Monday, September 6, 2010
Gabe Lehner (Inspired Flight) Interview
If you haven't checked out Inspired Flight already, you'd be a fool not to do so now. Blending everything from rap to atmospheric guitar melodies seamlessly, this duo brings a whole new game to the table with their debut album We All Want to Fly. I managed to get a hold of Gabe Lehner, who comprises half of the duo, and got a solid interview out of him. Be sure to do the band a favor and check out their music over here.
So how did the two of you initially meet and form a music duo? Is there any kind of back story to the name “Inspired Flight”?
A few years back I wanted to make an electronica album for the first time so I teamed up with my vocalist friend Ashley Mazanec, and we made a whole album under the name Mechanical Cats. The album is called Chemical Obsession. When the album was nearly complete I felt that it needed some turntable scratching on a few songs, but I didn't know any DJs at the time. I called around to people I barely knew and got numbers of people I didn't know. After making a few calls I was ultimately directed to this guy named Eric Poline who was supposed to be really good at scratching. I called him up even though he had no idea who I was, told him about the project, and met up with him soon after and paid him as a work-for-hire to do scratching on the album. We found we had lots in common as for music taste, and ultimately we ended up trying to collaborate with each other, which turned into Inspired Flight, and Ashley Mazanec not only sings on our iF album a lot, but also is playing live with us now too.
I’ll be honest. When I initially started following you guys as you released tracks here and there before the big release of We All Want to Fly, I assumed the album would stay relatively low-key, but from what I’ve been seeing the album has really been taking off with critics everywhere. What’s been your reaction to the album and your duo’s sudden jolt in popularity?
Our reaction to the response we are getting is that we're livid! Just kidding... We feel so blessed, and couldn't be happier about the reaction so far. We put a crazy amount of energy and time into making We All Want To Fly, and it's something I am so, so proud of. I always felt that we were making a different, special album, and I hoped the reaction from critics would be what it has been, but to actually have it be so positive is kind of a trip. I am very grateful, and it feels really good.
The album itself took around three years to make. What was the songwriting process typically like? Was it mostly nonstop or were there a lot of breaks in between? Did you make the album one song at a time or were they all outlined fairly early?
The album actually took like two years to make. We have been a group for three years and the entire first year was us practicing in my room just trying to figure out how to even program MIDI controllers in a way that made sense and memorize how to perform live. Our first show wasn't till after a year of practice. We did creating in that first year, but pretty much the entire album came after that first year. We never set out to make an album, rather we kept starting songs and eventually realized we needed to put out an album, so then we had to start thinking about which songs to finish and put together to be a cohesive album experience. We are constantly writing/starting new songs, but the way we do it almost always comes from us jamming, or one of us starting with an idea and trying to make it a really cool, vibey piece of music. Then, as it comes together as an instrumental, I am very drawn to sing over it and come up with melody ideas for vocals because that's my nature. Next thing you know there is a song. We never write a whole song on a guitar with singing and stuff, and then record/produce it. It's been music first, then I write something over it, for this first album. Although some new stuff we're working on will be done the other way.
Your songs feature guest artists from plenty of big acts including members from the Wu-Tang Clan and Living Legends. How did you manage to get them all on your record?
We actually got Eligh involved first by hitting him up on myspace! He wrote us back, really liked our music, and was down to get involved. This led to a really good relationship with each other, and I ended up writing and doing vocal parts for his new upcoming album, and in turn he did a second song for the album. Getting Scarub was easy when we already became friends with Eligh. As for the Wu connection, we played an after-party at a friend's house in the Hollywood hills one night....it was a super random party for us to even be at. Rugged Monk and the whole Black Knights crew ended up showing there, and they were drawn to our music set up. Rugged Monk ended up freestyling with some other dudes for about an hour straight right in front of our table, and we made the connection that night. Months later we reached out to him about rapping on our album and he was down. Once I had built a really good relationship with him I was able to reach out to Wu-Tang through him, and we actually got Inspectah Deck on our album, which still trips me out!
So did these guest artists write their own parts or did you guys write everything?
The guest MC's entirely wrote everything they do. We gave them a hint of direction for what our song was about, and they each ran with that, did their own thing, and killed it.
Since you can’t get everybody who recorded with you to go to every show on your tour, how do you typically fill in for their parts?
We have their acapellas bounced down and Eric throws them over the beat via his turntables.
Now I know you’re still in the middle of your first tour, but are there any show or on-the-road stories worth sharing yet?
Something really funny happened in Portland I thought. At one point in between songs we mentioned that we were from San Diego, and some random guy from the crowd shouts, "Ken Caminiti!" who was a baseball player for the Padres years ago, and also died years ago from doing drugs. It was so random. That, and playing an epic house party in Big Sur, come to mind off the bat.
So picture yourself with a couple of big, framed platinum records. Like, in your basement. Next to the couch full of money. No, the other one. What goals would you pursue if money was in your fridge and between your toes?
If money was not an issue at all, and there was plenty of it, we would be pursuing the same goals we are now. It would be all about making more music, putting together a better live show, getting more famous features, having awesome people do remixes of us, and nurturing our Create Fate record label. The money would make all of that way easier to do much sooner!
I know it’s still a little early to be asking, but are there any plans for future music yet?
There are lots of plans for future music. We are soon to release a new single and follow that up shortly with a remix/mash-up we did that I am crazy stoked off of and super proud of. It combines all my favorite indie rock stuff, and I think it will be very well received. We also have a number of newer songs we're already thinking about using for an upcoming EP and even our second album. Inspired Flight will always be putting out music!
Alright, last (and most important) question: cake or pie? Choose wisely.
Pie. Totally pie. My dad has baked homemade pies my whole life since I can remember, and they rule the universe, and I too make pies now, and my final answer is pie. But I love cake!