1. Can you name some of your influences musically?
I really like melodies; songs with childish optimism. Songs about journeys and escaping are always good too. When I started Universe I was listening religiously to Felt Mountain by Goldfrapp. Everyone thinks that album sounds like some sort of 60′s Bond film soundtrack. To me it sounded like it was created out in a desert somewhere. Once I got that idea of a desert stuck in my head, my goal was to make music that sounded like it was harnessed by the desert. Then I started thinking about other places where I’d like to hear my music played. In the middle of a rain forest, at the bottom of the ocean, on top of numerous mountains, falling through the sky, in domes, childrens bedrooms, an ice skating rink. Universe is universal! Im terms of bands. I can’t even fathom how important David Sylvian and His band Japan has been to me. The first Soviet album, Kraftwerk, Liek As Shadow, Enya’s First album, Alphaville, Echo & The Bunnymen.
2. Your sound has a nice array of vintage electronic sounds, can you tell us about your ‘tools of the trade’?
I have two core Synthesizers I take everywhere (which are a Roland Juno-6, and a Roland Sh-101). Since I move so much I’ve been getting into smaller gear, like a Yamaha CS-01, a Yamaha PS3, and a Casio MT-400v. I just recently got my first Moog. I’m not really a gear snob or anything. For drums I Usually use a Synsonics drum machine. It’s made by Mattel. When not using that, ill use my mouth or whatever. A good portion of the songs are done on what some people consider toys. I’m not into circuit bending, so i just work really hard to make a “toy” Yamaha keyboard sound professional. Lots of EQ-ing those things, but its worth it. I also use a Roland JX3p, and a casiotone 1000p, a tenor recorder, Melodica, and a Fender.. nothing in my music is done on a computer except using multi-tracks. I don’t use midi. everything is played by hand. Whoa I just listed almost all my gear. Korg Poly 61. ok that’s even closer.
3. Tell us about your typical process when making a song?
OH. If I go sit down to write a song, I just get really frustrated. It never works, and it usually leads me to doubting myself as a music maker. I don’t even remember writing most of my songs. When it happens I don’t have much control over the situation. Most songs I initially don’t like, Then maybe a few weeks later I’ll go back, and be like hey that’s kind of good. And I’ll work it, and re-record the entire thing like 4-5 times until I am into it. In terms of lyrics I guess I only sing on a song when I feel its needed. I try to have something to say, believing it. having faith in the words, etc,
4. Do you have any recommendations musically?
Secrets of the Beehives, and Gone to Earth. Both by David Sylvian. They have helped, influenced, and effected me more than any albums on this planet. I strongly recommend Love Like Deloreans, Twi The Humble Feather, Nite Jewel, Virginia Astley, (Rick Astley too when you’re at it), Liek as Shadow, Ocean Rain by Echo and The Bunnymen is great to sing along to, Those weird Joy Division demos right before Ian kicked it are interesting, Vincent Gallo’s jams are always good. Hulger Czukay’s long form stuff is great too. Robert Fripp.
5. Your music is very beautiful and relaxing, does your sound reflect your personality?
No. I’m obsessed with the fact of having a brain tumor, stomach cancer, M.S, having a stroke. …. . Lots of aliments. I used to hear voices before I’d fall asleep. I almost stopped making music when that documentary on Daniel Johnston came out. I Just have really bad anxiety (and maybe a brain tumor). I usually wouldn’t talk about my personal life on something like this, but I think it’s important to know that to understand why I make this type of music. Stuff that calms me, and hopefully helps calm others. the whole calm thing is kind of a mission statement. I encourage you to fall asleep to my music. I dunno, maybe one day Universe will be a glam rock band, or put out a country album.
6. Tell us about your newest album”Adventures” and where we can we buy it?
Adventures is a collection of Recordings I did over the entire country. for the past few years I’ve been moving much more than I’d like to. But I need to keep creating, so I recorded Adventures anywhere I could. floors, attics, ex girlfriends bedrooms, even some songs on a train bathroom going across country. I like the way it came out. I think it’s a nice introduction to the project. Adventures was quietly released last summer on Friendly Ghost Recordings, out of New York City. There was a SMALL number of handmade copies, that came with a poster. I don’t even know where they all went. They sold out very quick. But you’re in luck! Adventures is now on iTunes. Check it out, and get ready for The Universe song being featured on the Manimal Vinyl Bowie Tribute, and a new Universe Album later this year!
Other Universe stuff: