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Interview with Belial Pelegrim

‘When you combine the art of Picasso with Rembrandt and Salvador Dali then add some tertiary watercolors splashed onto a cloth canvas, you get art. In this regard Belial Pelegim’s music is colorful and full of life. He hails from the likes of IDM artists who are just breaking into the scene of the Electronic music world, and showing us something completely new. With a full array of styles in one painting, you get a in-depth and experimental music prodigy. We were pleased to hear what he had to say.’

Corbin: I would like to start by saying thank you so much for the opportunity to interview you. You have a very unique style of electronic music. How long have you been primarily focused on this style and what would you classify it as?


Belial: Thanks, very much, man. I’m always willing to talk about music. I appreciate that people have picked up on the fact that I make a concerted effort to maintain a specific sound to my music. I’ve been making music for a long time, both as band member in the past, and for the past 15 years, doing my own instrumental music. I’m a guitarist first and foremost, but I seem to use more keyboards and software, as well as doing my own sound designs. I use the guitar for triggering sounds as well as adding melodic elements at times. Over the last three years I have devoted a lot of time to making new music and reaching listeners who like their electronic music with a slightly unsettling quality to it. I’ve always just placed my work under the generic “electronic" category, but I do love a good back beat. I really don’t see my pieces as dance music…there are too many dark and experimental aspects for that I think…but I do find that percussion is something that work long and hard at. When done correctly, percussion, which can be in so many different forms, carries the listener through any given track.


Corbin: I can understand fully… A lot of my own music has been influenced by the logic of 80’s music that usually just has that monotonous yet unforgettable beat and carries the song from start to finish.You seem to come up with new material all the time. How do you create songs? What DAW do you use? Have you just primarily used this one DAW?

Belial: I make music, or at least work on music-related tasks on a daily basis, so I’m always pushing myself to create new works. Sometimes I put together just some bits and then save that for future songs. Other times, I decide I have the time and energy to create an entire piece. You know how it is, some days are more inspiring than others. Before starting something new, I sit there for a minute and kind of think back to my most recent songs and mentally scan through the BPMs and tonal qualities. This kind of gives me a point of reference so I can deliver something that isn’t too close in sound to anything else I’ve done recently. But also, I strive for having a “sound" that I never stray too far from. When you make instrumental music, it’s a difficult task to have a recognizable sound. However, I think groups like Ratatat and Boards of Canada do just that.

Over the years, I’ve used lots of different DAWs…Cubase, Pro Tools, Reason, Reaper…but these days I’m using Ableton exclusively. For the way I like to work, this software really does a good job. It really is a product that was made for electronic musicians and producers. I do all my sound designing in Reaktor. Some days I will only work on coming up with new sounds and patches. I like to compartmentalize all the stages of producing music…it helps me in working quickly.

<iframe style="border: 0; width: 100%; height: 120px;" src="https://bandcamp.com/EmbeddedPlayer/album=2636884569/size=large/bgcol=ffffff/linkcol=0687f5/tracklist=false/artwork=small/transparent=true/" width="300" height="150" seamless="">Transfixed by Belial Pelegrim</iframe>

Corbin: This seems very efficient logic, especially in churning out so much high quality electronic music that a lot of different people enjoy. I have been a big advocate of Reason for a number of years. How is the music scene in your home town? Are there any electronic artists that play live shows that are not EDM?

Belial: I have to laugh when you ask about the music scene where I live…there’s isn’t one. I’m actually from Los Angeles, but moved up to a very small agricultural town in Northern California with a population of about 5,000. I wanted to have some land and live in a more natural and quiet setting. All I can see from my windows are plum orchards. I lived in one of the world’s largest cities most of my life. I find living like this is much better for my personal creativity. That works for me, but not everybody. I know a lot of artists who thrive in the city. And if you are gigging a lot, my situation would present problems. In the early 2000s, I was in a band called One Good Meteor, which was the house band at Rugrats creator Gábor Csupó avant-garde club, Lumpy Gravy. It was an amazing time and I met a lot of talented people during that period. That experience would never have happened had I not lived where I did at the time.

