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Upcoming Art Schop CD is "Inventive" - "Delves Into the Immortality of Art" - NYC Concert Confirmed for 11/19
(Published: October 27, 2015)

For Immediate Release
October 26, 2015

"Delves Into the Immortality of Art"
"Patient and Thoughtful"

Inspired by the Lives and Works of Lou Reed, David Bowie, Will Oldham, Richard Wagner, Michelangelo, Sappho and Others, Singer Art Schop Readies Esoteric Rock Album
Lengthy Interviews Detail the Complex, Literate Project - NY Concert Set for 11/19

In lengthy interviews, below, performer Art Schop discusses the evolution of his esoteric rock album ‘Death Waits I - Music & Fine Arts'.  The project has aptly been described as "inventive" - Schop is the alter ego of singer-songwriter, writer, philosopher and technologist Martin Walker, and on the upcoming album (set for digital release on Friday, November 13th,) Schop pays homage to the lives and works of a wonderfully diverse range of cultural and historical figures, including Lou Reed, David Bowie, Will Oldham, Richard Wagner, Michelangelo, Sappho and more. Walker/Schop talks about his complex creation in this EPK interview: https://youtu.be/8vXrXvJF... . A transcript of the full EPK conversation is viewable, here: http://artschop.com/epk

In lengthy interviews, below, Schop explains how each ‘biography song' on the album is a thoughtful vignette - a literate piece of art in which he may emulate the vocal mannerisms of the song's subject (as in the Bowie-inspired ‘Back to Earth',) or take the listener on a dark journey (as driven by Wagner's "Tristan Und Isolde" in Schop's ‘The Sun Deceives'). This is a dense, multi-dimensional collection in which Walker performs as Schop who performs as Bowie and so on.

A CD release concert is set for 7pm on 11/19 at The Living Room in NY - more details here: http://www.livingroomny.c...

AXS/EXAMINER - INTERVIEW & Exclusive Premiere
By Laurie Fanelli 10/8/15 Art Schop on 'Death Waits I'  READ IT HERE:
Video premiere - https://www.youtube.com/w...

