Meditating about the universe is heavy stuff but, like much in life, you have the option of being consumed, or delighted by your surroundings. Brooklyn-based electronic artist, The Landing, does the latter. Producing synth-pop tracks that have their feet planted firmly on the ground, but their eyes to the sky, The Landing’s songs capture the bliss of infinity, but are packaged in a way that harkens back to pop hits of the early 60’s. The result is tunes that are spacey in scope, but still feel like home. The Landing was kind enough to let The Deli take a peek behind the curtain and discuss his influences and process.
A lot of the visual aesthetic for The Landing seems influenced by space and discovery. Can you talk a little bit about why that sort of image pairs up with your music so well? I think, as artists, it’s our responsibility to reflect the times in which we live, and I argue that the biggest part of what defines us today is this insatiable curiosity of ours that has predictably led us to reach for the stars.
I think, as artists, it’s our responsibility to reflect the times in which we live, and I argue that the biggest part of what defines us today is this insatiable curiosity of ours that has predictably led us to reach for the stars.
Over the past decade we’ve seen the dawn of a new Space Race–the creation of new space agencies around the globe, the rise of the private space industry in the US–and with it the resurgence of public interest in space and astronomy-related news and events. NASA’s rovers on Mars and fly-bys of Pluto, ESA’s landing of a probe on a comet, LIGO’s discovery of gravitational waves, and the Kepler Mission’s categorization of thousands of planets orbiting alien stars, these are all incredible engineering feats accomplished within the past decade that bring with them new questions and deeply profound revelations about who we are.
I think, as artists, it’s our responsibility to reflect the times in which we live, and I argue that the biggest part of what defines us today is this insatiable curiosity of ours that has predictably led us to reach for the stars. This project is dedicated to exploring this idea, to be an active participant in this resurgence of space nerd-dom, and to encourage a broader perspective in which to place our existence.
What records by other artists were crucial in your musical development?
As Tall As Lions – As Tall As Lions | Indie rock with inventive harmonies, smooth textures, and seamless Latin influences. If you don’t know this album or this band (they’ve since broken up) go check out their catalog right now.
Illinois – Sufjan Stevens | Synergy through orchestration. On Illinois, Sufjan is able to weave 6 or 7 different melodic lines each played by a different instrument, each adding to the whole without sounding cluttered.
Other Worlds, Other Sounds – Esquivel | The original “Space-pop”, Esquivel and other composers of his era were doing some wild arrangements of jazz standards, as well as originals, during the height of the Space Race. The “other worldly” influences are self-evident, but I think there is also this overwhelming sense of optimism and fearlessness inherent in their music.
Off the Wall – Michael Jackson | Thriller may be the best album of all time, but most days I prefer MJ’s debut record Off the Wall. Quincy Jones’ production and arrangements may be the single most influential force on my music today.
What would you say is your greatest non-musical influence?
Without a doubt it’s the recorded lectures and talks of Carl Sagan and Neil Degrasse Tyson, the fantasies of Robert Heinlein and Isaac Asimov, the philosophies of Fritjof Capra and Alan Watts, the idealism of Buckminster Fuller and Jean Luc Picard, the adventures of Mulder and Scully, and any sincere effort at informing the human condition while not taking oneself too seriously.
What synths do you love, and is there a single piece of gear that you think defines your sound?\
I actually don’t have a lot of hardware. 99% of the synth sounds you hear in my recordings can all be found in the stock Logic 9 package. On my latest track Stars in Motion however, I did use an old Yamaha PSR12 from the early 90s, which is basically a toy, to record part of the recurring synth bass line. Here are some of my favorite virtual synths offered in Logic:
EVP88: For getting that Rhodes sound without emptying your wallet or cramming your apartment, the EVP88 does just fine for me. This is usually my keyboard of choice while starting any song, and since I’m usually manipulating and tweaking the sound for a more electronic and other-worldly quality anyway, the fact that it’s not the real thing doesn’t get in the way.
ES M: Traditionally used as a bass synth, I often use the ES M for a Theremin type sound to sweeten melodies or as a main voice in counter melodies, but this synth is really versatile. You can hear it handling the bass line in my track Strange Charm, the quirky synth solo in Anxieties, and in the background of the chorus in Stars in Motion.
Sculpture: A really powerful synth-modeler that’s great for creating unique, quasi string instrument sounds. I love using this when I need some added punch to a bass line, a la my track Then Comes The Wonder.
What’s the latest tool you’ve been using to create that you can’t get enough of?
I did recently get my own microKORG and have been having a lot of fun playing with its sounds, but have yet to lay down any tracks with it. I suspect once I get a mic for the vocoder that will all change.For a lot of electronic artists, bringing a set from studio to stage means rethinking the approach of your songs. What can fans expect from a live show versus what they’re hearing from you on their computer?
The songs you’re hearing on your computer were made by one person in a small bedroom studio, while the songs performed live in Brooklyn are usually performed by a 7 piece band equipped with two drummers, two keyboardists and three backup singers; so the size of the sound and the energy level we bring to the live show some might find surprising. Over the past year I’ve been experimenting with different setups for the live show: from solo sets, a two piece with just me and a drummer, a touring three piece, to the monster 7 piece setup we have at most of the Brooklyn shows. Ableton Live has been extremely instrumental in making the live sets maintain a familiar sound to the recordings, while the live instruments add that irreplaceable human element that I think people will always crave.
You recently dropped single “Stars in Motion.” Does this mean we can expect a new record on the horizon? And if not, what’s next for The Landing?
I am currently working on what will become the debut LP, but you can expect a few more releases between now and the time that it’s ready to drop.