If you’re looking for lyrics, they’re not here, but there’s music in the sounds, and you probably wouldn’t guess how it got there. PG takes some time to interview Daniel Ditlevson and Ariana Robin, who collaborated on Already Always.
Both of you have favorites on this album. Can you explain to me why each stands out to you?
Ari: I think everything meshes together really well in “Space Cafe,” and it really transports me to, well, a cafe in space, like out of Star Wars or something. I close my eyes during the piece, and that’s just where I am, and I’m imagining all different kinds of aliens and weird space drinks, and it’s awesome! Few songs really transport me like that…a lot of it has to due with the melody of the saxophone, which is really compelling and alluring.
Daniel: I really love “Galactic Birds,” because the way it was created was super simple, but appears so otherworldly and beautiful. Plus, Ari made some great tape chirping/whirling sounds on this!
How did the name of the album originate?
D: [It] was based on the concept of “Always Already”—that human action can be narrated because it is always already symbolically mediated. But we flipped around the title for fun and made our own meaning.
Ari, I know you are the one who took the field recordings. How did you record them, and what made you choose the locations and/or sounds?
A: I took a bunch of different field recordings all over the city of Kunming. A lot of the recordings that Daniel ended up using were me on the bus or by local basketball courts (Midday Play). However, the place I visited most was this lake called Cuihu, and it is known locally for being a gathering place of retired elderly people to come to play music and jam, listen or dance. Clips from the lake were featured in “Civil:Light:Pulse” and “Homesick.”
When did you two start collaborating?
D: Actually “Galactic Birds” (Winter of 2015) was basically our first collaboration! We were just treasure hunting for sounds and happened upon a piano. I just pressed random keys on the piano and Ari pressed pause and record on the tape recorder at random, and in such a way to create some crazy sounding piano. After looping, layering and a touch of delay we had a final product! We called ourselves: Pee-wee Ski Team, but that name was short lived.
What (if you have any) are your plans for projects in the future?
A: We want to get a xylophone and a bass. We might be getting more dreamier and poppier…maybe even a song or two. However, since both of us are going to China, I’m sure our music for the near future will have some sort of influence from more Chinese field recordings.
Dan, you’ve been into collage for a while now. Why do you use this medium?
D: It is the best way to collaborate: all sounds are valuable; improvisation is key; the creation process morphs our work into something that is synergetic; it’s cheap and fun to make. I have always loved flipping something upside down and contemplating its new angle.
On a related note, how did you come up with this cover design?
A: Well, it’s a collage we made together by cutting shapes out of old magazines. We love to make visual collages as well as auditory ones, and it’s another way of putting more of the art we’ve made together out there. We also think the cover fits the sci-fi, ethereal aesthetic of the sounds we made.
I may have asked this before, but I think it’s important. Why tapes?
D: Well, most likely the people who still listen to tapes or have tape machines will be the ones that will actually sit down and listen to our music…especially for people that like abstract music. Plus, it’s a physical memento from us to the listener.
What is some of the feedback you’ve been getting?
D: We are aware our music (to some it might not seem like music) is not everyone’s cup of tea, so it is very encouraging that we have had people from noise enthusiasts to our mothers enjoy it.
Can you walk me through the process of making one of these songs?
1. Someone records a sound source on tape (or digitally)
2. We both pick out snippets of sound we like, and either loop them, play them backward, or leave as a singular sound in the collage.
3. Continue steps 1 & 2 (for however long) and layer the sounds into new sounds
4. Configure all sound fragments into a collage
5. Maybe some EQ, compression, and delay effects.
This album is available for purchase on cassette tape and for digital download. Request physical copies at presentghostrecords at gmail dot com.