1. Aviary Canopy

    Sol Cascade

The Making of "To Our Son"

Jess Fens
September 2017

I join Micah and Jess Russell having completed their new music album. We discuss influences on the album, why it's verastruct, and how their son to be born is part of that. To get early access to the album contribute to their go fund me campaign.

Jess Fens (JF): So Micah and Jess, thank you for “coming on the show,” or rather for letting me interview you about your album, haha. As the foremost authority on verastruct, the foremost authority even in the verastruct world I come from, I think it fitting that I should assess your new album’s verastructness?

Micah (M): We agreed that verastruct is not only a verb and a noun, but also an adjective, so you can say “assess its verastruct.” 

JF: This will get, I mean take, some getting used to. But first let’s lay the groundwork here —you’re both having a baby. 

Jess Russell (JR): Yes, we’re BOTH having a baby. Micah’s having a baby as well. 

(She’s being sarcastic, if you didn’t notice. Some discussion between the two — JR doesn’t love the idea of an interview. She thought it would just be an article. SHH, don’t tell her I wrote this!)

JF: So you’re having a baby, do you mind telling me if it’s a boy or a girl? 

JR: We are having a son. And we are so overjoyed for him to meet us soon!

JF: Great, I already knew. Micah told me. I really just wanted you to announce it publicly, haha! Now it’s official! So who’s idea was it to make an album for your son? It is called “To Our Son,” after all?

JR: Um… I came up with the idea. Micah likes making music and he started dappling [sic], um, what’s it called again? Garageband, he started dappling [sic] in Garageband. He seemed very determined to perfect some songs he’d been working on. 

M: I think, I don’t think it started off as being for our son at first. I had written an album Freshman [year], well really during my whole college career…

JF: Is that available as well?

M: No, it isn’t, but I wanted to pick that up again from the perspec-tive of verastruct. I was intrigued by this idea of a verastruct music. 

JF: But it was you, Jess (whoa is that an echo?), who thought of it as being for the baby? About what part of the process did you think this?

JR: He was so focused on what verastruct music is, should be like, and I thought it was a worthy pursuit.

JF: But you didn’t tell me when.

JR: I don’t know when it was. Maybe a few months ago. All I know was I really wanted to help Micah with verastruct music, and get Micah more involved with our baby. 

JF: Okay, Okay. Understandable. Did you guys gain any inspiration from the little I’ve told Micah about the music in my world?

M: I was just thinking about that. I feel like the descriptions you gave me and the ones in your book are too vague for me to really know. They also seemed like jammy, sort of upbeat tracks and artists, and I wanted to avoid that. Like with Wind Palms, or what-ever they’re called. 

(They ARE called Wind Palms and they are going to rock your world in seven hundred and fifty-four short years!)

M: But also you mentioned togaku at Maitreya With Lotus.

JF: Which is a Buddhist relic of my home town, Zhao.

M: Right, and I was, already knew about togaku, and I’ve always been interested in the alien-like quality to it, like in The Tale of the Princess Kaguya.

JF: So then what are the influences? Is The Tale one of them? Are you focusing on influences from your world?

JR: Upon meeting Micah, I did not have a choice but become very familiar with video game music, and cinematic music. Most of all, Boards of Canada. Games like Monument Valley, Undertale, Legend of Zelda, Super Mario Galaxy, and Metroid Prime all greatly influenced many of the songs. Do you want to add to that, Micah?

M: That sums it up pretty well. I think each song has its own influences and …

JF: Then go into that, in fact let’s go into that. Not only the influen-ces for each song, why don’t you tell me in what ways each song is verastruct. 

M: A standout for me is the last piece, Breath Abyss, which is probably the most influenced by Arrival

JF: Another movie. 

M: The sounds the aliens [make], we were watching the bonus features for that, it, and we were inspired by the aliens sounding “sacred.”

JF: Sacred?

M: The director supposedly wanted the aliens to sound sacred. As in like holy.

