With their début album God of Love about to hit the stores in the next few days, we grabbed Stereo Alchemy’s Christopher Tin for ten minutes to go over what is undoubtedly a smashing album in waiting and all the juicy bits behind it:
Stereo Alchemy is a collaborative effort. Tell us how you came into being and what attracted you to working together?
Kametron and I have known each other since college. Over the years, he’s worked on a number of projects with me, playing Japanese taiko, programming beats, etc. We’d always talked about doing some sort of collaborative project together
Two years ago, I was contacted by a fashion photographer named Yu Tsai, who was doing a video for Lindsay Lohan, and needed something that was dark and trip-hoppy… sort of like Massive Attack. I gave Kametron a call and said that this would be a great way to kick off a project, and so within a matter of a few days, we wrote our first song (“A Rapture”), had it placed in the Lindsay Lohan video, picked a band name, set up a website, and basically launched the project. Since then, we’ve been pecking away at the full release while juggling our own commitments (I have my scoring work and solo orchestral work, he has his world-fusion bands that he plays in and produces). Finally this winter we were able to finish off the album and launch it.
Working together as a duo, you’ve created your début album “God of Love” – tell us about the fun concept behind it, as we here at HPM do like a concept!
We’ve basically taken Renaissance and Romantic Era poems about love and death, and turned them into dark and melancholy electronica! It all started with the aforementioned Lindsay Lohan job… we were in a rush to get a song together, and didn’t have any ideas for lyrics. Then I remembered a poem that I read in college (I was an English Major) called “A Rapture” by Thomas Carew, a Renaissance poet. It was highly erotic, and worked brilliantly in the context of the video. We then decided that the rest of our songs would follow a similar pattern, and started scouring old anthologies for poems that fit well into the context of our album.
The Lindsay Lohan video, by the way, can be seen here:
With each of the ten tracks on the album veering off into different types of electronica, how did you work together? Would say Kametron supply a rhythm for you to work from or would the melodies come first?
It went both ways, really. Sometimes I’d come in and Kametron would play me a beat or a synth riff that he was working on, and I’d say, hey, that’s great, let’s add some verses and chorus to that. Then we’d crack open a few books, look around for something that fit, and then make it work. Sometimes I’d be sitting at home reading a book of poetry, and I’d find some fragment of text, and a melody would immediately jump into my mind. Then I’d sketch that out and send it over to him, and he’d add a beat to it. It was a very fluid process. Some songs got reworked over and over and over. Some ideas got initiated in one song, then ported over to another. The idea of a dubstep wobble bass, for example… Kametron was really insistent that we try to incorporate that somewhere, and at first I was hesitant. He put it into “God of Love” first, which was a song that I initiated. I sort of freaked out at that point… I’ll admit, I hated dubstep when I first heard it, and I was thinking to myself “What is that god awful noise that you’re sticking into my beautiful song?” (I’ve since become more of a dubstep fan.) Then we ported the dubstep sound over to another song and tried it out there, but that didn’t work either. Finally we ported it over to Monster of the Sky, and that seemed to be the most natural place for it. And now I’m a fan, and I’m glad he was so insistent that we incorporate it somewhere. (I’m still glad that it’s not in “God of Love”, though.)
Tell us about the guest vocalists that came on-board with the project as they really add a depth to the album too, almost as a separate voice to the work.
We have a trio of great vocalists: Melissa R. Kaplan (of the bands Splashdown and Universal Hall Pass), whom we turn to for our darker, more trip-hoppy songs. Mozez (from Zero 7), who handles all our male vocals. And Lia Rose (singer/songwriter) whom we turn to for our more pure, innocent, and dream-poppy songs. They’re all great singers, and each brings a different energy to their songs. It’s nice to have variety.
With all the success from your previous solo work “Calling All Dawns” being rooted firmly in the classical/world genre – this is a completely different side to Christopher Tin we’re seeing. Do you see the projects as completely separate? Is there anything you prefer being part of Stereo Alchemy over being a solo artist or vice versa? Or is it just about being free to express each layer of music you’d like to explore?
The two sides don’t have much to do with each other, really. I’m just exploring something that I’ve wanted to do for awhile, and having fun doing it. At the same time, I’m still working on my orchestral/world releases. I just need a change of scenery from time to time, that’s all. There are pros and cons of working in a collaboration, and working as a solo artist. It’s just nice to be able to balance both.
As a team of many genres of music – are their any particular influences that set up the “God of Love” sound, because in a very fresh way, it feels like a homage to a certain period of music?
I sort of see it as an homage to maybe a mid-90s way of doing things. We sometimes joke that the name ‘Stereo Alchemy’ is really more of a 90s-sounding name… a little bit pretentious, a little bit on-the-nose.
Now that the album is finished about about to be released, where can we find it and will we be seeing you at any promotional events to support it?
It’s online at iTunes, Amazon, and our own website www.stereoalchemy.com. It’s also on my solo website, www.christophertin.com. We’re looking into some potential live possibilities… some of which might really appeal to HPM fans, in fact. Hopefully more will develop. We’ll see.
On a personal note, how does it feel to be a Grammy winner?
Pretty good, man. Pretty good.
Thank you so much to Stereo Alchemy for giving us their time and we wish them best of luck with God of Love.