VICTOR LEE: Ideal Life

Multi-instrumentalist VICTOR LEE Releases "Harbor City" Single, Feat. HENRIK LINDER

Guitarist and songwriter Victor Lee launched a new single titled “Harbor City” recently, which was featured on our Progotronics 19 compilation. He speaks about the single, its message and more in an interview for Prog Sphere.

Define the mission of your project.

To get rich and famous! [laughs] I’m kidding. Hmm, the word “mission” carries a lot of weight and responsibility and I do think it’s righteous to contemplate on the impact that music has on listeners and be responsible.

I think with instrumental music, it’s nice because I don’t have to tell the listeners what the story is but rather they can let the song submerge them into whatever meaning they want it to be. I can write a song that is about something exclusively personal to myself but that wouldn’t really matter, in a way ha!

My ultimate hope (a mission… maybe) to make songs that can resonate with people and add something to their lives (not in a pretentious way, but even as casual as just to get in the mood for a drive or something.)

Victor Lee - Harbor City

Tell me about the creative process that informed your recent single “Harbor City.”

This was one of those songs that I didn’t do production separately after the basic structures were all tracked (usually drums, bass, and guitars). Rather, all the sound design elements and instrumentation including the brass section were a part of the initial idea so I sort of just recorded and programmed things as they came up in my head, and eventually there was the song. The last thing I did before mixing it was re-performing the guitars!

Although it’s an instrumental, is there a message you are trying to give with “Harbor City”?

“Harbor City” is a sonic representation of what living an ideal life is like.

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

By recording it on DAW as I get more ideas, for the most part. I sometimes chart music out roughly when I get a sudden spark of ideas and I don’t want to risk forgetting though. I’m way too lazy to write it down on a score with notations so I just jot down the chords and write the melodies in solfège. It looks really dumb but it works. [laughs]

Describe the approach to recording the song.

Just like any others, I’d send the demo to my drummer and get the drums tracked first. Once I have that, I would re-record all the performing tracks for real. After I had final rhythm guitars recorded, I sent that to the bassist for him to record. Sometimes his ideas would inspire me to try something different on the rhythm guitar, or add layers to reinforce the lines. After that, I’d record the lead guitars.

For this one, I was pickier than usual about small sonic nuances when I was recording each part. I even chose a specific pick for a particular section just because it sounded more suitable that way. I used a variety of different guitars, amps, and some Fractal modelers depending on the parts.
Since I knew how dense the mix was before recording the final guitar tracks, I tried my best to pay close attention to using tones that helped each part claim its territory efficiently.

How long “Harbor City” was in the making?

About 5 months including writing, recording, and mixing. Mastering turnaround was incredibly fast- thank you Jeremy Krull! It took longer than usual because of some logistics though.

Which bands or artists influenced your work on the track?

Direct influence for this particular song would be Henrik and Andreas. They brought a lot to the table for sure playing bass and drums on the song!

Musically overall, I think video game or movie soundtracks tend to stay with me. I like writing to visuals (literally and indirectly, to an image I created in my head.)

I’m not sure if these translate directly to my own writing but some artists/bands I have really enjoyed these days are Michelle Branch, T-Square, Dirty Loops, Nauts, Chuck Loeb, and Within Temptation….. The list is all over the place. [laughs]

What is your view on technology in music?

Making music has never been more accessible thanks to technology and it’s always good to have more people be able to express and share their artistries for sure. Also a lot of convenience factors for guitar players like simplified rigs thanks to modelers and quality recordings without space restriction using impulse response cabinet simulation (as opposed to mic’ing) to name a couple are definitely advantageous I think.

Although, to play devil’s advocate, I think we should at least be cautious about excessive dependence on technology to a point that it starts taking away from good performances. Granted editing in DAW is not a brand new concept, but I personally avoid presenting anything that’s not me. I think vulnerability draws people in to be honest. Obviously, the performance has to meet a certain standard and that’s a given. But I do like hearing subtle human elements in music.

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

I think any and all music serves purposes aside from being mere auditory entertainment to pass time. Music can send a message to influence a social movement, carry memories of loved ones, be a vehicle for an escape, bring people together, and etc. To think my music can potentially do any of those is beyond mind-blowing but I sincerely hope to be able to write songs that can do those.

What are your plans for the future?

The most immediate thing would be this studio live session that I’m doing in March. I have a few recording sessions and gigs happening this year as well. Last but not least, the sophomore album- a few more singles to be released leading up to that this year!

“Harbor City” is out now; check it out here. Follow Victor on Facebook and Instagram.

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