Tribal Council is so excited to be hosting the second instillation of the kinnection series. This is a concert and workshop series that travels between Athens, Asheville, and Atlanta, promoting health and well-being amongst the community. We are more than happy to announce Aligning Minds, The Human Experience, and The Desert Dwellers are our artists for this upcoming run!
Aligning Minds newest release: My Heart is Love
My Heart is Love is Aligning Minds’ Michael Folk and Daniel Merrill; newest album released on Gravitas Records. This album is beautiful, intelligent, and fun to dance to. The album begins with Streaming Live; with a dark and moody soundscape. The album quickly picks up, one of my favorite songs is A Noble Truth. I love the drum pad in this song, it is so sharp but keeps the song moving. Although the whole album is amazing, the last song I would like to touch upon is Bright Flames. I love that the song begins with ethereal vocals and is rather melancholy. Soon joined by the drum pad; the song develops more of a dance feel. The synth’s melody throughout helps bring the song together, and about halfway through they bring back the vocals. This whole album is put together very well, please listen to all of “My Heart is Love” here, also available for purchase.
We were very lucky to have Aligning Minds give Tribal Council an exclusive interview! We truly appreciate you taking some time out of your day to answer our questions! Thank you.
Laura Koznarek: What excites you about working with Tribal Council on their Kinnection series?
Aligning Minds: I’ve gotten to know the core Tribal Council crew through their presence and contributions at many festivals over the last year. I have nothing but love and good things to say about the people that make up Tribal Council, the work they do at festivals and in their event series. The community that they are building here in Asheville and abroad is by far one of my favorites in the area. Their hearts are in the right place and they have a fantastic vision that radiates throughout the work they do. I really resonate with the Kinnection series as it focuses on a broad spectrum experience, providing education through workshops earlier in the night then moving into meditation / yoga and finally into more movement oriented energy with a focus on music and visual stimulations. It’s a proper formula that I think more events and promoters should take note of. It’s very similar to what we strive to do with the X events that we help organize and throw, so I’m very excited to have Aligning Minds on board for this series!
LK: I see you have an east coast tour coming up! What are you looking forward to with your tour?
AM: We are just excited about getting back out on the road and sharing the music we have been working on. Excited that Matthias Sayour will be joining us on drums for specific dates, his contribution to our project is really expanding our realm of possibilities, so we’re excited to explore that on our travels. Very excited about this run with Desert Dwellers and The Human Experience, as well as the run with Papadosio. We will also be heading out to the West Coast in late April / early May, excited to reconnect with some of our musical family out there!
LK: How was putting together your most recent release? Any challenges? What came easily?
AM: Looking back on the process that went into creating “My Heart Is Love” it was a very natural progression. The whole concept and execution of it was really a working therapy in learning to allow things to become what they are meant to be. The tracks that we ended up including on it were written at various times from 2007-2012 so it’s really a snapshot of various points and states we were in throughout that time period. A lot of them were written and rewritten many times to get them to their current forms. We started choosing tracks to be included around November of 2011 and spent the next year fine tuning them, rewriting, getting the mixdowns right etc., to get them into their final forms. As with any album there were many challenges… I think once we figured out that we are our own biggest roadblock things fell into place quite naturally. I know we put an immense amount of work into each and every track and element on this album, but more than anything we worked harder at opening ourselves up to become a channel through which the music could flow. After that, it kind of finished itself. I think we learned a lot about how unrealistic our own expectations really are. We are both perfectionists when it comes to music and tend to be a little obsessive when it comes to calling something finished and letting it go, which is one of the reasons it took us so long to let go of this material and actually allow it to be released. We have a running joke about banishing tracks to the dark recesses of our hard drives when it’s not good enough. It may sound over the top to some, but this album really helped us get over that. For instance In the Wake of Forever was finished and in its current form over 4 years ago, since then it’s pretty much just sat on our hard drives. Almost like overprotective parents, the music we create becomes very personal and special to us, and sometimes it’s almost painful to share it as it truly bears pieces of our hearts that we don’t know how to communicate in any other way. So yeah, I think overall the album really embodies its name as it has taught us about loving things as they are, knowing when to relinquish control, and allowing the internal flow to the external. Surrendering to this has allowed the true essence of the music to emerge and begin to radiate outward. One of my good friends once told me we can only go as fast as the music will allow, and I think that’s very true and has certainly held true in our experience with this release.
