cEvin Key : happy accidents

Interview | cEvin Key : happy accidents

Pierre Sopor 19 janvier 2021 Pierre Sopor

Co-founder of SKINNY PUPPY and master of synthetizers cEvin Key has been prolific lately. The last few years saw the release of a new album from TEAR GARDEN (with THE LEGENDARY PINK DOTS' Edward Kaspel) and DOWNLOAD. This year, he's back with a new offering, this time under his own name. cEvin Key and The Subconscious Electronic Orchestra unites prestigious guests (Chris Corner from IAMX, Edward Kaspel) on Resonance, that you can already pre-order and will be released on February the 19th on Artoffact Records.

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Hi cEvin, and thank you very much for your time. Before everything, how are you ? The release of Resonance has been more eventful than planned!
Yes, right out the gate I've run into some challenges. It seems everything is back in order now.

Resonance is the first album in almost 20 years that you release under your own name. Why is that?
It's my first solo album of new material since Ghost of Each Room. Yes it's been a while. I've been busy making SKINNY PUPPY since the reformation, and also DOWNLOAD, PlatEAU, and TEAR GARDEN.  Ideally I like to work with people. When 2020 came on the idea was to stay busy and focus on making a solo effort , but also I am collaborating with various friends, so I guess it's a solo album in that I've determined the songs and direction but applied guest performances... I guess somehwere around 3 or 4 years back I started writing without a goal in mind. Made a folder to out the ideas in I liked. First from the folder came The Brown Acid Caveat, for TEAR GARDEN, the second was Unknown Room with DOWNLOAD, my last album with Phil Western. That left material that didn't have a home yet, so it became Resonance.

You describe Resonance as your most personal effort. Can you tell us why is it so personal, and about this connexion that you feel with it?
I'ts personal in that this past while has been extremely odd, so the music was really even more of a escape from Phil's death, or thinking about the year, and how to stay creative. I allowed myself more time that usual, so it also became more special working with Greg Reely on the final mixes. We spent a few months going slowly, and this was extra rewarding I felt in achieving a higher goal.

You've been making music for quite a long time now. Aren't you afraid sometimes to repeat yourself or miss this "personal connexion"?
I'm sure we all repeat ourselves, making music for me has always been about following some sort of chance or strange challenge that music making with electronics can offer. I'm kind of attracted to happy accidents, or things that I can't fully explain. If that happens, I'll often first try and figure out what it is I'm attracted to and then see about how many other accidents can happen. In one song, Kullakan, I dreamt of the melodic structure, and was reminded of the idea I had thought was in my folder of tunes I was working. I thought "well, today I'll work on that idea". Went to look for it and it was nowhere! I searched for about a week, and finally found it in a folder from 7 years earlier. So that"s how I determine if something becomes special.

Has your creative process changed a lot because of the growing importance of computers over synthetizers?
Not really, considering we started making computer sequenced music very early in the 80's with VivisectV1 forward. The connection with hardware and instruments has always been a balancing act. So many great instruments, I think the biggest challenge is to try and not be overwhelmed with so many choices these days. I've stuck with Logic as my DAW since 1.0 so it's fortunate not to have to think about the software, and just let the ideas determine the outcome versus technology.

You invited some other artists on Resonance, including singers. Is it easier to express personal things with words? Did you work on the lyrics?
Lyrics, oh definitely not. I've been fortunate to know some fabulous vocalists that need no help at all. In the sense of true collaboration the gift of hearing a vocal or part from someone can be extremely inspiring. It's as though a door is opened mutually to some world that the objectives and thoughts become more clear, direction defined, subject matter, so at that point its helping the story to be told.

We often read stories about the tension there was during the creation of some SKINNY PUPPY albums. Are you more comfortable working alone or with selected friends, are is there always tension when you work on new music?
Just with SKINNY PUPPY! Yeah it's a intense band. Always has been since day one. I think the variables in our personalities really is what makes SP intense. I think if everything was all Roses, we wouldn't have that natural unfaked edge within the sound. Of course I prefer to work without those edges, its much more fun to laugh and enjoy musical connections. It's fortunate to have both, so that you can appreciate what each band brings in the end result.

I always saw The Process as a "cursed album" with a lot of pain associated to its making, and bad memories. Yet, you played a lot of songs from it during your last European tour in 2017. How did it feel for you ? Would you say that you're at peace with it?
I love the album now after all is said and done. It was tough make and get past, but ultimately it is an album that I enjoy playing live as well. The idea behind the last tour was really to focus on songs that we had a full line-up including guitars. It's fun to put together a set and work with people to see what we can make of it. This allowed for one more person to join onstage, so it was fun to have Matt up there.

I'm sorry if the question is annoying.. But I had to ask ! Now that the world really looks like a dumber version of a SKINNY PUPPY album, don't you think that it would be the perfect time for a new record ? Could that ever happen some day?
It probably is a perfect time. However I also think that fate plays its own cards, and I'm super happy that I was able to make a album that I feel is up to a SP level of quality and feelings, but didn't have the turmoil or politics in the making. Also in some ways the SUBCONSCIOUS ELECTRONIC ORCHESTRA has kind of formed itself. Now all of us that took part are looking to each other and thinking well that was fun.. what's next!

Thank you very much for your time. Would you like to add anything?
Thank you!