ROBERTO GRANADOS AUTONOME PROJECT: Wildest Creative Tangents

Roberto Granados

The Roberto Granados Autonome Project is a one-man instrumental progressive metal band from Northern California. The project was conceived by classical guitarist Roberto Granados in early 2016 as an outlet for his more individualistic and experimental instrumental metal guitar compositions.

The Roberto Granados Autonome Project did not take form into a serious one-man studio band until the early Summer of 2016, with the release of the project’s debut album entitled Autonome — aptly named after Granados’ strongly individualistic and focused mindset in the composition of his style of progressive metal.

The release was initially recorded as a series of scattered demos in the late Winter of 2015, with many of these demos exhibiting Granados’ highly experimental approaches toward instrumental metal composition, drawing from the harsh style of bands such as Meshuggah and Vildhjarta, and from modern classical music. These approaches included the use of minimalistic yet highly rhythmic guitar playing, the twelve-tone row method pioneered by iconic modern classical composer Arnold Schoenberg, and highly dissonant, harsh musical voicings. Autonome was re-recorded in Spring 2016, and was released on June 10, 2016 with an exclusive premiere by The Circle Pit. The album was recorded, mixed, and mastered by Granados and featured artwork designed by Finnish artist Sami Ahvenainen.

After the release of this debut album, Granados began composing for a four-track EP to be released mid-summer. This EP was to be titled The Sky is Not the Limit, again a hint to Granados’ unique creative approach toward metal guitar composition. Initially born from three different guitar riffs written on three of Granados’ guitars — the first on a six string guitar, the second on a seven string guitar, and the last on an eight string guitar — the EP takes a more melodic approach than Autonome, with more focus on consonant guitar harmonies and featuring a guest appearance by Canadian jazz fusion/progressive metal guitarist Heyden Jennekens (Reaybank). This EP was mastered by VGo Recordings and also featured artwork designed by Sami Ahvenainen, with a release date of August 31, 2016 through DjentWorldwide TV.

Prog Sphere conducted an interview with Roberto where he talks about his work, the upcoming EP, technology, and more.

Define the mission of the Roberto Granados Autonome project.

I aim to create unique, independent and progressive music, as the perfect medium by which I can channel even my wildest creative tangents into something that is hopefully as enjoyable for listeners as it was for me to create.

Tell me about the creative process that informed your upcoming EP The Sky is Not the Limit.

This EP is something that came about rather spontaneously, as it was born from three totally disassociated guitar riffs I had written on three of my guitars – a six string, a seven string, and an eight string. I had recorded these ideas around the beginning of this year and had subsequently abandoned them on my phone’s voice memo storage. After the release of my debut album, I began to grow restless, and in my search for motivation to begin writing yet again, lo and behold, what should I dig up but the aforementioned riffs. Everything more or less fell into place from there – the three riffs took shape in my mind as three different songs, with the first starting out on the more melodic side of my playing, and progressing to a crushing, brutal “thall” finale on the final song.

The Sky is Not the Limit

How did you document the music while it was being formulated?

After gathering the initial ideas for the songs, which I had recorded sloppily on my phone’s voice memo recorder, I created a project file for each of the songs in Reaper, the software I use to record. Based off the initial idea I had already written for each of the three songs, I would begin writing my guitar parts along with drums, which I programmed along the way. In this manner, as I was writing, I could go back whenever I pleased and listen through what I had so far and either move forward, bring back certain ideas I liked, or rearrange certain passages as I saw fit.

Is the dynamic flow of the pieces carefully architected?

The dynamic flow of each song was, surprisingly, the part of writing that I spent the least time on. I do have a certain affinity for very sharp dynamic contrasts – as you will hear in the EP, all of the songs (excluding the interlude ”Acquiesce”) feature a structure made up of passages with distorted guitars and more intense dynamics, juxtaposed against calmer, more melodic sections with clean guitars and synthesizers. However, most of the dynamic flow was something that I let formulate itself naturally – I completely surrender myself to the music and let it take me wherever it wants when I’m writing, and in this way, all of the nuances and intricacies of the music sort of write themselves.

Describe the approach to recording the EP.

Once I had completed writing all of the guitar and drum parts, I created entirely new project files for each of the songs, and then re-recorded my guitar parts over the drums after I had practiced enough. After recording all of the rhythm guitar parts, I went back to each song and added additional guitar layers, synthesizers, bass guitar and then finally, my guitar solos. Essentially, it was a “layering” approach, if you will – first laying down the fundamentals of each song, as to have a strong foundation to build off of, and then adding in all the little details that, while not the most noticeable aspects of the finished product, really either make or break a song. Compared to some of my material on my debut album, which was heavily post-edited, I did very little editing on the guitar parts for this EP, as I wanted as natural of a sound as possible. For this same reason, the entire release was mastered in analog (as opposed to digital) by my friend Vince from VGo Recordings.

How long was The Sky is Not the Limit in the making?

This release came rather smoothly and with few roadblocks, compared to some of my past musical endeavors. From the time when I first started writing the songs to when the EP was fully mixed and mastered, it was approximately three months in the making.

Which bands or artists influenced your work on the release?

During the time that I worked on The Sky is Not the Limit, I actually abstained from listening to any kind of metal most of the time and would frequently listen to Beethoven’s Eroica symphony or any number of Chopin’s piano Nocturnes instead. Obviously, influences are natural and can be essential in forming your own distinct musical identity, but I personally find that if I listen to too much of the same genre that I am writing in when I am preparing for recording, my mind will start getting pulled in too many directions by too many great ideas I hear, and it becomes hard for me to stay focused. That being said, some of my biggest influences (which you may hear unashamedly sneaking in on the EP) are Periphery, Sithu Aye, Plini, Vildhjarta, Humanity’s Last Breath, Monuments, Rings of Saturn, Modern Day Babylon, and Animals as Leaders, to name just a few.

Roberto Granados

What is your view on technology in music?

The technological advances in music are absolutely astounding and have opened up so many new possibilities for musicians like me, who don’t necessarily have the time or resources to book studio time to get their music out there, but still want to share their craft with others in a way that is rather professional. The extent of my “studio” is my laptop and a small audio interface to connect my instruments for recording – years ago something like that would be an impossibility, but now it has all become so accessible. Of course, as with anything, opening up so many possibilities can be a bit like opening Pandora’s box in certain situations but I view the overall advances made by technology in music to be very beneficial to musicians and music in general. To this day I have never owned a physical guitar amplifier and yet I have access to any kind of guitar tone I could ever dream of, all on my laptop.

Do you see your music as serving a purpose beyond music?

I have always seen music as having a purpose beyond what meets the eye (or should I say ears?). Music is an artistic escape and a release for many, myself included; a way in which we can be so grounded in our own reality yet so far from it at the same time. You can condense anything, a fantasy, an emotion, a life story, into three minutes worth of music, call it a song, and be able to communicate that exact same emotion or story to anyone who takes a few moments out of their day to listen to it. Music can be whatever we want it to be, and that is the beauty of it.

What are your plans for the future?

I am currently pursuing my Bachelor’s Degree in Music, as I also am a classical and flamenco guitarist. Apart from the RG Autonome Project, I perform, teach, compose and arrange guitar music. I plan on continuing to Grad school to get my Masters in Music, as well as continuing to perform, teach, and share music with others in every way that I can. I am hoping to one day soon perform live as The Roberto Granados Autonome Project, but for now that still remains on my bucket list!

The Sky is Not the Limit EP is out on August 31. Pre-order it from Bandcamp, and follow the Roberto Granados Autonome Project on Facebook.

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