On Meet The Artist, we want you to get to know the players on our label a bit better, so we ask them five questions -- some about music, some not -- and get them to tell us a little more about themselves, their tunes, and what goes on inside those creative brains.
What drove you to music?
Shak: The day I first saw “God”, I decided I wanted to make music. I was 19, having a psychedelic revelation with the Grateful Dead at a show, and I thought to myself “these are just regular dudes like me. I want to do that.” A couple of days later I picked up the dusty electric guitar I’d abandoned at age 14, unready for the physical pain I had to overcome to learn chords, and my friend taught me my first song (Wild Thing!). Soon after I learned my first scale and experienced what it’s like to solo, and that was it. I make music because it speaks the unspeakable and serves as the outlet for any emotion I have, right in the moment. What drove me then and now is my desire to commune with the Divine. It’s not uncommon to see me mid-jam with my eyes rolling back, just completely in it. Sometimes that comes out as sad, sometimes angry or confused, but most of the time it’s just plain fun and joy. Especially co-creating.
Mo: Some of my earliest memories include singing and playing made-up songs with my little brother. I was a wordy, extroverted child and he saw a percussive instrument in nearly every object, so the songs flowed naturally. We used to sing and play our tiny repertoire in the backyard, and I thought we were entertaining ourselves privately until a kid on the other side of the fence requested one of our usual songs. I was probably around 6 years old at the time, so my brother would have been 4. I suspect the needs for creative expression and self-soothing first drove me to music, but it feels like music has always been a core part of my experience.
How do you prepare to start making or working on music? Do you wait for inspiration to hit or do you tinker around until something strikes your fancy?
Shak: I’m definitely a tinkerer. The Jam is my Happy Place. Everything comes out of that.
Mo: I am extraordinarily deadline driven. I constantly find inspiration all around me, and it generates an endless amount of musical ideas, but those ideas often don't get developed into finished musical works until I'm under pressure.
Describe your workspace.
Shak: I recently built my own desk that I’m pretty jazzed on. I call it my Creation Station. It’s a standing desk with an amoeba-like shape and 3 monitors for the ultimate in visual and audio production, as well as the ability to stretch while I work.
Mo: A sizable chunk of my living room is dedicated to playing, composing, and recording music. It's maybe not the most adult presentation to have bass traps in the corners, turntables instead of a coffee table, and instruments lining some of the walls, but looking like an adult is overrated anyway.
What is your favourite instrument or piece of gear that you own?
Shak: That’s a really tough question. I guess I would have to say my most recent acquisition, a Studio Deluxe Gibson Songwriter I call Mrs. Shakiban, obviously is dear to me, though my Paul Reed Smith is like one of my limbs. I suppose if it came down to having to choose, The Mrs. would lose. (Did I just write a lyric?)
Mo: Yeah, I agree that's a tough call. I'm probably the most attached to a Charvel electric guitar that I saved up for when I was a teenager, but I have a closer active relationship with my Technics 1200s.
If you were a piece of furniture, what would you be?
Shak: At first I thought bed, but I think a really plush couch would be even better. Purple of course.
Mo: I love the idea of a sumptuous purple couch, but I'm probably more like a Murphy bed - snuggly that reserves the right to be stealthy.