect, so until the digital age, a limited consumption of diverse sounds. I took in whatever was on the radio, laying around on vinyl, cassette, CD, and eventually the digital explosion of sound made ‘everything’ available…
I only rarely experienced live music and when I did, it mostly sounded uninspired and/or kinda crappy. The sound quality was poor, the performance uninspired, but the social experience was always amazing and I totally understood the value of the experience from that point of view. Once in a great while, I would experience someone who had practiced a prearranged piece of music to flawless performance and while I found it rewarding in a social sense, and always appreciated the value of their obvious love of music and devoted practice, it didn’t inspire me to create music, rather to kick back and experience their love of music in action, by riding the sound waves, an audiophile,…in ‘action’ haha!
Eventually, as an adult, I had a few positive vocal experiences, which encouraged more of the same, which …along with having musicians for friends along the way… eventually provided some small degree of motivation to pick up a guitar, learn some chords and sing some of the old favorites around the campfire, …which never happened. Not long after picking up a classic guitar, I became a family man. With little ones toddling about, I found out quickly that time to practice uninterrupted wasn’t going happen, for a long time. At that point, I had a couple guitars, and figured I would get back to it when the children were older.
I didn’t get back to it, until recently, …a couple years ago. Truthfully, I would not have gotten back to it at all, relying solely on the slight motivation to sing campfire songs and learn guitar tabs, the reward didn’t seem enough to motivate me.
Like many people, I’ve been introduced to key portals of growth through self-realization as a transpersonal being. My music is ultimately about healing, self-acceptance and empowerment. It’s about Love. It’s about Liberty. It’s about me, you, …us, …which includes them. I’m ridiculously grateful to anyone that enjoys my primal sonic sculptures. Sharing the digital captures of my ephemeral primal art all started when I decided to record myself live one summer evening a couple years ago, that same evening for the first time, I put contact pickups on my classic gut string guitar, OG, and played her over a small Danelectro amp with dirty sweet effects turned up. I recorded on my old iPhone 4s, “Spread a Little Sunshine” that evening. The music was primal and completely extemp, never played by me before,…most people can feel the primal energy of that capture, and while the experience was and always is best in the moment, I could sense that the capture was worthwhile and part of a larger expansion into a mantle of being,…so I embraced it.
“How do you record and what's your typical way to develop a song?”
Typically, I’ve recorded my music with one track of live sound, with one condenser microphone, so there is no need for mixing most of my instrumental - vocal songs. However, my electronic music was composed by recording a foundational layer of sequenced beats & sounds overlaid with a free-style glass touch extemp performance on a drum pad app, then taking that track of sound and overlaying live extemp vocals. The vocal track to “Time EDM” was all primal. What you hear are the sounds manifest the very first time, extemp, no prep, no redooz, real primal vocals, raw, no effects, no plan, from the soul. Didn’t know what little ol me was gonna do till I’s doin’ it…that can be a common theme in my musical experiences, …the best ones anyway. “Star Shadow” was the same, only, I laid three vocal tracks on the free-style extemp foundation track, which was without beat sequencing completely free-style finger on glass recording, then vocals on Audacity…one, two, three,…thought I’d keep one of the vocals, felt the need to listen to them all at the same time, and instantly knew the three tracks belonged together in,…harmony, & with providence. It felt great producing those sounds,…and I’m looking forward to exploring more as time, motivation, & resources permit…very much. Looking forward to all of it, the music, the connections,…fulfillment.
“What software/gear do you use in your work?”
I’m a multi-instrumentalist & avant-garde technologist with the only restriction being what is actually available to me. I make do. No complaints. Anyone that positively experiences music from my selection of 60+ primal tracks on Soundcloud, may wonder with giddy anticipation what I might could do with the resources that are available to ‘professional’ artists. I am looking forward to exploring that potential, but first,…my gear:
A handful of acoustic guitars, an electric bass, a parlor upright piano, a couple amps, an electric guitar, electric drum kit, an ocarina, recorder, a couple single key harmonicas, Amplitube4 free, Audacity, an old macbook, some cheap USB condenser mics, drum pad app on old iPhone 4s,…bare minimum, really…
We are just gathering the proprietary gear for our Live House Party tours, which includes some high tech audio visual stuff, it’s gonna be pretty cool…
“What are 5 of your biggest influences and why do they appeal to you?”
