Words by Paige Cobos
The digital era of music is a noisy time. With a tsunami of amazing creativity overwhelming the senses every day, sometimes it all can seem like it blends together. Music in particular, with many trying to imitate what came before it. But once in awhile something comes out the stormy digital water to dazzle with its unique fusion of different musical styles. Something truly unlike anything riding the digital waves of now.
Eternal Home is the latest release from Fire-Toolz, a musical project commanded by Angel Marcloid. The album which spans 25 tracks of colorful genre mixing that is unlike anything before. Almost like the daydreams of a lone computer, the album shifts through smooth jazz to hard heavy metal with serpentine ease to the ears. That is only a couple of genres present on the album too. Marcloid talked with us about the challenging aspects of creating such an album, how mixing and matching is in her DNA, and why there truly no rules in music.
Off Shelf: Congratulations on the release of Eternal Home! How does it feel to finally have the album released?
Angel Marcloid: As it always feels when something I worked on for upward to a year – and that has been hiding underwraps during production and press work – is released: incredibly relieved. It’s more than a music release… it’s an emotional release, and a mental settling. My favorite part about this whole thing is seeing the music trickle out to people. It’s like I can finally move on.
OS: Eternal Home is such a unique chimera of an album that seamlessly blends genres and styles. What were the first seeds of inspiration that lead to the final form of Eternal Home?
AM: The whole process was utter inspiration, as it is most of the time. It’s hard to put my finger on where any of it started because the edges of it are blurred with neighboring projects. I started working on Eternal Home right around the time Rainbow Bridge was done, and I don’t even remember if I started Eternal Home before finishing Rainbow Bridge. I’ve composed 27 songs since completing Eternal Home. So even though the albums seem to be defining boxes containing eras of Fire-Toolz, the borders of those boxes are kind of incidental, whereas the Fire-Toolz discography is just one big long story that is still being written because I’m still living. Fire-Toolz is a cryptic autobiography. Creative non-fiction.
OS: Your work feels like a distinctive creature that is not bound to any common rules of music. It is quite refreshing to listen to. What is it like to create music in such a boundless space, free from the boxes and labels others would like to classify music?
AM: There were never rules for music! Only habits. Working in such a free space like this is the most liberating and best case scenario I could’ve found myself in. I like working within limits because they breed creativity. But I think what breeds even more creativity is zero limits. I think using limits to breed creativity is something people do to make themselves more creative. For me, I have such an endless river of ideas flowing at all times. So having all the windows and doors open is a necessity for this project. I think life is strange and weird and beautiful and painful and colorful. My work reflects my life and my experience. I cannot imagine doing this autobiographical project inside one or two little boxes. That would be suffocating.
OS: As a whole, the album feels like a beautiful stream of digital consciousness like the dreams or daydreams of a computer. What draws you to take different genres and weave them together?
AM: My creative temperament has always been one of balance and integration. I mix and match my clothing, I decorate my house wildly, I make mixes for publications that go back and forth from deathcore to new age to harsh noise to smooth jazz. This is just a natural thing. I can analyze it, but at its core, it’s unexplainable. It’s either inherent to my soul, or in my DNA, or something. Some of my most unhappy times are when I’m forced into a box, veiling and filtering my experience of reality, muting or suppressing organic processes.
OS: Was there an aspect of the creative process that was challenging in the creation of Eternal Home?
AM: Kind of. Mixing my stuff is usually pretty difficult. Mastering it is also difficult. Vocals are the most difficult part of the compositions, because I usually come up with them last after the majority of things are produced. It’s like trying to find tiny little pockets in which words won’t cover up or ruin when inserted. However, weaving songs and coming up with new parts and melodies and textures is nothing but pure bliss.
OS: “Thick_flowy_glowy_sparkly_stingy_pain.mpeg” is one of my personal favorites from Eternal Home. There is a distinctive melancholy infused into the glistening effect of the guitar riffs. There is a feeling of transformation in this song. What was the creative process like for this particular stand-out track?
AM: The guitar parts were written ahead of time, then exported and stored for later use. I had no idea anything was going to end up sounding the way it did beyond knowing I was going to use those guitar riffs for at least some part of some song. It could’ve easily ended up sounding industrial or noisy in some way, but chance seemed to lead me to what you hear today. A lot of my songs don’t have any repeated parts, but I felt drawn to give this song a little bit more of a radio rock song feel. It’s still completely anti-pop in it’s structure, but I don’t think people notice. It’s intro > instrumental verse > verse > short piece of the intro > instrumental verse > verse > long instrumental outro. There’s not even a chorus! But somehow it sounds a lot more accessible than the majority of my other material because it makes you think a little bit of bands like Deftones, and there’s a melody that repeats that you can latch onto, a groove that stays pretty consistent and doesn’t require focused attention to get the feel for. Again, everything just came together. I didn’t think about it much beyond being present with the feelings I was getting while working on it. When I’m producing music and I just get this feeling that says “yea! yea! go with this! this is good!” I just kind of obey it.
OS: The amazing artwork and graphic design for this album were done by Jeremy Coubrough. What was the collaboration process like in giving Eternal Home a physical form in album design? What were your inspirations?
AM: Jeremy has done a lot of my artwork, but I think that there is a bit of a frustration in his process because he is like me. We have our own creative vision and it can be hard to be put into someone else’s box. So, after suffering through the Rainbow Bridge art in which I was pretty particular about, Jeremy approached me to let me know he’d be happy to do my next album if he could do whatever he wanted. So when I had him tell me about what he was envisioning, I just so happened to love it. I became really inspired too. I asked him to run with it. The only thing I was kind of annoying about, that we ended up changing, was the text. He was doing hand-written text, which would’ve otherwise been awesome, but there were legibility issues, and editing it was such a huge pain for the both of us. So we scrapped that and found a ridiculous font to use instead. Other than that, he just kind of did his thing.
OS: Lastly, what favorite album or artist do you think more people should know about?
AM: Kyle Jameson. He spent his adolescence in the culture of 80s smooth jazz and new age music, and he’s been nostalgic for it ever since. He makes music that you’d never be able to tell was produced this year, rather than 1986. He has a few albums on Bandcamp and it is some of my most favorite music. He’s such a sweetheart and I want to see him get more exposure. There is no irony to be found in his work whatsoever. It’s absurdly genuine. A lot of people might think it’s corny, but for me it’s incredibly moving and stimulating. Go check it out!