Loss For Words
A founding member and guitarist of the Allah-Las, Pedrum Siadatian has been inventing vivid soundscapes under the moniker PAINT since 2018, recently releasing his third record Loss For Words. “This is my favourite record I’ve ever made,” he tells us, and it comes as no surprise, given the process: the project started during the spring of 2020, as society came to a stand-still Siadatian started using his Tascam 424 cassette recorder and Boss DR-5 rhythm compose to improvise and experiment. There was no over-arching story idea, no real concept, just raw sonic exploration. Across two years, he threw himself into a richly intuitive process that culminated in Loss For Words.
Siadatian recorded and released the project independently, affording himself the space and time to create freely. While his previous two albums PAINT (2018) and Spiritual Vegas (2020) highlighted his lyrical flair, Loss For Words is devoted to sonic liberation, the few vocal appearances adding a layer of instrumentation to the textured compositions. A sense of lucidness permeates tracks like Laffy Taffy while Pygmy Palace, leading us into a John Lurie-esque world with the inclusion of wandering saxophone sounds alongside nods to outré instrumentals and inflexions of ambient electronic, krautrock, dub, and the bizarre.
J.L. Sirisuk: When did you start this project – what was going on in your life at the time it was conceived? Was it during the pandemic?
Pedrum Siadatian: I started experimenting with different gear set-ups around February or March of 2020, the time that things started to close down – like a Boss DR-5 rhythm composer thing. I was using that to do a lot of the drums and bass sounds on the record. That’s why sonically, it’s a departure. There’s a lot of using different gear and doing everything myself because I wasn’t hanging out with anyone, wasn’t practicing with anyone. I was just receding into my own thing and experimenting.
“It’s maybe the least derivative record I’ve made”
JLS: When you started experimenting, did you think, “This is going to become a record?” Or was it an organic process?
PS: No, it was pretty loose. I would work on ideas and if I thought they were strong enough or I liked them enough, I would think, “I could put this out eventually.” That was the idea. Once I had enough of those, it was a matter of whittling them down and deciding whether or not to add vocals to them, and there was a huge process of experimenting with vocals to see if things fit or not. That’s how it turned into the concept for Loss for Words and using vocals as a layer, like an instrument, rather than lyrical, song-based vocals. I was just experimenting, trying vocals on things, keeping some things.
JLS: As you said, the vocals really are like another layer, another instrument, Without that attachment to lyrics, did it feel different to create this work, to move so freely?
PS: I’ve always liked instrumentals and have a large capacity for listening to them, and I like making instrumentals, so it wasn’t that crazy to me. I wasn’t on a label anymore, so I didn’t feel like I had any kind of pressure in terms of what the label wanted me to do or expected from me. I don’t feel like the project is popular enough to have an audience who expect certain things from me. I didn’t really care. It all felt good to me.
JLS: This one feels different compared to your last two PAINT records. Do you feel like your process was the same across all three, or is there anything that stands out about the way you approached this one?
PS: The big difference was that with the other two I would record demos on my cassette recorder and then I would re-record them in some kind of studio setting. With this one, the demos, the recordings I did were the final recordings. I didn’t do multiple recordings of the songs.
JLS: Did the songs stem from experimenting, or did you have a certain story in mind when you jumped into each track?
PS: No, I was totally experimenting and seeing which ideas would stick. I was kind of toying around on a keyboard or drum machine and then if I liked something and got excited about it, I would build on it. That was kind of the process for every song.
JLS: And how long was that process?
PS: Overall it probably took about two years between starting to record and finally finishing the mixing process.
“I was totally experimenting and seeing which ideas would stick”
JLS: On certain tracks like Pygmy Palace, when you brought in someone to play the saxophone, did you just let them come in and freestyle?
PS: Yeah, for that one, Brian [Bartus] who plays bass with me live, he has another project called Monde UFO and he plays sax. I know he can play and it was just a matter of asking someone who I felt would understand it and do a good job. Then I asked him to come over and record. He did a few passes on sax and I thought it was perfect, and that became this John Lurie, Lounge Lizards kind of instrumental.
JLS: I really like the videos as well, they add colour to the whole project. How did the videos come to life as an accompaniment to the record?
PS: The videos were made by this film collective called Primordial Freaks. I saw their work and it really resonated with me. They specialise in experimental short films. I asked them to make the videos for me, and they came up with the idea for the Rokc Muzik video with all the street workers and stuff, and the Desolation Dub video. Years ago in New Orleans, I found this drawing – it’s a Jesus on a crucifix with a bunch of reporters with microphones and cameras. I was like, “It would be cool to incorporate that image into a video.” I’m really happy with how that turned out. We found a tow truck to be the crucifix, and a bunch of friends to participate.
JLS: There’s a zine that comes with the record as well…
PS: I thought it’d be cool to incorporate something to accompany the record that was word-based, just bits of writing I’ve done and images – collaging it all together. Almost like if the song had a lyric, it could be this. A companion piece where you can make this association as you’re listening to it and reading the page. There’s a page for every song.
JLS: After completing the record and listening to it, how do you feel?
PS: This is my favourite record I’ve ever made. I feel really good about it – I’ve listened to it so many times.
JLS: What makes it your favourite?
PS: I just hit a lot of the things that I wanted to hit. In a way, it’s maybe the least derivative record I’ve made. All the references I was influenced by, I feel like I did them justice.
JLS: People can interpret or experience music individually, but is there anything you want listeners to consider before jumping into this record, or do you just want them to jump?
PS: Hmm. I don’t know. That’s a tough one. I just want them to jump in. Please jump in. Please jump into my twisted world.
Loss For Words is now out via Grape Street Inc.
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