When I want to see live music I usually go to San Francisco, which is about 3 hours south of me. If I was ever to play live, it would probably be there first. I don’t like crowds all that much, so when I do go see live shows, they are few and far between.

Corbin: So what would a live show from Belial entail and would we be expecting one in the foreseeable future?

Belial: I would only put the work into a live show if there was a true demand for one. I would basically pick a set of songs and have the original, un-flattened tracks at my disposal for creating new live versions. Things would be hooked up to trigger from the guitar as well as keyboards and laptops. And oh yes, it would be loud. I like the approach Lustmord takes to live performance, but of course on a smaller scale.

Corbin: I have started seeing that some of WEATNU’s artists are venturing out and adding vocals to their songs. Are you going to grace the mic in up and coming songs?

Belial: Interesting you should ask that question. My feeling is that vocals that fit the sound of the music and elevate a song, adding an incredible human condition to a piece. However, if not done properly, can kill a track. And I’m not talking necessarily about how trained the voice is, but how well the quality of tone fits that particular type of music. Case in point, Fujiya and Miyagi…that vocal style is amazingly perfect for their sound, but it’s not really what I would call singing per se. That said, I’m starting to collaborate with other artists who are very good singers. I’m slated to work on a remix with Adryelle. I also have been thinking of doing some songs where I add some vocals of my own.

Corbin: Excellent!! Also looking forward to the remix with Adryelle, if it wasn’t for her and Odd Common, I may have never ventured to see if something like WEATNU existed.
I too come from a guitar background and played in bands. What caused you to decide to become a solo electronic artist?

Belial: I love to collaborate with other artists. Sometimes I feel like I’m in a vacuum in just working by myself, so it’s really a lot of fun to create with others all around the globe. WEATNU is a great portal for high-quality underground music and I just see it opening up all sorts of new avenues for making great music available to those who seek it.

I’ve found that over the years I’ve become adapted to working alone for most of the time. It allows for total control over the end product, but can also lead to re-covering ground that you’ve already traversed if you aren’t careful. The thing is I’m really used to being the only person involved in my music. I think I compensate for that by having very strict quality control standards when it comes to what I publish for others to hear. I can remember working on pieces for a long periods of time and right before uploading, dumping them. Completely. I find being hard on yourself helps in the sense that there is no other set of ears listening to the material before release.

<iframe style="border: 0; width: 100%; height: 120px;" src="https://bandcamp.com/EmbeddedPlayer/album=3155006020/size=large/bgcol=ffffff/linkcol=0687f5/tracklist=false/artwork=small/transparent=true/" width="300" height="150" seamless="">Still Life With Black Clock by Belial Pelegrim</iframe>

Corbin: This is so true… I am my own best and worse critic and I listen to each song at least 50 times before even considering its first public appearance.
I like your reference to WEATNU as a portal. How do you see yourself in the next months, years, and beyond in reference to the “movement" of which we are part of. Would you consider becoming more involved with its inner workings as I have?

Belial: The music business has had a paradigm shift which has made it possible for independent and underground acts to reach audiences in new and exciting ways. The ideal is always to try to reach people who might dig your work, and through sites like WEATNU, the foundation has been set for doing just that. I would always consider becoming more involved with WEATNU because there’s nothing quite like it out there and I believe in bringing good work forth. There is a LOT of electronic music out there, especially now. The most difficult task reaching the right people at the right time with the right sound.

Corbin: Yes, the good old days of PR for money are coming to an end as every aspect of purchasing music is going digital. Do you think that it has leveled the playing field enough for WEATNU to compete and subsequently allow you fair exposure in the industry market?
I notice you retweet some of the events, posts, and updates that WEATNU sends, while others do not. Do you find our promotion to be effective in your endeavors?

Belial: It’s a very strange thing, indeed. It really depends on what you’re attempting to achieve as a musical artist these days. I don’t actively go on the road and promote my music, so my expectations are based on that assumption. For myself, I’m just into expressing myself through music and hoping for it to reach people who like their music unusual and dark. It’s good to dream, but you also have to be realistic about the odds. The reason I promote some of the WEATNU materials through social media is that I believe in the talent on the roster. There is some very unique and important music on this label and I do what I can to help push the revolution forward. I’m in the marketing industry by trade as a graphic designer. I understand that promotion and packaging play significant roles in establishing an artist. The bottom line always comes down to making good music.

