Where does Smomid’s story begin? Were you more of a music geek or a tech geek growing up?
I was more of a musician growing up, and got into music technology way later in life. I got into music technology because I had some ideas and using computers seemed like the best way to make them come to life.
Do you ever play out? I can’t imagine it being easy to find like-minded artists to share a bill with.
Yes I play out all the time. With my Smomid project I’ve done several coast to coast tours, lots of little regional tours, and tons of little shows in New York city, where I am based. Other than that I play out all the time as a guitarist. I think many people are booking shows based on the quality of the artists and not based on trying to find artists that sound exactly like the headlining band. But I would also add there are a lot of other artists like myself who make instruments or are taking advantage of the available technology today. In the world of theater, visual art, computer science, music and fashion (to name a few fields) there are people doing things similar to what I am doing. In addition to music venues I have played in art galleries, technology shows, maker fairs, universities and other places where people have a common interest in what I am doing.
Do you consider yourself a part of the local music scene? Or more of an outsider?
I don’t want judge myself or think about how I fit in, or even if I need to fit in. What I want to focus on is trying to be creative and be the best musician I can be. I practice on my instruments almost every day right after I have my morning coffee and am trying to improve and learn as much as I can. I do work pretty regularly as a musician in my local Brooklyn, NY scene though.
Was Robert Moog a big influence on you?
I don’t know much about Robert Moog other than that he made the Moog synthesizer. I love the sound of the Moog synth and that actually was the exact sound I was trying to emulate when I made my first digital instruments. Also, the album Switched on Bach, by Wendy Carlos, which was made entirely on Moog synthesizers, was a big influence on me. I love the mix of Baroque music and synthesizers.
Cyber Solstice is your 4th full length release. What sets it apart from your first three albums?
On my other three previous Smomid full length releases the music was all recorded live. On those albums after recording the music I did some edits and definitely mixed the different elements to sound good together, but what you hear is what was played in a live.
On Cyber Solstice I tried something different, which was recording the different instruments one at a time and doing lots of overdubs to create thicker textures of sound. I also added guitar tracks to some songs which is something I’ve never done before. On one track there is a melody with like six guitar parts and five Smomid synth parts layered together. I think Cyber Solstice really sounds different from the previous Smomid recordings. I was telling this to a friend of mine and he asked me if in doing all theses overdubs I lost a little of the excitement of a live take, which at times can achieve unexpected results. But I think I was able to still get some of those unexpected and inspired results by playing kind of unorthodox sounds and melodies. I also recorded all the drum parts live. On one song I recorded such a cool drum part that I made the song a few minutes longer because I couldn’t stomach deleting any of that drum track. I’m actually really happy with how Cyber Solstice came out and I think it might be the best Smomid album yet.
Do you have a goal before writing/recording on what direction you want the record to go? Or it simply your latest collection of works?
It’s always different for me. But with Cyber Solstice all the songs were created during lockdown, so creating this music was very cathartic. Some of them were just created by noodling around on my instruments and then I gradually built them up into bigger ideas. Most of them started out sounding completely different and evolved into what you hear after a lot of experimentation. One of the songs, Digital Stimulants, started out as a guitar picking exercise that I created and I had more ideas of what to do with it, so it flowered into this really long melody.
If you could create an instrument or a musical work with another artist, who would it be and why?
I sometimes think what it would be like to work with a really great producer and what they would do with the music I make. I really would love to work with someone like Pharrell Williams, Nile Rogers, Quincy Jones or Rick Rubin. Producers of that caliber make everything they touch sound amazing. They also must have so many great ideas about arranging and building up songs. I have worked with some great producers in the past, although not for my own projects. These kind of experiences are the best ways to learn how to make music.