Bret or Blue Stahli is prolific, in every sense of the word. His enthusiasm for music is infectious and it feeds through typed words into our office. Though his lack of confidence despite his achievements is astounding, the young protégé of Klayton [Celldweller] has mastered the art of blending electronica, rock and dance music with more than a hint of sarcasm so easily that he too has already landed his work on numerous soundtracks and is following the monumental success of his other label mates at FiXT music which include the likes of Sebastian R. Komor and Atlas Plug. SPHERE caught up with the excitable electro-fiend to talk about how it’s all going…
“I hate this state I now live in with the passion of a thousand white-hot suns, but I’m not going to give up”
S] Can you take us through your typical day in the studio – would it be unfair to say that you are a workaholic when it comes to your music?
B] Yes, I’m busting out the lawyers set to “libel” for even insinuating it. I wish I could say it’s something freakishly interesting like after waking up in my harem, I leisurely stride out to my private jet (complete with poles inside for inpromptu stewardess dances) and arrive at the studio for a day of throwing stuff at the wall, recording it and basking in my own luminous glow of awesome [pause] but it’s actually more along the lines of, showing up and trying not to suck. Sometimes I flip the order around and try not to suck before I show up. It depends on what I’m working on, but at any given moment, you can find me running things through various distortions, doing little edits that no one will hear or care about, or working on lyrics and trying to find something that rhymes with “orange”.
S] Can you explain to us what events led up to the creation of your project?
B] This black van pulls up in front of my apartment, and my door is kicked in. Then, a bag is thrown over my head and I recieve a crack on the jaw for asking what’s going on. The next thing I know I’m in front of a Pro Tools rig with a guitar, a bass and a microphone.
S] FiXT Music specialises in the electronic and crossover genres, since you are one of the core acts at this point, how can you see it progressing and how has the label helped you so far?
B] FiXT are amazingly supportive and are genuinely trying to do new things that are both fan-friendly and artist-friendly. Add that to the fact that they welcome the “new” and the “interesting”, but let me in anyway. They, ultimately, are fans of this music and like the rest of us, just want to share the cool stuff they’ve found. I also heard they can beat up Superman.
S] You have a lot of friends in the scene, will we see you collaborate or remix any artists in 2009?
B] Possibly! I really love doing remixes and collaborations. At the moment, I’m really focused on working on my official debut album, getting the singles out to people and seeing what new ideas will come screaming into my brain at 3am.
S] Can you tell us if you ever plan to take the act out live – perhaps we will see you in the UK?
B] I love playing live, and once the album is done, the live show is definitely something I’ll be exploring (I have a few ideas kicking around already, but that’s way off). As for where? I’ll go anywhere with a power outlet, and even places without, though you’d have to suffer through an unplugged performance and I don’t know that I would wish that on anybody.
S] How has working alongside the likes of Klayton and Sebastian Komor made you raise your game?
B] That, and if your tracks don’t sound at least halfway cool, you get a nice smack on the knuckles with a long splintery ruler. The bar is set high, and if I’m told that I “can do better” on a song, it’s reassuring that though I know I should step up and freaking do it, they at least have some modicum of confidence that I actually can. Being on the same label as Seb definitely means that even though we operate in slightly different genres, his stuff sounds so good that I absolutely have to do my best [pause] mainly so he’s not embarrassed to be on the same label as “that Blue Stahli guy”.
S] Can you explain the inspiration behind your the album ‘Antisleep Vol.1’ – what personal events inspired the songs for you, we assume they were written to be more than just the ultimate cyberpunk soundtrack?
B] I’d love to write the “ultimate cyberpunk soundtrack”, but unfortunately, I think I got beaten to the punch when the greatest hits of Captain and Tennille was released. And well, Antisleep is it’s own separate thing. That was all music composed for film and TV, hence the instrumental vibe, genre-hopping and the short song length. Many of those songs were written very quickly as the caffeine influx was pretty high. ‘Kill Me Every Time’ is one for the full-on debut (though it is up for free download along with the instrumental record) and was actually started as a way to learn Pro Tools. Before the song was even done, it was licensed for the DVD release of TNT‘s ‘Witchblade’ series. Lyrically, with every song, I go into a different headspace and it’s a nice little cocktail of past and current experience, observation and venting, all done up like a David Lynch movie in fast forward.
Most of the songs on ‘Antisleep Vol. 01’ were written to create a certain mood, whereas the songs and general inspiration for the debut are not only about creating mood and atmosphere, but pure expression, catharsis and keeping myself from intentionally slamming my car off an overpass at a high speed and hopefully it keeps others from doing the same. If someone finds something to connect with, then my job is done.
S] You released the album for free download, similarly to how Celldweller and countless other artists are doing nowadays, but you are just starting out – why did you choose to do this?
B] When the idea of releasing the free preview version of Antisleep was presented, I thought it was pretty interesting. The whole industry is changing and I’m all for trying new things, getting the music out to as many people as possible. Besides, the people who are going to take it from torrent sites are going to take it, regardless. This way, they have it. My hope is that the “try before buy” crowd hears something they like after listening to it loud in the car, tells their friends, and somewhere along the line someone digs it enough to support it with both a legit copy and word of mouth.
S] Can you tell us about how you got started in music and what made you keep going despite your initial struggle – how nervous were you when you left home and took that risk?
B] I originally applied for the job of “supervillain” but the upper body strength requirements were a bit too demanding, so I grabbed a guitar. I’ve always done music as a means of escape and can point to many times that it’s been the one thing that has kept me alive. Making the move from home was as scary as a back-alley tonsillectomy and I can honestly say that I hate this state I now live in with the passion of a thousand white-hot suns, but I’m not going to give up. What keeps me going is the desire to do for other people what certain songs and albums have done, and continue to do for me.
S] Will your latest single ‘Scrape’ be on your next album, and is this a decent indication of how your new material will sound?
B] ‘Scrape’ will most definitely be on the debut. I’d say it’s a decent indication of part of the sound. If you’re looking for songs that all sound like ‘Kill Me Every Time’, you’ll be disappointed. If you’re looking for songs that all sound like ‘Scrape’, you’ll be disappointed, but hey, you can’t please everybody all the time, your hands get tired. Those two tracks are a good indication of some of the ground that will be covered. Expect to hear a little of everything. Something we’re doing a bit differently is that this album is being released one song at a time, each song as soon as I finish it. You get to hear it in progress, grab the songs you like, ignore the ones you hate and if you’d rather be surprised and take the album as a whole that’s cool, wait a bit and it’ll be released with all the songs, cool artwork and bonus material. Part of the fun of releasing one song at a time is seeing just what the hell comes next and interacting with the people who are actually listening along the way.
S] Finally, can you describe the ideal settings for your music, where it can truly be appreciated?
B] Wherever you are, whenever you need it.
For more information visit Blue Stahli’s Myspace.
Buy ‘Antisleep Vol.1’ HERE.