A few months back we picked up on Deadstar; the bedroom project of Nihal Anand. The EP All My Friends Are Dreamers really pricked our ears back in September, with Anand’s ability to control a highly advanced range of instrumentals and tame a bustling, unworldly metropolis of sound really capturing our attention. With 2014 arriving, Nihal has teamed up with Greg Tomaszewicz – a multi-instrumentalist with a background spanning everything from progressive-rock to jazz and desert rock – to form The Regency House Project. This certainly represents an intriguing prospect, with two abundantly talented musicians teaming together to throw their swath of influences into a single melting pot. With a self-titled EP set to be released, Carl managed to catch up with Greg and Nihal this week to talk music, influences and just what’s in store for TRHP in 2014.
Carl: We’ll start off simple! First of all, what attracted you to make music with Greg?
Nihal: Since I moved to Bournemouth, I’d been looking to make music with other people. I met Greg and we got talking about the kind of music we liked and found out we had a lot in common there. We had a few random jams and tried recording but never really finished anything because we didn’t have enough time. So when Greg asked me to come to Manchester and record an EP at his place, it seemed like a really good opportunity to make some music with a like-minded musician. Greg is great on the bass, guitar and keys and though our styles are very different, they end up fitting together nicely.
Greg: Well we’re two very different musicians from different parts of the world, mixing styles and piecing together different ideas. We’ve finally got the time to do that now so we’re really excited about this EP. Nihal is a very unique musician who can create sounds unlike anything I’ve heard from any other musician I’ve worked with, and when we saw the opportunity, I jumped at the chance to invite him up to Manchester to record.
C: So would you say a location is crucial for creativity? On Deadstar’s Facebook page, your hometown, Nihal, is described as ‘limbo’. Both you and Greg have flitted around a bit, and spent time together in Bournemouth. Do the places you’ve resided have an influence on the music you make, and have certain haunts proven more productive than others?
N: Yes, definitely. For example, every Deadstar album I’ve done has been recorded in a different place that I was staying at the time, and each has it’s own sound. Some places, I can’t seem to write at all and some I can write 3-4 tracks a day. Writing All My Friends Are Dreamers was a bit of a struggle and took 2-3 months to finish and I think that shows in the music, where it’s quite dark and moody. When I moved to London, I recorded Congratulations On Your Happiness in a few weeks, and it’s more of a happier, lighter EP. Greg’s place and the room we were recording in definitely had a big influence. Lots of space, big windows, and really good acoustics made it probably the best place I’ve ever written anything, and I think that shows in the music as well.
G: I think it’s weird how places correlate so strongly with creation. It’s the same with art, poetry and film making for example, and it’s definitely a reason why bands go to different places to record. The best RHCP album (Blood Sugar Sex Magik) was recorded in a massive house they rented out in California, and the place allowed them to turn an intended 10-track album to an 18-track masterpiece that will always be one of my absolute favourite albums. Incubus did it with Morning View, too, which is their stand-out record. I couldn’t write anything in Bournemouth when I was there last year, but I remember one day I went up north to my in-laws’ place doubting my own creativity, and within 10 minutes I’d made a breakthrough. I always find Norway a place that breeds mysterious sounds, too. Back to TRHP, we’ve recorded an EP in 2 days and are delighted with the tracks, and there’s no doubt my place, with it’s fantastic acoustics, high ceilings and huge windows, has played a huge part in that.
C: Deadstar is cited as ‘a solo bedroom project’, and thus far it’s a project that has dealt in EPs that manage to sound sonically complete despite being shorter in length. With the cogs of Deadstar meeting Greg Tomaszewicz, what are we likely to expect from the upcoming LP?
N: With this LP it’s about bringing the ambience, math rock time signatures and twinkly guitar together with Greg’s prog background, heavy stoner rock riffs and a bit of jazz. It’s definitely pushed me to write some really heavy riffs and explore the other side of my music that Deadstar usually avoids.
G: Recently I’ve been writing progressive stuff, while jazz and stoner rock sounds are never too far away. Nihal creates soundscapes that have an outrageous amount of texture, which is perfect for the math and progressive rock side of things, so the EP will hopefully convey that depth. With Nihal involved it’s always going to sound other-worldly. Couple of tracks that will be found on the EP reflect this in their titles. Take Deep Sea for example, the soundscape is profound, as if the themes are straining under the pressure and power of the ocean. If music was played in aquariums, this would be what you’d hear.
