HALLOWE'EN 10/31/16 * SBS#8

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Video by moontroll; photos by Jason Ruvelson

DJ Playaduster's BHAKTI BASS series

DJ Playaduster / Live Yogaflow & Dream it Real Sessions



DJ Playaduster's chill-out set from the Dream It Real event in Bellingham, WA on October 18, 2014. A blend of music from Mickey Hart, Bluetech, Citta Flow, DJ Drez and others, perfect for shivasana, lucid dreaming, meditation and other forms of relaxation. Artwork by Adam Scott Miller.

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DJ Playaduster's yoga flow set from the Dream It Real event in Bellingham, WA on October 18, 2014. A dreamy-yet-energetic blend of music from DJ Drez, Dirtwire, Dub Kirtan All-Stars, MC Yogi, Eccodek, sun:monk, Subaqueous, Soulular, Soulacybin and others. Perfect for the studio or home practice!

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DJ Fundi's view of the Dream it Real yoga practice at Om Culture in Seattle:

Rob Noble / Live at EVERGREEN 5/3/14



Seattle's Rob Noble live at
Sacred Bass Sessions #5: EVERGREEN in Bellingham/Cascadia on May 3, 2014.

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DJ Urn / Live at EVERGREEN 5/3/14

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Vancouver BC's DJ Urn live at Sacred Bass Sessions #5: EVERGREEN in Bellingham/Cascadia on May 3, 2014. More of
Arron's exquisite yoga-flow mixes at
https://soundcloud.com/urndj



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Jedi Training Camp / Live at EVERGREEN 5/3/14



Jedi Training Camp live at
Sacred Bass Sessions #5: EVERGREEN in Bellingham/Cascadia on May 3, 2014. More of
James' funky-as-hell glitch-hop goodness at
https://soundcloud.com/jeditrainingcamp


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Plantrae / Live at BALANCE 3/21/14

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Plantrae live at
Sacred Bass Sessions #4: BALANCE in Bellingham/Cascadia on the Spring Equinox 2014. More of Zak's earthy-yet-ethereal music at https://soundcloud.com/plantrae.



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Goopsteppa / Live at BALANCE 3/21/14


Alex Goopsteppa live at Sacred Bass Sessions #4: BALANCE in Bellingham/Cascadia on the Spring Equinox 2014. More Goop at https://www.facebook.com/Goopsteppa.

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Ninjamonk / Live at BALANCE 3/21/14



Ninjamonk live at Sacred Bass Sessions #4: BALANCE in Bellingham/Cascadia on the Spring Equinox 2014. (This is a partial set, first few tracks got cut off due to user error!)


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Drumspyder / Live at HEARTBEAT 2/14/14

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Drumspyder of Oakland, CA playing the headlining set at Sacred Bass Session: HEARTBEAT at Presence Studio in Bellingham / Cascadia on February 14, 2014.


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Micheal Manahan / Live at SOULSTICE 12/21/14

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The legendary DJ Michael Manahan of Seattle, WA playing the closing set at Sacred Bass Session: SOULSTICE at Presence Studio in Bellingham / Cascadia on December 21, 2013.


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Subaqueous / Live at SOULSTICE 12/21/14

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Visionary electronic composer and musician Subaqueous of Seattle, WA playing the opening set at Sacred Bass Session: SOULSTICE at Presence Studio in Bellingham / Cascadia on December 21, 2013.



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Skytree / Live at Sonic Blossom / Artist Profile

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Evan Snyder, aka Skytree, is a DJ / producer based in New York. He has been making electronic compositions for a decade, releasing nine albums including Knotwork, Wilder Forest, Windings of the Dragon Track, Sacred Singularity and a compilation of his music remixed by friends and fellow producers entitled Treemixes Volume One. Skytree's sound resists definition, as it blends together found sounds from urban and nature soundscapes, ethereal vocals, percussion and live instrumentation, dark synths and layers upon layers of winding, warping, luscious, low-end bass vibrations. His peers include other Sacred Bass purveyors including Kalya Scintilla, Soulacybin, Erothyme, Space Jesus, Shwex, Whitebear, Aligning Minds and other visionary sound shamans who carefully craft bass music full of momentum, magic, mystery and intention.

His profile is on the rise as he has been playing a variety of transformational festivals and shows around the country, including Gratifly, Prism, Stilldream, 3DL, Autumnal Equinox at the Chapel of Sacred Mirrors, Surreal and tour support for The Polish Ambassador, Kaminanda and others.

Last October, Skytree played a genre-defining set at Sonic Blossom at Cervantes in Denver, Colorado.
Sacred Bass Sessions and Destination Burning Man are stoked to present an exclusive remixed and remastered version of the show, which includes a look ahead to his forthcoming 2014 release, Cirrus Sapiens. Inspired and intrigued by Evan's unique and moving sound, as well as the ideas and ethos that he broadcasts via his active social media presence, we engaged him in a lengthy interview to find out more about what is happening behind the music.




