With the upcoming release of Montreal group Discolor Blind’s “Long Vivid Dream”, I spent some time catching up with the driving force behind the band Askhan Malayeri. His worldwide journey has brought him to Canada, where his intense brooding style merges trip hop with alternative pop sounds.
Firstly, its been a long journey for you personally between in Tehran,
Cambridge, London and now Montreal. Tell me, what brought about this
shift in continents?
Well, I left Iran because I wanted to become a musician and it’s difficult with the
current situation there… having solo female vocals is illegal there… I went and
lived in Dubai for like 5 months and then found a school in England and went
there to study. And I came to Canada because it was more convenient to live
here and I wouldn’t have had to study in order to stay in the country because of
my better residential status so I could focus on my music more.
I’m sure that you have been exposed to many different styles of music
along the way. What genres do you feel have resonated the most with you,
and further to that, what would you say are your biggest influences?
Heavy metal music got me interested in music initially and I started playing
guitar. A lot of Scandinavian metal influenced me a lot especially Nightwish. Later
on a lot of classical and film music… Hans Zimmer, Jerry Goldsmith and stuff like
that influenced me a lot. When I was in England I got really into Nick Cave …
Portishead were really interesting too. While I was making the record i was
listening to a lot of Pink Floyd, Einturzende Neubauten and stuff like that.
From listening to your tracks, in particular “Black and Grey” you obviously
have a good grasp of the studio environment and sound design process.
What tools do you employ, and what makes up your studio?
I use Logic. I play the guitar and bass (i have a PRS and a warwick). That’s the
main part of the sound along with the microphones I use to record them and of
course my Engl amp which is great amplifier. and then for programming
orchestral, electronic, and percussive instruments I use a ton of different
softwares such as Kontakt, Omnisphere, Maschine. For Long Vivid Dream I only
used live instruments and soft synths… however I’ve got a bunch of cool analog
and modular synths recently that I can’t wait to use on the next record. I’ve got a
simple but very effective setup in the studio… four guitars a bass and guitar amp,
the audio interface which is an RME Fireface, I also use ribbon miss which are
quite rare most of the vocals on Poor Receipts are recorded with an m160 which
is a ribbon mic…. apparently cinderella’s voice was recorded with a ribbon mic as
well. and then the heart of it is my Adam S2x monitors which are amazing.
All of the tracks are very nicely constructed, almost like a tapestry. How do
you achieve this, and would you feel that its a pre-determined goal, or
something that develops throughout the writing and producing process?
My music is usually score-based so I write the skeleton of the songs as sheet
music before even touching my instruments. Once I’m done doing that which is
really what makes the song what it really is I dump it on logic and started
arranging it…. almost note by note. So I make sure everything and every note is
in the right place… I try avoiding picking up an instrument and just playing along
to the chords… makes for a generic sound which I’m sick of hearing on most
The scaling and alternate tunings give a dischordal feeling of turmoil
almost brooding; interestingly the track that suggests a happier emotion
(to me) is called “What Pain brings” certainly not what I would expect from
a track title like that. Would you describe yourself as a dark person?
I like darker songs the most. That’s what i like the most in music. The Omen
soundtrack is probably one of my favourite pieces of music for example. That’s
probably why my music sounds dark I guess… because dark songs are what I
like and enjoy the most in music…What Pain Brings’s intro is supposed to be
happy and gradually opening up for the second part of the song which is darker.
I’d still say it’s a very dark song… just more energetic than the rest. I think what
makes it sound a little light to most people is Jeff Bass’s performance…
especially the SH-101 it sorta amplifies the happiness in the intro but creates a
contrast to the dark atmosphere in the second section of the song. He’s knows
for his work with Eminem but he also played with George Clinton… he definitely
added an element of funk to the song and that was pretty much what I was going
for. I might release the version with my own bassline one day. It’s definitely
darker… quite different actually. I wouldn’t describe myself as a dark person.
After a number of listens now, my overall feeling is of an extremely deep
and complex piece, as in that the whole EP should be seen as a whole, not
just a collection of songs. In mind of this, what overall message do you
hope to portray through this piece?
I just want as many people as possible to listen to it and get a kick out of it. I also
hope people who listen to simplistic commercial pop or electronic which seems to
be all that’s available now to listen to it and get a kick out of it and hopefully be
encouraged to listen to better music… with all of its complexity I’d say it’s easy
listening… and that’s because it’s hard to write.
Discolor Blind’s new release “Long Vivid Dream” is released on September the 1st, and is available from their Bandcamp page
As well as being a reviewer for Echosynthetic, Jamie writes and produces synthpop/futuresynth as JJ.Christie
You can hear all his stuff here