Trisha North: Infidel Interview #20


You've been releasing music since 2014 under the name of Trisha North. However you have been actively involved with music your whole life. Would you like to give my audience a bit of a rundown of the sort of instruments and styles you've accumulated into your repertoire over the years?

When I was in Elementary –Middle School I played the clarinet in band and orchestra courses for about 5 years. I also have 12+ years of experience as a singer through concert choirs, mixed chorus and a chamber choir group that I created with a few of my peers in High School as well. I received my first keyboard at 12 years-old from my parents for Christmas which I taught myself how to play by ear. And then I received my first guitar (acoustic) from my father when I was 17 which I also learned how to play by ear. I am mostly classically trained when it comes to my vocals but over-all I’m a self-taught musician in everything else.

I’ve always enjoyed electronic music so I started veering more in that direction as a medium for composing at around age 18. But I didn’t actively start pursuing it as a career until I was about 25. I studied the basics of audio-engineering for about 4 years and then I began learning more about dj-ing soon after.

I first started creating minimal beats and psytrance styled music at the beginning of my education through production and recording software. But I’ve broadened my styles within the last few years to Neo-Classical, Folk, Glitch, Hip Hop, Trip-hop, Techno, Trance, Rave, EDM, and Dubstep (just to name a few).

I mainly play the keyboard/piano, synthesizers, bass, acoustic and electric guitar but I hope to one day learn how to play the drums in person vs. through looping stations and built in software as well as mastering the harp and the mandolin.

When it comes to making music, you have a lot of different backgrounds and influences. What sort of bands and artists would you consider to be your biggest influences when it comes to composition, and would you say that there is a particular style or genre that rings closest to your heart?

I’ve been trying to go against the grain so to speak when it comes to my sound. But I am well aware that I have been greatly inspired by other artists. I’m not very bias when it comes to music, however. I listen to pretty much everything. I admittedly listen to pretty obscure/interesting bands that a lot of my friends and other people that I interact with have never heard of before. So I have a lot of fun making mix-tapes among other things for them.

A few albums that I’ve been listening to pretty religiously lately are “151a” by Kishi Bashi (When I first stumbled upon Kishi Bashi I initially got Goosebumps all over my body. His sound is so beautiful and so angelic. I really adore his track “I Am the Antichrist to You” I started listening to it post-breakup. The lyrics are heartfelt and pretty deep. So I definitely have cried a lot while listening to his album as well. It makes me very nostalgic.) “Earth Sick” by Oh Land (Nanna Øland Fabricius’s voice is incredibly ethereal. And I really enjoy her take on electronic. I would say that her style has been one of my biggest influences as of late. The little ticks and glitches throughout her songs I’ve tried to emulate and incorporate a similar type of sound in my tracks these days. And I just really love having solo dance parties while rocking out to her songs “Hot’N’Bothered” and “No Particular Order”. lol!) “Too Bright” by Perfume Genius (Mike Hadreas is from Seattle. So that is among many reasons why I love him. But his sound is kind of hypnotic to me. I love the fibers of the piano and the guitar with the dreamy vocals overlapping them throughout the whole record.) “Cars” by Now, Now Every Children (The band currently goes by Now, Now. It is comprised of Cacie Dalager, Bradley Hale, and Jess Abbott. And they are definitely one of my favorite indie bands. Their style also reminds me a little bit of the Montreal based band Arcade Fire, another one of my favorites. Their song “Friends With My Sister” is by far my most beloved off of the album. It is about a young girl coming out to her mother as gay. It is really powerful overall; the whole story and production of that track really moves me. I’ve been driven to add more bass and guitar sounds to my songs because of them. And I’ve noticed that my non-electronic songs have also grown a lot more since stumbling upon them a few years ago.) I also really adore Oliver Tank. He has such an intrinsic style and his voice melts me; it is to die for. I love the track “Last Night I Heard Everything in Slow Motion” I’ve put it on repeat almost every night. And his song “Past Present Future” was my inspiration while creating my song “Secrets” off of my album “Funhouse”.

