The Reaktion Interview

The Reaktion

 

What was the motivation for moving to Canada from Chile?

DIEGO: When we were in Chile, after several moderately successful musical projects, we realized how difficult was to build our network in Chile. We have a territorial barrier with all our neighboring countries, either by sea or by the Andes mountain range and also a language barrier with North America and a great part of Europe. I think we can all agree that we felt a little trapped back in Chile, in a scene where it is very difficult to be an independent rock musician and be considered professionally, especially when your concepts deal with social issues that some people are not very eager to pay attention to.

PHIL: On the other hand the media concentration in Chile is so brutal that the internet was being the only way out to our music, and we started to get some attention from people in the US and Canada. We realized that we had to go where people where listening. After being in Vancouver for some time, we also realized that we felt the urge of going out of our comfort zone and plunge into the unknown. That’s the only way to really prove your talents and limitations.
LEO: After some research we chose Vancouver as a perfect place for working with the band, since it is a city where art abounds and where so many different cultures meet, being such a cosmopolitan city. We also looked into Vancouver’s background in music, the important bands and producers, and this encouraged us to leave our past behind, our jobs, friends and families, with the sole purpose of dedicating to our project.

SIMON: After a year here, and after meeting so many great people in the music circles, I think we couldn’t have done a better choice. I think we have to be just a band that wanders the world. Coming here has been an amazing process to créate and write more music, as well as to grow as individuals, so moving will probably remain as a constant for us now.

 

What are the advantages?

DIEGO: Well, considering where we come from, we see everything as advantages (hahahahaha). Just as we expected, the strategic location in order to reach a huge diversity of people in different countries, and also the opportunity to play with amazing bands and work with leading industry producers, I think are amongst the most important

PHIL: Just imagine, in one small city as Vancouver you have producer titans Garth Richardson and Bob Ezrin working together, amazing talents like Devin Townsend pushing the boundaries of heavy music, a background with huge bands that left an important footprint in generations of musicians like D.O.A. and S.N.F.U. There’s a cultural aspect related to the respect for music professions that, even though it doesn’t necessarily make it “easier” for musicians to work here, it presents more opportunities. There are more studios and rehearsal spaces, more venues, more music magazines, more radio stations interested in local music, more festivals. And one of the things that surprised us more, is that there is almost no cultural gap between different age groups. When you go to a show you meet from teenagers to 60 year old guys, and for us that is amazing. Back in Chile we had a military dictatorship throughout the 70s and 80s, which produced a huge cultural blackout during that period and a gap between young and old that continues until today.

 

I still can’t believe that your first album Be(li)ve In R(evol)ution was completed through a compeletly independent process how did you ever manage to pull it all off?

LEO: Thank you! It´s actually something we are really proud of because it meant a lot of sweat and hard work. Everything was done in Backstage Rockstore Studios, a place owned by Diego and that would eventually become an important hub for many bands that where starting. We were actually living there with Diego and Simon, on a couple of rooms on the second floor of the house, and Phil lived close by. Therefore, we saw each other every day and all day, which meant that the album was something we were either working or talking about. I remember Simon in the process of mixing and mastering, he locked himself in the studio all day, even sleeping in the studio until something he was working on was finished, that’s devotion!

DIEGO: This album was very important to us. We had already been through a long and tiring experience with our old bands without achieving the results we expected, and when we saw what we had on our hands here it was all very fast: we dissolved our last band (Industrial Company Inc.) and started The ReAktion with a really clear idea of what we wanted the album to sound like, but knew nobody that could do it. So we decided to just do it ourselves, learning at the same time about new technologies and building up the sound with which we could feel comfortable. We made huge advances in this period both musically and technically, experimenting and thinking out of the box when producing the songs and the sound, which I think helped us get to the point where today we can work fluidly with people like Garth Richardson and the guys at Fader Mountain.

