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The Laconic: “Music is intensely personal”

We did it again, we brought to you the most leftfield, conceptual and experimental release we could find. This time though, there’s a strong melodious element in it, and as such, we are confident this record could reach a wider audience. We are referring to The Laconic’s latest effort, a hypnotizing and eclectic album that relies on instrumental compositions.

‘Amor Fati’ doesn’t focus on technical prowess, rather – as The Laconic will confirm later in this interview – seeks to evoke a feeling. Be it nostalgia, love or sadness, listening to ‘Amor Fati’ will likely induce a pretty poignant and introspective moment, as the sonic material penetrates deep into your consciousness.

Emerging from Chicago, The Laconic is the moniker of Marc Pelath, talented composer and guitarist. Blending acoustic instruments and electronic-based sound design, he’s constantly at the forefront of experimentation, pushing the boundaries of what’s considered ‘mainstream’ while conceptualizing new ways of listening to music.

Intrigued by the project, we caught up with The Laconic to find out more about his artistry and future goals… Interview below!

Hey Marc, how is it going? some of our readers might not be familiar with your project, how would you describe yourself, in a few words?

I write songs without words. This sort of falls under the umbrella of “prog”, but is not so stuck in the tropes of the past. My music is more eclectic and less dependent on virtuosity. Let’s call it instrumental progressive prog.

Your current work is the result of a long journey; What first drew you to making music?

I think I’ve always taken it for granted that making music was an essential life goal, so I’ve never questioned it until now. I suppose that music itself drew me to making music. Music is intensely personal, even when someone else makes it, and I have a hypothesis about why that is. I still get emotional listening to songs I listened to when I was eight years old; the first rock album I remember hearing was The Ghost in the Machine by The Police, and “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic” and “Secret Journey” are just as powerful now as they were then. That’s magic.

There are three basic mysteries of life for me: Why is the universe the way it is? What is consciousness? Why does music work? So it’s pretty important to me. And when you love something so deeply, you want to be a part of it, not just a listener. It’s so personal that I want to make it even more personal by making it for myself.

If you had the opportunity to pick any artists in the world for a collaboration, who would be your first choice? (and second choice, perhaps?)

That’s kind of like asking “if I could choose anyone in the world to be my romantic partner, who would it be?” Collaboration, like love, is a two-way street. Just as you want to fall in love with someone who loves you back just as much, you want to collaborate with someone who wants to collaborate with you just as much. I feel like I’m already succeeding in that–my new album, Amor Fati, features eight guest musicians, all of whom made the music better than it would have been. There are a couple of musicians I am already thinking about approaching for the next album, who I think I have a decent chance of getting, but it would be unprofessional to name them.

But taking the question in its intended spirit: Stewart Copeland and Tony Banks.

You recently released an evocative album with ethereal and experimental composition, all instrumentals. ‘Amor Fati’ is an absolute musical trip! Do you seek to express particular emotions within your music?

Absolutely. But “evoke”, not “express”. (Bonus points for using the word “evocative”.). Music doesn’t have any conceptual content that can be used to express an emotion, unless you use lyrics, and I don’t. And one reason I don’t is that it distracts from the magic. I don’t know exactly how this works, as I’ve already said, but certain styles of music, certain timbres, certain phrases, evoke certain emotions. It’s like a language, but with no definitions (denotations), only connotations. So, I write songs to evoke a series of emotions in myself, and to the extent that you have the same sort of listening history that I do, the songs will evoke a similar reaction in you.

There’s a lot of super cool sound design in the album. What’s your typical writing process like?

Probably like anyone’s process when they are the sole writer. I start with a little riff, usually coming out of improvisation, or else a chord progression, and then I build on it. I tend to stick to conventional verse/chorus/bridge structures, although there may be several such structures in a long piece. Sometimes to get going, I’ll abstract the structure and other elements from some existing piece that I like — but by the time I’m done, there’s almost nothing left of the “model” song even in that abstracted form.

We are noticing the eclecticism between organic instruments and electronica – is that something you are actively pursuing?

Yes. I want to go even further with that, from more orchestral instruments and more “world” instruments to modular synths and heavily-processed touch guitars and unusual sound designs. There is such a range of timbres open to us; why restrict ourselves to some small corner of the sonic world?

Artistically speaking, what challenges have the last two years presented you with?

I have spent the last two years trying to improve as a composer, a process in which my producer/mentor/bro Markus Reuter has been essential. And I am improving, but it’s a lot of hard work. It’s also been tough being a solo artist; although I don’t perform everything myself, I am ultimately responsible for everything. At times, that’s exhausting, like working a part-time job on top of my full-time job as a data scientist.

What are the next steps for your project? Anything exciting on the horizon?

I’m working on a third album, which I expect to consist of four longer-form pieces. Who knows whether that will turn out as planned, what that will actually sound like in the end, and who will be involved. Amor Fati turned out to be a fairly ambitious project, and perhaps this will be even more so. But Amor Fati was written and recorded at a breakneck pace for someone who is not a full-time musician; I intend to take my time with the next one.



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