Corbin: That is a great point!! You also have great music and the graphic design background I can see helps to draw people in I might add. Your pictures used in songs and albums is something that I believe really makes you stand out.
I often wonder what each artists job is by day and what their goals are for their music. If you had one song or album in particular that sums up Belial Pelegrim, your life and your music career, what would it be and why?

Belial: Thanks Roofy! I feel that music and a visual representation of the music…like in the old days, when a great album cover was all part of the package…is very important. I’ve always try to paint a surreal sonic landscape with my work, in the vein of what Magritte or Dali were attempting to accomplish with paint and canvas.

It’s rather difficult to pick one one song that sums up what I’m about musically, but I’m going to throw out Premonition. It’s a good balance of attention to shadowy detail and electronic music. Controlled chaos with a groove.

<iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/179105047&color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false" width="100%" height="166" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe>

Corbin: I really like that, Chaos with a groove! Sounds like an album title. Is there anything you would like to say to your fans?

Belial: Haha…very good. All I can say is that it’s an honor to be able to reach people with the universal language of music.

Follow Belial Pelegrim on Twitter.

#WEATNU Digital Magazine – Interview by Corbin Roof

Intro by Almark


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Interview with wasaaga

‘Electronic music is without limits, the same is true with the experimentalists of our time. wasaaga’s music is between art, culture and beat-orientated patterns, coupled with melodies that make you dream of unknown places, but so much more. #WEATNU DM had a moment to hear what wasaaga had to say about his music, he is a solo artist from Michigan.’ 

Photography by Ben Armes 

How are you doing today?

wasaaga: I’m pretty good, man. feeling very mellow today. Sunday seems to have that effect, haha.

Great to hear that! We’ve been playing your music for some time on #WEATNU OUR, but some haven’t heard you in #WEATNU, could you tell us about your style and music?

wasaaga: My music is ambient, eclectic, and raw; even disorienting at times. It’s a constant experimentation. I’m learning all the time.

How long have you created this type of electronic? I hear dream-like moments with side-chained instruments connected to each other.

wasaaga: I enjoy that description! Haha! I’ve been building electronic music for about 5 years now. Yeesh.

Were you making music before that time?

wasaaga: I was! I’m originally a drummer. I have been since I was about 14-15, so prior to electronic music I was playing in bands. Believe it or not, I originally come from playing metal!

It’s not surprising as I come from a guitar background myself. Could you tell us the story behind wasaaga?

wasaaga: Wasaaga is a place I spent a big chunk of my childhood at. My family and I grew up there. it’s always been a place of inner peace for me; a place to let everything go. My family eventually sold their property there, but that place has always inspired me, and the feeling that place gave me has always served as a huge inspiration to what I create.

That is a great story, you can feel it behind the music with the pulsing rhythms. Much like when I first heard “The Truman Show” your concept album taken from the film.

wasaaga: Absolutely!

How did you come up with the inspiration to write such a unique album?

wasaaga: I was really just learning. Truman was a huge learning experience for me. I’m pretty impartial to it now, myself, but it’s cool people are still finding something special in it. Truman was really me learning how to come into my own, and for that, it served it’s purpose. Overall, it taught me a ton about what my goals were and what I wanted to do with my projects.

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Would you consider yourself an avant-garde.

wasaaga: I think it’s hard for me to self-assign a title like that. I’m just doing what feels right to me. What it’s considered is up to the listener, really.

Kind of a post-art, that’s more or less what I was speaking of, one can’t label avant-garde, thankfully. What projects have you been up to these few years?

wasaaga: I’ve mainly been working on my debut LP, “Wasaagamach,” which we’re hoping to release later in the Spring.

Is wasaaga one person or more?

wasaaga: It’s all my vision; however, there are more people involved with the construction of this project than just me. All of the music is written by me, though.

Kind of a collage of minds then?

wasaaga: Yeah, that’s a good way to put it.

