I recently got the chance to interview Amphibious and ProjektZero about their respective EP releases: Oceans and Getting to Know You. Both artists have associations with the arrangement community, so I asked them each about the stories behind the making of their tracks, their influences and how creative competitions have affected their work.
Amphibious â€“ Oceans EP
Amphibious has gained a reputation for creating ambient, chilled music with fluid movement. To that end, his release Oceans is a concept EP, specifically referencing a journey through the sea as a topic. Amphibious explained his motivations for exploring a musical narrative. â€œI’ve always been told my songs remind people of water for some reason, and the ideas I came up with definitely had that vibe, so I decided to add a theme to my EP. It also sort of fits with the name Amphibious, which is cool too.â€
Work on the album began in early June and continued over the summer. He stated that, â€œI’d been experimenting with music a lot over the last year or so. I got Komplete in May for my birthday, and I spent a few weeks learning the various things in the package. But for the most part, the songs I started never did get finished. One of my roommates and I were talking about how I didn’t really see many through to the end, so I decided I’d take this summer as an opportunity to change that. I sat down and got some ideas ready. That is when I started to work on my new songs for the EP.â€
Meteo Xavier contributed the EPâ€™s artwork. Amphibious initially created a cover image himself, and related an anecdote to that effect: â€œI knew my artwork was bad when I originally made it, but I figured something quick and shoddy would be better than nothing. I got a few comments on OC ReMix about how bad it was; Meteo in particular wanted to redo it himself and I guess he decided to whip something up quick. I’m really happy with it, he did it pretty quickly but itâ€™s infinitely better than what I had before.Â Many thanks to him.â€
When asked about the contributing factors to his musical style, Amphibious noted that â€œThis particular album had a lot of influence from David Arkenstone. He did a lot of world and Celtic music such as the tavern music in World of Warcraft, but he released a chillout album that I absolutely love. â€˜Plungeâ€™ in particular draws influence from that.Â I would also say the Metroid Prime soundtrack has had some influence on me as well.â€
The track â€œPelagic Fortressâ€ on the EP started off as an entry for a composition competition. Â Amphibious shared his thoughts on time-constrained musical gatherings: â€œWhen I first heard about compo, it seemed like a cool idea, but two hours sounded so short.Â However once I tried it, I was pretty amazed at what I could come up with in such a short time frame. â€˜Pelagic Fortressâ€™ in particular fit the theme of my album very well. Overall the compos definitely have helped me with efficiency. And having a theme given to you is sometimes a helpful way to come up with new ideas.â€
Oceans EP is currently available at Bandcamp for free, or pay-what-you-want pricing. Amphibious is pleased with the response to the release, noting that â€œI’d still consider myself a bit of an amateur, and there have been some fair criticisms, but some people have really enjoyed my stuff and I’m very pleased with that.â€
ProjektZero â€“ Getting to Know You
Matt â€œProjektZeroâ€ Rittinghouse identifies with the nerdcore scene, though his music has recently gravitated away from his rap roots and toward groove-based, melodic pop songwriting. His EP carries a unifying concept, as he expressed that â€œthe theme with Getting to Know You is that I wanted each song to provide some glimpse at me as a person, or the things I feel. â€˜Loop Onâ€™ deals with relationships; â€˜331â€™ and â€˜Mannequinsâ€™ deal with friendships and isolation; â€˜The Standâ€™ deals with my geekier tendencies; and â€˜Fake Itâ€™ deals with this sort of transition out from my teenage years.â€
Untested Methods and zircon are credited with mixing on specific tracks. Matt explained how these collaborations came about: â€œI met Eric (Methods) at Nerdapalooza 2010. I’m a huge fan of a lot of his remixes, but I’m probably a bigger fan of the chiptune-infused synthpop style he has developed in his independent work. He and I are both music production geeks that use FL Studio, so we’ve been chatting fairly regularly since Nerdapalooza, and we’ve tried several efforts at collaboration along the way. This was just the first one that made it to a finalized, published product.â€
Matt considers zircon and the OC ReMix community to be a great motivation and influence on his production. He elaborated on zirconâ€™s contribution to the EP: â€œI’ve had zircon on my contacts list since he did a series of FL Studio production tutorials a few years back. I had been struggling very, very hard to mix â€˜The Standâ€™. I’d worked on it for eight hours a day, for three days straight, and had finally just fallen into despair over mixing the song. So I shot zircon a message, and he graciously offered to help me out. He pretty much saved that track from falling apart.â€
Getting to Know You includes a cover version of a song by Brad Turcotte called â€œFake Itâ€. Matt expressed his desire was to cover this song, and include it on the EP. â€œThrough my old school nerdcore ways, I’m hip to a place called SongFight, where Brad is a regular competitor. I feel like I’m a broken record for saying it, but I’m a huge fan of his work, and his entire album Out of It is absolutely classic to me. I specifically chose â€˜Fake Itâ€™ because I felt like it sort of encapsulated the changes that I went through in college. I think that song feels like every twenty-something’s anthem.â€
JG Hollowell, also known as Mithurn, provided the second rhythm guitar heard on â€œLoop Onâ€. Matt talked about how they both became acquainted: â€œJG is an old, old friend of mine. Probably since before I started making music, or at least somewhere around that time frame. I met him through an MMO, but it just so happened that he lived in Charleston close to me. I went off to college, but met back up with him shortly after I graduated.â€ Matt also remarked on their collaborative process by saying that, â€œHe presents a whole different dynamic to songwriting when I work with him. I can’t just fall back into sequencing; I have to work live. I’m playing guitar and singing, trying to come up with melodies or chords on the spot. He has a lot more of a free jam session background, and I strongly respect that. â€˜Loop Onâ€™ evolved from a jam between us.â€
The track â€œMannequinsâ€ on the EP originated as a track ProjektZero made for a compo. Matt expressed his thoughts on the composition competition experience, statingÂ â€œI absolutely feel that the compos benefited me. I’ve put out six albums since I’ve started doing them. Of course, most of those directly came from the compos. This new EP is more refined, but it wouldn’t have been possible without the compo experience. The advice and the high pressure trial-and-error was just invaluable to shaping my songwriting.â€ He agreed that the mannequin concept from One Hour Compo was somewhat unusual, but felt that â€œthat’s what was liberating about it. I couldn’t get lost in the theme, specifically because it was obscure. So to really thrive with mannequins as a concept, you had to make it your own. And I think that’s what made that week’s theme probably my favorite one of the entire series so far.â€
Getting to Know You is available now at Bandcamp with free or name-your-price options. The cover art was created by Brett Houston.