Musical Eyes: Teen Daze on A Silent Planet

Over a continuous stream of emotive dance music, Teen Daze has evoked just about every contemplative landscape Earth has to offer—oceans, sunsets, forests, and so on. His latest effort however, leaves this world behind for a day-dreamt voyage through the pages of CS Lewis‘ celestial “Out Of The Silent Planet.” Upon first listen we begin acclimating ourselves with our new found surroundings, wondering what secrets may be hidden beneath the surface. Enlivened by curiosity we begin the exploration, him along side, scoring our thoughts as if hovering in the very atmosphere. He’s been here before and knows the way.

Anticipating that there must be more to the tale than sound and word, I’ve asked Jamison to share with us some of the more visual influences that helped shape the album. Below he describes how the novel, it’s many cover designs, the work of Scott Hansen, Carl Sagan and Candy Claws have effected the ep.

Surface "Surface"
The Harvest "The Harvest"

A Silent Planet
As I read “Out Of The Silent Planet,” the first in CS Lewis’ “Space Trilogy,” I was incredibly moved by the way that Lewis could create such vivid landscapes with his words. It was easy to feel claustrophobic and tense as the main character sped through space in his coffin-like ship, and it was easy to feel disoriented and in wonder as the main character first stepped onto the new planet. Throughout my reading, I had a visual playing in my head. As well as having that visual creation happening, I also heard what the soundtrack to those visions might sound like, and that’s what eventually became “A Silent Planet”. The music on the record is a companion to the visuals that I saw in my mind.

This isn’t the first time that visuals have played a big role in the creation of my music. Listed below are several different artists/pieces of art that have had a significant influence on the creation of A Silent Planet, as well as all my other works as Teen Daze:

Out Of The Silent Planet Novel Covers
Obviously, “A Silent Planet” draws a lot of influence from its novel counterpart. But the physical novel itself even served as an influence; the many pressings of this novel mean that there are many different visual interpretations of the story. Each one tells a different piece of the story, and each presents a different idea visually. Just as I had my own visual experience with the novel, it’s so interesting to see how each one of the illustrators has their own idea of how to represent the novel.


Scott Hansen (aka ISO50)
One of the greatest inspirations for me, both musically and visually, has been the work of Scott Hansen, who creates music under the name Tycho, and designs under the moniker, ISO50. Scott’s works evoke so much emotion and feeling. So much of my work as Teen Daze has been created as “vibe music”, or in other words, it’s been created to have that same characteristic that Scott’s work has. I want Teen Daze records to draw out those same emotions and feelings that I experience when I listen to Tycho, or when I see some of his design work.


I only discovered Carl Sagan this past year, and I dove head first into Cosmos. The man’s passion and love for all things “unexplainable” is so inspiring. The way that he was able to take something very intellectual and formal, and present it in a very relational way was such a wonderful gift. His passion for Science spilled over and became a passion for anyone that came to experience him, whether personally or through this series. Visually, the series itself is so lush and pleasing to the eye. The soundtrack uses electronic music in a way that is more comparable to classical music, rather than dance music, which is a trait that I’ve always strived towards.


Candy Claws In Dreamland
A huge musical influence on the record is the works of Candy Claws. Dreamland is a series of videos that feature the band exploring some of the beautiful nature scenes in their home state of Colorado, as well as showcasing their ability to create other-worldly sounds through the series’ soundtrack. When I first approached Ryan, one of the principle members of Candy Claws, about possibly designing the album art, I was shocked when he said that he was a huge fan of the books when he was growing up. A week or so later, and he sent me his first draft, which ended up being the cover!  His design work has this modern, 50′s look to it, and it suited the feeling of the album so well.

Images from top to bottom:

  1. Out Of The Silent Planet, Publisher: Avon Books 1949
  2. Out Of The Silent Planet, Publisher: Avon T127 1949
  3. Out Of The Silent Planet, Publisher: Pan Books 1962
  4. Out Of The Silent Planet, Publisher: Mac Millan 1970
  5. Out Of The Silent Planet, Publisher: Scribner Paperback Fiction 1986
  6. ISO50 – Tycho: Past is Prologue
  7. ISO50 – Tycho: Dive

A Silent Planet is available (September 13th) digitally on bandcamp and physically at the Lefse Records shop on both CD & cassette.