In music,… First, I’ve always had difficulty with these kinds of questions, because I seem to appreciate all flavors…colors,…textures,…vibes, etc. Hyper-Adaptable people,…blah blah blah. Haha! Ok, I’ll pick 5… ;-)
1. Any soulful artist popularly available as a kid coming up, anyone that performed with deep emotional attachment manifested by the artistic expression.
2. Multi-instrumentalists, pick any popular one that you’d expect I would know, and they will be a big influence, they will be the most relatable to me right away,…on many levels.
3. The misfits, rebels, others, challengers of authority, champions of love & liberty,…justice.
4. Bold innovators & explorers, independent adaptable spirits, artists popular across genres and generations.
5. All masters of extemporaneous primal art, not easily explained by technicians & theorists, nor easily tabbed, notated, & reproduced by musicians.
So, if an artist fits into one of those ‘categories’, and they were popular enough, …or marketed enough, for me to experience them, then they were an influence…and if an artist fits in to all of those categories, then they were surely a big influence on me.
“There is most definitely a primal element in your style, how do you do it? What "makes it pop" for you?”
For me, primal music is an instinctual marriage between hyperbole & minimalism. Primal music is about dissonance with time, with authority, and resonance with the whole, within self. Primal music should obliterate the logical strictures restraining it while appealing to the rhythms & textures that evoke. Primal music should be, heart to hand, that’s the primal essence, really.
“You have an excellent voice! What tricks of the trade would you recommend to newbie singers?”
Well, first, thank you for the appreciation on the vocals, the vocals suffer quite a bit with my recording style and I often hope that singing from the heart makes up for it. In the future, as resources become more available for my art, I’ll start using a separate vocal mic for mixing and higher quality captures of sound.
As far as advice, I would recommend finding a tone & key where you feel naturally comfortable singing, and then sing from the heart, if you don’t feel it, don’t bother, because vocals always magnify that part of it. The voice is an intrinsically attached natural instrument like no other. I hope to master it one day.
“If you could pick one artist to bring back from the dead and rock out performing with who would that be?”
JERRY GARCIA! Obvious!!! haha!!! I really don’t know that much about Jerry’s music, I’ve heard some of it, but I was never a Deadhead or anything, some of the coolest nicest people I’ve met were dead heads though, and lots of people just loved him, and it’s my understanding that his performances were like really cool primal jams, and that’s my thing too, so we would surely have a great time. And you know, Jerry Garcia came to mind first because of the way you worded the question, but seriously there have been so many great primal musicians like Jimi Hendrix, Robert Johnson,…Prince,…It’s cool jamming with them for sure,…we are one. :-)
“What are your favorite genres of music to listen to on any given week?”
Again, I really do love ‘em all, but in practice, when I’m being a passive audiophile, which is not nearly as much since I started prolifically creating music, I mostly listen to rock & roll on the radio, sometimes classical, sometimes urban pop, or whatever KBOO serves up in the alternative format, and on the Internet I listen to music from people when I’m interested in networking, supporting, collaborating, or connecting with someone, completely without genre restrictions, and with an ear tuned to the soul.
What future projects are you most excited about? What can we expect to hear from you down the road?
With 4 albums, & 2 EPs already published on Soundcloud adding up to 60+ live primal studio performances to experience, hopefully that will give me some time to finish up the album art projects and packaging for independent publishing and digital distribution [by donation] on Bandcamp, along with some of the tracks being made available on Spotify, Pandora, & iTunes, etc. at which time we will take most of the legacy music off Soundcloud, and begin publishing Live video shows on YouTube, from my LIVE House Party Tours, which, by the way, starts up this Summer, 2018. Animus Rex will be touring the west coast doing private House Shows, there are still possibilities for booking, send inquiries to email animusrex@hoarytortoise.com
I plan to keep doing private intimate house shows using cutting edge audio and visual technology as long as the people make it possible for me to do so. Eventually I may make some rare appearance at a larger venue, but we’ll see, maybe I’ll try the college & university circuit, that’s something we might consider, looking forward to possibilities for travel and making connections with real human peoples... thanks for the questions and I hope we get to meet in the flesh sometime, share some music.