An Interview With Jason Anthony Gomez
A fresh EP release from Jason Anthony Gomez brings a cinematic synth soire to life with beautifully layered textured sounds and orchestrated strings along with swelling pads and all percussion that all come together to create an atmosphere that stands alone.
The Beauty Beyond The Divide EP is absolutely lush with massive soundscapes that paint vivid pictures and are all woven with a masterful technique that showcases the artist's experience as a keyboardist and songwriter.
Each track on the EP has a sort of life of its own and tells its own story with melody, rhythm, and digital sounds that all have a naturally warm tonality to them.
These tracks are tastefully put together and they do serve well as a score to films right out of the 80's at times.
A killer variety and array of sounds are used throughout the records course and you never know what fresh sound to expect next but you do know that it will be able to hook you in.
These songs have some light percussion and it amplifies the rhythmic swing of the songs and at times gives added feels as you hear the sounds of synthesized drops whisking around you.
There is something incredibly welcoming and almost warming even when you listen through the EP and its quite a musical journey.
The songs feel like they connect together like a concept album.
The record is instrumental but displays a good amount of passion and emotion through sound and at times can cause memories of your own to start popping into your head.
This was an outstanding and tasteful piece of work and with such an in depth release, we wanted to have a talk with Gomez about this record and a few other things as well.
Here's what happened
TSWS: Let's start off with the Beauty Beyond The Divide EP. This record has a colorful array of soundscapes and textures. Where did this EP come from?
I spent most of 2020 writing these one-minute electronic vignettes that I called “Mini-Tracks.” I used them as a method to explore new musical ideas and to build my compositional skills, especially in the electronic medium. Before working on these short pieces I hadn’t really considered myself an electronic composer, so this was all pretty new to me.
I would spend a day or two focusing on a melodic, rhythmic, or timbral concept and build a track around that. Whatever I would come up with in that span of time I would share on my Instagram. I found releasing these Mini-Tracks to be very beneficial to my growth and by the end of that year I made enough mini-tracks to release them as an album. I still write Mini-Tracks and will release this year’s pieces as an album as well.
Fast-forward to this summer, I took some of the ideas I uncovered last year with my Mini-Tracks and used them to write longer format works. The result is this EP, Beauty Beyond the Divide.
TSWS: I am hearing some different and alluring musical styles on this. Who are some of your biggest musical influences?
Violin is a huge part of my life. I’ve played since I was young and it is a significant portion of my income to this day. Being in that I am constantly exposed to a wide range of composers like J.S. Bach, Claude Debussy, Dave Brubeck, and John Coltrane. Studying music in college is where I got my first exposure to the early electronic pioneers like Morton Subotnik, Milton Babbit, and Wendy Carlos.
So, that experience plays a role in the decisions I make. For example if you listen to the fourth track, It Isn’t a Matter of Forgetting, you can hear my interpretation of what you might find in a Bach Prelude, and I wouldn’t have thought of exploring something like that if I hadn’t been exposed to Wendy Carlos’ genius work interpreting Bach’s work with synthesizers in the 60’s and 70’s. I also highly recommend her album, Sonic Seasonings. Brilliant ambient work.
I also really love rock/alt bands. I grew up listening to a lot of the classic groups like The Beach Boys. When you listen to Scintillations from the Anza-Borrego you can hear just how much I love the album Pet Sounds. I am also heavily inspired by Radiohead and Gorillaz; I’ve spent countless hours listening to their albums.
TSWS: So, how did all of this start for you?
I’ve been writing music since high school, mostly for small classical chamber ensembles. After I graduated college, it was difficult to find time to build a solid portfolio of music. I was too unorganized to figure it out unfortunately.
In the meantime I picked up an elementary teaching position. I did that for five years and it had its good moments. I even began writing more consistently throughout my education career, but in the end I decided I wanted to dedicate my time to making music. So, after I saved enough money from my teaching gig, I left. That was in 2020… and it just so happened to coincide with the Coronavirus Pandemic and consequent lockdowns. At the time, I didn’t see it probable to write and record much for live ensembles and that’s when I started to focus on electronic music as an outlet.
