Soluna’s Intimum Mysterium is a California-based project that defies categorization and creates its own definition. The project “is a multidimensional musical tapestry of original sonic journeys. Through the chronicling of deeply intuited tonal explorations, SIM enables access to uncharted dimensions, worlds of exquisite light, and wombs of lush darkness.” We are very grateful for their time for the interview.
Hello and thanks for the interview. You’ve got quite a unique sound or as your Bandcamp states, “multi-dimensional.” How do you personally describe if not categorize. Maybe briefly talk about the dynamics between certain key album?
If I had to put a single genre, a one-word descriptor, I would say “jazz.” One primary reason for this is that almost all of the music is created spontaneously. I literally sit down, pick an instrument, hit “record”, and start playing. I never embark upon music creation if I don’t “feel” it. But when I do, that first recording, and the nature of that first instrument, dictate what comes next. It’s all about experimentation and improvisation.
My first “studio” album, “Molecula”, might be a good example of a very spontaneous and unpolished work. Here we have atonalism and, at times, outright dissonance afoot. In contrast, with the second album, “Grovedelic’s Deity”, all notation, and melody, is much more calculated and precise.
Where did the project name come from?
The long and draw-out name is a crack at some kind of absurdly theatrical ideal. It’s setup like a vaudevillian act. Like the name of some kind of royal and pompous persona with five long names. I think it might generate a bit of humor even if it does not succeed in creating awe! Yet, the semantics of the name “sol” and “luna” (sun & moon) suggest “yin & yang”, dark and light, and a “lovemaking” of two. The sun and moon’s intimate mystery (alchemy).
Your Bandcamp page notes that “SIM mixes live, publicly and privately, for conscious and spirit-driven events! Could you elaborate?
I started creating my music live: two Boss RC-505 Loop Stations and a sweet Allen & Heath mixer. My brother and I built our own 12” full-rage Hi-Fi PA, to work with the equipment. Started taking the show on the road (locally) and headlining at our local Performing Arts Theatre in Dunsmuir, CA. The biggest turn-out was a puppet show, with amazing props, live actors, and hundred screaming kids throwing popcorn around the club!
Do you have a particular creative process?
I have a couple of music-creation rules: I never use anyone else’s material and create and design ALL of my own sounds, from scratch. After I record the first few takes on a piece, I spend copious amounts of time crafting my sound. I rarely ever leave an instrument’s sound “out of the box.” I tweak the hell out of everything, often ad nauseam!
Could you give us some insight to your studio?
I’m very proud of the studio because, after fucking up much music for five long years, I invested in a dedicated studio-room, fully treated with bass-traps, refraction, and absorption devices, etc. The room is a large 3rd story loft, original hardwoods and trim, in a 1920s Craftsmen Style building. I am now mixing and master for other musicians with great success!
How much of your sound is created with physical instruments and how much is created with computer-based instrument sounds?
A small percentage of the music is created with physical instrumentation, such as my clarinet, frame and steel drums, a cajon, and various percussive instruments. Yet, most of the music is created electronically. I have two music sponsors: one of which is Ample Sound Co., Ltd. who travel the world over recording rare guitars, and basses, and recording the amazing jazz musicians who play them! Much of the music is based on these particular instruments: such as Jaco Pastorius Fretless Jazz Bass.
What particular recordings had significant effects on you growing up?
I was born and raised with classical music. I had no choice as my father blasted (literally) Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture at 4 am each morning! Of course, in my early teens, I developed a profound bitterness for all things classical (including my father at the time), but later grew to love the classics (and my father, a bit, too). Classical music is likely my driving musical inspiration (thanks dad).
Some of the early “new-wave” music, from the likes of “The Cure”, such as the album “The Top”, or “The Queen is Dead” by the “Smiths “certainly influenced my tastes. Bauhaus was also an early influencer and still love and listen to them now.
Lastly, in my late teens, I became a huge “Hearts of Space” (HOS) listener. Tuning into NPR at midnight and tripping on the work of Steve Roach and Robert Rich. I would say Robert Rich has been one of my biggest inspirations, ever.
When it comes to your creative work, do you involve any kind of meditation, ritual or other spiritual practice?
I do meditate, allot. I sit and have learned to really checkout. I might “sit” for three hours a day, easy. I’m addicted. If I can sit for a while, I feel an appreciation for my life, gratitude, and a healthy sense of self. I know this translates into my music. To be honest, I do feel I get some kind of “extradimensional” help… or maybe I would say “helpers.” I don’t really know what that means. But I feel them. I’ve never taken a music lesson in my life. But, when my mind is clear, I sit down and my fingers begin to move, watching them almost as a 3rd person, and often feel like what is coming forth to be very familiar, indeed.
If you had to provide a soundtrack for a particular piece of visual art, what would it be and why?
I’d wish that Akira Kurosawa would come back and employ me to create the soundtrack for a second rendition of “Dreams.” His work is ethereal and yet grounded in the human experience. In his films we encounter demons and hell realms, as well as visits from angels, from earth elementals, and fairies. As a hardcore Scorpio, I am fascinated with death, with other realms of existence, and yet with this here-and-now life, in 3D, perfected as a individuated and personal identity.
The artwork for the last few albums is somewhat similar with the faces superimposed on the cover-art. Is this a particular theme? Do any of your other albums provide a theme in a certain series of releases?
These characters do have a story and themes specific to each. Yet they all share one: they were all omniscient gods… and they choose to take back their mortality. As gods they had lost their emotional intelligence, their passions for life, and their creative spark.
To gain back his mortality Molecula had to do battle with the “Luminarcanum” (Luminous One):
Here’s an excerpt from one of the stories:
Molecula strained to glance up at Jax.
Three of his ribs, on his left side, protruded from his side.
“You left your godhood because you wanted more time to play your guitar,” Jax questioned with a half-smile?
“You should get your money’s worth,” said Jax!
Just then he and his men rolled the slain beast onto its back, raised their palms in unison to the Dog Star, as each human figure turned crystalline and cobalt blue.
Molecula was forced to turn his head away from the drake’s red body… as he saw the blue light enter it and catch fire!
The serpent had completely vanished and yet, in its place, sat a metal guitar.
“It’s amazing,” said Molecula!
“Metal, because we need a “jangle” at this point,” said Jax,
“I’m not sure I can manage just right now… I don’t know what to do,” said Molecula.
Jax gently propped Molecula up near the instrument.
“Don’t worry, just play,” said Jax… and with that, his left-guardsmen handed him his saxophone.
How has the pandemic affected you personally and professionally both positively and negatively?
Well, I don’t believe one word of the pandemic story, I never wear a mask, and therefore has had no effect on my immediate person. Yet it has been a struggle getting by financially, seeing friends and family dancing to the tune of fear, and keeping myself from going a bit stir-crazy! Ultimately, I do feel we are seeing a necessary divide between those who wish to maintain their humanity vs. those who abide in fear jeopardizing their gift of natural life.
What do you envision for the rest of 2021?
Just to “keep on playing”, living in the now, even while watching Rome fall!
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