German instrumental psychedelic experimentalists, My Sleeping Karma return this year with their fifth full-length record titled “Moksha,” which is set for the May 29 release via Napalm Records. On the new album, Aschaffenburg based quartet “shows their most varied side: blusterous waves of riffs embrace fragile melody lines, Eastern mysticism has its place and ghostly sound shivers lead eternal rhythms to new horizons.”
Prog Sphere talked with drummer Steffen about the band’s new material.
Your new album “Moksha” is released on May 29th via Napalm Records. Tell me about the creative process that informed the record.
First of all thank you for the possibility to do this interview.
The songwriting process usually starts with a riff – coming from our guitar player. We almost jam a little bit with this – and if everybody feels good we go on workin´ with it. If we could not catch a kind of common feeling while playing – we do not go on and try a different riff or feeling. That´s the main criteria: we all need to feel a kind of common wave while playing the song. Normally it takes us three or four rehearsals to put different riffs together into one song. If this arrangement still feels good after some rehearsals – the new song is born.
Describe the approach to recording “Moksha.”
Our songwriting process is more or less based on the daily feeling. This means we never plan to do for example a heavy song or a ballade or what ever kind of style. It simply comes out what comes out. In other words: the songs reflect the band mood of the days we created them. We always try to be led by a kind of natural flow – given by our individual lifes – and “formulate” this in a song
How did you document the music while being formulated?
All our instruments/amplifiers in our rehearsal room are equipped with microfones. They all run into a small mixer and then into a portable MP3 recording device. After the rehearsal we usually put the recorded songs on our bands webspace. This helps very much to remember what you have done the week before…
What’s the meaning behind the album’s title?
Moksha is a word coming from Sanskrit which means “enlightment”. The idea of Moksha was to continue the artwork and story of our previous album Soma. The story of Soma was mainly the dream world. This was reflected in the cover, the song names and as well in the songs itself. Now Moksha tries to combine the dream world and the reality. The cover (again made by Sebastian Jerke) shows the reality below, the path to enlightment in the middle (this path is “protected” by our previous album covers) and the dream world – or enlightment- on top.
Where does the new album stand compared with your previous works?
That’s a pretty good question. I’d like to know this as well.
It is extremely hard to judge your own work. This is usually not possible because the creator themselves could never be objective. Maybe we will be able to judge Moksha in three or four years.
However – we always try to improve our work as much as possible. The title track Moksha for example was the first time ever we have made a song based on a piano lick. This was a quite challenging experiance. Also the recording itself has been improved over the years. Meanwhile we are able to buy/borrow much better equipment compared to our first album. So hopefully there is a improvement noticeable.
What were the biggest challenges you faced when working on the album?
Our main problem is always time. We all have families – and also we live in different cities. So rehearsal needs to be organized upfront and harmonized with all our families and needs. End of last year our guitar player became father for the third time. So we needed to do a longer break in the middle of the song writing process. This is –by the way- one reason why it took us three years since Soma to record a new album.
Speaking of challenges, is there a creative challenge to deal with in that the band members occupy similar sonic spectrums?
No – absolutely not. We all have still the same understanding of our role inside the band and we still have the same understanding of “feeling”. This is everything My Sleeping Karma is based on: we have the same way of understanding and feeling for music.
Provide some insight into the group’s chemistry that allows this music to emerge.
I think every band has a different purpose, a different reason why making music. Some bands mainly want to show their individual skills, some want to be famous, others want to express their power – there are thousands of other reasons. Our main purpose was and still is to have fun while making our music. This gives the necessity to be able to dive as deep as possible into the music. Means we create songs we are happy with. If other people also like them – perfect!
What non-musical entities and ideas have an impact on your music?
We are basically four very different persons – but the way to live our lives and to believe in live is kind of shaping and influencing also our music. And this influences also the artwork and song names..
What kind of gear did you use for recording songs from “Moksha”?
We have an own small studio in our home town Aschaffenburg where all MSK Albums has been recorded. The studio is equipped with two RME fireface AD/DA converters and a Mac based computer with Logic Audio to mix the different signals. We´ve also used several different Neve and Neumann preamps from the 60´s and 70´s in order to “coulour” the individual instrument sounds.
What is your view on technology in music?
As you can read above we use both – old and new technology. In many things – I think personally- you need to find the right balance. Same with technology in music: If it makes life easier – why not using it? As long as it does not influence the sound or the song in a bad way…
Do you see the band’s music as serving a purpose beyond music?
The good thing on instrumental music is that the music itself does not give a certain direction. A vocalist for example does submit a message by his words. From my perspective this means limitation for interpretation. In instrumental music everybody can shape his own story, his own trip.
So we do not want to submit anything specific with our music – beside the main message: enjoy and have fun.
What are your plans for the future?
This year we have planned several gigs – mainly in the summer time. Maybe we will also do a short tour in autumn – but this is not yet fixed. We will go with the flow (as always) and see what happens. I’m basically convinced it will be terrific.
Thank you and keep your good karma.