Independent releases are sometimes a source of terrible production, of bad choices and unbalanced tracks. But there are these independently produced and released records that absolutely blow you away. Vly‘s first album ‘I / [Time]’ is a progressive album from the latter of those two. With the use of amazing progressive sounds and music, the band, united by guitarist and producer Karl Demata, takes steady aim at a high spot in the top ten of 2015. But how does working on a distance go with people from thee different countries? And is it possible to create an album entirely on your own?
First of all, congratulations on the new Vly album! It’s an amazing new record. How do you look back at the recoding process. Are you happy?
Well, thank you very much! I’m very happy because it took a lot of effort. It took way longer than I thought, mainly because I produced records in the past, never on my own in my own studio. At some point towards the end of last year I thought that this would be the great record that I’d never complete.
But then I spoke with a couple of friends, I called in a someone that’s a very good engineer and he helped me with the mixing. In the end it’s just normal that, if you work so long and so hard at this kind of things, you start to lose little bits of objectivity. You lose hold of the compass that tells you what’s good and what’s not. Having someone next to me to do the mixing really gave me a boost. It helped me with not going crazy about it!
You talked about the making of the record as if it was an unsure bet, but now that it’s out and everything is finished, do you think that you are winning?
Well, I don’t think that, in music, there is much winning or losing. It’s just the matter of how you feel. Do you feel satisfied and happy about the result? I almost regret using the word “winning” now. When it comes to life, especially in art, there is no winning or losing. There is only succeeding and feeling you achieved that you did what you can do.
Let’s just say that I’m satisfied because, the record is filled with lots of emotion. Some of which I was afraid they would be lost when working on a long distance. For me it took a long time before I listened to the record, because I was afraid it would be a little bit too much for me. Only now I think I could listen to it for the first time in a few months.
“But sometimes drummers are “just” drummers.
I don’t want to sound mean, I really don’t!”
So you knew the musicians and you just send them their parts to play? Or did you arrange a lot of things for them to do?
Well, that’s different for every case. With Keith (Gladysz) the singer in New York, we met, but never in person. I wanted to get someone that’s not in the prog scene. He had complete, 100 percent freedom to do what he wanted. At least eighty percent of the time I was very happy with what he sent back to me. Songs came back to me with a new life, so to speak.
Elisa (Montaldo, keyboards) was here a couple of times to work with me. She comes from a very different background. Italian prog musicians tend to work on things that are very complex. I always wanted to work with her, but also wanted to convince her to play something a little bit more simple. and regarding Chris (Heilmann, Bass). I have played many years in the past so I don’t even have to talk to him anymore.
The last piece was Mattias (Olsson, Drums) in Stockholm. When I sent him some stuff he told me he really liked it and if he could add his drums and some small things, like synthesizers. I was curious what he wanted to do, but I gave him the opportunity. He build up another element, another layer to the music. Sometimes drummers are “just” drummers. I don’t want to sound mean, I really don’t, but most of the time they understand a lot about the drums and not really about being a full on musician. Mattias is a musician, not only a drummer.
That’s another thing I want to add about this satisfaction, I definitely am, also because there is so much potential in this band that has not yet been touched.
“If you talk about bright as in successful on a commercial level,
I don’t know and, to a certain extend, I don’t really care”
So there is a bright future for Vly?
Well, I don’t know if there is a bright future, it depends on how you see “bright”. In terms of being creative, experiment with music, do things we like and enjoy what we are doing and each other’s contribution and personality? Yes, definitely bright! We feel that everything so far is successful, from the music to the graphics, everything has been great. So on this level it is already bright.
Then, if you talk about bright as in successful on a commercial level, I don’t know and to a certain extend I don’t really care. We are kind of self-sufficient. We don’t do things because we need to make a living, buy cars and all that. Most of us are beyond that and have been playing for a lot of time, so that’s not a big problem. It’s hard to deny that it’s nice to have good feedback, and have good feedback in sales so that we can do things better. It would also be great to have the possibility to tour, although it would be a bit harder with all band members coming from different countries. But we are working towards that!
