article + photos by: Malia Jenkins
Crave: So tonight is your last show for the current tour—what are your plans as a group between now and the next tour?
Karen: So, we’re planning on being home the month of December, with just family and stuff, and in January, the three of us—me, Ryan, and Derek—are gonna live just outside of LA. In February, we’re gonna live on the Puget Sound, which is on the Oregon coast. Just for off time… We’re not touring again until March, so we were just kind of like, ‘Where should we go? Let’s do something fun.’ We may record some more music, we may just relax and have fun adventuring. [laughs]
Ryan: Yeah, we’ll be writing and probably recording at least demos… I don’t know if we’ll have all the equipment to make the actual record.
Crave: So in terms of going to LA and Oregon, are those just places that you thought, ‘You know what, that’d be a cool place to go,’ or—
Ryan: It was kinda just to get away from the snow, mostly. [laughs] We just thought it’d be cool since we have this off-time to try out some new places for a while. It’s just Airbnb.
Karen: I think we all loved LA when we were there like a month ago—it just really resonated with all of us, so we were like, ‘It’d be so fun to live here for a while!’
Crave: Yeah, I definitely understand connecting to a place—you want to stay there or touch base there every now and then.
Karen: Yeah, definitely.
Crave: What have been your favorite moments being on tour so far?
Derek: The funnest part was just seeing all these new cities that I’ve never seen, and going back to old cities that I’ve always wanted to spend more time in. Some highlights include driving down Highway 1, the coast between San Francisco and LA—
Karen: Not totally recommended in an RV if you only have about seven hours to get to your show, but incredibly beautiful. [laughs] Do it when you have time to stop and get out and enjoy it.
Crave: Anything funny or embarrassing happen so far?
Karen: I guess looking back, some things happen were funny that when they happened they weren’t so funny… We backed into a light post, which at the time was not funny, but now it seems kind of funny. [laughs]
Ryan: It just mangled the bike rack, but some guys in Oklahoma fixed it for us. Some really nice mechanics. We did Disneyworld—that’s not embarrassing, but—
Karen: Yeah, it was awesome! We were there just like, ten days ago, and it was in the 80’s.
Ryan: It felt like summer. We were swimming…
Karen: It was really nice! Yeah, we were swimming outside in the swimming pool—
Ryan: Getting sunburns. [laughs]
Crave: So you have all been a part of different music projects before Sound of Ceres—how does the dynamic of you all together after working on your previous projects affect the sound that you are going for moving forward?
Karen: Well, as far as the recordings go, I’d say it doesn’t, because it’s mainly Ryan and I that record. I don’t think that there’s too much musical influence, but maybe just as far as like, live performance goes, Derek comes from kind of a crazy, eclectic background, so he just has some cool playing styles that he brings in for that kind of stuff.
Ryan: But on the album, we worked with some other bands from around the country, and they just contributed parts over email for the songs. So one of the bands, The Apples in Stereo, contributed a lot of analog synth work and some bass lines, so that kind of sound came from them. And a guy from a band called The Drums (Jacob Graham) also contributed more spacey synth kind of stuff. So, that definitely influenced our sound working with them, and then we just kind of brought that on tour. Derek and Russ contribute their own kind of tones and styles, like Russ on bass has some interesting stuff we never would’ve thought to do—
Russ: Yeah, we all bring our own interesting little tastes to the live performance.
Crave: That’s really cool, and also leads into my next question—what was it like collaborating, and what was the process that you all found?
Ryan: This was kind of our first time doing it, and what we did was we got each song pretty much finished, like mostly finished, and then we would send that mix to someone and say, ‘Whatever you want to add, you can add.’ And then they would send back a bunch of stems, you know, like each part on its own, synced up to the music, and then I would take that and edit it, and kind of make it fit how I wanted it to fit in the song. So, overall I had the final say on how the song would turn out, but everyone got to throw in just a whole bunch of ideas. It was really neat to work that way, just to have a lot more material to work with that we wouldn’t have thought to make ourselves. I don’t know, that’s probably not how a lot of other people collaborate, but I think it worked really well because we could do it long distance, and it was really—like when people knew that not everything was going to be used, I think it freed them up just to experiment more and just throw a lot in there. So yeah, that’s how we did it this time!
Crave: So with your next tour locations still up in the air, is there anywhere that you all are excited about or most interested in going to?
Karen: Anywhere warm! [laughs] Warm and not humid, I would say—Russ!
