Recently, I had the opportunity to review a new album by Sluka. It’s called Colorful Radiation. And it blew me away because it’s so different from most of the music I review. And the differences are significant. Sluka’s music is intense and stylish, displaying an accumulation of sonic cogency that is redoubtable.
So I contacted his PR people and asked if he might, maybe, consent to an interview. He said, yes. Whoohoo! I believe you’ll find him as engaging as I did. Read and enjoy.
What is the most trouble you’ve ever gotten into?
Great question! And if I had a criminal defense lawyer I’m certain I would be advised not to answer that great question.
What’s your favorite song to belt out in the car or the shower?
I don’t belt out songs like that. I never have. I guess the voices in my head are loud enough.
What kind of guitar do you play? And why?
On this album, for the first time I got a Fender Strat (for the bright sound and whammy bar) and a Godin semi acoustic for the percussive and muted string qualities, and it can survive my abusive/rhythmic technique.
It’s my understanding that you played all of the instruments on your new album. How did you become so proficient on so many instruments?
That is true. However, I’m not a virtuoso on any of them. As I alluded to in my answer to your second question, I hear the voices, lyrics, instruments, and arrangements in my head all at the same time. For this album it all came to me in less than a month, from start to finish, and in the order that it was recorded. It was very much like when you have a song stuck in your head and you can’t get rid of it, only these were all original songs … quite inexplicable. I then had to get the new instruments (ukelele, trumpet, trombone, French horn,) that I didn’t already have and with my other instruments (drums, guitars, bass, piano, synth, violin) I would practice the parts until I could duplicate what I was hearing in my head. That took about another month of rehearsing. And then in a frenzy of insane expression, I began recording the tracks, usually beginning with drums or piano. It was important to me, that in order to get the right emotion and energy that I perform each part from start to finish without edits (punch-ins) and in the first or second take, if possible, with no use of auto-tune or other crutches. Some might say without the use of those tricks and gimmicks it may not sound as polished as it could. But that’s what I love about it … honest, emotion. I was able to complete the recording in less than a month. I was driven, and by the end I was exhilarated, but exhausted, and very anxious to raise awareness to this new music. I’d like to add that I work with many musicians when I perform “live” and also sometimes in the studio. It’s just easier for me, as the songwriter, to record what I already hear rather than try to convey that to another musician. Furthermore, many musicians have a style of their own that, while interesting and impressive, may not actually be the best way to express the song and album. I’m very lucky to live and work in a fully equipped studio. It’s also more convenient for me to record the tracks whenever I want rather than schedule and rehearse with another musician. And I already know how the part should be played. So, I play, I challenge myself, I break down, freak out, and scream. But sometimes, when everything is just right … I feel that sense of resonance … and it gets recorded!
What singers/musicians influenced you the most?
The Beatles … and probably just about everything I’ve ever heard, seen, felt, and experienced.
How do your influences affect and shape your music?
Everything we experience in life, good, bad, and indifferent, affects us all deeply whether consciously or subconsciously in ways we may never be aware. I just try not to be too self-conscious about it.
How would you describe your style of music?
As an admirer of The Beatles, I would call it rock because it encompasses so many diverse elements.
Where do you find inspiration for your songs?
I don’t find it. It finds me. Forgive me if that sounds trite. But it’s true. I’ve never sat down to specifically write a song. For better or worse, it usually just appears in my head.
What is your songwriting process? Do the lyrics come first, followed by the music? Or vice versa?
It’s all pretty much simultaneous.
I really like your new album Colorful Radiation. How did you select the songs that were included on the album?
Thank you! As explained earlier, it simply appeared, in the order, with a cohesive thread throughout. That is why we (Eric Bishop is the director) are making a 3D visual album that will be more like a film instead of individual videos. Each song is like a chapter in a story. And like chapters in a book, each one is necessary to convey not only the story but also the overall message: Find the beauty within the horrors of your wonderful life.
How have your fans and reviewers responded to Colorful Radiation? Has the response been positive?
Yes, which is a relief. I’m so close to it I can’t be objective. I have a very strong ethic not to suck. I hate it when an artist, any artist, just goes through the motions or focuses on just a single and the rest of the album is “filler.”
Are you happy with the way the album came together?
Yes, but it’s more like relief … releasing the demons. Lyrically it is very timely and yet I feel it may stand the test of time. I found the entire experience extraordinarily cathartic.
Who produced the album?
That would be me. I’m not opposed to working with a talented producer. But they would need to challenge me more than I do myself.
Will you be touring any time soon?
I love performing under the right conditions. You could say I’ve paid my dues playing small clubs for decades, etc. What I enjoy most is performing at festivals and larger venues, especially for people who came to see someone else, and then hope they are pleasantly surprised. Fortunately that has almost always been the case. My favorite question I get after a show is “Why aren’t you more famous?” My response is that I kind of prefer it that way.
Are you working on any new songs?
I can’t stop the voices. They are like demons who will not be satisfied until they have been freed and immortalized.
Did you study music in a formal setting or pick it up on your own?
At first I picked it up by listening to albums and trying to imitate what I heard. Then I thought it might be a good idea to get some more formal and classical training to see if it might take my playing to a higher level, which I did for a few months on guitar, piano, and violin. But then I realized I was more interested in trying to free those demons of my own doing.
Find out more about Sluka here.