AXS/EXAMINER On Friday, Nov. 13, Art Schop will release his inventive new album Death Waits I: Music And Fine Arts. Throughout the album, Schop finds inspiration in talented musicians, artists and historical figures, and then crafts beautiful music that both pays tribute to their legacies and honors their own artistic visions.
The album's title track, a Jacques Brel-inspired piece, is a patient and thoughtful song that dives into the immortality of art. Check out the exclusive video premiere of "Death Waits I" above to get a sneak preview at this engaging new album.
AXS got a chance to catch up with Schop to dive deeper into this exciting new project with an exclusive Q&A:
Laurie Fanelli (AXS): Thanks for taking time out to answer some questions today. Where did the idea to pay homage to various musicians and historic figures on Death Waits I: Music And Fine Arts come from?
Art Schop: Thanks, Laurie! It's my pleasure. I once read something that Paul Simon said about songwriting, that if you start with a factual statement like "they've got a wall in China a thousand miles long" you'll get to something solid and real - it will ground you. When I began writing songs that weren't about myself this insight proved very helpful - it encouraged me to explore current or historical events or people and follow my interests and instincts, letting them guide me.
I also like the tug of Jung's concept that there are no coincidences, which I applied to songwriting as "allow for random inspiration." I had begun trawling the science and arts pages in the newspaper for pieces that piqued my curiosity. I happened on a story about Alberto Giacometti, the sculptor. His statue Walking Man had sold for $90M or thereabouts, and I wanted to know more about him, whether he had been a successful artist in his day, what motivated his art and his technique. The subsequent exploration led to the song "Insubstantial Man."
The more songs I wrote in this way, the more I found myself drawn to the lives of artists, composers, writers. These were the subjects that really spoke to me and intrigued me. There was a common sense of striving, of dealing with personal pain through the beauty of art.
LF: Who was your favorite person to encapsulate in song?
AS: That's a really tough question. I think I'd have to say David Bowie, in part because he loomed so large for me in my formative years - I listened to his albums until the tapes wore out (I put them on cassette tapes so I wouldn't wear out the vinyl) And also because I found it so difficult to write a song about him. I'd had many failed attempts, and "Back To Earth" took longer to write and was more complex than any other song I'd ever written. So when the song was finished and the arrangement came together it was such a great feeling. It also gave me a new appreciation for Bowie as an artist. When I took apart some of his songs to figure out how they worked, I just marveled at his inventiveness and skill as a songwriter and performer.
LF: Was any one track more difficult to develop than the rest on the album?
AS: The writing and recording process in some ways mirrored the kinds of struggles and reinventions that come up for the subjects of the songs themselves. Every song went through numerous rewrites or reincarnations, and the arrangements were painstakingly worked out with my producer, Jimi Zhivago - again, usually with several failed attempts before we were happy. "The Sun Deceives," for instance, started out as a fairly straightforward piece about Stieg Larsson, and ended up as an epic reimagining of Richard Wagner's opera "Tristan Und Isolde," in which nothing remains of the original song.
Perhaps the most difficult to develop was the Jacques Brel song, the title track, "Death Waits I." I didn't want to try to reproduce Brel's version, which is very typically Brelian, but the construct of the song created all kinds of problems for me when I was writing new chords and melodies. "La Mort," Brel's song, is repetitive in lyric and structure, and my attempts at new arrangements just sounded tedious. It wasn't until I dropped the repeating lyrics, and modulated the chords so that they don't repeat but sound like they repeat that it started to flow. I also needed to tie the song in thematically to the rest of the album, so I added a bridge that speaks to the immortality of art - "We're plucked and we wither like buds for the vase. To crumble to nothing, alone in the maze. But Death hasn't found you and Death never will, he waits for you now and he'll wait for you still."
LF: You are living in New York and I always think of Lou Reed as the quintessential New York musician. Did you go anywhere or do anything to really get in that Lou Reed headspace for "The Thistle And The Thorn."
AS: Ironically, it was an experience far from New York that gave me a way into Lou Reed's world. Like Bowie, Lou Reed has been someone I've listened to and loved since I was a kid. And like Bowie I'd tried and failed several times to write a song about him. A few years ago I went to a friend's wedding in Sicily, the same friend who first introduced me to the music of Bowie and The Velvet Underground. After I'd returned to New York, my friend wrote to tell me that just after I left, Lou had checked into the hotel where the wedding party were staying. There he was in this little hillside town in Sicily.
For the album, I was re-listening to some of my favorite Lou Reed songs, trying to figure out the elements that made them so uniquely Lou, and so damned good. It occurred to me that he does such a great job of evoking a time and place, of setting a scene. And suddenly it clicked: I knew where Lou had been that time in Sicily. I'd walked through that lobby. I'd ridden the funicular down to the beach. That would be the time and place. And it seemed appropriate, or even necessary, to refer back to Lou's song "Perfect Day," from Transformer. Such a deceptively bitter-sweet and nuanced song. "I thought I was someone else, someone good," he sings in "Perfect Day," which is a line that still gives me chills no matter how many times I hear it. "The Thistle And The Thorn" became a kind of updating of "Perfect Day." An older Lou, wiser, but still urgently seeking the unvarnished truth in himself and the world around him.
LF: The album is entitled Death Waits I does that mean that a second edition is in the works? If so, can you share some of the personalities that inspired you for that album?
AS: Yes! There is a Death Waits II. I had too much material for a single album, so I split up the songs by artistic discipline. The second album is dedicated to writers. It's almost finished, and we have Joyce, Plath, Camus, Isaac Babel, Paul Fowles, Seamus Heaney, Emily Dickinson, Beckett, Dante, and an adaptation of a poem by Eino Leino.
LF: When does Death Waits I: Music And Fine Arts come out and where can people pick-up a copy?
AS: The digital release is scheduled for Friday, November 13 - a suitably auspicious date. People will be able to get digital copies from any of the regular online sites and from ArtSchop.com . But I should mention that the album illustrations by Eric Collins are phenomenal; he did a portrait of each artist, and the CD and vinyl will have booklets with full color illustrations, song notes, and lyrics. I know we're living in a digital era, but I love the tangible aspect of an album, and I really want people to be able to experience the project in its entirety. The CD and vinyl will be available a little while after the digital release, again through all of the regular online outlets and at music stores and our site. If anyone wants to get the release notice for the CD and vinyl they can sign up to our mailing list. And, of course, you can always come to an Art Schop show and get a copy!
LF: Will you be touring in support of the release?
AS: We're already booking dates in New York. The first will be Nov. 3 at Cameo. And although I don't think we'll be doing a traditional tour we'll be looking to get out to some targeted venues. I'd like to get back to England to play, too.
LF: Is there anything else that you would like to share with AXS readers?
AS: Just to say what a privilege it was to be able to explore the lives and works of these artists. In some cases I incorporated the artist's own work directly - with Sappho, for instance, I took one of her lyric fragments ("Sappho 31") and reworked it, updated it, maintaining the Sapphic meter of the original. And with Michelangelo I used ideas and images from his letters and poems. But in all cases, as best I could, I tried to be faithful to some kind of truth in the artist's life and work and communicate it for the listener.
**** Hear the truth, art and inspiration come together on Death Waits I: Music And Fine Arts by Art Schop when it is released on Nov. 13. Click here for more information about the process behind Death Waits I

