We had a chat with Skeltr as their new album Dorje was released.
Tell us a bit about your process creating Dorje and how does that differ to your debut album?
The process of creating our new album Dorje was all about fine detail. We began recording in June 2018 (I began composing probably as early as 2016 before the first album had come out!) and we endeavoured to create a sonic world that was both familiar to listeners of all types of music and yet distinctly original in its performance and melody presentation. We layered each instrument over time, creating guide tracks and then re-recording better and better parts as we went along. Saxophone was the final instrument to be recorded, then from there we spent a long time producing, playing with auxiliary synth parts and adding in different effects as well as changing some arrangements and then finally mixed the whole album trying to achieve an almost symphonic scale sound. The difference between the first and second album is vast, I learnt many lessons from the first album, you could say it is raw and less refined, which is an artistic choice, the second album is aiming for a much more polished, yet wild musical experience.
The artwork for Dorje is super cool, what inspired the design, did you work with an artist on that?
The artwork for Dorje was initially a hand drawn geometric work by a friend George Bone, you can see this now forms the backdrop to the centrepiece of flowers and a person which were designed by an artist called Benjac. Benjac and I have been working together for a number of years and I really enjoyed his digital flowerwork. The final concept was to have the flowers arising from the mind, which is where the person comes in. It was a process of a few months to finally get it right but I give all credit of the hard work to Benjac and George on this one, I was throwing around strange concepts, ideas and inspirations and they brought them to life.
How did Skeltr form? Where did you guys meet?
Craig and I met late 2013 at a jam session in Manchester, It was my local session and Craig happened to have been drafted on drums for a night, I asked for his number, and the rest is history haha! We actually started a 6 piece neo soul band together and I wrote pop songs for it, we ended up staying behind and jamming after those rehearsals and started creating Skeltr organically from there, eventually ditching the neo soul outfit. The idea to use Ableton rather than create a band was simply out of my love of playing synths and messing with samples. It all grew quite organically and we took our time being creative before we solidly decided to start gigging and making albums etc.
How did you find performing at Lancaster Jazz Festival? Any particular stand out moments?
We performed at Lancaster Jazz festival as the headline commission in 2018. I would honestly still rate it as one of our finest achievements! The music is heartfelt and the Dukes Theatre was a very special place to premiere it. We both have close connections to Lancaster and the folk who run the festival so we really feel at home playing Lancaster Jazz festival. I think asking the audience to not clap or make noise until we were done was a highlight for me! It really brought the focus in, and although rather unconventional in a jazz setting, it made for an intense and memorable experience.
What's in the pipeline for Skeltr next?
Coming in the future for Skeltr beyond our album release, is something very much to do with Lancaster Jazz Festival! We are hoping to be recording the 2018 commission as our 3rd album! But we will be presenting the whole process in a very unique fashion that we hope will bring people closer to the music, music making and artists. We can’t say more for now but we’re really excited to bring this project to everyone! In the mean time, enjoy the second album :)