TSWS: What's next for you as an artist? Anything new in the works even now?
Only ideas at the moment. I will likely spend a good portion of 2022 just writing and exploring new ideas that I can use later. I am going to return to writing chamber music with the intent of organizing a concert for it. Pertaining to electronic music, I will focus on sketching out ideas that will become a full-length album for 2023, and that will likely involve investing in new gear and learning how to fold my violin into all of it.
TSWS: How do you write your songs? Do you have a home studio?
I do have a home studio. It doesn’t have a ton of gear just yet. In fact all of the instruments and sounds on this EP are designed within Ableton Live 9 software, but the goal is to continue adding little by little.
For this album there was a lot of building a track around a really cool instrument or rhythmic pattern that I designed, but there was also a lot of “pencil and paper” type of writing as well. I would come up with a riff or beat on Ableton and then compose the melody and counter melodies in Sibelius. Tracks 2 and 3 were written almost entirely in notation first and then translated over to the Ableton software later.
TSWS: Do you produce your own stuff?
I produce/write everything. As for the mixing and mastering I reached out to my good friend Emile Antonell over at Back Bricks Studio. He really helped my EP get polished and professional. Thanks, Emile!
TSWS: What are you doing when you're NOT working on music?
I love to cook. Since my partner and I left our teaching jobs we rarely eat out and we instead take turns prepping meals. It works out for our budget and health, and I get to further explore something that I have always loved doing. While I cook I can listen to music or podcasts or I can just be in my thoughts reaffirming my priorities for the week.
I also love reading. Island by Aldous Huxley inspired a couple of the track titles on the EP. Anything history focused I get really absorbed by. There is a fantastic book I read last year that was about Shostakovich’s 7th Symphony and the Siege of Leningrad called Symphony for the City of the Dead by M. T. Anderson and it just blended all of these interests I have into one book. It was a really great read.
TSWS: Who are you listening to right now?
The symphony I play in just finished performing Dvorak 9. So, I was studying that piece a lot in September/October. I’ve also been enjoying his Piano Quartets. He’s one of my all-time favorite composers, so it’s easy to get lost in his work.
I’ve also been listening to Japanese Breakfast’s work on the indie game Sable. I don’t know her other stuff too well, but I was recommended this album by a family member and have been in love with the music. I will definitely be listening to more of her work soon.
TSWS: Are you putting any thought to live performances anytime soon? How would you do live shows if you did?
I haven’t considered performing any of my electronic music live any time soon. I am comfortable leaving this EP as a headphone experience for now. However, I think one way to have fun performing these tracks would be to rework them to incorporate both classical and electronic instruments and turn the songs into a more intimate experience. I wrote the 3rd track, An Abundance of Mozart and Fresh Peaches, to somewhat resemble a woodwind quintet orchestration. That one would translate well, but it would be cool to reverse engineer the other tracks to work with a similar orchestration as well. Brenden Eder Ensemble does a really good job with this type of experience.
TSWS: Have you ever thought about pitching your stuff for film or TV?
I have! I just haven’t really investigated how to go about it just yet. I am still working on building a solid portfolio, but it is on my to-do list. I would really love a shot at writing for video games too.
TSWS: Before we go, what would you like to say to fans of the music?
Beauty Beyond the Divide is my way of saying that there is so much potential, joy, and, of course, beauty to be shared if we shelve our egos and see each other as human beings worthy of kindness and respect regardless of our beliefs or political alignments. Our communities have been scarred by polarisation and divisiveness, and we all have the power to not contribute to that culture any longer. It is a conscious decision that must be made daily, but I believe it is very possible to make that change together.
To my fans, this EP is for you guys. Thank you so much for your support these last couple of years. I hope there is something within my music that inspires joy and compassion in your life. Enjoy.