The main area of influence for this project was the Palm Desert scene, which includes a group of bands and musicians from Palm Desert in Southern California. Traditionally, the music from this scene is played with drums, guitar and bass. Vocals are part of it sometimes, but it does include a lot of instrumental ‘free jams’. So, in the two songs I have recorded so far, I have used only the typical instruments that are used and had one song include vocals and one without. I did this to position myself in the song writing mentality of musicians in the scene I am attempting to emerge myself into. This scene has become popular because of bands like Queens of the Stone Age – a band who saw more mainstream success than any other band from the scene.
The scene is famous for its outdoor gigs – often in the desert as the name would suggest. This scene is still alive and well today and the reason for its success is the relationship between musicians and fans. The fans never paid to see these bands in the desert and there were no barriers or security. There was trust and loyalty and I believe this is why this scene has been successful – the respect everyone has. Bands would take all of their gear out into the desert, plug it into generators and play all night to a crowd of about one hundred people. What draws me to this idea is the feeling of travelling out into the desert with your friends and staying there all night – miles away from any civilisation. You would listen to the music and each individual person, although being in the same place listening to the same music, has a different experience – a different journey. This is where the comparison with my project and this scene happens. I wanted to capture that feeling of being out in the middle of nowhere and experiencing a personal journey.
A main influence from the Palm Desert scene is Brant Bjork. He has played in various bands including Kyuss and Fu Manchu who are both big names within the scene. However, like me, he wanted to have a break from that and create his own ‘trip’ as he puts it. In a two part documentary about his first solo album ‘Jalamanta’, he talks about his motives and routines around the time of the album.
This is very similar to my project. He talks about recording some grooves and beats and riding around on his bike during sunset to see if they worked. Again, it was all about the journey and the ride the music took you on. He says it’s not urban music but instead it is simple, approachable music from a small town and people in small towns across the world can relate to that – similar to Cwmbran. The album ‘Jalamanta’ has acted as a major influence for me in both the ideas behind it and the style of music.
On a smaller scale and out of my usual circle comes another project I came across that happened recently. From Coventry, the two piece band Cofa Tree created a track that is an ode to their home city. They say it’s about living there and what it has to offer. On top of that, it was recorded as part of a soundtrack to an upcoming film. They say the music has sold really well. So, I can learn from this as it is a home grown, organic project that combines audio and visual, and focuses on home.