We could write an interminable text about the musical path of Gregory T. Kyryluk, and spend endless time listening to his ambient, new age, and space rock creations, with an abundance of musical subgenres aside.
His sound has been travelling around the planet since the early 90s, from purely atmospherical textures to dubby glimpses of metallic gentle riffs.
Following the release of his latest album, Somber Frequencies, as part of his Subtle Shift project, we take the opportunity to speak with him and learn more about this adventure that is music.
Interview by Shantiago on 12/10/22.
Hi Greg, it’s a pleasure to have a conversation with you today. How are you spending these early autumn days? Did you have a nice summertime?
Nice to meet you and autumn in New England where I presently reside has just begun the world turns colors one more magnificent time before the cold winters embrace. I actually just got back from Arizona a week ago from 100+F warmth and wide open spaces to the naturally dense and cooler environments of the Northeast. Arizona especially Mt. Lemmon in Tucson was amazing and very inspirational.
We can enjoy a large and amazing collection of your records with different project names, but let’s travel to a starting point. What is your musical journey?
My musical journey started as a kid when mom bought us my sister and I a cheap electric organ. For some odd reason I gravitated towards the instrument but then again I was extremely introverted. I had no formal music training and to this day the only person I know if in the family with any music inclination is me. I loved to play the chord buttons in different combinations it created these moods that would just move me as a kid. My parents especially my father where always playing classical music and ethnic music from the Ukraine tho the later was shall I say acquired taste.
When was Alpha Wave Movement born?
The genesis of Alpha Wave Movement i.e. the project name arrived in 1991. Specifically I chose to consciously create a recording alias that revolved around the calm state of mind and if you may or may not be aware the alpha wave state is a brainwave pattern thats present when the mind is calm and relaxed. I just didn’t want to record under my birth name everyone did/does that and it certainly didn’t provide that air of curiosity to the casual curious listener.
Your music has been released under several projects: Alpha Wave Movement, Biome, Subtle Shift, Within Reason, Though Guild, Open Canvas, or Gregory Kyryluk. Could we know about the foundation of each project, its similarities and differences?
As most musician, artists and writers are human sponges absorbing the creative dna of those who we admire my different projects deviate in style depending what influential muse I am taping into at a particular time. Hence my decision to use different project names. AWM tends to be focused more on the ambient and space music side of compositions. Music can be very sublime of very energy driven as in my early works like Beyond Silence or later pure beat-less music of say Polyphasic Music. Biome is a relatively new project thats a sort of nod to the late 70s’80’s synthesizer based new age electronica very melodic and incorporating a lot of environmental field recordings into its matrix.
Subtle Shift was formerly known as Within Reason but due to a US hard rock band trademarking the name the project now exists as Subtle Shift. Subtle Shift is my personal meanderings into the murky depths of ambient/dub electronica with equal parts textures and rhythmic elements. Of course my conscious effort is to stray away from the atypical formulaic sounds of the genre with something that more represents my vision.
Thought Guild was a purely fun and improvisational sort of berlin-school/ambient project that came about thru meeting a mutual friend Christopher Cameron. That project began in 2000 with us just getting together with Christophers massive museum of analog gear and just jamming at all hours of the evening direct to whatever recording medium we had at our disposal. This project released about 3 albums and has now been defunct for over 10 years due to the sudden demise of Christopher in 2011. Open Canvas was a very world/ethnic infused electronica project incorporating dub, goa trance, arabic/Indian rhythms and samples. Very colorful and percussive side of my composing. 2 full length albums where released on the Waveform Records label.
Let’s talk about Harmonic Resonance Records. What’s the history behind its foundation? What
are the fundamentals of the label?
The label was founded in the mid 1990s due to lack of label’s interested in my music. I decided to go it alone and released Transcendence the debut Alpha Wave Movement album in 1995. Surprisingly the album was well received and sold decently as a new kid on the block in the then burgeoning ambient electronic genre. The US syndicated show Hearts of Space to a real liking to Transcendence as well. I used to shop the released to record stores all over the US and in Europe later picking up the attention of CUE Records later knowns Groove in Holland. Ron and Kee’s offered to release a few later AWM albums.
Also, we can listen to your musical work in a video game like Grand Theft Auto IV, the series True Blood, or other films. How did your music get into these diverse enterprises?