JF: What about for you, Jess? What’s a standout influence on the album?

JR: Whether we like it or not, or whether we were trying to make it so, Interstellar inevitably influenced the whole album. 

JF: How are these influences verastruct?

M: I wanted a more organic album, but I’m hoping this is a good starting point. 

JR: What’s important is that while the foundation of each song is rather organic and simple, we tried to give each song substance or palpable ambiance, does that make sense?

JF: Now, I’ve been hearing about this side of verastruct for some time, and certainly it’s a part of my world, but I don’t think I ever explicitly gave Micah this perspective, this is pure Jess Russell right here. So explain to me how substance, organic, and simple repre-sent verastruct for you.

JR: Well it’s the opposite of postmodernism, or as you know it, destruct. Postmodernism is thoughtless. It’s manmade, and ex-tremely chaotic. If we’re looking for truth, we must turn to the most natural, naturally occurring elements associated with our culture. 

JF: So you are relying on influences from your world to craft verastruct, at least in this case. You are not relying on the direct message from me and my world for guidance. 

M: Right. In order for it to be organic, or rather sustainable, it needs to generate from present sources, or the occurring elements as Jess said. 

JF: Which Jess? I’m so confused, haha. Back to your son though…

JR: I like that we are having our son listen to it in utero. I think it’s important that we do so. Not only because he’ll be familiar with it when, and after he’s born, but because it’s personal to our family and it sets a foundation of peace for his life. I also plan on listening to the album as I bring him to the world in the comfort of our own home. 

JF: So what you’re saying is you’re having a home birth?

JR: Yeah! It means so much to us that he is born in an environment that makes me feel safe and provides him a gentle place to em-erge into existence. 

M: I was really hoping to get to, I don’t know, more about each individual song. Not to talk, steer away from talking about our son and his influence on the album. I agree with everything Jess just said, and I think some of the songs that channel that youth naivety are “Cloud Plateau“ and “Echo Canyon.” We used the marimba and harp for those in a way similar to Super Mario galaxy that give them a, ah, neonatal sound. That would not have been a sound we would have pursued if it weren’t also for our son. Another influence is Jeff Bridges’ Sleep Tapes. I knew about them ever since he partnered with Squarespace back a few years ago, and I thought I could get into them. To this day I really only like two, the bells [chimes] and Ikea

JF: And one of those is featured in the music player on this website. You can even listen to it while you’re reading this, if you like. But let’s move on. What about Sol Cascade? It wasn’t always called “Sol Cascade,” and it was made more than eight years ago, right?

M: That was the only song I have kept from my first album to this one. The one from college. Tonally and stylistically none of the other songs could fit into what I had reimagined for a verastruct album, but that song could.

JF: Did you make any modifications?

M: Other than changing the album to, the album name to “To Our Son,” and the artist from Xenomind to Verastruct, absolutely none. 

JR: Nope, there were plenty of changes. He changed the song name only about five hundred times. 

JF: The song naming process was long, huh?

JR: It was always a battle. Should the song be named after the sonic elements in the song? Or should it be based on the visual art we create for the song?

JF: I see how that can be difficult to merge those elements, but I think the product is stunning. The cover art takes you through, takes you on a visual journey through each song. Do you want to tell me a little bit about the artwork?

M: I really liked album art that felt like a new world and so I wanted, I felt that the organic nature of the song titles we were coming up with deserved a detailed visual journey in the cover. 

JR:  The cover turned out like how a lot of our projects turn out: it starts off really simple and easy and the more our imaginations take over, the more complex the project becomes. But I couldn’t be happier with the way this one has turned out.

JF: So, I recommend zooming in on this one and looking at each, area or region I guess, when you listen to each song. It is quite the multimedia experience! That concludes the interview. Thank you for letting me do this, especially Jess, thank you!

JR: Fine! I’m Jess kidding. 

JF: On behalf of everyone reading, your puns are always spot on, Jess. Thanks again!