LK: How is working with Gravitas?
AM: Gravitas has been amazing, we feel very fortunate and honored to be working with them and have such a dedicated team behind us. One of the best things about it so far is the level of transparency that they give you as an artist. It truly feels like we are all working together to make things happen - they are there when you need them, but don’t try to interfere or make the music conform to any vision of their own. It’s been a breath of fresh air to say the least and we look forward to working with them as things progress. They just put out the new Goldrush album which I highly encourage checking out, he’s been one of my personal favorite artists for the last few years. It’s a beautiful thing to come together under one roof with people who inspire and encourage each other to move forward. Between Gravitas and Re:Evolution Media, we feel perfectly at home and excited about our team and affiliations.
LK: You constantly incorporate new musicians into the ensemble, how does that change your music?
AM: It helps keep things interesting. The people we incorporate are usually artists that happen to be in our lives and around us at the time. We’re constantly working on music and tend to surround ourselves with other musicians, instrumentalists, vocalists etc. It’s usually a pretty natural result of hanging out with another musician(s), playing around with an inspiring idea and vibing on it together, then recording their input or reaction. Sometimes that will turn into a tune, simple as that… but alot of the time those recordings get re-interpreted and work their way into multiple ideas in the future. After a while, there’s a resource built up of expressions, personalities and visions from all these people that have come into our lives and inspired us. More recently, endless possibilities and opportunities are opening up thanks to the addition of Matthias Sayour as the drummer and beat maestro for Aligning Minds. Matthias is one of the best drummers we’ve ever met, he really gets our music and knows when to go all out and when to just lay low and add flavor. We’ve worked with a few different drummers in the past and he is by far the most on point and honed in individual we’ve had the pleasure of working with, a true ancient beat shaman both on the kit and in his daily life.
LK: Who inspires you/your musical influences?
AM: We get asked this a lot and it becomes harder and harder to answer each time. Haha, alot of our influence honestly comes from everyday life, our sons/family, experiences, nature, books, conversation, music we find, film , the internet, etc. Living in such an abundant and beautiful world coupled with the amount of information, technology, art and music that is immediately available at our fingertips, it’s really hard to not be continually inspired these days, almost overwhelmingly so.
Musically, artists such as Leftfield, Orbital, Aphex Twin, Sasha, Tipper, Milosh, Polar, Prefuse 73, Boards of Canada, Telefon Tel Aviv, Ochre, Ulrich Schnauss, Hybrid, Shpongle etc. all played major roles early on. I could keep listing but you probably get the idea… we are just into anything that is ‘deep’ – explorative, melodic, ethereal, experimental or just plain weird. Currently it’s our friends and peers that are inspiring us the most musically, everyone on our agency @ Re:Evolution Media, our label mates at Gravitas, the artists we are fortunate enough to work with and share the stage with…That’s where we seem to be pulling the majority of our inspiration from these days.
LK: How do you find yourselves working into this new transformational festival scene?
AM: I think it’s a pretty natural fit for us. It feels like the reality of the “scene” is finally merging with what we have always envisioned is possible. Life isn’t just about 1 thing – whether it be music, art, spirituality, etc. Life is a full spectrum experience and that’s how events should be too. We see these festivals and temporal societies as experiments in moving towards more permanent living communities and feel like we are personally learning how to share our gifts and talents with the collective whole, in hopes of creating a sustainable reality for ourselves, our families and our community. We are all in this together, and we’re in love with the fact that every year this becomes more and more prevalent at the events we attend and play. I think we have a lot to contribute to the movement and I also think we have a lot to learn from it. We’re honestly just genuinely excited to be here and to have the opportunity to be involved.
