Artist Spotlight Q & A
DoKashiteruDoKashiteru is Sander Moolin and Jason Calhoun, who work together with “erie” synchronicity to create a unique sound that masterfully blends contemporary electronic sounds with traditional music sensibilities to the delight of their listeners. They’ve been around ccMixter for a couple of years now and continuously impress us with their wonderful music. Their enthusiasm for what they do is infectious! We hope you enjoy the interviews and content below, and in the process get to know these talented artists that make up the sound known as DoKashiteru.
The Hook podcast interview was recorded by Jason Brock (Spinning Merkaba), Sander Moolin of DoKashiteru, and Emily Richards (Snowflake) on November 4, 2009. The conversation revolves around the Secret Mixter Series, and each artist shares their thoughts on collaborative music making at ccMixter.
The Q&A below is from a written conversation Sander and Jason had with ccMixter artist Sackjo22, curator of The Mixin’ Kitchen.
Sackjo22 Obviously, from your “bio” you two (Jason and Sander) have known each other for while. How did you first meet and start making music together?
Sander (S) Jason and I met in high school through a mutual friend; Jason was involved with a jam band and the drummer of the group sat behind me in a math class, inviting me to a practice.
Jason (J) I met Sander in high school. We had a mutual friend who played drums, and I remember he invited us both over to jam in his basement and after that we jammed regularly throughout high school.
Sackjo22 How did it click that you wanted to go forward with a focus on electronic music?
S. For me, it really clicked in the summer of 2007 when we finished “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Our music up until then had been fun to make, but not all that exciting - suddenly, though, a song really clicked and felt original, as well as a real collaborative effort. We worked through it and everything seemed to line up exactly right - the sample lengths, the spoken word texts, the beats, everything, and that was really a great experience.
J. I’m not really sure how we decided to do this. I just remember us talking about it one day, and we looked around for some programs, I bought an electribe and we went from there. It’s really evolved over the past couple years.
Sackjo22 You are clearly both accomplish musicians. What kind of musical background/training do each of you have?
S. The “accomplished musician” label fits much more with Jason than with me - I’m in a couple local bands which I really enjoy, and I’m in a few ensembles at my college (choir, chamber orchestra on cello, jazz band on electric bass, and percussion ensemble), but these are all pretty low-key. Before this, my main learning was with a jazz guitarist who taught me technique and some theory, as well as a particularly inspirational music theory teacher.
J. I’ve been taking violin lessons since elementary school, and I’m currently studying Sound Recording Technology at the Ithaca College School of Music. I’ve taken some guitar and piano lessons in the past, but a lot of what I’ve learned has just come from playing with my friends. I remember Sander teaching me a lot of guitar when we first started playing together actually.
Sackjo22 Describe your creative process – how are compositions conceptualized? How are they realized? What inspires you?
S. For me, it’s a matter of sitting down and getting to work. Without fail, if I start a song thinking, “I want to make a song with x mood” or “a piece that sounds like x,” it crashes and burns almost immediately and ends up being frustrating and disappointing. The only time I can get a good finished song is when I start by saying, “What would sound good right here, right now?” That starting point - usually a preexisting sample, or a Rhodes loop, a piano phrase, or an a capella, either from ccMixter or with a couple really great singers we work with - suggests another instrument, and that suggests another line, and that suggests a beat, and that suggests…and so on, until the song is finished. I work in layers, I think.
J. When I start writing a new song, there’s never really a preconceived idea. I start by just kind of plinking around on the piano until I find something I like. From there I go to the computer and play it into Reason, and then tweak effects in Ableton until every thing’s the way I want. I’m really inspired by visual sound. I like thinking about how a certain color or photograph would sound. I’m also inspired by the weather.
Sackjo22 By the way, I did check out Sander’s instructional videos on the Moog posted on Youtube. (Sander, I must say, you are adorable.) Do you use the Moog much? What gear do you use? (i.e., instruments, software, hardware, etc.) What’s your favorite instrument/tool and why?
