Fluid Radio Interview:
In 2007 a strange occurrence took place within the musical world……
A very special album slipped under the production radar within the down tempo genre, and to a large extent almost went completely unnoticed. How this happened we don’t know. But what we do know is that “Scattered Fragments Of The Eternal Dream” by the hugely talented Kalpataru Tree is an album of immense depth and beauty, and warrants May’s album of the month here on Fluid.
We recently caught up with Curtis Humphrey, the man behind Kalpataru Tree to find out more about the last album and his plans for the future…..
I grew up in Northern California in a non-urban environment, surrounded by gigantic Oak trees, an hours drive South of Mount Shasta. My first musical influences were your standard teenage indie-rock type of bands like Sonic Youth, Nine inch Nails, Smashing Pumpkins, Janes Addiction, Drive like Jehu, + the pixies. I especially liked Sonic Youth, because it seemed they had this ability to dream with sound, through thier improvisational technique – to make sound a magical thing, rather than a catchy song suitable for radio. Nine inch Nails was a personal favorite, because not only did the dark sounds resonate with my adolescent discrepancies with mainstream society, but I was told that he made all his music on the computer. I was generally looking for heady type music to smoke pot and trip out to or whatever, so eventually, when I discovered the electronic artists coming out of Europe, I fell in love immediately. Bands like Banco de Gaia and the Orb, Patchwork + Saafi Bros. At this time I was attempting to create the sounds I loved using a software program called “Fasttracker 2”. I would listen to all these .MOD files that these people were making in Europe, steal the samples from them, and use the samples to make my own music. As far as I knew, nobody else was doing this, at least in my social circles where I lived. All my friends were getting together trying to form bands making God awful death metal and punk music. Anyways, I would make all these little trippy songs and share them with my friends and they would say “wow, that sounds really cool”… And it stayed this way for a while, I would just make music for my friends. In the meantime, I was looking for “parties” but all I could find where I lived were these silly little things called “raves” where people would wear candy bracelets and glowy what-nots and take substances and dance all night to DJ’s. I was disappointed because I felt that there was “something else” over in Europe that was better, the music was better, the deco was better, the environment was better, the parties had a “spiritual vibe” to them, it was more intentional or intelligent.. I didn’t know, but I definately felt that something was missing at the “rave”.. There wasnt any Chill Out or Downtempo, everybody was a DJ and nobody was a Producer… and the music just kind of went *Thump, Thump Thump, Thump*.
So anyways, Eventually I found a party on the West Coast I liked, it was up on the “Sunshine Coast”, it was called the “In:Vision future culture festival”. It was here that I was exposed to the underground neo-tribal community or whatever you want to call it – and finally found the people who were going full-on intentional with the music/art/fashion/consciousness lifestyle, and was exposed to artists like Bluetech, PhuturePrimitive, Shulman, etc. I eventually learned that there were a handful of people making chillout + really nice sounds on the west coast.. It was then that I decided “im going to try to do this thing also”, and launched “Kalpataru Tree”, which was about 3 years ago.
Since then I have been using a combination of Software + organic Instrumentation to sculpt pieces of music that capture the wonderful, awe-inspiring relationship that I have with life, music, spirit, etc. I use a lot of Guitar and Bass guitar in my work, especially in the production of “Scattered Fragments of the Eternal Dream”. For me, these organic instruments give me a level of freedom that liberates me from sitting in front of a computer going “click, click, click” because I find that process becomes rather technical sometimes, and ive found that nothing destroys magic quicker than technicality. Im just not a “tweaky” type of person… And so, the main critisizm that you’ll hear from my music is “its not properly mastered”. Or “its wonderful, but just one bar shy of professional production standards”. This is true, but I just cannot give up on relying on organic instrumentation, which I believe breathes a certain level of soul into my music.
So far, Kalpataru Tree has poked its head into the Psy-Chill scene, and released one track, “Moonbloom” on an internationally distributed major label release… But other than that, “Scattered Fragments of the Eternal Dream” only recieved a release on an online San-francisco based digital download service “fakescience.com” and CD Baby. Many of my fans have wondered what is up with not recieving a major label release, and perhaps it has something to do with sound quality, or being “slightly different” from the “psy-chill” genre. However, I keep sending demo’s to the labels, and keep making music, so I figure that eventually, a broader audience will one day soon receive an internationally released “Kalpataru Tree” Album. I am currently very busy producing, both as Kalpataru Tree, and a side project I am involved with, “Kembwe”. Kembwe is slightly more uptempo music with a female vocalist you can check it out on myspace (www.mypsace.com/kembwe). My new Kalpataru Tree album will be called “Preverberations from the Infinite Future” and im hoping a major label will have the sense to put me out there. In the meantime, I keep making music, Touring up and down the west coast of America participating in the psychedelic electronica freaky forest festival dance scene, and figuring out what to do to earn enough money to keep my broke ass fed + in possession of a vehicle + able to afford what I need in terms of music production, which is not easy. However, my dream of producing soulful, dreamy sounds to enrich peoples lives will not die, so be on the lookout for the next Kalpataru Tree release, and thanks for the support so far!
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