September 2003
interview with Brett Smith
by Ian C Stewart

Caul is the brainchild of master ambient soundscapist and Epiphany Records honcho Brett Smith, who got into music-making way back when “because it was easier to create my own than to learn someone else’s. It was fun when I started, it was an anything-goes type of situation. This was years ago, when I was in high school. Chris Snipes (Ignis Fatuus) and I had a recording project called PedSking. We set up a rudimentary studio in my parents' basement. But when I started Caul, it was different, I was compelled to make it, I felt like I was a conduit through which the music could flow.”

His interests are wide-reaching. “I like so many different kinds of music and it influences me just by being good and exciting to me so that it makes me want to create. The new Radiohead's good, so is the new Goldfrapp. The new live CD by Numina is great. I heard a wide variety of music growing up and when I was young, I loved all of it. The first record I got of my own was a 45 by Jerry Lee Lewis. The first album I bought with my own money, in the fourth grade, was Yellow Submarine by the Beatles.”

Works are created by “starting with a great deal of sound design work, building up a new catalog of sounds I can play with. Following that, I improvise, working quickly. At some point when I have enough material that I like, I begin shaping it. Sometimes it changes very little during the shaping process, other times it the music becomes something else entirely. I don't plan out where it goes, it just takes me along for the ride. I have ideas about what I would like to do but they end up changing so much when the music is created that I might as well not have had them.”

Tandem creation is sometimes part of the equation. “I'm working on a collaboration with Numina that's coming along fantastically. It should be out this year. There will also be more work with John Bergin. Jon from Skincage and I talked about collaborating a few months ago. I'm still hoping that’ll work out.”

Though not averse to live performance, Smith sees Caul as more of a recording studio situation. “I was in Trust Obey for several years and we played shows. I’ve also played live with John Bergin and Phil Easter as IHD on a few occasions. In the last year or so I've thought more seriously about doing a live show but haven't come up with a method that would enable me to.”

Next for Smith, “I have two new Caul CDs coming up. One is an EP of all neo-classical material called Invisible Light, and the other will be a one hour long track that will probably have no music in it whatsoever. Then the third section of a trilogy that started with Hidden and continued with Muein. I plan on remastering The Sound Of Faith and releasing it in a limited edition. Epiphany Records has new releases by Fadladder and porteur de l'Image. There's also a Veil Of Secrecy release for Epiphany Records that has been discussed.”

Smith reserves a parting shot. “During the next presidential election, GET OUT AND VOTE! We desperately need a new administration!”

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