Free download. Subscribe to the Sacred Bass podcast feed for future exclusive mixes!

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INTERVIEW

Sacred Bass Sessions: Who were some of your musical influences growing up, and what’s something about your musical background that most people might not know about you?

Skytree: Since I was young I’ve listened to a pretty wide range of stuff and had influences from a lot of genres, many of which I’ve incorporated into my music at different times. In one of our emails you asked about Jazz, folk music, and Led Zeppelin, which was funny because I love all three. When I was little we used to listen to a pretty eclectic range of stuff on long road trips, or on my dad’s turntable by the fire. Sometimes it would be classic country western (I’m talking dusty old time cowboy music), other times it’d be New Age ambient meditation albums, Motown or progressive psychedelic Celtic folk rock. Electronic and atmospheric sounds were always my favorite though. In my teens I really got into industrial, drum and bass, IDM, dub, and 90’s breakbeat.

Something I haven’t mentioned in past interviews is that I really loved singing from an early age (in addition to banging around on pots and pans). I was really active in choir during middle school and high school, as well as several musicals, and did pretty well quite a few times at state competitions, that kind of thing. The only trouble is that I’m not particularly good at it now to be honest! I haven’t practiced in ages, outside of doing aums at my shows, chanting or singing ridiculous songs in the morning. So, I’m kinda intimidated by putting my voice back into my music. I have a few times, but it’s been looped and warped to make it more of an abstract expression. Using my own vocals again regularly is something that has to happen at just the right time and way.

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SBS: What kind of films have had the greatest impact on you? What cultural leaders have influenced your thinking, from a childhood or adult perspective?

Skytree: This probably won’t come as a surprise to anyone, but 80’s kids fantasy/sci-fi movies like the Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, the NeverEnding Story and the Explorers were a huge influence when I was a kid. Star Wars is of course pretty high up there as well. I’ve always loved movies that portray a dark strangeness in surreal beauty, using models and puppets over CGI…this aesthetic preference influences my music quite a bit actually. 

Speaking of which, I recently had the opportunity to see the original model of the Tyrell Corporation (from Blade Runner), and must have sat there staring at all of the detail for about 20 minutes. Even though it was only half my size in real life, the model instantaneously transported me to post-future Los Angeles; it was as striking an experience as listening to a great piece of music. That kind of realism is one of the reasons I almost always use some kind of organic backdrop for each track. I don’t want it to sound sterile. I want it to sound alive, like the mix or track might get up and walk off into the forest. The goal is to make sure that the musical experience and atmosphere seem real because they are real, not something entirely generated in a machine.

So, while I could definitely cite a number of incredible historical figures that have inspired and developed who I am, I suppose the person that comes to mind right now is Jim Henson. He invented a profound way to help open and expand the imaginations of millions of people, by showing them imaginary worlds rendered in real substance. The best part is that my appreciation for him just expanded even more as an adult, after leaning more about who he was and what he achieved.


Mr. Rodgers and Bob Ross would be two other examples — childhood heroes that, later on, you discover were actually even more amazing than you could have perceived as a kid. To know they accomplished what they did in this complicated world is profoundly inspiring. It’s an interesting psychological counterexample to the let-down we can often feel as we grow older and come to grips with a larger world rife with perceived disappointments, challenges and losses.


They’re just some of the many individuals that help to remind me and so many of us that it is truly possible to be a great person and do great things with great purpose.

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SBS: You do a lot of field recording, collecting sounds from the world that you later incorporate in to your music. Can you talk about that process and some of the more unusual sounds or surprising discoveries that you’ve made in translating them in to music?


Skytree: Some producers like to design their own sounds from scratch, which I think is super fun and respectable, but I usually prefer to use what’s already around me. In a way, it’s an ongoing conversation with my environment. It helps me discover something new about it, and about myself. It’s a nice excuse to get out in the woods too, like birdwatching or foraging. But instead of foraging for food, I’m foraging for sounds (well, sometimes food too). It’s also rather handy that nature will never sue you for sampling her infinite sound library, not to mention superbly weird and intriguing. 

For example, I recently discovered that the tiny curls of bark attached to a birch tree become surprisingly musical in cold weather. If you pluck them on a winter day, they sound a bit like a marimba or thumb piano. So, if you break off tiny bits and play them right, you can actually tune them, and create a little song in the woods. I recorded a bunch of these recently and built them into a track, and had a blast doing it. (I’ll leave it up to listeners to decide which track it is.)

To be fair though, whenever I need to tweak a natural sound or create something new, I have no problem whatsoever using Melodyne. It’s become one of my best software friends lately, due to its super powerful ability to analyze and manipulate pitches and timing in pretty much any recording I drop into it. Even if I fully understood the Fourier transform wizardly involved, it would probably still seem like magic. 

