This week we spoke to Ryan Crosson and Cesar Merveille about their latest planned release, the Cerulean LP, out on October 31st on the infamous Visionquest imprint.
Cerulean features nine original compositions from the duo and features a number of additional collaborators such as Juliard trained classical pianist Julien Quentin, No Regular Play’s Greg Paulus on trumpet, Wareika’s Henrik Raabe on guitar, Yonathan Levi on double bass, Moritz Baumgartner adding additional drum work and Berlin’s Signum Saxophone Quartet.
As with their previous collaborative album, 2012's critically acclaimed 'DRM', the album tips the focus towards a modern classical, jazz ambient and abstract aesthetic.
First off, how did the two of you meet and when did you decide to collaborate?
Ryan: Ces and I met back in 2006. He booked me for my first ever party in London. After a monster weekend our friendship was pretty much solidified. A little more than a year after that I think, I began dating his closest friend who is now my wife. I would go visit her in London and while she was at work we would hang out together. Things just fell into place during that time and we just started working on music.
And what made you decide to return for a second collaborative LP?
We just felt it was time for another ride. We also met some incredibly talented musicians we wanted to collaborate with and an album is the best format to do that.
I noticed you have a number of collaborators (Julien Quentin, Greg Paulus, Henrik Raabe, Yonathan Levi, Mortiz Baumgartner and the Signum Saxophone Quartet) – are these all friends of yours through music or did you seek them out individually for collaboration?
Most of them are friends and we met the others through other friends after asking them.
What was the inspiration for Cerulean?
Furthering a collaboration with musicians outside of the scope of dance and electronic music and using technology to help bridge the gap.
This feels a little bit more esoteric and experimental than much of your other work, even including your last collaboration, was this intentional?
It was a progression from the first album but the whole experimental angle wasn't the initial intent. It's not like we sat down and said, "Right OK. We need to have these types of tracks for our next album because..." We just started recording long jam sessions for a few hours. Record two or three then take a little break and then back to it. Some had beats, some did not. After we have a bulkload of material we saw that the recordings we were drawn to had nothing to do with a dance floor and seemed perfect frameworks where we could then include live musicians and recordings.
Did you have a theme in mind when you started the LP?
It was more about process than theme. Confronting modular synthesisers to world class musicians.
With so many different collaborators all involved was it difficult to merge all the ideas together into one LP?
I guess that’s always the challenging part of an album, but this diversity of musicians is also what gives it depth and relief.
Were there any challenges when putting it all together?
Getting time together. We live on opposite sides of the Atlantic and each tour a decent amount. Even when we can both be in Berlin at the same time it doesn't always work out where we can have constructive studio time in between gigs. That's just the way it goes but we've sort of figured out the process that works for us with the second album and moving forward it will get faster and faster when we want to get something done.
Were there any tracks in particular that fell into place very quickly, or conversely one that was more difficult to get finished?
So tracks just worked from the get go yeah. There weren't any that were particularly too difficult because when something wasn't working we sort of knew it. After a jam session we would go back to certain tracks one month, three months, one year later. If they weren't right we would go in and edit or try to fix certain things. But if it was an overhaul or we were getting caught on one particular sound we just thought, "OK this one doesn't have what we want. Let's forget it and move on. We have so much more to work with and we can always record more."
The most effort came when we had to edit something that was thirty minutes down to nine minutes and thirty seconds. What to cut and where.
It’s always difficult to appraise your own work, but do either of you have a favourite track on the LP?
Ryan: I can't pick one to be honest. My favorite changes each time I go back to it depending on where and how I listen.
Cesar: Same here
Will you be returning for a third collaboration at some stage?