LK: I love the intention and intelligence behind your music and beats, and I see in your biography that it says “All ideals aside, this is music from the imaginations, hearts and souls of producers who want to use music to unite people and assist in positive growth and change.” Could you talk a little bit about your vision with Tribal council?
AM: Tribal Council is a perfect example of the type of intention-based collective we initially envisioned being a part of when we started Aligning Minds. A melding of spirit, art, music, education, technology and action in an ever expanding community. When we imagined and conceived of Aligning Minds, our original vision was to create music that in itself would create an experience of truth, connectedness, unity, peace, understanding and growth. We had this intuition that if this was accomplished, it would attract a synergetic energy in many forms that would perpetuate it, tying it into an infinitely larger picture. Seeing how true that is and continues to be is a beautifully thing to watch unfold. There is this major sense of actualization occurring right now that is growing in frequency at an almost contagious rate all over the world. People are getting involved and really making things happen in order to realize this beautiful and inherent vision that seems to be awakening inside all of us. So it’s quite an honor and a pleasure to be involved with collectives like Tribal Council who are actively creating this reality that is a powerful amalgamation of it’s working parts. We’re just happy to be able to be one of those working parts that can serve this greater whole.
LK: How has your style developed since you first started Aligning minds? AM:That’s a great question; our style has definitely come a long way since we started producing Aligning Minds material in 2003/2004, but overall our style as a whole has remained pretty similar. . Dan has always had more of a taste for faster, groove oriented stuff – and I have always been fond of the more experimental, idm, downtempo glitch sorts of vibes. We’ve always tried to find ways to fuse our tastes together into something new and unique that makes the most of the diversity we both bring to the table. I think that stands true today as well, although as we both individually grow and develop over time the differences are sometimes more recognizable than others. It’s a constant growing process of embracing and utilizing that. Over the years we gain more of a sense of what Aligning Minds “sounds like”. Although often we seem to like to rebel! Or try anyway, haha. Our tracks definitely have more cohesion and convey more of a story now, just a bit more realized I think. Our production quality has also evolved thanks to experience and also the evolution of the tools we use. I think playing out live and being involved in the ‘EDM’ scene over the years has given us more incentive to write material that has the potential to get a crowd moving as well. We definitely think about the dancefloor a bit more often now, although we never limit ourselves to it. I think we will always stay pretty rooted in creating head, heart and soul music.
LK: What other exciting projects are you working on?
AM:We have a lot in the queue; release wise we have a steady flow of remixes that we are working on that will be coming out at various times this year. We’re working to put together a follow-up remix album of “My Heart is Love” featuring some of our favorite fellow producers, as well as another EP or two later this year. We’ll also be doing some more events in and around Asheville, including another XAVL event, and will be contributing work to a charity cause through an organization called Groupees, along with Desert Dwellers and Random Rab. Oh, and some official music videos are under way. All that should keep us busy for a while!
LK: Where do you see your music/band in five years?
AM: We try not to look too far ahead, we just strive to be present in what we’re doing now or in the pretty near future… Five years is a long time! For us, even though having goals, ideals and a vision for the future can be helpful, we work best when we just let things unfold. Staying in the flow. We intend to continue putting out music first and foremost – a steady stream of releases, collaborations and remixes are taking shape for 2013. We’re also taking steps to take our live performance to the next level and are starting to work with some live visual designers to map out a proper stage / projection mapped system. The primary thing holding us back right now is funding, but once that hurdle is removed we can make that happen. Incorporating a live 3D projection mapped stage environment to create an immersive visual environment for the audience is intuitively the next step. Generally we’re interested in exploring new ways to create a perceptual experience that inspires new visions and realities in the perceiver. We would also like to create a portal for people to submit their own visions into the environment, such as user submitted video content.
They leave us with a truly poignant quote: “Truly fertile Music, the only kind that will move us, that we shall truly appreciate, will be a Music conducive to Dream, which banishes all reason and analysis. One must not wish first to understand and then to feel. Art does not tolerate Reason.” – Albert Camus