Washington is kind of the heart of the indie rock scene so that might be where I am most naturally drawn as my place of interest. I mean, we have iconic bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Fleet Foxes etc. that were birthed here on our soil. So I grew up enjoying that style. I most often listen to artists like Radiohead, Shiny Toy Guns, The Dresden Dolls, and Modest Mouse when I am craving that kind of sound though lately.

But while I was living in Wisconsin I grew to love folk music more through artists like Laura Marling and Joanna Newsom. I’ll just say ask me on any given day at random and you’d find that I am on a different musical threshold. I enjoy keeping my window of influence wide-open.

What would you say are your favorite themes and topics to write about? What draws you to those themes?

I wouldn’t say that I have one specific theme that I preference or favor for my music. I pull a lot from my personal experiences such as my adolescent struggles, my sexuality, my journeys through love, family, friendships, loss and art, and the inner workings of my mind and soul. Whatever moves me usually moves me to create.

My song “Voices In My Head” was inspired by a tragic event that shook my family back in June of 2015. Two loved-ones lost their lives to a murder suicide at the hands of a gun. I was in the middle of producing my album “Funhouse” when it happened so the mood definitely shifted pretty dramatically from then on in a few of my later tracks. The lyrics are “I hear the voices tormenting me, torturing me, destroying me...” And they are the focal point and the heart of the song.

I feel that those that are dealing with mental health issues often feel alone in their struggle. But much like this difficult circumstance involving those that I’ve lost, others are often left dealing with the aftermath or are there suffering and aching along with them.

I was having a hard time coming to terms with everything at that point in my life so I turned to my music and allowed it to speak for me. I’ve always been more fluid and more vocal through art so it was almost an instantaneous form of comfort and a great source of therapy for me.

I used a lot of glitches and ticks throughout the track to symbolize the ebb and flow of the highs and lows of depression. And I put a reverb on the vox (vocals) to make it kind of dreamlike and angelic to counterbalance the sadness of the lyrics. But to be honest, it is indeed very sad and heart-breaking, and heavy. And I didn’t want to deter from the central message in any way.

I feel for all of those out there that ache like I’ve ached. It is really hard. I am currently in support of a movement that is happening here in Washington that is being pushed by the parents of those who have died in an effort to limit the purchase of guns and these types of senseless acts of violence from taking place as prominently as they have been lately in our state. I understand that this issue is under scrutiny from supporters of the NRA and other organizations but this has become an epidemic and it actively needs to be eradicated.

This song in particular will always remind me of the reality and the severity of mental illness and how important it is for those who are struggling with it to find a way to express their selves and share their voice constructively, without shame, and in turn also receive the support they need in order cope/overcome it. I know that a lot of people listen to that album and have felt something from it; but it is definitely one of the most personal projects that I have produced so far. And all of the positive feedback has really uplifted me and humbled me since that experience.

When it comes to non-musical media, what do you find yourself most inspired by and what about it draws you to it as a source of inspiration?

I’m inspired by a lot of things. I’ve always been personally very drawn to poetry. For example, I’ve been reading a lot of poetry by Yehuda Amichai. So you might find that a few of my songs may be produced rather organically without any rhyme or reason kind of like a haiku. Or they might be more drawn out and lengthy like a sonnet. I also have taken in to account for my place of inspiration my love of Greek Mythology as well as photography, art, films or video-games. It tends to be the strongest thoughts or feelings associated with that type of media that are what drives me to produce that type of imagery through my work.

What would you say would be you short term, and long term, goals for your artistic self?

Wow, it’s really hard to say. I mean, I’m a big fan of shows like KEXP Live and Band in Seattle. I think that it would be a thrill to be onstage through an outlet like that one day. However, I was recently extended an invitation to guest dj at Kremwerk an LGBTQ friendly bar/nightclub in Seattle by Julia Camp one of the active dj’s and promoters of the club. But I sadly haven’t been able to do so yet. So that is something that I am hoping to knock off of my bucket list sometime.