By RJ Frometa 9/29/15  READ IT HERE:

Martin, there's a measurable complexity to the diverse elements of your life. How do you feel they connect or complement each other?
I think the common thread is a search for underlying truths. I've never been satisfied with easy answers, or by taking things on faith, whether it's the existence of the universe, or the motivation behind an artist's work. I like to take things back as far as I can to core principles and concepts. If something doesn't make sense to me either intellectually or emotionally, I can't sit with it. And it's that way with music, too - does this chord sound the way the lyric makes me feel? Can I express this thought in a way that better draws out my meaning? I'm looking for something resonant and intellectually complete, and to express it in an elegant and efficient manner. There's philosophy at work in everything I do; and there's a drive to translate what's going on inside into something that can be communicated. Having a background in science and technology helps enormously with the mechanics of the work; it allows me greater control of the creative process. Being my own sound designer and doing my own midi programming lets me get right to the heart of the musical effect I'm trying to achieve. On Back To Earth, I didn't have an orchestra or a roomful of Mellotrons, but I could create them in the box.
How did you go about blending all of who you are into this current project? Or did you?
The project started as a creative challenge to myself - I wanted to take Mike Rathke's incredible, other-worldly guitar sounds from Lou Reed's Magic And Loss and extrapolate the feeling and sonic textures of those intros and interludes into fully-fledged songs. I took a synth guitar pedal and spent weeks recording Rathke-inspired riffs and chord sequences, ending up with a few that really spoke to me. At the same time I was looking around for lyrical ideas and I read about one of Alberto Giacometti's statues (Walking Man) selling for $90 million. One of those guitar riffs worked perfectly for the Giacometti lyric, and this became the original version of Insubstantial Man.
I always have a macro-philosophy - what's the overall project about? How do these things tie together? As well as a micro-philosophy for each song, or verse or chord sequence. I like working out from the detail and in from the big picture at the same time. After I had accumulated several songs about artists, this became a natural theme; to take the lives and works of artists from different eras and disciplines and find the truth, as it spoke to me, about their motivations and the conditions of their existences.
Then I got stuck, and I eventually realized that to get unstuck I needed to change the parameters. That's when I got in touch with my old friend and collaborator Jimi Zhivago. He encouraged me to break away from the insistence on using the Rathke riffs, and let the songs find themselves a bit. Which is what we do in scientific disciplines-pursue ideas and concepts, but be prepared to try something new when things don't fit in.
Did you approach any of the (living) artists and talk to any of them directly?
I've spoken to Will Oldham, very briefly, a couple of times, but just as a fan at one of his concerts and another time at a book reading. Reading his book felt like a conversation, albeit a one-sided one. Interestingly, the theme of the song about him is the unapproachable aspect of knowing and being, and so not knowing him personally kind of helped in creating that world.
If I thought I could approach David Bowie, I'd be over at his house having tea right now. I'd love it if I could get the song to him. With Back To Earth I really wanted it to sound like a Bowie song from the Mick Ronson era. I threw in the flat fives in the intro, and Jimi played Ronson-like licks, and I added an orchestration that was inspired by the strings on Life on Mars. And then the little interlude from the Wizard of Oz was a nod to the Starman / Over The Rainbow connection. I hope he'd have a laugh, and I hope he'd appreciate the concept behind the song - wayward extraterrestrial coming down from a bender. If you're reading this, David, let's have tea sometime.
Have any of them heard the album?
I'm not sure. Jimi gave a copy to Bowie's musical director, who's a buddy of his. And I sent a copy to Will Oldham's record label, Drag City. So, I guess it's possible. Of course, after this exposure in Vents...
Talk about who was involved in the music, production, art pieces?
I've mentioned Jimi Zhivago already, but I have to emphasize his importance to this project. We spent months, literally months, in my home studio working on these songs. All the songs went through multiple iterations, sometimes five or six versions or rewrites before we hit on something that really worked. And every part played on every instrument within every song was a collaboration. We'd sit there together for hours trying different sounds and musical lines. Then Jimi would leave and I'd do a quick mix, or add some programmed or processed sounds, ready for the next tracking session.
For drums and percussion we turned to Blake Fleming and Tony Leone, both phenomenal drummers. Blake played drums with Dazzling Killmen and The Mars Volta, and he's just got bags of technique and talent. Tony we've played with live, and he and Jimi were in Olabelle together. Now he's playing with Chris Robinson from the Black Crows.
The finishing touch musically was mixing with Bryce Goggin at Trout. That was great synergy. Bryce really had a feel for the material and so much experience.
