With the growing popularity of the ambient techno scene, it’s often difficult for a beginning artist to get their own personality within the genre. Luckily for Christian Patterson, aka Art Deco Cathedrals, his own personal style has erupted into a new art form hailing from Portland, OR. With the gentile ambience of a nylon string ukulele and the bare force of a techno drum kit, the music of Art Deco Cathedrals soothes and plays with your mind while listening. Almost containing a culturally-based sound with the ukulele, Patterson has been able to create his own vision of the chill wave art form and has produced an EP of sweet tunes to dream to. So if you’re looking for a soothing sound, check out Art Deco Cathedrals to dream away. I sat down and did an email interview with Patterson about Art Deco Cathedrals and making music in a big city:
Pick&Pen: What first inspired you to start making music?
Christian Patterson (ADC): Good question… I guess what I love about instrumental music is the feelings expressed by it is inherent to the music. With lyrics, it kind of restricts the feelings to what the lyrics are about, and I always found the lack of that interesting about instrumental music. Not to say I have anything against vocals, I plan on doing stuff with vocals in the future, but I guess the concept of music without lyrics stood out to me from any other art form.
P&P: Why the name “Art Deco Cathedrals”?
ADC: I chose the name because it shows the balance between everything. Like, some people could see religion from the ‘cathedrals’ as something that transcends time and place, and the ‘art deco’ part as something that is making those concepts Earthly. Or they could see the ‘cathedrals’ part as a symbol of oppression and the ‘art deco’ part making it beautiful and artistic. Either way, the name is meant to express balance in a subjective way. I hope that makes sense, it makes sense in my head (haha).
P&P: How does living in a musical-hub like Portland affect your music?
ADC: I really like it. There is music for everyone here. From the outside world people might think of the kind of indie pop scene from Portland with like YACHT and the Decemberists and what have you, but there really is stuff for everyone. Also, it is cool going to shows and seeing a lot of the same people there. I love going to Backspace especially!
P&P: What type of music do you classify yourself as?
ADC: Sometimes I refer to myself as ‘post dream rock’ but I don’t know if that is accurate. I would like to think that my music fits in with other ambient musicians from Portland like Álfheimr, Grouper, Port St. Willow, etc. I aspire to kind of fit into the ethos of those musicians!
P&P: What instruments do you use to create your music?
ADC: For my EP I used my nylon string ukulele, a lot of field recordings, and my computer for added ambience and drum kits. Also, reverb in every song. But the stuff I am working on now will branch out into the other instruments.
P&P: Who are your influences for your music?
ADC: Mainly Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Neutral Milk Hotel. I also really like, as previously mentioned, Portland projects like Grouper, Álfheimr, and Port St. Willow for experimenting with ambient music in vastly different ways.
P&P: What is the process in which you create a song?
ADC: For my first EP, I actually recorded a bunch of parts that all have similar chords and strings, just played in different orders and patterns, and put them together differently in my computer. Some parts on the album are actually me playing 5 or 6 different parts layered on top of each other.
P&P: Where, in the city you live, do you go to find more inspiration? Or is there a certain person/other place that inspires you?
ADC: This might sound dumb, but I like to chill by the statue of Teddy Roosevelt outside the Portland Art Museum late at night. That is where I would go if I had no plans and am kind of overwhelmed by life. No one is there at night and I just like it a lot. I am a tad nocturnal.
P&P: What is the hardest part when creating a song?
ADC: Just making it sound like everything meshes in with each other. It is hard to tell because when you are making music it is impossible to look at it objectively. But I believe one of the best criteria I have for myself on making ‘good’ music is just assuring there is a synergy with all the different instruments and sounds working with one another.
P&P: I love “The Nameless City“. What is the importance of the title and/or tune to this song?
ADC: Well, the name from that track is from a short story by HP Lovecraft. I kind of used that song as a transition to the rest of the EP.
P&P: What is your favorite song that you’ve created?
ADC: I like ‘Slow Dance Alone‘. It is the track that is most directly inspired by real life and I think that shows through on the EP. The rest are inspired by my life as well of course, but not by such a specific event as ‘Slow Dance Alone‘.
P&P: What’s next for Art Deco Cathedrals?
ADC: I am working on music now. There will be much more diverse instrumentation, and richer textures. I am really trying to branch out a lot. I am not sure if I will make a second EP or an LP, depends on how I feel. Either way it will be free of course.
P&P: What’s the first album you ever bought?
ADC: Oh gosh, so embarrassing… as a kid I really liked the song ‘Kryptonite’ by 3 Doors Down so I got the tape ‘The Better Life’ for Christmas. Bear in mind I was in third grade.
P&P: Where do you go to find new music and why?
ADC: I get a lot of music recommendations from an anonymous music forum. That is where I learn of a lot of stuff I wouldn’t otherwise. Also from friends and blogs. There are many places, though. I am constantly looking for stuff that doesn’t sound quite like anything I have heard before.
P&P: What is one thing you can do that’s pretty unique?
ADC: I have a radio show for my school’s radio station! It isn’t really a talent, but I like doing it a lot.
P&P: What is your drink of choice and why?
ADC: Water mostly, sometimes coffee, sometimes Coca Cola.
P&P: If you could play with a band that’s around or not around anymore, who would you choose and why?
ADC: Godspeed You! Black Emperor for sure. It’s like, they have so many musicians in their band that it feels so relevant to politics and social issues, and yet their music is so beautiful it can feel deeply personal. I would like to know how so many people working together could do that, because that is the primary reason I work alone; I am too afraid my ideas would clash with others. It would be great to learn how the group works.
Check out the music of Art Deco Cathedral! You can download the EP Every Pain & Every Pleasure for free here. Also, keep up to date with ADC by following him on twitter: @ADCathedrals!
Here’s “Slow Dance Alone” off of ADC’s EP Every Pain & Every Pleasure: