From the glacial waters of the holy Ganges in India, the writing of 13th century Persian mystics, to the ancient Earth worship ceremonies of the British Isles, Vesica Pisces draws inspiration from across the globe in a tapestry of sound, breaking down genre barriers to create a truly unique musical experience. Weaving eastern-tinged guitar, cinematic layers of strings, exotic traditional percussion with downtempo beats, deep melodic bass lines, sound collage and design with soaring vocals, Vesica Pisces aspire to make music that is timeless, powerful, emotive and enchanting.
What exactly is the Vesica Pisces Project?
Vesica Pisces are a 6-piece band blending traditional acoustic instruments with cutting-edge electronica.
Their music has a message, one of contemplation, a push to explore our directions in our search for what is truly sacred, for meaning, cross-cultural appreciation and inspiration
How did you maintain your focus and drive for the seven years it took to record your album?
There was a strong vision from the beginning. Although we were tempted along the way to take shortcuts, we stayed true to the vision that we had, which was to create something that we would be proud of in the years to come, something that would be timeless. The music guided us along the way. We were servants to it really. The album itself is very grand, cinematic and an ambitious undertaking for us. The project has required massive perseverance and patience. A profound journey of commitment, surrender, initiation, dedication, upskilling, breathing, of not knowing and trusting, and being led by a fire within that has forged this creative offering. We also really supported one another along the way.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
A lot of the material has come through moments of insight, of awe, and the exploration of the mystery, the unseen. Within this album there are songs inspired by elements around the globe. Life is our inspiration and, in turn, this is our offering to life, this is how we can feed the gods with our eloquence.
What is it about Middle Eastern music that resonates with you? Is it the relationship to the sacred? Is it something we crave, do you think?
We love the rhythmic elements of Middle Eastern music, both the timings and the sounds of the instrumentation that is used. We feel that the traditional music of the Middle East also draws on the inspiration of the mystical realms, so yes, the artful expression of the divine mystery is very resonant. Deep down everyone craves ceremony, ritual, togetherness, experiences of transcendence. We are all hungry for it. Art is a vehicle for this, which taps into this innate human need that is beyond cultural dogmas and religious beliefs. We definitely feel that we have a responsibility to inspire with our art.
Who were the players you took into the studio? How did the music change and evolve over the recording process?
We co-produced the album with Ben Last and Avishai Barnatan, drawing on their strengths in the realms of sound design and composition. Their unique abilities have brought the best out in this project. We had our core players, Jason Karabash, Brook Rees, Elvis Callaghan, and Rebekah Ray, and were joined by some of the best musicians of the area, including Cye Wood, Yohai Cohen, Pete Wilkins, Tahir Qawwal, Avishai Barnatan and Shai Shriki.
The biggest evolution and change came from the electronic and rhythmic elements. The acoustica were pretty much prepared. Each song was a journey, some more effortless than others. There were tracks that we wrote the rhythm section three or four times before arriving to the place that was ‘right’. It was a real challenge building beats, layered with multiple percussion instruments, and doing so in a way that didn’t take away from one another.
Was there much difference between the concept of what you started out with and the finished product? How open do you negotiate that gap between maintaining a vision and being an open channel to new ideas?
The finished product is better, more rich than the initial vision. We were really organised. Lots of reference tracks, massive spreadsheets, creative workshopping that we would talk through for hours upon hours about how the track would evolve and what elements would support that. Every night we would review the day’s work and note everything that needed tweaking for the next session.
As we worked, we had an agreement to try everything out before discarding it. At times there were four producers in the studio so you can imagine that there were moments where we well and truly went off on a tangent. With music, art in general, you have to be open to making mistakes. Some of the best outcomes come from that. And it is one of the most rewarding things about being a creative. As producers, we needed to hold the vision and remain open, receptive and nonjudgmental to each moment. If we can succeed at that, the magic keeps flowing.
How does this album translate to the stage?
This is something that we have been working on for a while, and we feel that we have finally found our feet. As musicians, it has been important for us to play live, not to a backing track like so many producers do these days. We have woven in lots of samples into the rhythm section and also the singer uses live-triggered samples to bring a lot of the evolving sound design elements to the stage. We also have a string section, so the string arrangements throughout the album are beautifully captured live. All together is makes for a very immersive experience live.
What should we expect for your Byron Community Centre show and album launch?
It will be a very special evening of music, ritual and celebration as we launch our debut album. The event falls on the summer solstice, so it is a time for everyone to enjoy the harvest of the year. The night will begin with a chocolate cacao ceremony guided by Jemma Gawned, who holds impeccable space as priestess, followed by Cave in the Sky, which is a project formed by multi-instrumentalist Cye Wood. He is one of our favourite artists, so it is an honour to share the evening with Cave in the Sky. Vesica Pisces will be playing the music from the album, and will be joined by many of the guest artists including Tahir Qawwal, Avishai Barnatan, Shai Shriki and Murray Kyle. There will be dance performances by Travers Ross and Ikaiou Raven and visuals by Deep Time Media. The making of the album would not have been possible without the support of so many people in the community, so we look forward to sharing this special moment with you all.
Byron Community Centre, Thursday 21 December. Tix are $25 and available at byroncentre.com.au