Monday, January 6, 2014

EIC's 10Q's w/ Leila Abdul-Rauf

"..dramatic and vast-atmospheric.."

Leila Abdul-Rauf
Barometrical Divinity

Leila Abdul-Rauf Bio:
'Cold And Cloud' is the self-produced solo debut of Leila Abdul-Rauf. A temporary escape from the worlds of her current and former projects (Vastum, Hammers of Misfortune, Saros, Amber Asylum, and more recently, Ionophore), Abdul-Rauf enters a world all of her own weaving brass and piano passages into filmic soundscapes inspired by the cold, dreary summers of San Francisco. 'Cold And Cloud' tells an introspective story of loss from the haunting lyrical sections of tracks like "Tears In White Fluids" and "Questions", to the solemn drones of "Will I Be Sane?" and the funereal finality of "Separation".

Hello, how are you?
Taking it day by day, thank you.

What are you currently listening to?
Lately I've been enjoying The Haxan Cloak's 'Excavation' (No.15), Willits + Sakamoto's 'Ancient Future',  my bandmate Jan Hendrich's incredible solo project, Qepe, as well as my own recordings in progress.

What or whom inspired you the most to begin this project? Did you have a specific sound in mind?
For many years, I had dreamt of producing my own material but was too intimidated by recording technology for it to materialize and, until recently, hadn't had a focus for its sound. One source of motivation was getting to the point of feeling too limited and creatively stifled by my existing bands. I needed an outlet to create independently, to make my own songwriting decisions without any interference. Additionally, a few key events and collaborations were crucial to the development and realization of my solo work.The first was my collaboration with Eric Wood (Man Is The Bastard/Bastard Noise) during my brief time as co-vocalist for Bastard Noise in 2007-08. Simultaneously, Eric and I had a side project called Ion Channel, of which there is an unreleased full length. The more ethereal material on the these recordings were very influential to 'Cold And Cloud'. In fact, the vocal melody in "Will I Be Sane?" is the same vocal melody I had written for the BN track "Post Conflict Dream", but for the latter track, my vocals were so buried in the mix, the melody was undetectable. I loved it enough that I thought it deserved to be heard, albeit in a different context with different lyrics.
In 2011, Amber Asylum performed at Wroclaw Industrial Festival in Poland, of which we made a live recording on limited vinyl. Also on the bill were :zoviet*france:, Thighpaulsandra, and Clock DVA, all of whom I was very excited to see live and who all put on fantastic performances. It was very inspiring and I came home from the festival brimming with ideas. I immediately tracked 4 initial songs which never saw the light of day but were the foundation from which I built the material on 'Cold And Cloud'.
My friendship with Tor Lundvall was also an important catalyst that accelerated the completion of the album more quickly than I had anticipated. Exposing others to the initial recordings was extremely daunting for me, and out of the few folks with whom I had shared them, Tor responded the most enthusiastically and passionately. In addition to having created the album artwork and layout, his spirit is quite present throughout the music itself; many of the less identifiable sounds on the album were loops I created from the piano track I played on his Winter piano. Two of the tracks, "Ibis" and "Separation", were originally written to be collaborations with Tor, but for various reasons, never came to be (there is actually an unreleased version of "Ibis" with Tor's vocals and sounds added).

Care to shed some light on your debut release; theme, favorite track(s), etc?
'Cold And Cloud' delves into the most personal territory I've ever ventured on a recording. It is the story of my compounding sadness from a series of events that have internally changed me forever and without which this music would not exist. Anyone who has ever endured a slow, agonizing loss can relate to its contents. It's hard to pick out a favorite track. Each song blends in to the next, forming a complete story from beginning to end. Most of the music was written in the summer time, which in San Francisco, is a chilly time of year, sometimes as cold as winter - much to the amusing dismay of the many tourists traveling here in shorts and sandals. The cloud layers hang low and grey, and although daylight hours are long, the sun is rarely seen.

Did you or do you plan on doing any national touring for said release?
I have yet to perform live solo, but this is a goal for the near future.

Got any other projects we should know about?
Most recently is Ionophore, which is a project I co-produce with multi-instrumentalists and scientists, Jan Hendrich and Ryan Honaker. We make dark electronic ethereal soundscapes, adorned with classical instruments (violin, trumpet, dan bau) and sparse vocals. Jan and Ryan have been an incredible source of inspiration for me, and will no doubt have a strong influence on future solo recordings.  I also have my metal bands: Vastum (dark disgusting death metal) and Hammers Of Misfortune (long-running San Francisco institution of progressive metal).

What movie would work best on mute while listening to you music?
Great question. Probably 'All Summer In A Day' based on Ray Bradbury's short story of the same name.

You can only keep/listen to ONE album for the rest of your life ..which album would it be?
I can't answer this question truthfully. One album no matter how loved will grow tiresome for me eventually. I could narrow it down to ten or even five, but not to one.

Are you living your dream?
Yes and no. Yes in the sense that I don't need very much in order to be happy, and can accomplish a great deal with what I have. And no, in that I have to spend a lot more time away from music than I'd like in order to earn a living which makes a sizeable portion of my life rather monotonous. But these are first world problems to complain about, and I'm grateful for those quiet hours of the week…

Thanx Leila and Nathan!

Leila released an astonishing/slightly under-the-radar album last year that I highly recommend you get lost in...

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