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SBS: Walk us through your creation of a song. Where do they start? How do they begin to take shape? When do you know it is finished?

Skytree: My previous answer about the birch bark is actually a pretty good example of where I’ll often start on a track. It’s usually from one particular genesis point, like hearing a new bird call, getting a new instrument that I want to explore in a dozen different ADHD directions, or from a beat or a melody that spills out of my brain in the morning. Sometimes it’s a dream, or just a particular feeling. So, if I start there with that first ember, the rest of the sounds tend to fire up rather naturally. 

In addition to field recordings and organic sounds, I also still love to build sounds from scratch on occasion and use odd bits of gear, which I’ll usually sample for a few hours at a time and dump into a sample library to cut up and rearrange in any given project. I like the jam approach to audio when working with gear, rather than being really precise about it. It helps me focus more on the moment and the physical hardware itself.

As far as completion goes, I usually know a track is finished when it feels like a full environment - not a whole world necessarily, but a window into it, or a microcosm — like a terrarium I suppose. The goal is to make it feel like a place you’d want to live in, provided you could somehow shrink yourself or shift your dimensional existence enough to jump into it…

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SBS: I suspect that your music is working on various levels that I can only partially perceive. Oftentimes songs create a certain atmosphere inside of me, beyond my mental interpretations of the music. If we were to look “under the hood” at the construction of your tracks, what would one find there? How do the intentions you hold influence the actual music?

Skytree: Underneath every track I’ve produced in the past 6 years, there’s a quiet and continuous field recording of some environment that was special to me at the time. There’s rarely actually any silence in my tracks, though I like to make it feel that way sometimes. Years ago, I remember listening to an interview with Star Trek creator, Gene Roddenberry, in which he describes the constant, almost imperceptibly quiet hum of the Enterprise as being pivotal to the starship’s identity as a character, not just a thing. The omnipresent hum makes it unconsciously real to us. It brings it to life. Very rarely in nature or daily life do we here total silence, so in a way it seems rather unnatural to me when I hear too much vacuum. I like to hide things in the vacuum. That stuck with me so much that I always do it now, as a rule essentially. It’s one of the few that I rarely break. The cosmic hum is always there too after all, underneath the surface…

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SBS: Any thoughts as to why this sudden surge of electronic music in the popular American consciousness? So much that was underground just a few years ago is showing up in pop music and commercials. Any thoughts as to why electronic music has gone mainstream?

Skytree: Well, I could give the short answer and say it was inevitable, but then I suppose it’d be prudent to say why. I mostly feel it on an intuitive level. On the live/festival circuit, I think a lot of it has to do with our physiological/psychological drive to dance together as human beings, and to enter that entranced, entrained sense of being synchronized with the music, your fellow beings and the Cosmos. Electronic music provides a relatively precise modern vehicle for what was traditionally provided by tribal rituals, gathering around a fire and a repetitive drumbeat and stomping for hours. Oxytocin (the “love” molecule) is all over that wiz biz. It helps us know who we are, and feel connected.

Something else that has to be said is that it’s just one facet of our culture’s hyperactive technophilia. I would personally prefer that we innovate with new sounds rather than constantly creating new devices ever two weeks, created and marketed with planned obsolescence in mind. Tinkering is built into our genetic code. Developing new technologies and new ways of using of them is a huge part of who we are (as much as a technology-free world might be romanticized by some, it would probably be hard to avoid the human nature of invention for long). So, we might as well express it in a way that’s healthy and conversational.

That’s part of why this is happening now. Call it an existential dance with technology. Part of us really wants to hope that our tech can save us from ourselves. It’s an immense modern paradox that is an endless conversation unto itself. It’s a double-edged sword, as all things technological are. My hope is to be on the lightsaber side of this parade into the singularity, however you define it.

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SBS: In one of his recent Yoga of Bass talks, FreQ Nasty talks about how new technologies are allowing musicians access to new sounds vibrations and tones that weren’t previously being used in popular music. He compared some of the power of modern bass music to the massive earth-trembling vibrations of thunder, or of Tibetan long horns and thunder. Thoughts?

Skytree: I’d say he’s absolutely spot on. This relates back to your question about why this scene has grown so much, and why people are drawn to it. A few months ago, I remember reading an interview with a young man who starting hearing for the first time in his life, by virtue of a new surgical procedure. He was in his twenties. He mentioned bass music as something he enjoyed well before that, because he could feel it in his body. He didn’t require ears to get something from it and dance with his friends. He just loved it even more when he could finally hear it. I thought that was one of the most awesome things I’ve ever read. I’m obviously biased, but it was inspiring as heck.