I also have the current ambition to perform live at SXSW within the next year. So that has really driven me to establish more of a foundation for my sound so I can harness it, build from it and grow more as an artist until the time arrives. It has also greatly inspired me to get my feet further wet in the art of djing and the performance side of the spectrum. So I am currently working to expand my equipment at the moment in order to do so.

In addition to music I’ve also been writing a fiction series that I hope to one day publish and I’ve been actively producing photography and painting landscapes/seascapes in my down-time. So setting goals is kind of a part of life and my current agenda. lol! But I don’t want to limit myself in any way or by any means because I am finding a lot of joy in this entire process so far with all of my ventures. I am just very encouraged by the sea of possibilities and very curious to discover what’s still in store for my future self.

Would you say that your choice to pursue music has changed your life since you started? Would you say that creativity has evolved you spiritually, emotionally, or logically? What are some of the biggest challenges you have had to overcome in your musical career?

A challenge that I’ve had to overcome, for sure, is allowing myself to be vulnerable and fully opening myself up to outside criticism; and to not take things so personally. I find that I am often my harshest critic. But after I posted my first song for the world to hear in 2014 and have been actively pursuing it since then I am a little less fragile now. And the level of fear has dwindled pretty significantly. There was a point when I just had to stop and give myself a little pep-talk like “Dude, don’t beat yourself up so much. Just post your song and whatever happens, happens. “That has really changed my perspective on things. And I’ve fully accepted that this will always be a learning experience and things can only get better from here if I allow myself to move forward authentically and openly.

It is sometimes overwhelming to think about how much things have changed for me, especially within the past few years not to mention the past two to three months. Two of my tracks were featured live on C89.5 FM here in Seattle through the iHeartSeattle radio broadcast on Electrobox with DJ Julia on February 12th of this year. I’ve been a die-hard fan of that station since I was a teenager. And I still remember very vividly that I told myself when I was like 15 years-old that I would be on that radio station one day. I am still pinching myself knowing that it actually happened. It was a very sobering experience. And it’s crazy to think that one of my childhood dreams came true and is continuing to come true even now as I write my thoughts down for this interview.

I moved from the Northwest to the Midwest when I was in my early 20s. During that phase of my life I adopted a vegan-friendly and a minimalistic lifestyle. For a great period of time I was without a television, active internet connection, etc. So there wasn’t a place of availability for distractions from the outside world to pollute my focus. I also grew to understand myself and my sexuality more. And I became more comfortable in my skin. That is when I really discovered that this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.

All that I had to entertain myself really was my acoustic/bass guitar and my keyboard for awhile. So I started writing a lot of indie/folk songs during that period of time. It definitely helped elaborate and expand my sound and skill-set as well cause me to take an intimate look at myself and understand my feelings on a more personal level.

Since I started making music I am definitely much happier than I’ve been. Music has helped carry me through countless circumstances and journeys in my life. It has really helped me to regain my center of balance that I feel like I was missing for awhile. And I know that I am a much more confident and optimistic person now than I was years ago as well.

You have released two albums independently so far, and you have two more albums that you plan to release this year. How has your composition and musical evolution changed since you last released music?

My sound has definitely reached a new evolution. I am more into edm (electronic dance music) and dubstep on my recent tracks than I was a year ago. And I’ve been driven to create a Neo-Classical album that is currently in production. So it has been fun for me to flip back and forth between my early tracks and compare them to where I am now. It’s like night and day.

I think that my music is definitely much richer than it was two years ago. I have developed more of an understanding of my equipment and my recording software. I have also polished-off more of my skills while producing my tracks.

Are there any particular instruments, programs, or effects that you would say are vital to you making music? If so, is there a reason in particular that draws you to said creative outlet?

