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A SHELTER IN THE DESERT: Mexican post-rock report

A SHELTER IN THE DESERT is an instrumental post rock band hailing from México. I shared their debut EP in November 2012 and now I’m back with some insights on their history, Mexican post rock scene, performing live scores to movies,  and a lot more.

Recommended for all of you hungry of energetic, yet very emotional instrumental soundscapes and gloomy, melancholic journeys into the world of dreams.

Ho ho ho, we meet again, my friends! :) I’ve just realized I shared your debut EP via IDIOTEQ last year! :) What’s up? How have you been doing?

Thank you very much Karol. and well .. things have gone pretty well, which we present as an EP almost a year ago, it became a full lenght album , thanks to the German label Oxide-Tones, which edit our album in a new version, which included a new track. We are happy with the results and now we are promoting it.

We have plans to work on a live musicalization for one movie (previously we did the same with Oldboy of Park Chan-wook), and also to record a second album in the second half of the year, besides a little EP, with cover versions of scores of some movies and T.V. Series that we like, with music by Hans Zimmer, John Murphy and some others composers.

Wow, amazing. Does it mean you won’t be working on a new full length for at least another year?  Or are there already some plans for a new record?

Indeed, we have plans to start to recording our second album later this year.

Actually we plan that our second album will be ready for early 2014, though it is only an approximation.

Some new tracks written already?

Yes. We have a few songs already written, and continue composing, at the end we will make a selection according to the concept of the album, which also we will build.

Ok, getting back to the EP becomig a full length :) how did you guys meet up with a German label in the first place? :)

Internet has eliminated many barriers for music and especially for what we define as an  “underground” scene. Just as we ourselves met the bands we like and which inspired us to start a band, through blogs, webzines, and all kinds of sites on the internet where the very term “post-rock” became popular, we try to achieve the same, sending our album to blogs, pages, labels, writing emails and more emails. We thought “what’s the difference? Someone will have to like it” .. and indeed, at some point I get to Oxide-Tones, they liked, they offered an arrange of distribution and BAM! happened. In the same way that this day we are doing this interview with you.

And actually the most curious is that at first the idea was to make a demo, just wanted to have a material so the people could listen  in the internet, we never thought it would become a full lenght album, and far less than would lead us to be part of a label like Oxide-Tones.

:) Cool.

The Oldboy movie soundtrack idea seems to be amazing! Tell me more about this project and how it finally turned out. Did audience love it?

It was very difficult to work on it, because normally, the bands musicalizes silent films, but we were stubborn in wanting to do with Oldboy, because is a film that we like very much, and we wanted to do something different, so ¡the challenge was huge!. We had to edit the audio of the movie, after composing the music, we had to temporize everything to perform live, all the time we played with metronome, everything had to be very precise. But had excellent results, the public liked it a lot, and we had the opportunity to present it in very important forums of our city. Also was a great musical and creative exercise.

Do you have it recorded somewhere?

There are a couple of fan made videos of some presentations with some fragments of the show, you can see them here:

(in some of them, we still we played under the name of [reSound])

Scores for movies was one of the subject I promised myself to discuss with you, so I’m really glad you brought it up. I wonder why post rock bands don’t do such things more frequently. It’s a perfect pairing, right?

¡Dude! ¡We also think it is a perfect combination!, and we dream of one day create the original score of a movie. Composers of music for film are also part of our influences.

And that is, if the music for film is a form of contemporary-classical, we believe that post-rock is the new classical music, so they’re two of a kind.

Some directors have already thought about it, Darren Aronofsky, Danny Boyle, Cameron Crowe, John Murphy, have included bands like MOGWAI, SIGUR ROS, JONSI, GY!BE, or EITS in his movies. There have been great avences it, so hopefully soon we can hear much post-rock in great movies, be nice, do not you think?

Oh yeah, I’d love to see Darren’s “The Fountain” acomapanied by a solid post rock band. A-mazing! :)

Following this path, some insist that the only good post-rock is the one that pushes the genre forward. What tricks do you use to make it interesting? How do your organize your process of writing?

We believe that, in effect, is needed to experiment to find a constant evolution of sound, but, we also defend the idea of maintaining a firm foundation, and remit us  to the referents of our own influences .. It is for this reason that some people have described our sound like a “classic” post-rock.

Do not know if that’s a trick, but at least it makes us feel satisfied … if we sought  the influences of the bands that inspired us to create our own band, maybe we would come straight to what we know as classical music, in several or all periods, and sometimes, some people misdeem the post-rock saying: “this is repetitive and everything sounds similar”, in a sense, that may have something of true ..and maybe i try to speak for all post-rock bands anywhere in the world and say: but who would judge the heroes of classical music? what´s wrong with have irregular structures? Can accuse us for not using the conventional structure chorus-verse-chorus? And what’s wrong with the constant crescendos? is not that we abuse of them, is that we perceive life in that way, as a fickle and unstable terrain, full of falls and ascents, just like a desert.

Then, evolution is important, experimentation is important, it is important to push forward, but keep the essence is more important.

About the process for making and writing music, we work in the following way: first we heard a lot of music of all kinds, then every one of us comes with several ideas, maybe a rhythm, a melody, a progression, anything … then we tried to give an interpretation to these ideas. We speak of anecdotes, of the things that inspired us to create these little ideas, what we feel, or what then is influencing us musically or artistically, sometimes we are very influenced by literature, a novel, or a movie, painting, etc.. and we try to rush all those emotions and influences in a musical idea, then assemble it intuitively, we recorded the result of that, we listen for a while, and  then, we started to work on  technical, structural and sound issues.

