Very interesting talk with Steve Miller here about albums from Afterlife, Lux, the way of the world today & celebrating the end of the Loudness War! Steve Miller doesn’t need much presentation, his long history in music business as musician and as producer speaks for him. We already met him (HERE TO REREAD), now we’ll speak about the last two albums recorded few months ago. “Shikasta” is the 7th album as Afterlife, a chillout balearic trip, with a sound always on top and fresh, full of good and positive vibes like the name itself suggests (for the beautiful meaning, read it directly from Steve’s words below). He used two great collaborators for voices, Rachel Lloyd and Ella May (ex Nightmare on Wax singer), into a texture of deep instrumental moments. The second one is “Southern Stars” as Lux. Lux is Steve Miller and James Bright, they made an album ten years ago, “Northern Lights“, that could be considered a milestone into its genre, chillout, downtempo, Balearic. Now they’ve returned with this second chapter, different, with a new style but with the unmistakable energy of the two artists. As Chris Coco said “That became a template for the record and could well turn into a micro genre in its own right.“ But, let Steve intruduce and tell us about those new magical works.
01. Recently you’ve released two new albums, Shikasta as Afterlife and Southern Stars as Lux. Why did you decide to release them almost at the same time?
It was planned to release the Afterlife album in August 2014 and during the previous 3 months I had been receiving a lot of fan mail asking about the new Lux album, would there be one after 10 years? etc because fans had heard Sunset Disco on Café del Mar and figured that Lux had developed a new sound so maybe a new album was being made. I then realised that we had enough tracks for an album so it might be interesting to have a double release in the same month, reactions have been very good so I guess it was the right decision.
02. I read that the title Shikasta comes from a Doris Lessing’s book. What the name means and why did you choose it?
I read Shikasta when I was a teenager and recently read it again, it is a beautiful book. Shikasta is the name given to planet earth in the book of the same name. It is being used as an experiment by beings from Canopus and Sirius to develop a new race of loving, spiritual people, human beings, sadly there is also a bad influence from the star system called Shammat which is corrupting the people with greed, aggression, wars and ignorance, rather like our own history and present day problems. It was a no brainer.
03. How could you describe the album Shikasta?
It reflects how I feel about the world today. I believe that a change in consciousness is happening and the old ways of politics, industry and government greed has to come to an end and people are waking up and realising that we cannot continue destroying the planet and ourselves. Instead of focussing on the problems – the mainstream media does a great job of that – I wanted to focus on the good things life has to offer, love of life, caring for each other and developing a sense of true spirit. Shikasta is warm, funky and melancholy at times. It was good to work with Ella May (Nightmares on wax) as well as with Rachel Lloyd both who provided lyrics which reflect how we can change for the better. It is also a snapshot of how the Afterlife sound is changing.
04. Speaking about Southern Stars, ten years have passed since Northern Lights was released. If there is, which is “le fil rouge” between the two albums?
There is no fil rouge. We came up with a new sound completely as we did not want to make another album like Northern Lights which would have been impossible as artists reflect their current environment and social environments. 3 years ago James Bright came to me with an idea that turned into Sunset Disco, we were both really excited by the sound and I suggested that we continue down that road of slow funky disco beats but using percussion in new and ambient ways which worked really well on the first track.
05. What is innovative in Southern Stars?
The whole sound, Chris Coco reviewed it and said we had come up with a new sub genre of downtempo, I’m not sure what we should call it or if it’s necessary to do so but I can say that if you like grooving to original disco tempos, would you believe 103bpm? then you will like it.
06. How born and develop these two new albums?
Shikasta is simply Afterlife doing what Afterlife does best, evolving, trying new vocalists and sounds and spending a lot of time on the beach. Southern Stars is me and James Bright having a lot of fun with a new style that seems unique at present. 07. Are there strong points both in Shikasta and Southern Stars that stand out? I’ll leave that for the audience to decide, all we can do is make the music and for me both albums are really strong, feedback from DJs is the same, they cannot figure out which are their favourite tracks as there are no fillers and they like a different track every day. 08. Do you have something important to say about the albums, their production, your collaborators or to the audience ? Both albums have been made using a lot more analogue gear and sound better to me than any previous releases. Also neither album was hypercompressed in the mastering process which gives them a much wider dynamic range. many people at first might think they sound quieter because of it but just turn up the volume the way you do on vinyl records and hear the difference. Hypercompressed music is tiring on the ears and has been the greatest cause for a drop in record sales over the last 10years. I am pleased to say that “the loudness war” is over at last with all broadcast stations now fitting loudness normalisers, even iPods now have the same app and the “iTunes plus” section only accepts properly mastered material to the quieter specification. It’s interesting to note that vinyl sales in the UK hit 1 million sales this year, the highest since 1996, which is great news for music lovers and I am at present investigating making limited editions of vinyl for both releases as well as all future releases. I’m really grateful to all the fans that have supported us over the years and also asking for vinyl releases, their time has come!
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