I really dig heavy drums, bass and synthesizers. As well as the addition of vox (vocal) sounds and other effects while making music these days. Majority of my songs tell a story so I tend to put different sounds or effects in place to help set the scene and overall vibe of the track. For instance, while creating my song “Solaris” I was imagining a collision between the earth and an asteroid. That’s why I added a guttural female scream during the climatic portions of the song so you would understand that there was a sense of fear or danger occurring. And in “Galaxies” one day I was dreaming of a lonely astronaut in space who is greeted by an alien race. So the small glitches and the indistinct vocals dancing over the piano are supposed to be an example of the alien dialect coming into view and the lengthy drones and sweeps throughout are supposed be symbolic of the ship and the astronaut drifting through space. I am a very artistic and creative thinker so I tend to build off of where my imagination takes me. I’ll admit that I was really into the show “Extant” during the creation of that track as well so that may be the initial inspiration behind it. lol!

Do you spend a lot of time crafting your own sounds? Or do you value song crafting and effects tweaking more? Or do you find it's a balance between the two? What’s your relationship with presets?

I would say that it’s a pretty decent balance between the two. I use this feature called piano roll on my software for a lot of my work. So a lot of my process involves creating the structure of sound by recording and implementing my pitch and direction manually. The process can be a bit taxing at times especially when I am dragging and dropping and manipulating everything from an organic source like from a live recording of me playing the guitar or piano. But yeah, the amount of time crafting depends on the type of sound I am trying to generate and how much of an impact is involved. A lot of the time I have used preset drum kits or drum sounds and placed them into my piano roll as well and edited them to my liking. I’m not a drummer by any means so that process has also taken a lot of effort on my part. But I am very fortunate to have found the time to learn how to do so because I think that it has really elevated a lot of my recent work.

Is collaboration something that is actively important to you? Do you have any individuals you are particularly successful, or unsuccessful, in collaboration with? Have there been any collaborative based songs that you would say stand out to you?

I haven’t been able to collaborate with anyone. But I have been open to the idea and have received messages of interest that I’m keeping in consideration for future projects. I would really love to feature a few more samples of my own vocals later on though in my work. I think that it would be so much fun to see how people take to my voice in particular.

I listen to almost every type of music. When it comes to any collaborative based songs that I really enjoy I guess that a few that stand out to me at the moment would be through songs like “Steroids” by Mr. Oizo featuring Uffie, "Where Are Ü Now" by Skrillex and Diplo featuring Justin Bieber, “Rumors” by Adam Lambert featuring Tove Lo, “Blame” by Calvin Harris featuring John Newman, “All This Love” by Alesso featuring Noonie Bao, “Kingdom Come” by Demi Lovato featuring Iggy Azalea, “Turn Me Own” by David Guetta featuring Nicki Minaj, “This Is Love” by Will.i.am featuring Eva Simons, and “Roses” by The Chainsmokers featuring Rozes. I know that it may be hard to believe, but I just recently have taken interest in Justin Bieber’s work. lol! I went through a period of time when I didn’t listen to local radio as often so I never really knew about him or his music. And with the new direction my sound has taken I am really drawn to different takes on edm lately so his sound is something that I am really digging right now. If I could pick anyone at random to collaborate with I would love to work with someone down the road like Lindsey Stirling on my electronic songs. I think that having her voice and violin on a track would be so awesome! Just the thought of it brings a smile to my face!

There's been a lot of flack going around these days at the major labels for more or less all-but stealing a lot of the money from the artists on their rosters. More and more with technology artists have the capabilities to release music, and engage with their audience, without the need for major label support. I've seen you've released a lot of your music independently, and obviously with that comes the benefits and drawbacks. Where do you stand when it self-releasing versus working with labels, and do you see yourself working with any particular labels in the future? I've heard some independent labels, though offering less support, often offer a lot more flexibility.

If I could lend any advice toward those that want to produce music independently or through a record label I would say “Never settle for anything less than what you are striving for. And give yourself the ability to fail and to succeed on your own two feet before giving away your rights, your voice, and your success to someone else.”

