A Chat With Everett Artist SPHYRAMID
Everett electronic artist SPHYRAMID's new EP, Revival, starts with a calming mantra: "Let's go together. Into the inner place. Into the holy of holies," before a deep kick drum and phased out synth chords back up that calming effect.
That first 20 seconds on the opening title track sets the mood for the rest of the release. Calm, vibey, soothing and smooth — and that's really what SPHYRAMID is all about.
Over a 10 year period, SPHYRAMID, a.k.a Mac Dobbins, has been treating Everett and the Pacific Northwest to not only their own music, but smoothed-out, yacht-rock tinged DJ sets.
We asked Mac some questions about Revival.
1. You've been out of the limelight with SPHYRAMID for a while, and this EP is named Revival... is this a "rebirth" of sorts for the project? It seems like between the album release, the video and the uptick of live sets you're really hitting the ground running on this release.
Absolutely. I went through a weird hiatus for a couple of years; a lot of instability, transition and loss made it difficult for me to focus on music. I went through a phase of doubting myself, questioning if it was all "just a phase in my 20s."
I started taking care of myself and everything else fell into place. I found a new approach. Instead of trying to make the weirdest, most cerebral thing, I focused on making it feel good. Removing my identity from the work.
2. There are some interesting vocal samples in Revival. The sample "Let's go together. Into the inner place. Into the holy of holies," kicks the record off and really sets the tone for the overall feel of the EP. Is there more to these vocal samples than a mood or did you choose these samples to set the vibe?
The melodic sample in the title track is from a live gospel recording. I love the sounds of gospel and tracing its influence into modern RnB, pop and dance music. It’s so sad and euphoric at the same time. Such an authentic expression of human emotion.
I combed YouTube for sermons and totally lucked out. I liked that he was setting the intention of a ceremony. To answer your question: yes, I chose to put a specific healing intention into the music.
3. The album artwork for Revival is stunning. Why the visuals of the crying anime eyes and the crest? What does the artwork bring to the music and vise-versa? The music and the art seems very cohesive and important.
Thank you! As some of you may or may not know I designed it myself. To be honest, a lot of the symbolism was rationalized in post. I’ve been fascinated with symbols and mythology as long as I can remember. There’s something really powerful about it.
I’m not religious or theistic in any way, but I find archetypes and sigils useful. I built the crest slowly over time. It felt right to combine strong familiar symbols in a new intuitive way. I could go into the symbolism of every element but like I said it’s all post rationalization. I hope people find their own meaning.
4. Can you comment on the video for "New CD"? I know there was a drone involved and some other neat tech and editing skills. Where was it shot and what were you trying to convey with the video? Who directed it, who else is in it, etc?
The last time I made a video I put too many ideas into it. I realized my favorite videos didn’t have much going on in them conceptually, they were more about how it was filmed, a feeling and an atmosphere. So I reached out to Alex Vincini of Dada Fructose. I knew he would help me achieve the gritty, fun and nostalgic aesthetic I was looking for.
My friend Joe is a drone wizard, he put the drone together just for the video. It’s really small and maneuverable. It uses an analog antenna which gave it a 90s cyberpunk feel. I wanted to incorporate a CD somehow into the video so Alex came up with this brilliant idea to attach a CD to the camera to catch the reflection off the disc, creating a dreamy analog filter.
5. Talk to me a little bit about Care Package. It seems like they're doing really neat things in Seattle. What are they about and how did you start collaborating with them?
Care Package is a label that stems from the same crew that brought us Stop Biting at Lo-Fi Performance Gallery, one of Seattle’s longest running monthly hip hop and dance events.
I connected with them through DJ/producer WD4D. I’ve known him for a long time and he has always supported young up and coming artists, a staple in the local hip hop, house, and festival communities.
6. What's next for you? Is it more live shows? Heading back to the lab? Remixes?
Not sure how much I am allowed to reveal but let’s just say I have a really exciting remix in the works for a local Everett band that your listeners will definitely recognize.
I will be performing at Clock-Out Lounge on Sunday, August 26. If the stars align there will be a Redux of Revival featuring one new original track and a handful of remixes and some physical merch this fall.