The commercial feedback so far has been very good and probably beyond my expectations. I was a little bit afraid that someone would say that the production could have been a little bit better. But that hasn’t happened. That’s a very good point for me, fortunately.
There are a lot of strange and unique album titles out there these days. Where did you want to go with ‘I / [Time]’?
Well, a lot of times you put stuff in that you aren’t even aware of. Sometimes it makes sense to leave things open for interpretation, exactly for that reason. The original idea was to call the album “1” and you would use the roman number, which is basically the same as a capital I. It wasn’t particularly original, I knew that, but then again I don’t really care what’s original and what is not. Originality is the last of my concerns when making music.
Also, with the sound of the clock and with all the tracks that have to do something with it, time is going in and out of the album, so why wouldn’t we use it? And I said, let’s not call it “I Time”, but leave it open for interpretation. You could be reading it as “record number one, called Time”, but it’s almost like a mathematical equation, “one, over time” or “I, over time”. So I just thought it made more sense and it felt like there was more of an open-mindedness surrounding the album.
“Prog is not to be afraid of going the strange ways,
there will be no one saying that you’re not supposed to do that”
You talked about the clock, which was something I wanted to talk about as well. It’s only one of the more small, subtle elements you used on the album. Have you worked with these elements before? Is it something you like to use?
I think it’s something that I learned and developed during the production of this record. It’s something that somehow became part of the way I want to make music now. A very important part of the sound, for the future of the band as well. For me, prog is not a genre, it’s more of an attitude. Prog is not to be afraid of going the strange ways, not to be afraid to include a strange sound or including some jazz elements. There will be no one saying that you’re not supposed to do that. In this way of thinking you have total freedom, something that I think you don’t have in other kinds of music.
It’s great to have things that can be suggestions. People can listen to them and think about something different and feel something different. This is what music is about: making you feel something different, rather than make you think something. You don’t want me to tell you what to think, you want me to give me something to feel multiple ways. Listening to a song, because it matches the way you feel. Those little sounds from real life, people talking in the distance, or steps, or natural elements. Somehow these sounds can be filled with meanings, in a strange way.
So I was researching you, and Vly, but most information I could find was about Crippled Black Phoenix and some troubles between you and someone else. Have things change since last November?
What happened is, I have been in that band for six, seven years and it became pretty clear that we were growing apart. Not only musically, but also the way we think a band should be run. So me and Chris (Heilmann, Vly’s bass player) left and when something like that happens, emotions run high. People take these things different ways. Personally I don’t have any problem, whatever they do is fine. I had some great experiences with the band and met some really good musicians. Some of them are very good friends. What other people are thinking or saying is not in my control, I have moved ahead and concentrated on Vly and other plans and ideas. I’m teaching more music now and that has been keeping me very busy.
But has the trouble that surrounded you leaving Crippled Black Phoenix influenced you working with other musicians?
No, actually I just moved on. By then, the Vly album was basically done. There was no direct influence on that process. Of course, I had a great time in that band and I have been influenced by that band a lot. Obvious, if you play in a band for so many years, that’s normal. I don’t think there is a direct influence.
To come back at the touring aspect, there are a lot of bands with widespread musicians that never hit the road with their music. Are you planning on touring with Vly?
Yes! We are planning and willing to tour with Vly, even if we have to fly (not Vly) three people from thee different continents before we can meet. There are some plans and offers in consideration already. We will be very cautious and we don’t want to be in the position that we have to make four, or five, or six thousand pounds to break even. We want to keep everything one hundred percent into our own control and work at our own pace. Things have to be done the right way. This means that we are not going to jump on the first occasion that someone asked us to play there. It’s just a matter of making it happen and it’s going to happen, for sure. We have to take a couple of months just to make it happen.
Is there something that I missed, something that the readers have to know?
I think we covered quite a lot. The most important message will be that living as a musician is very exciting and somehow, from the outside, it’s also very glamorous. But from inside it’s more like sitting in front of a computer all night, by yourself. You need a lot of dedication and passion and if someone got something out of the effort we made, then we all think it was absolutely worth it.
Vly’s debut album ‘I / [Time]’ is out now and available on their website