This passed Friday, the boys over at F.A.R.M. Productions finally made their break into The City of Brotherly Love, and they did so with pure style. We made our way out to Underground Arts for a night filled with live painting, unique visualizers provided by Stingray Bob, and some mind-melding jams courtesy of Skytree and Spankalicious. We also had the great pleasure of getting down and funky (as we always do love) to opening sets from Face Plant, Mshairi, and Spotlight.FM contest winner, Hop.
I think this is just a wonderful example of all a music event can be, beyond just music. F.A.R.M. is really setting the bar high, turning their shows into full on, interactive events with plenty of entertainment and performers of all types. If you were there, be sure to peep our exclusive gallery from the night’s events below. If you weren’t there, don’t fret! There’s still plenty more to come, all leading up to the ultimate FarmFest 2014 (check out our official festival preview HERE) in July.
In between all this fun and excitement, I was lucky enough to catch a couple minutes with the night’s headliner: Skytree. We’ve been blessed with the opportunity to interview quite a few artists in the past (see all our interviews HERE), and I suppose I can only speak for myself, but I say with total sincerity that Evan Snyder (Skytree) is truly one of the most intriguing musicians, artists, and just general people, out there. If this doesn’t already show enough through his production, then his words will certainly do the trick.
You can also stream and download FREE, Skytree’s most recent release, the NeverEnding Story Tribute EP HERE!! More on that in the interview.
You will find the photo gallery from the night just below the interview.
F: So you’re currently living in New York, is that where you grew up, or has it been a long time coming?
S: I was born in Fort Collins, Colorado, so the first six or seven years of my life was spent in the Rockies. Overall though, I’ve lived in a pretty broad range of places. My dad was and has for a long time worked for the National Park Service, so we lived in several National Parks and National Recreation areas growing up. Both my parents were originally from the East Coast (my mom from Jersey City and dad from DC), so I spent a good amount of time on the East Coast as well when I was younger. All things considered, developing roots in New York has actually been a very natural process. It’s what I now consider to be a home-base and my main base of friends and co-creators.
Skytree – “An Effort for a Translucent Globe” — FREE Download!!
F: That’s really interesting and sounds like an incredible childhood. I have to ask: do you have a favorite park that’s always stood out for you?
S: In the States, I’ve never actually been to Yosemite and would love to! I’ve always wanted to go Banff National Park in Canada, too. I had the opportunity to spend a lot of time in Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone and Glacier, but Banff is one of those great mountain parks of North America that I’ve never been to and would really love to see. I hope, in the near future, to do a Canada tour run and stop there for a few days. Big item on the bucket list!
F: What impact do you think living in these places has brought to your music?
S: There’s definitely been a huge impact. It’s manifested in lots of ways – some are more technical or straightforward. Others are way more subtle. IE: I’m interested in drawing waveforms that in a way emulate a landscape, or a mountain range, or a tree line, and translating that to a sound. There are of course also programs that you can use to translate a photograph into sound, or vice versa. I like the idea of an envelope or a waveform, specifically, kind of following a silhouette of a mountain range, or something that would otherwise be transposed from a specific environment. The idea of an environment, terrarium or greenhouse structure recurs frequently in my production aesthetic.
F: Did you grow up in a musical family; any other musicians in the family? Or is it something that you developed on your own and pulled yourself into?
S: A lot of people in my family, especially in my immediate family, all play music or are musical in one way or another. My great grandparents were musical as well. My great grandfather, for instance, was a barbershop singer and early recording hobbyest. One of my great uncles was an old school one-man band, with a kick drum, guitar, harmonica, and a bunch of other instruments that he wore around and played simultaneously. This is actually how I recently described to my grandfather what it is exactly that I do. When I showed him my APC40 and laptop and what I do when I perform live, he initially had a hard time understanding it until I described it as a one-man band, using a bunch of tape loops. Through that analogy he could understand what I was doing and track my movements on the APC, and became really excited. It was awesome to share that with him! In my immediate family, my dad was always really musical growing up. He was constantly playing flute, guitar, mandolin or dulcimer. He played the Irish drum, the bodhrán, a lot growing up. My mom would always sing to us, too. My older brother is a singer-songwriter; he’s very interested in traditional folk and such, quite different from what I do. Then, my younger brother, who is unfortunately no longer with us, was an amazing bass player and singer-songwriter as well. We spent a lot of time recording together, which is a huge part of why I do what I do. His voice, bass, and guitar work is still used in lots of my tracks.
