Rock N’ Recipes: Gregor
I’ve been covering Gregor for some time, particularly with the release of his 2018 album, Silver Drop. But, in case you haven’t been in the loop, we will soon get to celebrate the release of Destiny, his new LP for Chapter Music. We reached out to see if he’d be willing to answer a few quick questions and share his favorite recipes, and thankfully, he’s obliged. Read on below…and as you browse, press play on the stream to sample a few of the album tracks. He’s also been so kind as to share a delicious Artichoke Soup recipe!
ATH: Silver Drop made a huge statement, garnering deserved praise. Going into the recording of Destiny, did you feel any pressure to live up to certain expectations? Did you set your own expectations?
Gregor: I set my own expectations higher. I sought to develop ideas further, and fit more of them into an album. I like to aim for the forty-minute vinyl-cut ideal duration and so, I could either have forty one-minute long ideas or 8 songs with multiple developed parts. Lyrically I wanted to delve deeper into subjectivity.
ATH: Several of the songs, like “Senseless” for instance, seem like they’re made up of different little bits, pieces added and fused together. Is there a process you care to share in how you combined these distinctive moments into one cohesive sound? In other words, how do you go about building the layers? What comes first?
Gregor: Making a song with multiple parts can be as simple as recording several sketches in the same session, or opening and working within the same one file instead of starting a new file each day. Having the different sketches in the same window is very conducive to wanting to stitch them together. Other times, creating distinct parts is an intentional decision and has proven more rewarding, for me, than trying to develop one idea/motif/progression into a full song. The stitching together of parts has come quite easily, there are many approaches – silence can be a great transition, as can abruptness. In building ideas, drums will often, but not necessarily always, come first for the purpose of keeping time for everything that comes thereafter. Chords or drums or anything with enough glue to stick everything else into place usually comes first.
ATH: A lot of the song titles seem to deal with the natural world (stars, rock, night, light, Spring)? How does that tie into your vision for the LP, let alone the title of the album?
Gregor: I have always felt these kinds of themes and symbols to be timeless and, in the absence of other religious beliefs, the go-to subjects to be in awe of, to derive metaphoric meaning from, to worship and glorify artistically. In other words, the natural world is the law and will be for at least as long as we are here to witness it. About my inclusion of these themes in the album – I can be confident that when I am older, I will not grow weary of them. And furthermore, while they can be described and classified scientifically, they also lend themselves to being talked about fantastically and being manipulated to represent whatever one may want (almost a flexible, cooperative god who doesn’t mind blasphemy). The album title, Destiny, is a familiar word that can encapsulate all these magnificent metaphysical feelings that I attempt to express.
ATH: I love how your voice has this great range to it; there’s this depth in sound you’re able to create. What were some of the musical voices that stood out in your own early listening? Were their other musical influences that you see creeping into your craft?
Gregor: Thank you. While I’m a confident instrumentalist the voice will always remain an area of trepidation. A lot of trial and effort is involved in coming up with vocal parts. Early on, anything likely to be encountered by a teenager exploring Limewire equipped with an iPod made a significant impact on my introduction to singing. Ill leave the playlists to your imagination. I was the type that for a long time, maybe even until early adulthood, hardly ever heard the actual lyrics to a song. The sounds of the music and voices were my focus, while hearing lyrics took the kind of effort it does to read a book rather than just look at the pictures. This probably had an effect on my emphasis of melody and composition. Later in life I started properly taking in lyrics, and this coincided with writing my own. It still feels new and uncertain and for me thats a fun and rewarding game.
ATH: Speaking of craft…there’s so much going on throughout the whole of Destiny. Who else played on the album? Or is entirely a world of your own creation.
Gregor: Hank Clifton-Williamson contributed the flutes on a day I invited him over, without really knowing him, to do just that. I put him on the spot, having never heard the songs before, and pressed record. What he came up with, impromptu, lifted “That’s the Sky” and “Senseless” enormously!
Andrew Huhtanen McEwan, who also mixed the album, recorded live drums a while ago when I suggested an idea for collaboration. Those recordings sat on my computer for months and the original idea was forgotten, but when I relocated them, and with a bit of manipulation, they sat perfectly on “Love Echoes Loud” and the end of “The Morning Light.” Actually, the drum loops became a driving force!
Ellen Fairbairn, my girlfriend, after some convincing sang the motif on “That’s the Sky.” It needed it and it had to be her.
All the other parts are me!
ATH: One of my favorite things about the new LP is that it’s an album you have to sit down and digest; it’s not a quick skip through the singles affair. What are some of your favorite records to just sit down and lose yourself inside?
Gregor: I cant help but return to classics like ANTI, Life of Pablo, Calling Out of Context.
ATH: Since you’ll be making a recipe for us, what are some staples for Gregor when going on tour or traveling about? What foods can’t you live without?
Gregor: It seems that no matter how sumptuous and diverse the options are, I just don’t feel complete without wheat for longer than a few days. It could be the apparent civilization-old addiction that some people condemn, but I just cant (and don’t want to) escape it.
(light lunch for two or entre for four)
4 globe artichokes with stems
1 large potato
1 bunch parsley
3-4 cloves garlic
2 handfuls peas
Remove the artichoke stems so they can sit flat on their base, and trim their tops flat so all petals are exposed. Wash them and put aside in a bowl of water with lemon juice. Peel the stems back to their pale core, cut into finger long segments and put aside with the artichokes. Peel and cut the potato into large wedges and put aside. Chop parsley and garlic coarsely. In a pot large enough to contain the artichokes, but small enough for it to be a tight fit, lodge the artichokes upright and cram the gaps with the potato and artichoke stems. You should aim for it to be tight enough that when you add water the ingredients wont float. Throw in the parsley and garlic, a few good pinches of salt and cracks of pepper, a squeeze of lemon juice, drizzle of olive oil, and fill with water to just cover. Bring to the boil then gently simmer with a lid until the potatoes are tender. Add the peas and taste for seasoning and adjust if needed. Simmer for a few minutes longer then serve. To enjoy the artichokes to their full extent, take a petal or two at a time and scrape the flesh off their underside with your teeth. Have a spare bowl at hand to discard spent petals. The closer you get to the heart, the more edible the petals will be, to the point where you may not need to discard anything. When you get to the heart just mind the hairy choke which may be unpleasant but not necessarily always.