Dear psychill lovers,
today we present you an interview with Piers Oak-Rhind from a well-known duo Entheogenic whose experimentation has greatly influenced the psychedelic electronic scene.
This interview was taken by Gagarin Project & Runa in December 2014. Enjoy!
Hello Piers! First of all, thank you for accepting our invitation to this interview and finding time to answer our questions.
What’s up? We are happy that you are back after a two year break from the studio with a fresh and digging into subconsciousness EP- “a tribute to & inspired by cave art 35,000 years old after a few visits to local caves in the s.w. France & seeing the ancient art in the real & all its stunning humble beauty”. Tell us a bit more about the cave experience. How did you get there (by coincidence or for purpose) and what especially impressed you? Did you start recording right after those visits?
Hi, Yes a couple of books opened me up to the world of cave art worldwide, having just recently moved the studio back over to south France last year, I was very eager & excited to visit the ‘Peche Merle’ caves about an hour from where I’m based. Absolutely awesomely inspiring & very humbling! That very day after returning from the caves I started to write ‘Spirit Molecule (Wounded Man)’ having been very touched from seeing the ‘wounded man’ drawings in the real. No words can really describe the emotions.
We must admit that the tracks’ names are amazing. How did they come into your mind? What was the first: the name or the sound, or they were born together?
Normally when starting a new track, I try & formulate a track name to aid direction of creation. A sound can help inspire a track title or vice versa. But if I get stuck for ideas, I have a few interesting books lying around in the studio which I sometimes randomly go through for inspiration & names & words seem to pop out when needed & then the rest follows..
The word “Tonglen” means a meditation practice in Tibetan Buddhism. Did you personally practice this kind of meditation? What other spiritual practices, meditations do you do?
I’ve been drawn to Buddhism since a very young age & have found it to be very helpful in difficult troubled emotional times. Though I do not call my self a Buddhist! Working in the studio is one of my greatest forms of meditation :)
By the way, talking about spiritual and health practices, at your website you are talking about raw food. As far as we understand it’s from your personal experience. Was it difficult to start?
Yes, I did complete raw food diet for about 1 year, which did amazing things for my health etc.. But when winter kicked in, not so easy. It’s a very personal thing & would not advise anyone doing it unless they want to experience & understand the mental & physical process that goes with it! You’ve got to want to do it within balance rather than forcing it. I don’t strictly follow a raw food diet all the time, particularly in the winter, for obvious reasons. I think it is something to be aware about & to experiment with. As they say, we are what we eat.
Could you share why you decided to take a break and what else were you doing during the past couple of years?
After Helmut left for Brazil 6 years ago (just after ‘Flight Of The Urubus’ was recorded) I decided to have a break from music creation & the intensity of the studio! And try & focus more on life than isolation. Then in 2011 managed to find a new suitable studio space & after a tough emotional year, the inspiration came back & got back to creative work & wrote ‘Gaia Sophia’. I felt i needed to get back to our musical roots similar to the 1st 2 albums & create longer & more intensive layered tracks. As a musician & a producer I still have much to learn (particularly learning musical instruments) it’s endless. This of course helps the hunger of wanting to evolve & master new skills & continue to create at a good intense level. But this can also be very tiring & the occasional break from the studio is very important. Hiking & trekking is what I mostly do outside of the studio & photography is another passion.
In your case how does the process of recording usually go? What are the best conditions to produce music in your case?
I love the autumn, winter & spring months for writing & recording. Being in the studio on a hot summers is not ideal. Isolation is also another key & as little distraction as possible! Keeping inspired with all the tools I use is also very important & sometimes I do a morning session researching online to help get the juices flowing.. It’s a very time consuming process working in the studio & takes much patience & concentration for long hours. So for me it’s all about timing with the inspiration flow.. It’s always a fine line :D
As far as we understood Helmut is doing a technical side. So, a technical question to you: what kind of software do you use to create the sound?
Both Helmut & I briefly worked for emagic in Toulouse years ago, actually that is where we met in 1998 (me thinks) Logic is my favourite & main choice of sequencer. Though we did use cubase & Nuendo for many years when Apple bought Logic. Which are also both fantastic & sometimes I consider going back to Cubase. Plus I use many various other software plugins like Native Instruments, UAD, SoundToys, Izotope etc.. But my main passion & love is hardware, hands on stuff. Electronic gadgets & instruments. Synths & FX, so much to explore & learn.. Which is why I prefer to use hardware as the main ingredients & then software to add all the potential depth.
You worked with several labels. It’s interesting to know what usually influences your decision when choosing a label?
Back in the day record labels were really the only way to get ones music out there. It was not really our choice of labels, rather a label responding to us sending out promo’s. But over the years as CD sales declined & digital downloads grew, we decided to set up a’Universal Symbiosis Records’ as a platform to self release our own material.
You were staying at the roots of psybient music. Do you remember the first feedbacks and emotions of people listening to psychill tunes at the psy parties? what was their reaction?
Actually we did not do our first gig until ‘Golden Cap’ was released in 2006! So we were not around in the public eye for the 1st 2 albums. But from what I’m told & personal experience, I think it is a positive reaction from many people.
Is it similar/different now?
Times have changed & many new genres & styles have come in over the years, but generally if people know our & like our music & it can be a great experience. Our music can be quite intense at times & I don’t consider it to be easy listening. Which can be challenging.
You might agree that there’s still no clear differentiation between words psychill and psybient. Do you think there should be difference between them and if yes which one would you associate with your music?
I don’t like to pigeon hole stuff too much :) So not too concerned with genres. That’s for the listener to decide.. But I do love what Psychill & Psybient has to offer & the many directions & possibilities for other artists to explore. I suppose the difference could be similar to Chillout & Ambient music ?
What tendencies in psychill / psychedelic downtempo music do you see nowadays? what are the challenges?
It’s an endless vacuum of creativity.. That’s why electronic music is so fascinating & continues to grow as the tech grows & our understanding of playing with very powerful sound molecules & vibrations.
Music has been around, well, forever! & it is mind blowing to see how things artistically evolve & stay the same (if that makes sense).
You have a new album just released in 2014 tilted ‘Enthymesis’ can you tell us a little about it ?
After Anthropomorphic I decided to do a longer album with more tracks. I started immediately writing again after finishing the Anthropomorphic album, which is not normal for me as I usually take a few months break. I think this was a good thing as I was still fresh in the studio & had good levels of intensity up & many ideas. You’ll notice there is quite a bit of acoustic guitar, which I have always wanted to bring in more. It’s a very challenging instrument to record & wanted to prove to myself that I could make it work. So hopefully for future productions I can go straight in ! There is much to discover in this album..
About Helumut departure to South America. I didn’t know that. Will it be proper to say that since 2008 you are the only person behind the Entheogenic sound ?
Yes, you could say that. Though I have collaborated with other musicians, producers & friends during that time. And I’m sure Helmut is influencing the entheogenic sound in his own away, as are many others across the universe ;)
Do you listen to other ethnic / downtempo / psy producers ? Anybody impressed you lately ?
Yes, that would be a long long list.., there is a lot of amazing talent emerging out there worldwide within & around the ever evolving scene. I won’t name names incase I forget someone !
Of course I listen to many other different kinds & styles & genres of music. And love hearing new ideas & old. And old & new ideas combined.
Thanks for your time! Any words/wishes for psybient.org readers ?
Thank you Psybient.org for all your support towards this scene! Much appreciated, & thanks to everyone taking time out to read this (sorry it took so Long..!) And a huge thanks to all the listeners worldwide for your continual support ~ Peace