Interviews

Interview: James Byron Schoen of Edensong

19190961_1487065121316335_1070204531_nOK, so…James. Tell me about the six years between the Echoes of Edensong EP and the amazing new record Years in the Garden of Years.

We were actually busy writing Years in the Garden of Years very soon after we released the Echoes of Edensong EP. EoE marked our first time in the studio together with the current Edensong lineup, so it was a really useful “practice round” for making an ambitious album like Years in the Garden of Years. We spent the first year or so of that period (2010-2011) writing the material and the rest of the time (2011-2016) recording, mixing etc. We started with drums in June of 2011, and finalized all the mixes in June 2016, so it was a full 5 years of production time! It was also a very busy time in the personal lives of the band members: 4 marriages, 2 divorces, career changes, several moves, etc. Somehow, we all came out the other end of these 6 years with an album we’re very proud of!

The new album, I must say (again), is really, really good. I’m proud of you guys! It has a roots-of-prog vibe without being throwback. It feels fresh. Tell me about the time period that saw the album come to life.

Thanks, Shawn! I really appreciate that!! I talked a bit about the period during which we were working most heavily on the album, but a lot of the material dates back a bit further. For example, parts of “the Hollowed” (especially the second half) and “The Atman Apocalypse” were modified from orchestral pieces that Tony was working on while living in Japan (2005-9). Parts of “Chronos” (the middle “trance-y” section specifically) comes from a MIDI arrangement TD was working on in our high school music studio class (circa 1999, I think?). I wrote “In the Longest of Days” and Stefan wrote “Generations” when we first started brainstorming ideas for this album back in 2008. I think the variety of source material and the fact that these seed ideas came from different people during different periods of time help to add to the eclecticism of the record.

Since the last time we talked in an “official” capacity, Bandcamp has become a thing. Like any independent, self-respecting band, Edensong has a Bandcamp presence. Has it helped the band at all in terms of reach?

I’m not sure if Bandcamp specifically has done much to expand our reach. It has, however, provided a convenient platform for distributing our music directly to fans. I think the social networks, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram these days, and Myspace before it, have been much more effective in helping us meet and reach new people.

As we all know by now, the music industry has been turned on its head by the internet. It’s not even so much about downloading anymore. Streaming services coupled with a generation that came of age never paying for music they liked have created a chasm which bands now must attempt to bridge to carve any sort of financial recuperation. How does Edensong weather that storm?

It is very, very challenging. It’s pretty bleak to look at the band through the lens of business. In addition to many thousands of hours we’ve put in to creating this album and rehearsing to play it live, AND the fact that we created the whole thing “in-house” (I’m an audio engineer professionally and have my own studio, so we never had to pay for outside studio time), AND have a record label that pays some basic costs, I still invested close to ten thousand dollars personally toward album and promotional expenses. Some of the other guys invested large sums of money as well. It is pretty unlikely that we will see that money come back (at least anytime soon!). So, if anything, it’s a financial long game (a VERY, very long game!) But we certainly don’t do this to make money. We do it out of a desire and need to create music and connect with others in the process. We pay for the privilege, but I’m not sure what I’d do without this project in my life. As all our lives become more expensive and more complicated, and our available time diminishes, it gets harder to justify doing this, but I don’t plan on quitting anytime soon.

You just came off a tour with Imminent Sonic Destruction. Was that fun?

So much fun! The whole tour was possibly the most fun I’ve ever had playing live. We put so much effort and energy to prepare this music for the stage, so to finally reach a degree of comfort with the material feels great. We can really let loose and enjoy the process of playing! Plus, the audiences were great and the guys in Imminent Sonic Destruction are some of the best dudes in rock and roll.

What were the audiences like?

Well, we kicked off the tour by playing at the Terra Incognita Festival in Quebec City, which may have been my favorite Edensong show of all time. The audience is so incredibly supportive. So, we knew from the start it was going to be a great tour. I was pleasantly surprised with quite a few of the shows. I think we connected with musicians and fans in cities we’ve never played before, which was really gratifying. The response to our show in general was really enthusiastic and positive, so we were able to feed off that energy in our performance.

Edensong’s new album ‘Years in the Garden of Years’ can be purchased here.

Digital Download – https://edensong.bandcamp.com/album/years-in-the-garden-of-years

Edensong @ Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/edensongtheband

Edensong @ Twitter – https://twitter.com/edensongtheband

Edensong @ Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/edensong_the_band

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