on august 7, 2021 at around 3pm, @zanderraymond and i sat in the monome workshop and spent some time exploring sounds together. it’s something i’d wanted to do since we’d played separately at @andrew’s apartment in 2018. zander had queued up our involvement with cached.media, originally intended as a remote collaboration – but during his and nolan’s visit to delhi (we hadn’t seen each other since january of that year, when rocky and i moved from chicago), it didn’t make sense not to try something in real-time.
honestly, this album almost didn’t happen. i hadn’t recorded since 2019 and had only recently started exploring what it’d mean to make music again. as we started the session, i became deeply judgmental of my re-orientation and after a few false starts, i turned my equipment off in a flurry of frustration. a few moments passed and i looked at zander and, exhausted, said, “i’m sorry, i’m really sorry — i’m just not a musician anymore.” he waited a beat, letting this sit in the air, then said “it’s okay” and hugged me.
after a bit, he asked for clarification on what i was experiencing and i described that while i’d spent the last two years consumed with building tools, i hadn’t really spent any time playing them. he considered this and asked, plainly and without pressure, “do you want to try again?” i looked at him — one of my dearest friends, an artist who i so deeply admire, radiating honest caring love — and i realized i was letting my ego sabotage the chance for both us to, worst case scenario, have a nice day together.
i exhaled and stopped clinging to how i had previously pictured the session. we got up and started re-routing cables. zander has phenomenal command over cheat codes and was going to use it to play a small modular synth while simultaneously processing its audio and a field recorder full of moments from his visit to NY — instead of letting that stand alone next to whatever it was i thought i was going to do, i placed my norns at the end of his chain, running my development branch of cheat codes to solely re-sample and re-present everything zander did. we checked back in to see if the vibe was right — it was, so we started.
on the surface, qualia is a highlight reel of a two and a half hour improvisation, recorded as two stereo tracks in a single take. beneath that, it is a document of two friends navigating each other’s positive and painful impulses. listening back, knowing how narrowly + clouded i’d first met its desire to exist, i’m so grateful for this album and our friendship.
about two months later, we each revisited the project files and started trimming toward a reasonable shape to share with matthew sage, a true sweetheart and incredible artist who organizes cached, who ended up lending his incredible ears for final stage mastering. i’m not sure if this is true for zander, but i hadn’t listened to the files at all since we recorded – in a lot of ways, i wanted to let the experience settle before i dove back in. all positively. i just wanted to make sure that my gratitude for the day and the way zander navigated everything didn’t color how i responded to the material too much.
within a minute or two of listening, i couldn’t stop smiling. i let this guide my edits and after a few days, found the album’s shape. i’m deeply humbled to be able to share it with y’all
please feel free to ask any questions about process (either internal or gear-based), arrangement + editing, or whatever compels. and please please listen to and support the fantastic releases in this season – lose yourself twenty-one minutes at a time @andrew + @glia’s absolutely marvelous nimi and get wrapped in a sonic hug by the gorgeously wide arm span of Homage by Natural Flavors.
thank you for listening + reading