C: Reviewcaster has previously described the Deadstar sound as ‘an experimental introspection of contemporary progressive rock’. This would imply a swath of influences, incorporating everything from Steven Wilson to Emperor Palpatine. From working Greg myself, I know how many sonorous strings he has to his bow, and how far his influences span. Who, or what, would the pair of you say would be the biggest influences on the music you’re making together?
N: I think our influences for this album differ as well. For me it’d be Tool, Russian Circles and Deafheaven. Apart from other music, just the place we recorded was a big influence on the songs and even some of the song titles.
G: Yeah well obviously the location itself is imperative. As for myself on the musical influences front, Steven Wilson is the most proficient exponent of progressive rock, and when creating anything within that distorted boundary, his work is undoubtedly a massive influence. With our styles being so different, I’d like to think the sounds we produce will be difficult to pigeonhole. If my heavier influences are marrying Nihal’s mystic ones, it’s going to be a sound unlike anything I’ve heard before.
C: So, with regards to records that shade themselves under the progressive-rock umbrella, it often seems like you’re doing them a disservice by discerning them into tracks. Do you follow a structure when creating a track, or a record for that matter, or do your mesmerizing arrangements just fall into place when you start writing?
N: I don’t think we ever sat down and said okay, let’s write a song. It was more like just messing around with a riff and then one of us adds something to it and then it just goes on from there. A lot of the songs start and end completely different and that’s something progressive rock allows you to do. I think dividing the EP into tracks is more of a convenience than a conscious decision, though for sure I think it sounds best when the songs are played back to back and we have ordered them so that there is a definite beginning and end to the album.
G: Absolutely agree with Nihal. The EP has 4 tracks that are separated so that it’s easier to digest. It’s all about soundscapes coming together, throwing our ideas into a cauldron and experimenting to see what potions are brewed. The beauty of prog is that a given record can change direction without any prior warning, and soundscapes can metamorphosize seamlessly into one evoking arrangement.
C: Are there any plans to recruit other like-minded musicians to make this project a live force, as well as a prolific bedroom-recording phenomenon?!
N: No plans, we’ll just take it as it comes. For now we’re just happy we could get together and record something really nice in just a few days.
G: For a while now most of my music has been self produced, and it’s refreshing to have the opportunity to play with a musician in the mould of Nihal. For now, we’re just exchanging and playing around with ideas, and can’t wait to get the EP out there. Recorded music and live music are like apples and oranges.
C: Nihal, I believe you’re still based primarily in Bournemouth; a town not known for spawning musical giants. Are there any local bands around the sunny south coast (or further afield if that’s a struggle) that have captured your attention, or are worth tipping for our readers? (Free press, they’ll love you!)
N: I’m actually based in London now for the next month or so before I head back to India so I can’t really talk about Bournemouth. One of the best live bands I’ve seen is the Brighton based Physics House Band. Some incredible stuff, more people should definitely check them out. But as someone interested in loops and solo music I was definitely blown away by Theo, the solo math rock artist I recently watched at a gig in London. http://loopsofdeath.bandcamp.com
G: When I was in Bournemouth it sapped me beyond belief so it’s so good to have found that spark again, so I’m just concentrating on THRP right now. My stoner-rock project, Content Us, has been on a bit of a hiatus over the past couple of years, but we’re still definitely worth keeping an eye on. You can hear a lot of Content Us influences in TRHP; the doomy, distorted riffs, and the delicate balance of loud and quiet. Did I answer your question there?!
C: And finally, in a nutshell, what is the outlook for 2014?
N: Next month I’ll be moving back to India for a while and I’ll be getting my old post rock/progressive band back together. So hopefully that will all work out and I’ll be back playing live with a band again. I think a lot of our influences have changed over the past two years so it’ll be interesting to see what kind of music we end up making. I vote for math rock.
G: I’m going to give you a John Frusciante-style answer here, and be really artistic and say I don’t want to talk about the future or the past, I just want to talk about now. With Nihal heading back, it’ll be nice to have something we’re both proud of recorded before we get back together again.
The Regency House Project will be releasing their debut EP later this month.