Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Heavenly Beat Interview with John Peña

With summer quickly closing in, John Peña squeaks in a perfect summer-tinged LP just in time. Under the moniker, Heavenly Beat, Pena delivers a perfect compilation of dreamy pop that will make you get in your car, fight the ridiculous heat, just so you can vibe out with your windows all the way down. Please check out this record. You won't regret soaking up the heavenly beats he lays down. Pun absolutely intended.

How did this project, Heavenly Beat, initially come to fruition?

Ha, IDK. Nothing so unlike how most bands come together to really get into it.

What attracted you to sign on with Captured Tracks?

Hearing "Moscow Street" by The German Measles got me real excited in '09. I had started putting some early Heavenly Beat songs together at that point and sent them to CT because I loved that song so much but nothing happened at that point.  Years later when I was signing on with them the main attractions were that I was friends with everyone at the label and knew they would do a great job putting the record out.

I recently read that when you were putting together your brand new record, 'Talent,' you had a solid catalog of songs to choose from. How did you arrive on the final tracks, and what will be done with the remaining tracks?

It was just a long process of finishing up songs and putting them together with other ones and seeing how it sounded. I finished a version of the record a couple months before TALENT became what it is now and there was just no flow or nothing that made me think "this isn't going to embarrass me". It was bad. I freaked and wrote a songs like "Messiah", "Consensual", "Tradition" and "Elite" all within a few weeks out of, basically, fear of embarrassment. When I think back on it now it's like "Wutever" but at the time I was putting a lot of stress on myself to create something I wouldn't hate.

When approaching this album, did you have a musical direction in mind?

No, not really. It was interesting listening back to the album after I turned it in because in some ways it seemed like a stranger had made it. It came together so quickly that I didn't really give myself time to think about what I was creating. I love how it came out but I'm going to make an effort to not let the next record be so much of a surprise when it's done.

How does the writing process normally pan out for you, in regards to this specific project? Has it differed from other projects that you have been apart of?

My writing process is pretty boring. I play guitar until a chord progression stands out to me then I just layer more guitar, midi, and vocals over it until it's a non listenable mess. Then I strip/delete tracks one at a time until something, hopefully, nice starts poking through.

Are you a continual writer, or do you find yourself writing periodically?

I write every day. It's one of the few things allows me to step out of my own head for few moments during the day.

Specifically, how did "Faithless" originally come together?

I had written the chord progression for "Faithless" around '09 for a completely different song. It was some god awful Orange Juice knock off track. I started playing the chords and ad libbing over them in my GF's bed this past year and "Faithless" as we know it today came together. Its def the song that let me know that I could create an whole album that I could be happy with. Before that I was thinking that I/Captured Tracks was going to be real sad with whatever eventually got turned in for a full length.

Did you produce the album yourself? If so, did you enjoy that process?

Yeah, I wrote and recorded the entire album on my laptop in my apartment. It was definitely a learning experience the whole way through. I should have given Google a credit in the liner notes of the album because every 10 minutes I was having to ask it "How do I ______ in Logic 9?". Did I enjoy it? In hindsight, "YES"…at the time, "DEF NOT".

Would you be open to working with a producer on future Heavenly Beat tracks? Or do you feel that this project should solely be you?

I don' t know yet. I've got the 2nd album written already and now I'm trying to decide how I want to present/arrange the songs and if I'm capable of doing it myself. I'd love to be able to do whatever I settle on by myself because I hate working around other people's schedules/dread being in creative situations with others. Its just 2 awkward for me and I wouldn't be able to stretch out as much as I'm able to when I'm alone.

What have you been listening to lately? I'm always up for some suggestions....

1.The first 3 albums by The Prodigy. "Yr Love" off of Experience and "Narayan" from Fat of The Land are some favs.
2.I'm listening to the Analord series that Richard D James put out as I type
3."Ryan Seacrest" by Lil B non-stop
4.Been sifting through Caetano Veloso's vast/great discography on a pretty regular basis
5.Always listening to Burial

Perfect day, driving in your car with the windows down, what are you listening to?

"Lost Without You" by Robin Thicke

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