<iframe src=”https://player.vimeo.com/video/104864175″ width=”500″ height=”281″ frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen=”allowfullscreen”></iframe>

artist profile – wasaaga. from wasaaga. on Vimeo.

Do you play often in venues in your area, around Michigan?

wasaaga: Not yet. We’re still building the live set. We’re working to create an audio-visual experience for shows, but we’re not quite there. So not yet. But soon!

What influences have you had had to create your music, and how did you get started creating electronic music?

wasaaga: I’m really inspired by my friends. Some of my closest friends started to pick it up and I guess it just stuck. I really loved the element of sonic exploration, and it kept me coming back for more.

Do I hear hiphop beats in your sound?

Brad: I pull a lot of inspiration from the genre, so yeah, I’d say so.

What kind of music did you grow up to, do I hear a hint of Classical?

wasaaga: I grew up with a pretty wide genre range. I came from metal, which I think has endless correlations to classical music. Listening to progressive music growing up, things so complex in theory and structure, really taught me about what makes classical music so amazing.
These days, I’m very interested in the world of minimal classical music. Artists like Philip Glass, Steve Reich, Terry Riley, etc. So it’s definitely an influence, yes.

Did you learn how to write music through the experience of simply listening?

wasaaga: It’s a happy balance between listening and experimentation.

Was Wasaaga here in the States or elsewhere?

wasaaga: Canada, actually.

Canada is very open to electronic artists these days, they would be open to your unique sound.

wasaaga: Absolutely, I agree. Especially the west side.

How do you start music, from scratch?

wasaaga: Usually from scratch, yes.

Special Daw?

wasaaga: Propellorhead Reason.

<iframe src=”https://player.vimeo.com/video/75412699″ width=”500″ height=”281″ frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen=”allowfullscreen”></iframe>

Sounds of Skateboarding from Brad Stencil on Vimeo.

You’ve also done some special video work for Sounds of Skateboarding, what is the story behind that? 

wasaaga: An old friend of mine, Brad Stencil, always had this idea to create a skate film scored by the sounds made when skateboarding. He and his closest friends went out and recorded samples from the park, which would eventually come together to create the score.

Have many seen the amazing artistry of this video?

wasaaga: Yeah, a good amount have. I was interviewed by Everything Sounds about the project, and for a while that interview was #2 in the storytelling category on Souncloud. I’d call that a success.
It also premiered at the Broke Student Film Festival last year.

It certainly is brilliant.

wasaaga: Thank you, sir!

Very welcome. Do you also play the keyboard?

wasaaga: I do! I was classically trained in piano but had a falling out. The motor memory is still there, so once I started writing my own material my passion for it came back.

How has your music be received in We are the New Underground?

wasaaga: Pretty well, from what I can tell. It’s very cool what you guys have going.

It was important to find the talented artist and let the world know about them, that’s been the mission.

wasaaga: It’s great, man.

Do you have a plan for the future of wasaaga, looking to expand into bigger places, live and so forth?

wasaaga: Definitely. Just plan to keep working and see where it goes!

How many albums have you’ve written since you began?

wasaaga: I guess this upcoming release would be my fourth.

Have you heard any artists swimming around in #WEATNU?

wasaaga: Yeah, I like to keep up with the station when I can. I’m loving a lot of material on there.

It’s cool to know people are listening.

wasaaga: Absolutely!

Where can people find your music?

wasaaga: On soundcloud.com/wasaaga

Wishes for SXSW?

wasaaga: Wishing I was there to see Mew. I’m really hoping those performances turn into a U.S. tour.

You could also play there, I’m sure the exposure would be great for you.

wasaaga: Absolutely! I’d love to. One year.

And a curve ball… What’s you’re favourite commercial on tv?

wasaaga: I love the Danny Trejo/Brady Bunch Snickers ad.

Thank you so much for having this interview with #WEATNU DM today.

wasaaga: Absolutely man! Thanks for having me!

And a huge “Good Luck” to your future in music!

wasaaga: Thanks man. You too.

Follow wasaaga on Twitter

#WEATNU Digital Magazine

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