The Ateliers: Moon Overview
Hello, and welcome to the first entry of our Moon blogs! In this episode, we will be breaking down the Moon album as a whole. In the previous episode, I mentioned that this album is part of a series called the Circle Series. That series consists of 10 thematic albums. It is a bit tough to explain the complete thought process behind “Moon” without telling you the other album titles, but for now I think it’s better to keep those a surprise. To better understand what all goes into writing this record, I think sharing my songwriting process will be helpful. I’ve never been one to think, "I’m going to write a song about surfing", and then somehow create a song about surfing. I’ve tried to write like that many times, but it has honestly never worked. I tend to sit for hours, messing around on the piano or guitar until I find a chord progression I like. I’ll repeat that progression over and over until I’m singing with it. After a while, words will start to form out of the melodies, and each word kind of inspires the next until the song has a theme and multiple parts. The words that come out of this process tend to be things happening in my brain that I’m unaware of. It is meditative in that way. The music helps the unnecessary and surface level distractions to quiet down. Underneath lies something significant. Sometimes it turns out to be very personal and other times more communal. The first group of songs I wrote turned out to be pretty personal and mellow. At the time I was working odd jobs or other projects during the day, so most of the songs were written at night to kind of process and wind down. Having written all these intimate and quiet nighttime songs, I felt confident when the idea for the album names came that “Moon” was the first one.
Although these albums are thematic and structured, my process was never learning something about the moon and then taking that something and writing a song about it. I did however, learn more about the moon and that knowledge helped me choose which songs would make the cut. It may have informed a bit of my writing, but very little. For example, I was reading about a correlation between lucid dreams and full moons and that inspired me to put “Give Me Dreams” on the album. Considering the werewolf’s relationship to the Moon in our culture, putting the song Teacher Wolf on the album made the most sense. It’s possible we’re working a werewolf into the music videos, but they won’t be out for awhile. I also learned that because the moons rotation is synchronous with the Earth, we always see its near side. Songs on the album "Colombo By Night" and "Where You Stay" are both about learning consistency and commitment. I felt they tied in well with Earths’ relationship to the Moon.
As I continue to write songs I hope there will be many more about consistency and commitment. I feel this is somewhat of a problem in our relationships and the paths we choose nowadays. To aspire to be better myself, I have decided to commit to these albums. I took the commitment a step further and got our Moon tatted on my arm. I plan to get a tattoo for each of the albums in the coming years. Before getting my Moon tattoo, I had only gotten a couple small ones. This was the first one to really test whether I liked the process or not, and I absolutely loved it. The pain was enough in that i couldn't really think of anything else, but it wasn't so much that I needed it to stop. Because of how focused I was in the moment, I relate it surfing. I think surfing is incredibly meditative because you have to be present to your circumstance. You can't worry about anything except the next wave and whether you're ducking under it or riding it. So the first tattoo in the series was a success, and speaking of visual art, we're going to talk about the album cover. A great soul and great friend, Tori Calderon, has been with the band since the beginning. She did the cover art for "Landscapes", an album I did before The Ateliers and used a similar medium for our "Moon" artwork.
Tori: Hi, my name is Tori and I'm the artist behind the visual artwork. When I was originally asked to do this work, I was more than honored to create something for my friends. They have always continued to inspire me on a daily basis. I have gotten to watch them grow and create in various processes. With this artwork, it was definitely a challenge. I found myself going back to listen to their music and watch them at their shows so I could continue to get inspired. I wanted to be able to replicate something that would represent their music in the right way. I found myself pushing beyond my boundaries in my artwork and able to create something that I hadn't done before. It has been more than an honor and a pleasure to create something for them and I can't wait to continue this process.
Nathan: That is so awesome. What was the technical process like?
Tori: This process started when you told me the name of the album, Moon. I wanted to draw something to represent your music and the moon itself. I started this process with sketches. These sketches either had the moon in the night sky or the moon itself. These sketches would either end up in the trash or towards a pile of something that could be finalized. With these sketches that could be finalized, I started to lay down some ink. I started to use pointilism, starting with some copic markers and micron pens to see what would work best. The micron pens worked. Soon these dots started to form the final image, the final image you now see as the moon.
Nathan: So how many dots are we talking?
Tori: We're talking probably over a thousand dots.
Nathan: And you did all of them one by one?
Tori: At first I started to do the dots one by one but then I started to see that it was taking too long, so I split the tip of the pen in two and started to put down two dots at a time.
One of my favorite parts of sharing songs has been collaborating with other artists and it’s been so great to see Tori’s artistic process and work with her on this cover, so a big thank you to Tori!
Thanks so much for listening. We are so excited to start sharing each song on the album with you and why we did what we did! “I know it’s work, but it’s worth it.”