What started as an interview project for class turned into a wonderful internet sit-down with notable Orlando-based musician and Tiny Waves music editor Steve Head. We were especially fortunate to have Steve offer up some old demos recorded around the conception of his Dark Sea of Awareness soundscapes.
When did you begin Dark Sea of Awareness and how’d the name come about? The music you’ve made under the moniker has always struck a common ground with the name.
The demos that became Dark Sea of Awareness began in late 2007. I recently listened back to them and I think it may actually be some of my favorite work, but I never felt like the project was realized until I began performing, which began in late 2008. The name coincided with the requisite philosophical/religious exploration that comes along with going to college. I had been intrigued by the works of Carlos Castaneda and the Dark Sea of Awareness. Shamans saw the universe as the Dark Sea of Awareness when they reached the highest level of perception. Exposing the universe as ever expanding series of filaments of light. I always aimed to make music that was meditative, yet visceral. I wanted my music to be a conduit for introspection and occasionally catharsis.
What spurred the thought of becoming a musician? You seem to have an – if I may – off the beaten path ear for music, what got you there and what’s keeping you there?
I started playing guitar after my father passed away when I was 12. I didn’t consciously realize it at the time, but I think it was the way that dealt with grief. A family friend served as a defacto father figure shortly after and showed me bits and pieces of chords and what not. He played the song ‘Anji’, and it’s tightly woven fingerpicking style changed me forever. I soon became obsessed with contemporary fingerstyle players. Kaki King became a huge gateway for me leading me to a broad array of different players. After that my college years were taken by the works of minimalism. Composers like Steve Reich, Philip Glass, and Terry Riley changed my perception of how a song unfolds. Their repetitive patters were trance inducing and I strove to emulate their phasing melodies. Currently, I’m trying to make music that aesthetically pleasing, but in performance becomes more of a greater piece of art. I’m in constant awe of the work of Lucky Dragons. Their performances are predicated on interaction and I’m excited about exploring performances with a similar mindset. Ultimately, though I don’t think I could ever tire of music. Every day I’ll lose an hour to fingerpicking or sculpting sounds on my computer.
Kaki King - Everybody Loves You [Youtube]
The idea of a multi-media platform is typically seen on sites with a larger budget and a broader outreach. How has the emerging DIT movement effected how you guys go about producing content for Tiny Waves?
The DIT movement is incredibly influential on how Tiny Waves produces content. The amount of time spent editing, booking shows, and writing articles could never be undertaken by one person. I’ve loved collaborating with everyone at Tiny Waves, because it has definitely allowed for our ego’s to take a backseat to much more productive collective efforts.
In your personal experience, how has Orlando’s music scene/culture gotten to where it is today – the ups and downs, the eras you’ve seen pass and rise?
I moved to Orlando in 2005. A nervous freshman with little exposure to regular access to concerts, I wasn’t aware that the local community was at an apex at the time. I remember seeing [Local Musician] Matt Kamm’s old band Dodger (which featured Sean Moore from Viernes) open for the Microphones at Stardust. Another great memory was seeing Band of the Name, close to their dissolution, open for Deerhoof. However, the moment was short lived and by 2007 when I was just starting to believe in my recordings the local music scene had crumbled due to many of its key players moving to different cities. There’s a tremendous amount of positive energy in the community right now. There’s a lot of communication between all of the players in town and the atmosphere has never felt this supportive.
What’s been your favorite obstacle?
I guess my favorite obstacle has been enhancing my fidelity in my recordings and live. I really enjoy diving deep into knots of cables and rerouting in’s and out’s to deliver more satisfying bass tones or richer delays… there are a lot of obstacles that I don’t enjoy too.
Any one you would like to expand on?
I guess my favorite obstacle has been enhancing my fidelity in my recordings and in live performance. I really enjoy diving deep into knots of cables and rerouting in’s and out’s to deliver more satisfying bass tones or richer delays… there are a lot of obstacles that I don’t enjoy too. I’m extremely critical of myself, so my largest is probably myself; that and the fact that my sequencer doesn’t really do polyphony.
What’s next for Dark Sea? I’ve heard some rumblings of collaborations and a possible name change.
I’ve been trying to get some collaborative projects going, but in my personal endeavors I think I’m going for an elemental name change soon to white sands.
I was talking to Daniel and it looks like Tiny Waves has a couple big-time events coming to Orlando. I know some things should remain under wraps, but are you able to expand of them?
In the coming months tiny waves is fairly involved in the iconic total bummer and heavily involved in FMLY FEST. I can’t go in to too much detail, but we’re trying to mirror a lot of the community fostering activities that FMLY has become so known for.
What’s your dream synth?
Anything analog and polyphonic. I’m still a guitar player at heart so I’m not as immersed into synth nerdery as many people think I am.
Let’s just say dream equipment, then.
Moog Guitar: infinite sustain, moog filters, and midi outs would ensure that I’d never go outside again. Boomerang 3-looper: compact, versatile, and midi sync’d.
Synth: anything Dave Smith. The prophet series seems to be omnipresent on stages these days
If you could play any venue with any one musician, where and who would they be?
That’s a tough one. If we’re going total pie in the sky, I’ve seen MOMA is sponsoring a lot of concerts, so maybe doing some crazy installation with Lucky Dragons I suppose.
What are you listening to right now?
Sacred Harp’s Shea Stadium performance
Outside of Tiny Waves, what blogs/websites are you addicted to right now?
I’m really into all my friend’s sites. But I tend to binge on xlr8r, Microphones in the Trees, Think or Smile, and Portals consistently. When I seek out new music I have a tendency to have 8 tabs open and dive through tons of sites which I generally forget after my first visit unfortunately.
Want to write a Haiku using Three 6 Mafia song titles?
In Da Game Long Nite
All or Nothin Da Summer
Testin My Gangsta