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SBS: Your first album is called “Crystal Consciousness;” you use images of crystals in your artist logo; your track “Crystaline Entity” features samples of someone talking about the uniqueness of crystals – can you tell me what their significance is to you personally, to your creative process and resulting music?

Skytree: Crystals are definitely significant to me, and do affect my music. Each one of them is an inspiration unto itself. They’re all little micro-environments, like I was describing earlier…that they just grew of their own accord — in a manner I think is comparable to life — is even more amazing. Each one is a little piece of aesthetic and chemical music that was composed by the Universe itself. Put one in the right environment again, and it will keep writing new parts of its fundamental song. Having them in the studio is as essential and beneficial as my plants and my cat (though she of course has a very special place in my heart, and my lap). 

That said, the title “Crystal Consciousness” has several meanings, including the more metaphysical idea of consciousness being present in minerals in some form, as well as the idea of “Christ consciousness” or unity consciousness, and the rather straightforward notion of keeping a clear head where possible, because being foggy or distracted is generally no fun.


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SBS: Not all electronic music artists are using their music and performances to elevate audiences and evolve attitudes, but there certainly is a growing cadre of performers using their stage in the world to promote ideas like spiritual growth, community, harmony, environmental sustainability and consciousness expansion. What, if any, commonalities band you together?


Skytree: I think that’s just it, actually. There’s a sense of using our music for growth and expansion, or for a portal into the spiritual, into community, into nature, geometry, you name it. It’s nothing new in art of course (in fact, I’d say it’s fundamental to it), but it’s being rediscovered more lately, which is really positive.

Most people in this scene — on the Re:Evolution Booking roster, for instance— seem to predominantly feel that sense of service and purpose, and it’s super cool to share company with them. On the flip side, I’m quite honestly baffled when I sit down with another producer and find out they do it just to party, or something on that level, or don’t have a particular objective in what they’re doing other than to do it. There’s nothing wrong with that per say, but that can make me lose my attention. I personally feel we all have a great responsibility to serve the Earth, especially now, and my friends and I are damn fortunate to be doing it through art. That’s pretty much the bottom line.  It’s my responsibility, and I’m grateful for the opportunity.

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SBS: I often hear the perspective that more and more humans are getting “turned on” to a more spiritual interface with the world, that there are more and more people reaching higher and higher vibrations. I’m not so sure about this myself, but wonder if you have any observations?
Skytree: Yes, I think this is definitely true. On a practical level, I think it’s because people have just become increasingly fed up with many of the troubling aspects we’re now facing in ourselves. It’s shown itself in different ways over the course of history, but especially lately as resources have become more scarce, and weather systems have become less stable. We and the Earth at large are in a pretty tricky situation, mostly due to our own actions (or lack thereof).

For the first time in our modern existence, that existence itself is in question…which is pretty profound. Most of us know it. A lot of people I talk to feel it. Not all of us talk about it. That’s okay, but I like to when I can. It’s perhaps one of the most immense catalysts for collective growth we could possible have, on par with what people have said about an alien invasion, or a second coming of Christ, things like that - unifying events. We’re reaching a “higher vibration” now because we absolutely have to unify to survive.


The alternative is that our tiny ember of life gets snuffed out against a cosmic backdrop of unfathomable immensity. That’s, like, the saddest thing ever. It lights such a fire under our heals that we might just make it, and it makes me excited to do what I can. 


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SBS: What are your current projects? Where do you see the Skytree project going over the next several years?

Skytree: Currently, I’m working on the last few tracks of Cirrus Sapiens, It’s taking longer than expected as I’ve been spending a lot of time on it to make sure it’s the best work I could produce. Mission success so far, in a big way! I’m looking to release it as soon as possible next year.
I’m also working on several mixes and remixes, one-off tracks for a few compilations, and laying the groundwork for an ambient album for 2014.

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SBS: Any specific plans or hopes for touring and performance in 2014?

Skytree: There will definitely be a tour to accompany Cirrus Sapiens, and probably several more throughout the year. All told I’ll probably make the rounds across the US once or twice and will be making announcements when more dates solidify (we have already booked a few). :)

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dBM: Can you tell us a bit about this new mix?

Skytree: Absolutely. The new mix is my live set from Sonic Blossom in Denver on October 11 of this year. The event was held at Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom - I've wanted to play there for a long time. They always pack it out, and the crowd and sound are dialed in just right. Felt especially good given that Colorado's my home state, and it was one of my favorite sets from touring this year. It's a solid retrospective example of my 2013 setup.>

All the tracks are custom warped/edited/rearranged in the moment, so there's a lot of unexpected stuff that happens...it's always good to hear it captured properly as it was here, with a good soundboard recording. Otherwise it just disappears in the moment...I love that ephemerality of playing live, but it's good to have something that lasts too, at least for a while.



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http://skytree.bandcamp.com
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https://www.facebook.com/skytreemusic

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