Sarkastodon Drops New Mixtape: Phonomontage
By: Andrew Boyd
Rock Island: While listening through your new albumPhonomontage, I found myself in a contemplative state of self-reflection. Is that a reaction you would typically expect from a new listener? Are there specific emotions you hoped to elicit from your listeners when they hear your songs?
Dave Connors: Definitely! Sometimes I wonder if I mask that side of the music with bells and whistles and thick rhythm sections too much, or not enough. But, I write compositions based on feelings I have, just like anyone. Mine just don’t have words usually. I’ve been in a really contemplative state this past year and I find it interesting how many people have heard my instrumental music and been like “hey, you okay?” because they hear that in it. People can surprise you, so can instrumental music.
RI: You sample a number of artists and works including Quincy Jones, Electric Light Orchestra, Christine McVie, Aretha Franklin, Chris De Burgh, Tom Waits and even the Stranger Things Soundtrack just to name a few. With all these samples, you still create music with a unique personal style. Is it safe to assume you prefer to compose using samples and if so what appeals to you about that process?
DC: I think it’s a really new and fun way to approach making music. The idea of arranging new compositions out of little pieces you took from a whole bunch of different music is a real trip and a challenge. It always interested me but it wasn’t until I was made aware of other Atlantic Canadian Artists like The Extremities and Wolf Kush that I really started to think about it and try it. I find it a lot more challenging and interesting right now than composing on physical/traditional instruments, which I've done for years. That’s how I feel right now at least. Phonomontage is really live and collaborative and features some great instrumental parts, but all of them are still composed around samples. So, even if Sarkastodon’s future is more “live” and “arranged” like the new mixtape, we’ll still be working off of samples. Making sample based music forces you to be rooted in music as a whole, if you do it right at least. I like being really deep into a whole bunch of musical worlds. I like being aware of what’s going on with my peers in the industry. I think that’s important.
RI: You have an album release show in St. John’s on February 24th at The Factory. You will have a backing band for this show consisting of Scott Sheppard (bass), Michael Moulton (Drums) and Len O'Neill (Guitar). What can we expect from a Sarkastodon full band live show?
DC: I’m so fortunate to have the musicians I do in my live crew. Scott and Mike are both performance majors and, as a rhythm section, I’m yet to find something that will stump them in any way. Being Sarkastodon on stage with The Live Crew feels a lot like being a conductor in an orchestra. We’ve developed different hand signals for me to cue the band jump from place to place in different songs. Everyone has their little part to make up the whole arrangement, sonically and musically. Every time I come to those guys with “okay, here’s a new song, it gets tricky in a few spots” they just eat it up and play my own ideas back to me even better. We’re borrowing Len from Green & Gold for this one which has become somewhat of a tradition for us when playing in St. John’s. Len’s a mega-talent and can sit in at pretty much any position in a band. He’s currently subbing in for our normal guitarist Steve Caines, who we’ll have back in the crew next month.
RI: What is the ideal setting for a new fan to listen to your album Phonomontage for the first time?
DC: Ideally, some prerequisite listening would be involved, maybe some inebriating substances too. But, the thing I hope for most is that they turn it on through a nice set of speakers or headphones. It’s a sonic landscape more than anything else, and you should have the proper tools to view the landscapes you look at. Whether it’s indie-folk or doom-core, better sounding speakers/headphones make you enjoy it so much more. Just…get high, your way. Light a spliff, brew some Ayahuasca Tea, pour yourself a shot, crack a beer, put some tea on, heat up that spoon with a bic. Just do whatever you choose to do to get lifted. Once you're relaxed and feeling good on your couch, turn it on and just shut up for 25 minutes. That’s how I’d like you to listen, with your whole heart and both your ears.
Catch Sarkastodon live at The Factory this Friday, February 24th: https://www.facebook.com/events/1329282813804245/