Tonight the Cedar Valley has the honor of having the New York/Seattle band Cylab in our presence at Stages Live in Waterloo. A new club that just opened up in the former Butt Uglies building. I wanted to give them a little press so here is what Percy and I talked about.
1. How did Cylab get it’s start?
Towards the end of 1999 back in Seattle, I started writing some material for my new project called Cylab, which turned out being the foundation of our first release “Unparallel Universe” . Severina and I have been friends and neighbors, at that point I was also giving her piano lessons. I had this song which in my opinion needed female vocals and I asked her to record some vocals. It literally took 20-25min and the song was done. The chemistry was obviously there, but for some reason at that point we didn’t go any further. Both of us had different things going on. Couple of years later I had basically the whole concept for Cylab figured out, Severina recorded a few more songs and we were both really happy the way things turned out. We both agreed that we should take things further.
2. What influences you when you are writing?
Honestly, so many different factors. Anything from current emotional state to new piece of gear. I’ve never had a “recipe” for writing. It just happens. I also have pretty vast musical taste.
3. Is it a collaborative process or do you do most of the writing and bring it to Dre and Severina to finish?
For most parts, I do all the composing. Then sending it out to Severina for her to write the lyrics and vocal melody. Sometimes we do it separately, then end up exchanging files back and forth, others we get together, fly out to either Seattle or New York to record and brainstorm.
4. In this day and age of downloading and torrents how do you feel about giving music away for free?
This topic can go so many ways. As a musician, I have mixed feelings with torrents. It’s not about “let’s get it for free” or “well, i am sure they make enough money” but supporting the artist’s work. I had worked on an album for over 1 1/2 years. Next thing i know, it was available on a torrent site 1 week. It was a really disheartening feeling. On the other hand, this is reality. We all have to adapt. Then you have the other side, and that is having your music available with torrents to broader audiences. Recently, i am noticing increasing numbers of people buying music. See, i am the type of a person that misses record stores, where you can actually pick up and hold the CD or vinyl or DVD.
I can talk about this topic for a while…how much time do you have?
5. Do you make a living from your music or do you work a day job to make ends meet?
Besides CYLAB, i play bass with Acey Slade & The Dark Party. Then i do work for hire as well.
On the average, i have around 50-55 shows yearly. The music business has changed drastically from years ago, so at this point i do also have a day job, luckily in the music field. I also teach piano.
6. Now that we have resources like Facebook, Record Union, Bandcamp and CD Baby do you think a label is necessary or do you think doing it all on your own is the way to go?
There are labels and labels. I think smaller labels invest more passion,regard and will into the artist, unfortunately rarely they have any type of a capital to work with. Major labels have the capital, but all they are interested about is how much money they can make off you. Then you are no longer needed. The key is good distribution and booking agency.
7. What do you hope to achieve with your music?
Oh, just global domination…haha.
8. What is the most rewarding part of creating music?
From writer’s perspective, i love listening to the final product. Also throughout the creative process, sound modeling, all the bits and pieces that sometimes make no sense by themselves, but when put together, they are inseparable. Also, another rewarding moment is when we perform at cities we have never been before, and see people singing along to our songs.
9. Are you a hard synth kind of guy or a soft synth kind of guy when you are programming?
I like and use both. The hands-on feel of the hardware is great. Soft synths have a lot to offer, too. At times I have to think what could be executed live as well. Naturally, i have a respectable arsenal of both kinds.
10. What has been your proudest moment this far in your musical career?
To be honest, i take everything i do musically serious. So being involved in different projects,every one of them carries its own pinnacle. With CYLAB i have to say that touring with My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult was a great experience, also performing with Covenant. With The Dark Party hands down touring with Ace Frehley was a childhood dream. Also touring with Combichrist was tons of fun. Then as a freelance musician, i got to perform with Virgin multiplatinum recording artist RBD for 10 TV show appearances. I can’t really gage them. Everything carries its own weight and won’t trade it for the world.
11. Do you think it’s a dream that a musician today can make a living doing what we are doing these days?
A dream? Not really. Has it gotten a lot harder…well yes. Does it have an expiration date? Yes. I have a lot of friends performing with bigger artists or freelancing and that’s all they do. It is possible. Is it consistant? Well… In my opinion, the most important thing is one to be happy with themselves. Gratification and fulfillment could be found in so many places.
This post was written by Gabe Wilkinson on October 12, 2011