Infinitwav is a brainchild of composer Stephen Latin-Kasper who recently released an album titled “Humans.” Stephen wrote, recorded and produced the release all by himself, but in the same time, as he explains, “none of us create anything alone.”
In an interview for Progarchy, Stephen talks about what it took to come up with the album.
Describe the vision propelling your album “Humans.”
The vision that propelled the album developed slowly after reading about National Geographic’s Genographic Project. I participated in the project and found out that most of the people that share my genotype are in Denmark and Norway despite the fact that my great grandparents lived in Germany and the United Kingdom. Having gone through life thinking that my ancestry is mostly German, only to find out that my genes are mostly Danish, made me think about what connects us to each other.
At the same time, I was in the midst of experimenting with some recordings of instrumental music. One night, creating the music caused me to think about genetic mutation and how that might have affected the human migrations out of Africa. That led to the thought that maybe humans who share the same mutations are more closely bound to each other than we realize. That grew into a story which influenced the music, and was in turn, influenced by the music. Two years later, I had composed nine songs; one for each of the chapters in the 12 page booklet that was published with the record in a double album jacket.
What made this the right time to pursue that vision?
If you are lucky enough to have a vision, the only time to pursue it is when it occurs. In my case, the past three years were an incredibly busy time, but the vision for HUMANS was deeply compelling. The vision became a project, as all visions must, but I never thought of it as work. I didn’t see the time that was required to turn the vision into reality as a cost; it was simply necessary. The materialization of the vision had to be transmuted. There was no alternative.
Tell me about what you’re communicating with the album cover.
The album cover originated as a mosaic commissioned by my wife and I for the outside wall of our garage. The album cover is a photograph I took of the completed mosaic. If you look closely, you can see the outlines of the concrete bricks. The artist is Kim Loper. I’m sure she could do a better job of answering the question, but I will do my best.
The mosaic depicts human diversity in terms of physicality and personality. Some of the figures in the mosaic are clearly moving with some sense of purpose. Others are just as clearly at rest. All of the figures are closely connected to each other. To me, the mosaic gives voice to the idea that our diversity should be celebrated. In connection with the story that is told in HUMANS, the mosaic projects the idea that our diversity is, and will be, critical to our survival as a species.
What was the creative chemistry for “Humans” like?
Since HUMANS was a solo project, there was no creative chemistry between me and other musicians. There was, however, substantial creative chemistry between the written story and the music that was composed to support it.
Speaking of the album’s creative process, provide some insight into it.
My foray into instrumental composition began as a challenge to myself. Prior to HUMANS, all of the music I had written included vocals, with the exception of some short pieces written for movie soundtracks. As noted above, I started writing a science fiction short story at the same time. That led to the establishment of a new goal for the instrumental music. It had to be written to support the story.
The creation of the music was quite organic. Most of the songs started with a melodic phrase. That was usually followed by a drum track to make it easier to keep all of the tracks that would follow in rhythm. The third track recorded was usually a bass line. One of the compositional elements that makes HUMANS unique is that the bass lines do not change for the entire song, regardless of how much the other instrument’s parts change. Synthesizers were used to shape the soundscape in each song. To emphasize the importance of percussion throughout the evolution of human music, each of the nine songs has its own percussion signature. You can recognize the songs just by listening to the drum parts. I intentionally avoided using strings (violins, violas, cellos). Guitar voices were used extensively. Given the nature of the story, it also made sense to me that the oldest of the woodwind instruments, namely the flute, should be part of the music. For most of the songs, the lead voice was written and recorded last.
Did the environment in any way influence the vibe the album transcends?
There is more than one way to interpret the word “environment” in the context of this question. I’ll be literal and assume that the reference is to the current environment in which humanity is living. That environment includes fundamentalist leaders rising to power in many developed and emerging economies, many of whom refuse to recognize climate change as a priority, or for that matter, recognize that it exists. We have a crazy man in N. Korea threatening to start a nuclear war. We have people falling ill on the streets of Beijing because they dared to breathe the air. The Pacific Ocean has been turned into a garbage dump, and we appear to be on the verge of a mass extinction event. Men all over the planet treat women as second-class citizens, or worse.
The current human environment is toxic in many ways, but I apparently am an optimist. I believe there are enough geniuses amongst us, who have access to enough resources to allow our species to transcend a global culture, which in 2017, still forces too many humans to live in miserable poverty. That in essence, is the story of HUMANS, in which we find a way not just to survive, but to prosper, in this, and other universes.
Tell me about the gear you used for creating “Humans.” How did you achieve all these tones?
Most of the instruments (voices) on HUMANS were created with two pieces of equipment: the KORG M50 and the Roland Octapad SPD-30. Both pieces of equipment include hundreds of electronic voices, all of which can be customized. The KORG M50’s arpeggiation feature allowed me to create dense melodies that other tracks could harmonize with. The Octapad made it possible for me to create percussion parts with many different ethnic backgrounds, so that each song had a percussion ensemble that was unique. All nine songs also had unique synthesizer voices. This allowed for each chapter in the story to have its own signature sound.
With the album out, what else do you have in the pipeline?
I have another two albums of material ready for recording. I am in the process of arranging vocal harmonies for many of them, and searching for other vocalists to record backing vocals. I remain interested in instrumental music as well, and was recently inspired by the first episode of Star Trek Discovery to write what I think should be used as the theme song for whatever the next Star Trek series turns out to be. That probably won’t happen, but a human can dream.
Visiti infinitwav’s official website here.