Eric Collins is the illustrator. I'd had this idea of creating a portrait of the artist to go with each song. I found Eric's work online, and immediately felt excited about his use of color and his approach to portraiture. I contacted Eric and sent him some songs and we started from there. He'd send me sketches and I'd respond to things in them, and he'd take that and run with it. While Jimi and I were tracking, Eric would be illustrating. What he did is just beautiful, and I think it really enhances the overall impact of the album. You can listen, and look at the pictures, and read the background stories, and it all makes a lot more sense than just a collection of tunes.
Did your interest in philosophy influence this project and all the various components?
Absolutely. The Art Schop name is a shout out to Arthur Schopenhauer. I started using that name when I started writing songs with far-reaching themes and concepts, no longer songs about me. So each Art Schop project is really a philosophical endeavor. There's always an implicit or explicit desire to address a philosophical question, or set of philosophical questions. With Death Waits, I wanted to explore the inspirations and the motivations of the artists, both internal and external. Why did they create art, how does this relate to the conditions of their lives? And what is the relationship of art to the immortal? Does art exist only as an expression of the human condition, or is it a reflection of something more universal? That's a lot to do in 47 minutes of music, but fortunately songs can be very focused and intense, and the listener can extrapolate. And the work that went into writing and arranging the songs always touched back on that philosophy as well as the particular concepts at work in the lyric of the song. So there are many layers, and each layer can resonate against the other layers, and within the whole. That 47 minutes becomes multiplied or factorlialized, as it were.
I noticed in the title of the album - "Death Waits I" - Are you looking to do several versions of this project? Focusing on a variety of artists?
Well, it was supposed to be one album, but I had too much material and I don't like double albums, so it became two. I split them by artistic discipline - music and fine arts for Death Waits I, and literature for Death Waits II. Death Waits II is about 9/10ths complete and it has songs about Sylvia Plath, James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, Seamus Heaney, Emily Dickinson, Albert Camus, and several other writers. After that, I think I'm done with the theme for now. Although, I have two other sets of songs I've written in the meantime, both of them based on books - The Fall, by Camus, and Chronicle of A Death Foretold, by Marquez. So, I guess I'll be in the artist world for a while. (I did tell Jimi that my next project would be an album called The Problems of Philosophy; he seemed a bit lukewarm on that idea but I think it could work.)
I was reading a descriptive word used, "esoteric," for the project. Where do you think album might fit in today's music scene? Would you consider doing something similar with a focus on today's modern bands?
I think there are a lot of people making very interesting music these days that doesn't fit easily into a genre. Will Oldham or Bonnie ‘Prince' Billy, as he records under, for instance. Tim Smith who was with Midlake. Sufjan Stevens. John Vanderslice. John Grant. And then there's someone like James Blake, who is very successful, but not mainstream, and These New Puritans. You put these kinds of artists together and you don't have a genre, but you also don't have a contradiction. And I'd add to that list people who've been creating non-mainstream music for several decades, like Scott Walker, Michael Gira of the Swans, and Mark E. Smith of The Fall. And then, of course, David Bowie; you can never write off David Bowie.
The tricky thing if I were to write a song about a modern artist or band would be to find some deep access to their process or their motivations. I had this with Will Oldham because of his book-Will Oldham on Bonnie ‘Prince' Billy. The perspective of history gives us a wonderful distance on the subject and the ability to research biographical material. You have greater artistic license with the passage of time, too. For current artists I think it might make sense to focus more on the artistic output than on personal biography; the balance might change. But it would have to start with an immediate, emotional contact point, a way in; that's always how it starts.
Are you looking for this project to develop itself into other avenues (film, short stories, etc)?
I've been making music videos for several of the songs, but hadn't been thinking about taking this into other areas. Although, the idea of short stories is immediately appealing. Song lyrics are necessarily so compressed that what you leave out is almost as important as what you leave in. And some of what you leave out can be great stuff-a short story would be a way to investigate some of that other good stuff. Interesting.
How do you think music, today, fits into your perception of the world?
Music is a mysterious and powerful force. Mysterious because it seems to reflect foundational aspects of existence, like mathematics, and yet to be more than mathematics, more than the relationships between oscillating air compressions. The best explanation I've been able to come up with is that music is the purest expression of our perceptions and feelings-it's a way of translating the world around us, and the world within us, into something that others can absorb and respond to. And this is what makes it so powerful. I can put a vinyl disk on my record player and lower the needle and I'm instantly transported into the world as perceived and expressed by another person, at another time and place, perhaps close, perhaps very distant. It's wonderful, and profound.
EPK interview: https://youtu.be/8vXrXvJF... . A transcript of the full EPK conversation is viewable, here: http://artschop.com/epk Visit: http://www.artschop.com/h... https://www.facebook.com/...