Musical Eyes: PEPEPIANO on Retro Futurism

PEPEPIANO is a made up band name from David Bird’s past, plucked from his imagination to impress and perhaps perplex his schoolmates. Today, PEPEPIANO is this Cali native/Midwestern space argonaut/student of sound’s alias under which he produces some of the richest bedroom/laptop/electrospacefunk around. He’s also a lover of art, with an eye for envisioned futures of our not so distant past and contemporary disconnected narratives on the same theme. David’s taken some time before beginning his final year at The Oberlin Conservatory of Music to share with us a couple of his favorite visual artists, Kilian Eng and Syd Mead.

Graphic Adventure "Graphic Adventure"
Gym Mystique "Gym Mystique"
Fire Hands "Fire Hands"

I’ve read on your tumblr that Syd Mead was a family friend. What was it like growing up surrounded by his art, when at the time it wasn’t necessarily retro future but still very much future? What about it sparked your imagination?

What’s most immediately striking about Syd’s work is the pure functionality of his designs; I mean, I guess that’s why he was hired to do the early designs for Tron and Blade Runner. It’s that kind of attention to detail and faith in design which makes one’s initial subscription to the “Mead”-ideal so real and effortless. It’s the same sort of investment necessary for ones enjoyment of any piece of fiction–science fiction included.

His “A Portfolio of Probabilities,” commissioned by U.S. Steel, was something I encountered as a child, and I had a very viscerally inspiring experience mulling through them. I ended up using them for the cover of ‘Babes‘. The collection doesn’t allude to or get off on any common science fiction tropes, and I never experienced his work that way. Mead doesn’t propose a possibility of the future, he’s too confident. Mead’s art is more about design, highly rational, blueprints, single handed models of what, with any luck, might be down the road.

…and knowing the history of the steel industry soon after that commission; as if they were buying the inspiration. It’s so very (tragically) American, I can’t handle it.

How has Mead’s vision effected you as you began exploring sound as an art form of your own?

There’s a large element of fiction in my stuff, but there’s also a lot of nerdy musical quotes: truisms, in some sense. The balance is difficult I guess, but mostly it’s about making it all feel real, or functional in the same way Mead’s work operates. There’s a dickish persistence which sorta undermines all my stuff; I can’t explain it, but it’s there. I’d only hope it evokes a vivid enough environment that people can envision or involve themselves in (in much the same way Mead’s work creates such immediately plausible futures).

There is a distinct color palette used in most retro futuristic art that seems to be embodied by your sound, almost as if it could be its modern soundtrack. Was that ever a conscience effort?

I think a lot of my work w/r/t production comes from an interest in orchestration; Stravinsky and Berio’s work especially. For me, it encourages the type of color balance you’re talking about. But it’s more of an expectation for myself than a conscious effort, framed by things I’ve dug (or not dug) in the past, biased towards a sorta bold ideal, vivid and really saturated. It’s super powerful, or I suppose it can be. Color is super important.

Both Mead and Kilian weave rather complex visual narratives into their work, how do narratives come into play during your writing process?

I don’t use narrative as a formal device, and lyrically it’s devoid of it as well. But the lyrics in my tunes can often trigger a troublesome metaphor when positioned against its musical counterpart. I kinda get off on this stuff. It’s like an invented implementation of tastelessness weaved so tightly into the structure of a track that it often goes unnoticed. I see a similar shade of this when I see these paintings. Mead’s placing a white 1950s American family at the center of these futuristic ideals, while Kilian is playing with and distorting nostalgic devices, implanting darker themes at the heart of work. There’s nothing subliminal about it, but it gives it strong character.

Are there any other visual artists you’d like to collaborate with? Any dream collabs?

I’d love to work with Theo Anthony again, I think his music videos are super inspiring, and weirdly get at the heart of what PEPEPIANO is. Kilian also makes neat videos. Dream collab may be something with David Firth, but I might explode if that happens.

Images from top to bottom:

  1. Title image: Kilian Eng - untitled
  2. Kilian Eng – untitled
  3. Kilian Eng – untitled
  4. Kilian Eng – Dollhouse Journeys
  5. Syd Mead – from USS: a portfolio of possibilities
  6. Syd Mead – Water Sports from USS: a portfolio of possibilities
  7. Syd Mead - Sentinel 400 Limousine from USS: a portfolio of possibilities
  8. Syd Mead – Space Wreck from “Flight of Icarus”

Listen, stream, download several PEPEPIANO albums on bandcamp, explore more on tumblr and check out the end of summer 2011 mixtape he created for Think or Smile.


