[19 May 2014]
Saul Conrad grew up in a musical family and was trained in classical music from a very early age, receiving formal training for some 20 years. That education informs his super melodic and harmonically complex songs, which feel like mini revelations in the age of cookie cutter top 40 pop music. You know that you’re dealing with a special artist when they reference Kierkegaard as an influence on their music.
Conrad tells us about his creative inspiration and his techniques…
“a tyrant and lamb is a departure from my last album into territory that I was not comfortable with right away. Rather than letting my mind run entirely wild, I spent a long time writing, waiting for different courses of pursuit to yield songs that thoroughly fit into the fabric of this album. Jason Bitner (who produced) and I spent a great deal of time recording and trying to develop methods to get vocal sounds that would carry the mood of the songs—that would be as gentle as they needed to be without slipping into amorphousness. We quite rigorously imitated what we read about Harry Nilsson’s approach to the vocals on his Nilsson Sings Newman album.
“The themes that came up while I was writing the lyrics for these songs have led me to pursue ideas that are mysterious and distant. They can be looked at in many different ways, through different languages and systems of understanding. As I’ve followed this path I’ve discovered many singular works that seem to address these same ideas from their own vantage points, and, in the midst of extreme idiosyncrasy and originality, wind up telling a similar, shared story (that I’ve come to believe must be a quite deeply rooted part of the human experience). The title comes from William Blake’s dialectical characters, that can invert and transform into each other—the oppressor becomes the oppressed, and vice versa. As I worked on this album I read Kierkegaard’s “The Sickness Unto Death” and Blake’s “The Four Zoas”. a tyrant and lamb re-interprets and abstracts the material of my life.
“I am now in the midst of working on a new album, a Mass—well, to be accurate, a portion of a Requiem Mass. It is meant to dive further down where personal life intersects with a transcendental interior world—a slow awakening, a delicate calling, that is starting to become dimly visible to me. I’m composing music to the poetry traditionally used for the first eight movements of a Requiem Mass, the 13th century poem Dies Irae, in the Latin, mixed with my own lyrics in English that add my own ideas & emotions or attempt to translate the Latin lines into my own English. It’s going to be comprised of a small string section, some woodwinds and horns, piano, pipe organ, possibly some electric guitar, and layered vocals.”