S. Heh, thanks for watching! :) We don’t use the Moog much any more, since it’s unfortunately out of commission for a little while - there are some faulty power supplies that need replacing. Gear-wise, I use an M-Audio 2-octave Radium keyboard for playing live, as well as my Fender Jazz Bass and Peavey Black Widow amp. I use Reason, Ableton Live, and occasionally Audacity for working on music. To tell you the truth, I am not very much of a gear head - I like programming beats and samples by hand rather than playing them, since I really enjoy the level of precision you can get from editing individual triggers, notes, and so on. My favorite tool, though, is definitely a piano - I get the most from sitting down and working at it, be it a concrete musical idea or a musical catharsis. It’s easy to empty out a lot of emotion onto a piano.
J. For me, my favorite instrument is the piano. Almost everything I write starts there. I’m actually starting my own modular synth system, so that might over take the piano, but we’ll have to wait and see. As far as programs go, I use Ableton the most. I really like how you can have an experimental approach in a basic DAW.
Sackjo22 It looks like your first upload to ccMixter was Midsummer Night’s Dream, uploaded on April 25, 2008, and that you have regularly uploaded since. Clearly you use ccMixter as both a resource for material and as a platform for your music. How did you learn about ccMixter? What appeals to you about ccMixter? What are your thoughts about creative commons licensing and how it impacts music making and music distribution these days?
S. I think I stumbled across ccMixter just looking around for music; it was a very happy accident! I love the sense of welcome and the sense of community I get from ccMixter, and the fact that it’s got some of the best and most interesting music I’ve ever heard on it certainly helps, too. I think CC licensing is brilliant - a band can still sell CDs, and I’m sure that some people will still buy them to support the group, but to try to tightly control distribution of your music is silly and futile with all of the pirating that goes on today. Rather than disallow that interest in the music, encourage it! Get your music out there, perform live (a live show still beats a recording any day of the week, in all types of music), and get interest and support from that.
Sackjo22 You released Gizmo, an album of cc licensed music on Jamendo last year. And as we started this process, you let me know that you are working on a new release – what’s up with your new release? Will it also be cc-licensed?
S. Our new release was put on the back burner for now - we’re concentrating more on our live show at the moment. The latest place we were was at an independently-organized TED conference in Rochester, NY in early November.
J. Hahaha, I’m not really sure what’s up with our new release, we should probably figure that out
Sackjo22 Any other exciting Dokashiteru news?
S. Jason’s in the process of building a modular synthesizer, we’ll be on Snowflake’s holiday album, and we’re working on more and more new songs! For us, what could be more exciting? :)
J. We’ve been putting together a live set in the past couple weeks, and we’re hoping to start playing a few shows.
Sackjo22 Where would like to go with Dokashiteru?
S. We want to go as far as we can with this - to make a living like this would be absolutely ideal, and we’re going to try for that. It’s cliché, but there really is no need to aim low when it comes to goals and ideas like that.
J. It’s always been something that I’ve enjoyed, and I really enjoy making music with Sander. As long as we continue to like making music together, I think DoKashiteru will be around.
Sackjo22 You mention in your bio that you like to read. So what are you each reading these days?
S. Let’s see…I’m reading the new addition to the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Eoin Colfer, as well as a wonderful book my Dad found for me called “Mr. Sampath: The Printer of Malgudi” by R.K. Narayan. I also have a copy of Terry Pratchett’s new book on my desk here, but I’m saving that as a special treat for a rainy day.
J. I’m currently reading Light in August by William Faulkner. I stopped by a local bookstore the other day and found this really interesting book called Einstein’s Dreams. I’m planning on reading that next.
(end of interview)
Sander demonstrates the Moog Synthesizer on Do Kashiteru’s YouTube channel. watch here.
You can learn more about Dokashiteru by visiting their website at The Sixty One http://www.thesixtyone.com/#/DoKashiteru/ and Jamendo where you will find their full length release, Gizmo http://www.jamendo.com/en/artist/Do_Kashiteru.