Think or Smile Mixtape: (End of) Summer 2011 – created by PEPEPIANO

For lovers of the annual turning of the leaves, for those who revel in the crisp evening air, this time of year is welcomed with open sweater-clad arms. Heat seekers may not share our sentiment. But with any inevitable change it’s good to look back and pay homage to our warmer memories. PEPEPIANO, one of my favorite sonic space explorers, has been gracious enough to create this (end of) summer mixtape, and with it we bid a fond farewell to the heated sounds of 2011.


Think or Smile Mixtape: (End of) Summer 2011 – created by PEPEPIANO - Tracklist:

  1. Isao Tomita – Electromagnetic Waves Descend
  3. Chrome Sparks – All There Is (Feat. Steffaloo)
  4. SLEEP ∞ OVER – Romantic Streams (BALAM ACAB)
  5. Subvader – Make Love on the Moon
  6. Nicolas Jaar – What My Last Girl Put Me Through
  7. Salem – Tair
  8. Purity Ring – Lofticries
  9. D/R/U/G/S – Love/Lust (Keep Shelly in Athens Remix)
  10. Ra Cailum – I Know That You’ve Known
  11. Candyspilling – Epiclesis
  12. PEPEPIANO – Graphic Adventure
  13. Terry Riley – In The Summer

If aren’t already familiar with PEPEPIANO’s work, I highly recommend you do some exploring on his bandcamp and tumblr. Or take a look into some of the visual influences behind his sound.


Free Music Collection: September 2011

As the sun sets yet again this time taking with it summer’s warmth, we survey our surroundings, soaking up all we can in the fading light. We instinctively set our compass to the land rich with sounds, free for the taking, and meet at our monthly point of intersection to share our findings. Slow disco, wandering psychpop, space jazz, post-elevator music, all gold in our eyes.

We hope you enjoy the bounties.

Free Music Collection: September 2011

Think or Smile


Stadiums & Shrines

  • Korallreven – A Dream Within A Dream: Swedes take on some of their favorite songs with their own inception logic in “a wistful glance over the shoulder as summer fades into our dreams.”
  • Lasership Stereo – Soft Season / Meet Local Singles: 2 EPs (one free, one streaming) of steamy, down-pitch jams, to set the *late night* mood.
  • It is rain in my face – Wishbone: Matt Jones—introspective melody weaver, strum-beat soundscaper—on everyone’s favorite digital label, Absent Fever.
  • Música Pop Desempregada – MPD027: vários – 21 anos de MPD: A 21 song salute to the “unemployed pop music movement” in Portugal assembled by Música Pop Desempregada (who sport an eleven-point, blood-signed manifesto). Grainy, odd, light dreams, heavy dreams, lone desert space cowboys, Enya covers…
  • The-Drum: The scattering on this soundcloud is rich with bent ‘n’ broke R&B vocals and that sort of dub-infused trickery that pairs well with headphones.
  • Jjango Cleefworth Morriconez – The Poquito Pioneer: A bootgazing concept album (which arrived by mail, wrapped in a map) about a man driving through the desert, finding refuge “among the roadside vendors and immigrant folktales on his way to the home of his youth in the Salton Sea.”
  • The Bell Peppers – Cooking With Bell Peppers: 50s era swing from Manchester, delightfully misremembered with more distortion and drugs.
  • S&S Guest Mix – Kumon Plaza: Dylan Khotin-Foote’s assignment was simple: pull together anything under the sun. And like the shining student of orbital electronic that he is, he turned in a report entitled Tears of the World At Large Bottled and Sold at Super Markets, documenting 8 choice items (including Balam Acab, Azeda Booth, Kuhrye-oo, and more) on a trip through atmospheric manufacturing.


Smoke Don’t Smoke


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Note: Due to bandcamp’s terms of service artists are required to charge a minimal price after a certain number of free downloads. If  that’s the case after our posting you can always stream it and if it moves you, support them with a purchase.



Think or Smile | Nathaniel Whitcomb © 2011