Honestly I do not know how or where GT Auto IV found my music but I am inclined to believe via MySpace(if anyone can remember that far back!). As far as True Blood that connection was the hard work of Forest who still runs the Waveform Records label. He made a contact with the music programmers for True Blood and they picked up an Open Canvas track for one episode… Hats off to Forest for his efforts!
How do you usually compose? Do you follow any standards?
It really is a spontaneous thing but usually its a sound texture or rhythmic elements other times if I am out and about on a hike and something inspires me enough to take that moment of “zen” and conceptualize it into sounds Ill run with the wave. I know it comes across as a tad cliche but the truth is nature inspires my music more than probably anything. Science especially astronomy is a close second. I do not have any standards but to follow my instinct which is how things are done 99% of the time.
Albums like Harmonic Currents where specifically channeled by my ventures out on the pacific highways of Oregon and Northern California. The vast deep mysteries and energies the ocean can conjure I found elating and enlightening. The sense of monumental awe I hope I have captures within the recording. Nature definitely has a dominant subconscious effect on my compositions for as long as I can recall.
Could you tell us a bit about your relationship with synthesizers? How do you connect the synthesizers with the ‘side players’ as instruments or plug-ins?
Ive had a relationship with synthesizers since my teenage years. You see back in the mid 1980s people where literally dumping their old analog synthesizers for the then latest digital regalia and I had just discovered Genesis, Kitaro, Jean Michel Jarre. Most of my favorite sounds these maestro’s where using where analog so I scraped together some money to buy a used Micromoog and began hands on self taught explorations in the world of electronica. By the 1990s with the computer chip market becoming more affordable lots of new rack gear was being made much more accessible to the home DIY musician. I think that where things really took off for my compositional ventures. You no longer needed $10K and a home loan to start making electronic music on a semi decent scale.
I think I’ll put it out there whilst in high school back in about 1985 I came across a magazine Music Technology at the school library and read about a musician by the name of Steve Roach. I was exposed to I think Structure from Silence and that was a radical shift for my listening ventures. All of a sudden music was stripped down to essentials and minute nuance. Incredible stuff for a 16 year old at the height of the new wave and 80s pop rock pantheons. The first few Subtle Shift/Within Reason album where almost all in the box i.e. laptop and created using software synthesis which in my opinion has its uses but personally I find to be to much of a disconnect for my approach to composing. I tend to lean on the tools that offer me a sort of instant feedback emotionally and thats where hardware always intentionally tends to fill the void. For instance I know many musician’s would snub older Ensoniq gear but there was always something raw and imperfect when I would compose on my ESQ-1. There was the analog filter which I believe was Curtis based. This gave the digital waveforms such a uniquely warm and completely immersive quality. Architecture of Silence was primarily all composed on the extremely limited ESQ-1 sequencer. Trying to carve out your composition with as little as possible is where it all makes sense to me. Too much tech really is more of a mental obstacle with the overwhelming amount of choices it becomes overwhelming.
How do you see the connection between nature and the machine? Also, do you follow natural
and harmonic sonic laws? What about the scales you apply in music?
Nature is without a doubt a key to my wellbeing and creative muse. Machines or tools of you will allow for that creative music to manifest! I am for the most part self taught having taken some preliminary music courses while in college a lifetime ago. Music for this musician appears to materialize from the ether. What begins as something quite in-tangible will manifest itself into a breathing living form once shaped and polished. I am far from a perfectionist and therefore many records are recorded 1-2 passes and done. It’s sort of like the old days when jazz musicians would improvise and a few takes meant the magic was captured and ready for the audience to take in.
What do you like to do besides making music? Who is Greg in his daily life, as a human being?
Trying to keep the lights on and making good coffee requires a daytime gig so thats my weekday alma mater! Weekends it’s off to venture in the great outdoors here in New England or up the Maine coast. Photography is also a personal hobby. I use a lot of my own personal photos for album covers!
And to finish, would you like to leave a message for the listeners and readers of the psybient.org
I would just like to to invite everyone to take a listen to my music especially if they are unfamiliar with any of my catalog. I only wish to share the positive experience of my artistic musings with the hungry ears out there in the world.
Thank you so much for your time, your words, and of course, for your music, which is a huge inspiration for plenty of musicians. We keep traveling freely through alpha wave movements. Greetings!
Thank you for allowing me the interview and the kind words of support!