SIMON: When you don’t have the money and resources but you believe in what you are doing is when you get most creative. We wanted to rock hard not being influenced by what the mainstream media was saying, so we were forced to look for ways to do it. The album’s production was very intense, happy, frustrating, and weird at some points. Many anecdotes and changes went through our lives in that period, I spent a hot summer in Santiago (CL) finding the best drum sounds I could, then the bass, guitars, synths. We wrote the lyrics through long sessions were we would sit around with our ideas on our notebooks, emails sent by Diego who was on tour in Europe at the time, and then just recorded without much processing, that’s why I like how raw it finally came  out. Mastering I believe was the most complicated process, due to the high standards we were aiming for, but I think we managed to achieve what we were looking for: a very defined, very heavy, low and distorted sound, a wall of guitars and synths, powerful melodies and musically very expressive, and lyrically charged with relevant content.

Why did you decide to take this road for your album?

PHILIP: Most of all as a necessity. We didn’t know anybody capable of achieving the level we wanted without a mountain of money up front, and from the beginning we were told by people in the media that even though our work was good, it wouldn’t be considered for radio play or for much promotion on magazines and local webzines. But we felt sure of what we were doing, so as the wise Jello Biafra once said “Don’t hate the media, become the media”. We decided to trust in ourselves and just take control over everything. We did the album, did all the art, booked shows, and started looking up like-minded people that would relate to what we were doing.

SIMON: Exactly.Its obviously very hard to expect other people to get involved and commited to your project as hard as one does, and back then we were facing all over people that wouldn’t take any chances. We had to cope with the frustration of seeing how some people just don’t take art seriously, and that where telling us that we should stop fooling around in a childish thing as a rock band. So we just decided to take the DIY road with our friends and those who believed in us, which I think are the ones that finally gave “Be(LIE)ve in R(EVOL)ution” its final “color”.

DIEGO: The whole purpose of “The Reaktion” as conceptual band is to deliver a message, a warning of a collective awakening. We were always musically linked to rock and eletronica, so becoming the band and following that road to make the album where something that came naturally, although it is still in constant development.

How bad were the arguments throughout the entire process?

LEO: Well, all our discussions and opinions were always for the sake of the album and the band. It is not always easy to have all the same idea or opinion about something, but I think it flowed really well, we didn’t have personal problems between us, that is the most important. There is a sense of trust and fellowship between us that keeps everything together.

DIEGO: The truth is that we are very close, as friends and bandmates. Among us there’s never been major problems really. We may have had some problems with a couple of people who entered and left the band at the beginning, but it was when we were still defining ourselves. I think its understandable, the pace that we have is very intense, making it difficult to follow.

When we did record we lived in a community. Simon, Leo, and myself in the same house, with the studio, rehearsal rooms and surrounded by music all day. I feel that this album has that mystical vibe too that of living each day to make music.

 

How did you divide the duties between everyone?

PHIL: For “Be(LIE)ve in R(EVOL)ution” Diego and Simon had more experience in producing and writing songs than the rest, and they were more knowledgeable on the recording technology we needed, so the basic structures of the songs where mainly their job. Leo knew about programming, so most of the first online platforms and software functioning where built and kept steady by him. I undertook the responsibility of the lyrics since my English was better than the rest and I also felt that there was a lot left unsaid in our former projects. As for the graphics, videos and promotion, we all chipped in and as we came to Vancouver started working on that more professionally, taking it to new levels and learning about much more tools that we didn’t have before.

DIEGO: At the moment we organize ourselves with the different tasks, writing and recording songs, managing the band and booking shows.
Besides rehearsing regularly we also have meeting where we define our goals, the following steps, the tasks for each of us, deadlines, etc. We’re getting pretty good at it too!

 

Were there songs that got left off the album?

SIMON: Indeed. At one point we had to draw the line regarding the songs that would be included, but that didn’t kept us from doing more new songs and a whole bunch of electronic remixes. Eventually we ended up releasing three more singles right after the record was ready.

LEO: There where actually a couple of tracks that almost didn’t made it to the record, like “The Network Rare”, an electronic proposal for “The Network” and “Thanks”,  a song featuring lots of our friends. They were a great support for the creation of this album, so this song was dedicated to them and we decided to include it there.

SIMON: Some of the song ideas we left out will be actually returning to be part of our new album, and there’s a couple of songs from “Be(LIE)ve in R(EVOL)ution” that we will probably re-version as well for it.

What is your favourite song off the album?