F: So you’re a producer, at least under the Skytree name, but do you play any instruments yourself?
S: I do, and I say that kind of tongue-in-cheek, but also truthfully: I play every instrument I can within various degrees of mediocrity. My goal is typically to get specific sounds that I can then warp and manipulate. So I don’t necessarily expand in the direction of technical aptitude as much as I do in my production, but I do love playing drums, and I especially like getting into the technical side of drum kits, as well as guitar and bass. I’ve also had a lot of practice as a singer in times past, but have somewhat let that fall to the wayside over the past years, and am planning on a project to hopefully turn that around. I miss using my own voice, and have been too shy for too long!
Skytree – “1000 Miles from Everywhere” — FREE Download!!
F: What kind of music were you coming up on as a child, electronic or not?
S: One band that I was really interested in growing up was Steeleye Span, which was kind of an Irish folk-rock psychedelic band in the 60’s and 70’s. It was kind of like Celtic progressive rock; songs about fairies and elves that are set to really trippy compositions (think a blend of really haunting electric fiddle to go with some real crunchy lead guitar). There was actually a pretty substantial connection, I think, from that type of Irish folk-revival prog rock with what later became bigger acts like Led Zeppelin, with songs relating to The Hobbit or Lord of the Rings – always been a fan of really epic, fantasy rock anthems. A lot of the way I initially experienced music growing up was through my dad’s record collection- there were other Irish bands like The Chieftains and the occasional, more electronic, record by Klaus Schultz or Tangerine Dream. Then there were soundtracks from a bunch of 80’s movies, like Bladerunner, that were really synthetic yet deeply human. Whenever I heard the occasional synthesizer especially, I always just loved that sound more than any other. I had a pretty/prog folk rock upbringing, but was always attracted to and gravitated toward the electronic as well. Think Emerson, Lake & Palmer.
F: Can you think of a specific time when you felt the electronic sound really fully struck you, or a time when you just thought, “Yeah, this is what I want to do”?
S: Well, with those more synthetic sound environments, I would always launch into a deeper state of awareness and attention to the music. When I was 13, for instance, I couldn’t stop playing Pretty Hate Machine by Nine Inch Nails. I found it absolutely enrapturing from a production standpoint and saw it as a cornerstone of that era of music. I was just enamored by the sounds I heard on that album, let alone when I heard Downward Spiral (that one got played to death). Older albums by Moby (IE: Everything Is Wrong) had a really big influence on me as well. Then, in high school, that branched out into other forms of electronic production like more abstract industrial, IDM and drum & bass. There wasn’t so much, at the time, the developed scene we have now, but I’ve always loved complex, crunchy beats, as well as deep subs. The density brings so many simultaneous phenomena – a ferocity coupled with elegance.
F: So you just recently released your NeverEnding Story Tribute EP, but do you have any more releases in the works you can tell us about?
S: I have a new album actually coming out, if all goes well, next month, mid-April, called Cirrus Sapiens. I was initially going to call it Cloud People, but it seemed a bit too straightforward, plus I like the alliteration! The NeverEnding Story EP was just for fun basically, it was sort of to make that set of production sessions for the new album more light-hearted, and to keep things fresh. This album has taken, so far it’s been over a year, almost a year and a half, so doing something more immediate and pop-cultural was a great way to switch it up!
Skytree (feat. Lunecell) – “Skycell” — FREE Download!! [Forthcoming Cirrus Sapiens]
F: It’s been great talking to you, hope to see you back here in The City of Brotherly Love soon- make sure you get out to Banff before you come back though maybe! Any last words you’d like to leave us with?
S: Great talking with you too! Can’t wait to be back in Philly! Thank you guys for doing what you do and helping to elevate the scene. It’s come a long way and I’m excited to see where it goes!
Photos from Harmony of Spheres:
*All photos by Mangig Productions (Matt Mangigs)