Interview with Shaun Holton - Projected Twin, September 2013
Recently, I got the chance to have a little chat with Shaun Holton, the brains behind Projected Twin. As you probably know, Projected Twin's new album, "Earth vs. World" is one of my favorites so far this year; and so I was pretty excited to get a chance to speak with him about himself and his music.
Jason Spencer: Before we begin, can you tell me a little about yourself and your musical history?
Shaun Holton: Well! I'm 27 years old. I've been taking music seriously since I was 16 and began writing and producing my own stuff around the same time. I was a late comer to progressive music. So back then I would write just about anything. I think I was trying to find out what I was best at. Someone at school introduced me to Tool and Opeth around that time and it all kind of started from there.
JS: The name "Projected Twin": I understand the concept and all, but is there a special meaning in that name which you hope to convey in your music?
SH: To be completely honest, I put very little thought into the name. I just wanted something that kind of gave an idea of what to expect audibly and wasn't too "Metal".
JS: I see. Well, then, being an independent artist, do you prefer this status? Do you find it harder to connect with your audience? Does the freedom make up for it?
SH: Being an indie artist is great. I love the freedom. The rewards are instant. I'm in direct contact with my audience and over the last few years I've really developed what feels like a solid and artistic connection with the people who listen to my stuff!
JS: I guess the wonders of the Internet have really helped out the little guy! Speaking of independence, you were once in a different band, but left over creative differences. Do you feel you have achieved creative freedom?
SH: I have, but everything needs to come with a balance. I think with something as ambitious as a complete album of music, you need some subjectivity to be involved. I don't particularly like the politics that come with being in a band, but I do like the melding pot of ideas. I still need to write and arrange my own stuff, but getting some spin from someone else is always great. especially for me as a listener as well as a creator. I want to be able to hear my own stuff back and be blown away by the performances.
JS: I can understand that. Out of curiosity, who/what are your influences and inspirations?
SH: My musical listening education really kicked off when I picked up stuff like Filter - Title of record, Slipknot, Incubus - Make Yourself and Opeth -Blackwater Park. I'm also really inspired by film and soundtracks. I get some of my more ambitious musical ideas from watching movies.
JS: Interesting! I, too, used to listen to a lot of Filter and Incubus, among other bands, and I only discovered progressive music about 6 years ago! That reminds me, though, I saw a Youtube video of you covering Incubus' "Anna Molly". This made me curious because Incubus has long been a favorite of my wife's, and you do invoke a Brandon Boyd vibe to me. Is he one of your biggest inspirations?
SH: Brandon Boyd is the reason I decided I wanted to be a singer... I'd never seen anyone like him before. His band really had a huge effect on my development as a person.
JS: My wife and I have seen Incubus live many times, and so I agree with you that Brandon is quite unique and also quite a showman. Let's move on to the album: First of all, the art. WOW! This art may be the best cover art I've ever seen! Not only the cover, but the peacock art is also stunning. Can you tell me a little about who created it and what was the inspiration?
SH: The artist is a lovely young woman named Renee Boyce. She's local to Adelaide, Australia (as am I). Back when people still used MySpace, she wrote on my band profile and through that I saw some of her art. I knew she was the one! She has done all the PT cover art to date.
JS: It really is amazing stuff. Anyways, "Earth vs. World" is the second album in a trilogy, is it not?. What is the basic story/concept behind this trilogy?
SH: So the overall concept is the extinction of life on earth as a result of the abuse humanity has dealt the planet. So the first album "Earth to World" is meant to be the presence of earth, warning humanity that life is coming to an end. 'Earth Vs World' is the apocalypse (in a completely none-biblical way). And the final part 'Earth Meet World' will be the score to new life on earth, becoming the dominant, harmonious and environmentally friendly species to come into existence.
JS: Wow, that's pretty hefty stuff! I am curious, though. As the waters are rising, what is meant by the track title "The Ritual"?
SH: The Ritual is panic! As a race, our biggest and most predictable ritual is the one we practice when we are scared shitless! The rituals are what created the destruction.
JS: The vocals. The vocals are stunning to say the least. Did you train for this at all?
SH: Thank you! A little bit, yes! When I tracked the first album back in 2009, I was performing regularly. During the recording of this album, I hadn't been on stage for a while. It did take a little bit of work getting the pipes back up to scratch for this one.
JS: Now, I have to ask this: The funky storm on the last half of "This Cannot Mend" is really unique. How was it created? Where did you get the idea? Is that your voice making some of the noise?
SH: Haha. Finally! Someone has asked about it. It's such a serious album and while we were plugging that stuff into the end of it, we were laughing hysterically! I had the concept for the sounds I wanted to use at the end of the album already set in my mind, but what we ended up using was just a happy accident. It's actually the demo I recorded for 'Grab on Please'. For some strange reason, when Cat loaded it up in her studio, Wavelab had slowed down the sample rate of the track... what you hear at the end of the album is what we heard that night!
JS: So, wait, that storm is just is actually just a part of "Grab on Please" at a super-slow rate? That's just awesome!
SH: Yep! But it's the DEMO of the track, not the version on the album. It just loaded on the system that way when I brought it to the studio to show the producer the demo for the song.
JS: I often wonder this about artists: What is your favorite track off your new album?
SH: Divine Intervention
JS: Short and sweet, I like that. So, I heard you sold out of physical copies quickly: Is this indicative of the response? Has it been very large?
SH: I basically made the pressing to order, but also pressed an extra hundred copies. They were gone within the first week. I will be pressing more later this year.
JS: Great! I definitely want to purchase one! What are your plans for another album?
SH: I plan on putting out a bunch more self produced/recorded stuff over the next couple of years. I'm thinking of putting out one digitally downloadable track every month and then at the end of a year, releasing it as a limited vinyl pressing.
JS: I look forward to hearing these tracks. What are your plans for a tour? U.S., maybe?
SH: I did an acoustic tour of the United States roughly this time last year. It was a great success! I'll probably try and do something similar in the UK/Europe next. It's just not financially viable to fund a full band touring off the back of Indy releases. Not with mouths to feed at home.
JS: I understand about the touring. It's such a shame that "artists" that barely have anything to do with the creation of their music can tour the world with millions of brainwashed fans, but real artists that pour their souls into their craft can barely make it. Well, on a side note, do you have any favorite 2013 albums that we should check out?
SH: Yes! Tesseract - 'Altered State' is brilliant!
JS: I haven't heard that one yet, but I've heard it's a great return to form. Before we wrap this up, is there anything else you want to add that we should know?
SH: Yep! I also play bass for another AWESOME Progressive band. They're called 'Solar Soma' Their singer Cat Johns co-produced "Earth Vs World" and their drummer and guitarist (Luke Whelan, Chris Lau) did a lot of the heavy lifting of drum and guitar work on the album too! Their EP 'So Much for Style' is a free download at http://www.solarsoma.bandcamp.com.
JS: Thank you so much for your thoroughness! I wish the best of luck to you and your musical endeavors!
Interviewed by Jason Spencer