PH: Personally “The Network” for the positive and great new social concept behind the song’s lyrics and musically I find “The Lie that You Believe” a very interesting song, with a bunch of atmosphere’s playing and overlapping.

LEO: My favorite song on this album is “The Day After”. It is very intense, there´s lots of feelings in those lyrics.

SIMON: To me, Aeon is my favorite. I felt that was one of those songs that come out of nowhere and just flow. I actually dreamt that song the night before we wrote it very clearly. I came running down to the studio mumbling on the melody and doing the noises I had dreamt with, and made a rough demo to show it to the guys. To me it’s a very powerful song, and I can see it as intensely yellow (look up synesthesia. I kinda have that J )

DIEGO: I particularly like, “The Lie That you Believe” and “Cycles and Shapes”

What is your favourite song to play live?

PH: If I had to choose I would say The Lie That You Believe, which due to the various changes of rhythms and parts is very entertaining.

LEO: To play live “The Lie That You Believe”, lots of power, a song that moves the audience.

SIMON: To play live I like “Teach Me How To Stop The World”. It’s a new song that you will listen in the new album. From “Believe in Revolution” I like “The Lie That You Believe”.

DIEGO: “Teach me how to stop the world”, definitely.

How long did it take to record your album especially with all of the sophisticated backing tracks?

LEO: It took us about 8 to 9 months to fully complete the album. Simon worked a lot in the mixing and mastering of the songs specially, Diego helping him throughout the process.

DIEGO: Yeah, I would say big part of that time was spent on the composition of the arrangements, and then on and mixing and mastering of the album.

How did you go about creating your specific sound?

PHIL: We just decided not to follow the usual parameters and limitations that can come when choosing to play certain genre, we didn’t follow traditional recording techniques either. We had all grown up listening and learning about what others had to say about recording and song making, but never really felt comfortable with those ideas. If we talk about genres, we just flowed to the songs, letting different things come in. If it sounded too metal but we felt good about it, it stayed. If it sounded pop and cheerful and we liked it, it stayed. You could say that we went and reflected all that was going on inside us with this record, and the final sound is the result of that.

LEO: Regarding gear, we used LINE 6 interfaces and pre-amps on guitars, bass and vocals, we just found them to be amazing and affordable solutions. I remember that I was the first in the band to buy a LINE 6 interface to record my ideas at home, I then showed Simon the hundreds of effects for guitar, bass and vocals that this interface included. We spent hours mixing effects to find the sound that we wanted, they have so many parameters to configure. We processed everything through a Digi 003, and used ProTools as our DAW

DIEGO: Regarding the synths, strings and sequences in general, the creation of each sound was a unique experience, every sound we created with different types of synths, both analog and virtual.

We believe it is very important to get sounds that contribute conceptually to the song, that generate a landscape or image of what we mean, not just put something that sounds “cool” or because there is a certain sound that is trendy at the moment.

To me it appears the lyrics are one of the most considerable aspect in your songs how does the lyric process conspire in The Reaktion?

PHIL: For me the lyrics are the most important aspect, is what unites us as a band. We do not make music just for fun, but to raise awareness and share our vision of the world. We usually start with an idea, a concept we want to develop. Many times we dig deeper and research quite a lot to come up with certain statements we want to make clear in the song. Then there’s the musicality and structures which we fit into Simon’s way of singing. On this first album we played basically between concrete social and political ideas and the personal and spiritual trip you must take to achieve a view of the world that can be beneficial for everybody. In order to keep it within a certain conceptual line, we preferred keeping lots of the lyrics a bit more abstract but simple and understandable. Instead of pointing out and criticizing concrete events, people or attitudes, we opted for showing the inner state of what we go through when we are fighting for something.

 

Do you feel you paint a clear picture in each song that you write?

PHIL: I think more than painting a clear picture, lots of it depends of the listener. Not just the lyrics but the music that you play reflect different emotions, that some people can pick up one way or another. It´s really up to the listener to come up with his own ideas and concepts. Yet there are some clear messages obviously, like our search for a connection between people that responds to love instead of fear, our rejection to oppressive systems, the awakening of mankind to less harmful ways of living. All messages that we firmly believe in and that fuel our passion to write music and fight for in this life.