I’ve been very lucky in most regards to manage all of my projects and the amount of movement that is taking place in my career so far. I know that a lot of artists out there may not be allotted the same rewards or second chances, and many are constantly being pushed into a mold that is unlike the one that they would have envisioned for themselves. And these artists are often; it seems to me at least, that they are usually the most miserable behind the scenes because they’ve lost the genuine spark that initially drove them toward creating in the first place. It’s very unfortunate and this level of falsehood can leave lasting damage in its wake. I don’t know why…but naturally, Karen Carpenter just comes to mind. She was an astoundingly beautiful and talented drummer. I mean, she could shred on drums better than most of the guys out there. But she was a drummer turned singer…just saying…I understand that there were different facets to her struggle through celebrity but I notice through videos and catalogued accounts of her work being a fan of the Carpenters that she seemed the most comfortable and at ease behind her drum set. And I think that is a real shame that that was diminished for her during her career.

I have sadly had a few people steal a few of my tracks through pirating sites online that I honestly had no previous knowledge of or any involvement with. I didn’t find out about it until about three weeks after the fact. And the process in order to remove them from the sites was challenging and albeit pretty useless considering the tracks can’t be removed from the active multimedia accounts after they’ve already been illegally downloaded. It is pretty frustrating and a bit discouraging when that happens especially when you’re someone like me that dedicates so much time and hard work into creating their songs. So that was a bit of a bump in the road for me for awhile in my regaining trust toward online publishing.

I have also had the negative experience of publishing one of my albums through a public forum that had a lot of hidden loopholes in their artist agreement toward distribution policies and hidden fees. That is one reason why I decided to pull my last album “Lovesick “offline momentarily while I decide where and when to re-release it.

I have mainly done most of my recording at home on my own DAW (digital audio workstation). But the idea of working in studio at a label is something that is really intriguing to me and it would be a dream to experience that. Apart from electronic music I am also a singer-songwriter at heart and I have been itching to record an EP of my own original songs for the world to hear. I’ve actually been researching a few studios in the area to find one that I could possibly record at. But I’ve always wanted to record with a label like Sub Pop Records. A few of my favorite bands like Beach House have recorded with them. And I really dig their sound. Beyond that I don’t really know that much about labels and their policies so I don’t really feel comfortable speaking any further on that issue until I learn more about it myself.

I guess that this brings me to my last words of advice toward publishing and releasing music, “Educate yourself and learn as much as you can about the various outlets for sharing your music before you jump into it. Get your toes wet for awhile and feel things out before you fully commit yourself to something that could not only deter you from creating but could possibly bankrupt you. Develop a list of things that you’re wanting to accomplish and then weigh-out the pros and cons because the sooner you know what you’re looking for in the world of music the easier it will be for you to set goals for yourself and to succeed in a light that would make you proud of your success.”

Thank you so much for participating in this episode of Infidel Interview. Any parting words for your fans, or my audience?

Wow, it’s crazy to think that this is already over. It has been such a fun experience and I will always carry it with me!

I would like to start by saying Thank You for extending this incredible opportunity toward me, Matt; and for allowing me to use this platform to speak more in depth about my work in such a safe and supportive space. This is my first interview, so I am somewhat bashful when I think about the type of response this will get. But ultimately I am beyond stoked about embarking on this new milestone!

Through my current work with my dear friends on Ellen Page Online and through my other social media accounts like Soundcloud and my twitter profile I have been extremely blessed to meet like-minded individuals that are also creative and artistically driven in their lives. It has really been inspiring and the encouraging reception toward me and my art has been beyond wonderful.

I have been given the greatest blessing to communicate with individuals from different regions, religions, and walks of life that I may have never encountered before in my daily life without this type of platform, support or technology. Music and art as a whole is something that I live and breathe for. It is absolutely powerful and it has the ability to touch so many lives and in so many different ways.

The friendly “hellos” the thoughtful comments and the welcoming messages and even the criticism have really opened my eyes to the spirit and significance of community. And the importance of remaining grounded and rooted through it all.

I want all of my followers, fans, and supporters to know how much I sincerely appreciate them. I have been so honored to meet such nice and generous people that have given me so much joy and so much warmth within the past two years.

I hope to continue creating and growing and sharing my achievements with you all because your support is why I am here right now. And thanks for being a part of this wild journey with me!

You can find, follow, and listen to Trisha North on the following websites:

Facebook

Soundcloud

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