Do you have a lot of post rockin’ pals in your area to play with and talk about the genre and its development? Tell me about Mexican post rock scene, its history, current state, bands we can check out, etc. Let’s make a scene report here ;)

There was a time when there were not many post rock bands in México outside garages and basements. But in the last 10 years we have been seeing the post rock scene growing at a very promising pace. We have a bunch of friends playing post rock and post metal, there are also many folk, neoclassical and other genres interesting projects. In fact there is a movement that has gained a lot of notoriety lately, called COLAPSO MOVIMIENTO POST ROCK MEXICO, which is some sort of collective effort from a few people to gather all these different projects orbiting around the post rock and similar genres, and to show their work to a bigger audience with interviews, live sessions, articles, and concerts among many other things. It is also very interesting that this movement also comprehends a multidisciplinary aspect to it, with different kind of artists and even better they are engaged in altruistic matters such as animal rights, anti discrimination talks and whatnot. Suddenly mainstream media is taking a second look towards this scene, we don´t know exactly how we feel about it but we guess it is good that all these bands´ hard work gets well deserved exposure. Some of the bands we really like and you might want to check out are: MONOCEROS, EXPEDICION A LAS ESTRELLAS, APOCALIPSIS, TERROR CÓSMICO, BESTIAS DE CONDUCTA FINA, ERICK FRYMAN.

It was a short, but very very decent report, haha! :)

Yu’ve been around for some time now. Have you recorded some tunes before 2012?

Yes. Well, actually, when we used to play under the name of [ReSound] we recorded an EP, homonym. This had 5 tracks and these were with which we begin to introduce ourselves.

Why did you decided to change your name from [ReSound]? How do you remember that time? Do you still treat it as a part of A SHELTER IN THE DESERT’s existence?

There were several reasons for changing the name. Mainly, we believed that this names doesn’t identified us as we were trying to say or express in our music. And if in many cases, the name of a band is not to important; It just has to be nice and easy to learn it and pronounce it, but for us it was important to its meaning, were trying to find a way to express the “why” of our music and the way we do it, starting from our name. Another reason was that already a couple of bands had the same name. Also it was difficult to find our band on the internet.

At that time, it cost us much time and effort to record our first EP, and the sound of this one did not completely satisfy us, the name of [ReSound] did not meditate it much, in fact, we take the first decent idea that we came up. Also our music was less intense. It wasn’t that we didn’t like it, but I think we couldn’t find the sound in the way we wanted.

We do consider this as a part of the existence of A SHELTER IN THE DESERT, in the sense that it was an evolution, and a stage of transition to define what we wanted to achieve with the music (and still believe we are in a learning stage, and a race to attain to possess an unbeatable sound) but on the other hand if it was a way to start over, and from nought. And surprisingly, we have accomplished much more in 11 months of existence as “A Shelter in the Desert” that what we accomplished in two years and fraction when we were [ReSound].

Your debut EP was released in August 2012. Is it safe to say we’re still living its era?

Well, actually, it’s curious because the idea was to do an EP or a demo. We published the album as soon as we finished recording. But thanks to the label of Oxide-Tones, who edited a physical edition for Europe, where we included a bonus track, became a Full Length album with 58 minutes.This also gave him a new look, and more life, as this edition was published recently, on May 3 of this year.

When you set out to write new music, what are some of the goals you set forth?

Definitely we want to build a more orchestral and cinematic sound. We have in mind some corals, horns and so on. We also want to imprint a little of our Mexican and Ibero-American roots.

The kindness of post-rock is that you can exploited too much freedom and flexibility in the sound, so you can always be more daring and experiment a bit more.

Alright.. tell me gys, what are the most and least rewarding aspects of participating in this band?

The most rewarding is that we can find a form of expression that satisfies us musically and emotionally. Like any artist or band, we make music for the people, but in a deeper sense, we do it, at first, for ourselves, for the sheer need to express us.

Growing up, reach to the ears of more people, it is always something that generates a great expectation. It is also incredible find out, sometimes, the things that our music and our work may provoke in the people who listen to us. Things that we never imagine.

We do not see any aspect other than rewarding, but if complicated, as the fact of belonging to a generally underappreciated musical scene (at least in our country), where, not being considered as “popular music” or part of the “mainstream”, some people simply close the doors to this type of musical ideas. There is no other way to stand out but to walk in the trails of independence, and always effecting the “do it yourself”.

Okay.. before we say goodbye… let’s sum it up, what are your plans for the rest of this year?

For the remainder of the year we plan to continue composing and start to recording our second album. We also have in mind to work on some other live musicalization of some movie, and perhaps to release an EP with cover versions of parts of movies scores. Some time ago we were including in our shows, a piece of John Murphy from  -28 Days Later-. We will publish a studio version of this one, and maybe a couple more.

Nice! :)

Thanks for your time. Please add anything you like, say something profound that will make everyone think, whatever you think is appropriate as your final words.

We just would like to share that way of living the music: as a shelter for our times of affliction and pain, but also for our moments of happiness and joy, there is no better way to heal the spirit, but through music.

As musicalize every moment of our lives.

Thanks! Kind regards from Poland! :)

We thank you for giving us this space and attention, we appreciate it immensely :)

Thank you very much for everything!

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