Russ: Well I’m excited to go to the Pacific Northwest! I’ve always wanted to go to Seattle, Portland, all that kind of stuff, so that’s what I’m looking forward to…
Ryan: We haven’t been to New England yet—does Boston count? We’ve been to Boston a long time ago, but I’d really like to get up into the Northeast. That seems like a cool place.
Derek: Both of those spots, and I’d say the Northwest is my priority because I’ve never been there.
Karen: I’d say Kansas…
Karen: No, I’m just joking! [laughs]
Ryan: We like Kansas City, but…
Karen: I would say… does Disneyworld count? I really wanna go to Disneyworld again! [laughs] Actually, Florida was really great. We had some awesome shows in Florida, so I would definitely go back there for the people.
Ryan: Florida is cool.
Crave: As artists and musicians creating Nostalgia for Infinity, what influenced you? What did you pull from?
Ryan: It started out—well, I answer all these because I worked the most on the record, I guess, but—it started out where we hadn’t made music for a couple years and we were doing other things with our lives, and I was getting really into bossa nova when we started writing new stuff, so it started out with kind of that feel—really light beats going on in the background, just kind of a steady rhythm section all the way through, not much dynamics. But then it started getting a little more electronic too, because we were talking about space a lot and experimenting with some synthesizers. So it turned into bossa nova in space, and then the sound got a little bigger. So I guess that’s kind of the foundation, but that was kind of the influence to begin with, and then it kind of took its own course, you know? And then when people started sending parts to us, there were a lot of synthesizers and stuff like that, so it’s a lot more electronic than we planned on, but it’s really fun, you know?
Crave: To close the interview—what are your individual spirit animals, and why?
Karen: [laughs] I’ve never done one of those tests before, but I would say… I’d probably say a rabbit? Maybe? Also, one of the big reasons is because Luna Lovegood’s patronus is a rabbit. So I’m gonna go for rabbit.
Derek: I would say… although it’s very stereotypical in this day and age—
Karen: I know what you’re gonna say! You’re gonna say a cat!
Derek: That’s what I was gonna say!
Karen: I knew it! [laughs]
Derek: But I really do resonate with cats. I love how gentle they are, but how independent they are, too… And how ethereal they are. I definitely resonate with all those concepts.
Ryan: I’d say a gulper eel, probably.
Ryan: It’s an eel with this gigantic, crazy mouth—
Karen: Crazy mouth?! [laughs]
Ryan: They’re very deep sea and you don’t see them much, but they know what they wanna do down there? [laughs] I don’t know, yeah. [laughs]
Russ: I would say… a red panda. Just because they’re adorable—not saying I’m adorable, [laughs] but— just something about red pandas. They’re unique and really different. And they’re kind of introverted in a way, but they’re also really playful at times, too. So…
Ryan: You are very playful, Russ.
Russ: I definitely really like red pandas, so I’ll say red panda!
Ryan: He’s always playin’ around. [laughs]
Writing out the feeling and tone of the music by Sound of Ceres is as easily accomplished as depicting the most vivid, mystical, and ethereal dream one could ever have. The creativity and aspect of fantasy is pronounced within their studio work, but being a witness to their live performance and in-person energy is a whole separate level. The band took to the stage meekly and modestly, with a quiet introduction accompanied by the minute sounds that follow the picking up of a guitar or the fiddling of a microphone cord. Then, as immediately as the first bass notes were struck, an entire world blossomed from the hearts and minds of these natural performers. Winding guitar notes spiraled through the band’s presence on stage, while the only thing anchoring their feet on the ground were the deep tones resonating from the bass. The kick-pop of the drums lay nicely beneath the layers of galaxy-infused synth, and finally Karen’s entrancing vocals glazed over it all, a stretch of georgette atop a whirlpool of radiant sound.
The performance was simple, but not withholding; each individual member was so evidently encasing their spirit and energy within the music they were creating. Watching Sound of Ceres perform held a similar feel as is present in an inspiring meditation—there was a heightened awareness and connection between the musical energy exuding from the stage and the stir within the bones of the crowd.
Speaking beforehand with the band gave me a sense of just how genuine and appreciative they are of their time and place within music, but that notion was only heightened as they floated about the stage. They were there not simply to play music, but to transport the listener to another day, age, time, place—perhaps another dimension entirely. And, with such a difficult and daunting mission at hand, they were delightfully successful.
Sound of Ceres will return with their debut album, Nostalgia for Infinity, in March of 2016.