It was worth waiting for the new iVardensphere-album. “Ragemaker” is the first album in five years on which Scott Fox accentuated the Cinematic influence of his work. The Canadian artist still deals with strong Tribal rhythms and Electronic sound treatments but the global atmosphere hanging over “Ragemaker” is pure Cinematic like. “Ragemaker” has been released by Metropolis Records and is a true reference in its genre;; a fully accomplished and ultra-professional production. I asked a few questions to Scott Fox.
(Courtesy by Inferno Sound Diaries)
Q: What have been the sources of inspiration, triggers and challenges to compose “Ragemaker”?
Scott: The principal source of inspiration for “Ragemaker” is cinema. I wanted “Ragemaker” to have a well-defined Cinematic quality. It was important to separate this release from standard club/electronic releases so, to that end, there are only 2 tracks on this album that have any sort of club beat or indulge in the use of synthesizers beyond a textural capacity. “Ragemaker” is all about orchestration and percussion. A good portion of the release is meant to capture some of the vibe as seen in Tom Holdenborg’s score for “Mad Max Fury Road”. Being free of conventional songwriting restrictions had the benefit of allowing me to truly explore the directions of the music wherever I wanted without concern for the usual build/verse/chorus/breakdown/chorus architecture of contemporary music. Building “Ragemaker” was freeing.
Q: “Ragemaker” is an impressive and overwhelming production which I guess must have taken time to achieve. What kind of album did you’ve in mind? What have been the different stages you’d to go through and what has been the input of all members and guest singers?
Scott: The timeline for building “Ragemaker” was a new one for me. I built the entire album on camera, in real time, for patron supporters. Building the album this way presented a few interesting challenges. As people were more/less paying for time, I had to be very decisive with my production. There was no time for tinkering with a bassline for 3 hours to get it ‘just right’. Every action from dialing in a compressor to doing the final mix was recorded for consumption and this made the time in the studio incredibly efficient. I found I was able to punch out a lot of material in a very short amount of time and then harvest my favorite parts… but the dedication to fast decision making meant the songs sometimes took unexpected directions and that was amazing.
So much of this album was built as though it had a mind of its own. Had I had an unlimited amount of time to do everything, it wouldn’t have been built this way. “Ragemaker” is raw in many ways in terms of songwriting and that is perfect for what I wanted.
The singers, for the most part, were brought in towards the end of production. Jesse, Brittany, Andy, Alex and Cosette were all amazing on so many levels. They bring so much to the table and the songs they worked on are made so much better by their efforts. I can’t thank them enough.
Q: The orchestral/epic arrangements have never been that present and explicit in your work. How did you prepare this album (and especially the drum sections) and did you handle specific criteria about instruments and production work?
Scott: The preparation rested primarily in making sure I had all the tools I needed to make this happen. I have lots of synthesizers but, as I mentioned, synths really took a back seat on this album. I spent a lot of time curating and organizing orchestral and percussion sound libraries. I drew heavily upon those while I worked. Beyond that it was all about developing a new workflow to accomodate a more orchestrated vibe.
After listening to the album (and the drums in particular) it’s easy to guess that, without mindful attention, everything could end up sounding like drum soup. I organized drums by ethnicity, frequency, tonal characteristics, reverb tails, dynamics, ring out time and so on so that I would always be able to create a separation in the sounds. Separation of the sounds, especially if they are layered or in quick succession, is critical. All these arrangements ahead of time meant I had the right tools on hand when needed and the understanding of what I needed from them.
Q: When listening to this album I can’t get away from the idea you must be a true perfectionist taking care of every single detail. How do you see yourself as musician/producer and when do you know a song/album is finished?
Scott: Thank you so very much for the kind words! I think you said it best with the term ‘every single detail’. Every single sound on this album has a strong handed EQ attached to it. A good EQ is the best tool in the toolbox and I love to abuse mine.
How do I know a song is finished? When I’m not sick of listening to it anymore. haha. Honestly, this is something every producer struggles with. You write something and then listen so that you can hear what you don’t like or want to change so you go back and change it. Rinse. Repeat.
The objective on this album was to not stop when I thought it was good enough but to stop when I was horrified at how much what going on. There are a couple songs on “Ragemaker” that have nearly 100 channels of just drums/percussion. The idea of mixing all that is quite daunting but I knew I wanted something utterly over the top so I went with a more is more approach this time out. It was a hell of a lot of fun.
Q: The ‘cinematic’ side of the album has been illustrated by the clip “The Shattering Queen”, which according to me is one of the most professional and accomplished clips ever produced in this music scene. Tell us a bit more about the realization, concept, director and actors behind the clip? And what’s the importance and impact of a clip today?
Scott: Oh wow… that really hits deep. Again, thank you. Filming “The Shattering Queen” was an experiment of me moving into uncharted territory. I had never done a proper iVardensphere video and, to be honest, the process of doing one was equally mysterious and intimidating. BUT… I had decided it was something I wanted to do so I started watching all sorts of media on how to film things. After I had done enough research, I bought a camera and supplies for it. Then came the idea of the shoot.
I assembled a wonderful group of close friends to which I am incredibly indebted to for all the hell we went through. After going through everyone’s schedules, I developed a shooting schedule which took place over two weekends in some wonderfully remote locations. Filming the video was the very first time I had anyone in front of the camera. Up until that point, I had only done research on how I ‘should’ be doing it and now it was the trial by fire. Some aspects of the shoot were a complete failure but some worked out so much better than I had anticipated. Everyone put a lot of effort into their costumes which really sells it. I learned a LOT on that shoot.
Once the shoot was done, I had to research a video editing program to use and then learn how to edit and treat a video. As you can see… It was very much a ‘learn while doing’ experience. After getting all that under my belt, I’m really looking forward to the next video shoot we will do. The team is ready and so am I!
Q: How will you bring “Ragemaker” to the stage? What are your further plans for iVardensphere and what about This Morn’Omina?
Scott: “Ragemaker” to the stage…. I have absolutely NO IDEA but I better figure it out quickly as we have a number of shows lining up for this summer. I’m sure my live crew is up to the task. They’re all amazing musicians and have historically handled whatever I’ve thrown at them with zeal. Expect…. drum soup. 😉
Regarding This Morn’Omina, this year we have a few shows lined up between Europe and North America. It’s going to be a lot of fun cutting loose with Mika, Jelle and Peter on stage soon.
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