Exclusive Video Premiere
9/9/15, by Michael Ragogna -
Huffington Post premiered Schop's music video for the track ‘The Prince of Darkness' -- http://www.huffingtonpost...

Schop provided this accompanying text to HuffPost:
"The madrigal composer Don Carlo Gesualdo fascinated me not only because he was a groundbreaking genius, but also because he had murdered his first wife and her lover in cold blood. Here was a man who aspired to the highest ideals of beauty and art, and yet who as a person was reprehensible in many ways. Originally, 'The Prince of Darkness' was a classically inspired folk song, but then Jimi Zhivago and I hit on a sleazy seventies-inspired groove which seemed kind of perfect. With John Bosch's video, the hard part was to go easy on the blood!""
Youtube link, here: https://www.youtube.com/w...

Walker describes the concept as follows:
"I started writing and recording as Art Schop to free myself from the singer/songwriter label musically and lyrically. I was creating arrangements that were integral to the song, and writing lyrics that explored themes and ideas that went beyond my personal experience.  I wrote a song ("I Am Lost") about Arthur Schopenhauer, a personal favorite of mine, which gave me the inspiration for the Art Schop name.  A song could come from anywhere--the pungent dreams of a philosopher, a scientific discovery, the sale of a sculpture. I found myself writing a lot of biography songs; songs that focused a particular lens on a person's life.  The songs about artists became a compelling and coherent subset of these.  When it came time to record, the collaboration with Jimi Zhivago introduced an inherent tension between my typically dark, dissonant bent, and his more traditional pop and rock influences. Everything in the arrangements was negotiated until we were both happy, or we would throw it out and start again.  What resulted was a musical fusion that allows the listener to feel uplifted and transported despite the melancholy subject matter."

Each song on ‘Death Waits I' is accompanied by a stunning portrait or illustration within the album jacket, courtesy of artist Eric Collins. This striking visual element, coupled with Walker's song notes and lyrics, provides a subtle road map to the intellectual and musical journey that awaits.

More About Art Schop:
Brooklyn's Art Schop records and performs contemporary rock that is "a mixture of Murder Ballads, Songs from a Room, and Hunky Dory." By exploring historical and contemporary ideas and characters Art Schop's music illuminates themes and subjects that seem at once unexpected and bizarrely appropriate to the rock genre. Art Schop is the alter-ego of singer-songwriter, writer, philosopher and technologist, Martin G. Walker. When Walker began deviating from the standard singer-songwriter idiom and started writing songs about ideas and people that struck deeply into the human condition, he created a new voice, the voice of Art Schop - the name is a call out to Walker's favorite philosopher, Arthur Schopenhauer. Influenced musically and lyrically by the likes of Scott Walker, Leonard Cohen, David Bowie, Nick Cave, The Tindersticks, Pink Floyd and Bonnie Prince Billy, Art Schop incorporates a diverse array of classic and contemporary rock and experimental sonic elements into his music. Art Schop has just finished recording the first of two records that tell the stories of the lives and works of a variety of artists including David Bowie, Lou Reed, Michelangelo, Sylvia Plath, James Joyce, and Sappho.


More Information: http://www.artschop.com/home

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