For his sophomore full-length album, LA-based Bassist/Producer/Composer Sam Wilkes is prompted with ten questions from Leaving Records community mentor & facilitator Carlos Niño.
1. Carlos: Prior to gathering and setting up in the Studio
for the Recording Sessions that this record is sculpted from,
how much did you talk with any of your collaborators?
What did you talk about? What kind of direction,
inspiration, example, or association did you give, if any?
Wilkes: i told Christian Euman
“I want to make a double drum record with you”
The thought had occurred to me
after seeing a few shows in New Orleans in 2019.
“If you could record it with any other drummer who would it be?”
he responded quite instantly:
“Greg Webster” (AKA GREG PAUL)
in one 4 hour session
we recorded 3 different improvisational pieces …
and a chart of mine
this album is
the 2nd of those 3 improvisations
I spent a lot of time
living with that 40 minute musical block of granite,
getting to know it,
how to connect
the frame-able moments
after 5 to 6 months
Jacob Mann and Chris Fishman
record over the piece separately.
I offered very little instruction to them,
I read an interview
of Gerhard Richter & Hans Ulbrich Obrist
“Lives of the Artists, Lives of the Architects”
excellent use of Helvetica on the cover.
They discuss Richter’s process
destroying his own work
to find something new in it.
I had an epiphany.
the possibility of
with the intent of creating contingency
through destroying the audio of specific sections of this 40 minute piece
to discover new music(s) in the process.
I contacted Ethan Braun:
“What other musicians and artists
Besides Stockhausen and Cage,
got into a similar kind of process?”
He sent me:
Pierre Schaefer, Kazuo Shiraga, and Butch Morris.
with my past research on Phillip Guston, and Richter.
I organized and prepared for
my process in collaboration
with Chris Sorem
to see it through
2. Carlos: What went into your choice to have 2 Trap Drummers
on this record? Had Christian and Greg ever met?
Had they ever played together before?
Wilkes: New Orleans
April 2019 with Jacob Mann.
Fried chicken wings being sold outside.
Brass band performing “for the love of you” by the Isley brothers
what an arrangement
I am ecstatic
Band had 2 drummers playing marching snare drums
One drummer on kick and cymbal.
Christian and Greg
had not played together formally
but had always wanted to…
It was special to witness .
all of our first time playing with others
Since, you know.
The situation and concept of the session,
To do one tune and spend the rest of the time just playing
Was a release..
listening back in the control room
3. Carlos: How did you come to choose the Studios that you
worked in for this record? The Musicians and Instruments?
Wilkes: i’ve always respected loyalty.
It feels like a hug.
I frequent Nest Recorders
and I frequent Lucy’s Meat Market.
I knew Jacob Mann
what to do
After hearing his take
I realized this additional opportunity:
Chris Fishman on an ARP-2600
4. Carlos: Please tell us how you feel about, Richter: "Surprises always emerge,"
Wilkes: how lucky i am
to discover for myself
that this is true.
5. Carlos: In what ways did the Improvisations that you
and your group played, (that You Produced & Arranged
this record from,) begin? A look, a word, a gesture?
Wilkes: i hit play
on a maestro rhythm king.
I got lucky
with the tempo.
I played a chord progression
that I had written a few years ago
to say to christian and greg:
Jacob said yes
Chris Fishman and I
with Pete Min
at Lucy’s meat market
Chris playing his heart out.
we’d drive around my neighborhood
2-3 o’clock in the morning
to this music
discussing the arrangements
where to cut the fat,
where to chew.
Chris Fishman was so important
in this album’s completion.
Chris Sorem and me
At nest recorders
Playing with tape
So much gear set up
Only half of it used.
Destroying and discovering
No time to waste to
hear something new
6.Carlos: What does "One Theme" mean to You?
Wilkes: 8 bar
harmonic and melodic passage
7. Carlos: How does this new record make You feel?
Wilkes: i see orange!
8. Carlos: Was everyone set up in the same room, or in
multiple rooms within each Studio?
Nest Recorders: SW, CE, GP
Jacob Mann’s Apartment in Alhambra: JM
Lucy’s Meat Market: CF, SW
9. Carlos: How has your sound, concept, approach been changing,
evolving, metamorphosing, from your perspective?
Wilkes: for me to know
And you to find out.
I practice everyday
sometimes, I write just as much
Sometimes I don’t
Sometimes im sculpting
chipping away at music
Hoping to find something
Sometimes I forget
Sometimes im tired.
Sometimes im watching or reading the lord of the rings
Hopefully I’m improving
Hopefully I can be present
I want to be compassionate and not so hard on myself.
10. Carlos: Please tell us something special, to You,
about the making of this record.
Wilkes: The album title is exactly what the album is.
i am unbelievably thankful
for the people who made this record with me.
lucky to collaborate with them.
lucky to know them:
I love you all,
Full Harvest Moon