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Interview with Ric Nigel of Imbue - conducted via e-mail 1/98

Photos by Jason Liddic Copyright © 1998

Jester: What lead to the disintegration of Under The Noise and your desire to continue writing music under the name Imbue?

Ric: I had been involved with Under The Noise for almost 8 years. It had come to a point where it could no longer evolve on a creative level, and when things get to that point it just states the obvious. When I started Under The Noise the intention was for it to become a band. Unfortunately it never became a band and remained a project, which is very limiting. The creative difference also made it difficult. In the beginning the ideas came naturally and near the end I felt I was in a situation where the ideas had to be forced. I personally cannot and will not work in that kind of environment where the creative input is limited, so I dissolved what I had started and moved on to give more time to Imbue which was already under way and provided me with the creative freedom I desired.

Jester: How did you meet Tim Phillips and Jesy Walters? What lead to your desire to write music together?

Ric: The three of us actually met 2 years prior to us starting Imbue. We met at a friends house and that was the first time I had ever heard any of the music they were writing under the name Hollow. My next meeting 2 years later was at work when Tim discovered we worked at the same place. We started talking and eventually started jamming together. After a few sessions Jesy joined in and the seeds of Imbue began to root. Since we all seemed to get along really well and write music with ease it just seemed natural to continue to pursue the idea of what was then just going to be a side project. After I dissolved Under The Noise however Imbue became a full time band not just a project.

Jester: You seem to switch back an forth between treated and non-treated vocals on "Resurrected", why is that?

Ric: It has to do with the feel of the song. I do not like the idea of having one constant when it comes to a vocal part because I feel that can be limiting and does not allow one to explore. The decision to use a treated vocal. will depend on the mood of the song. However I am not a fan of complete saturation. Been there done that. So on "Resurrected" there is actually very little alteration on my vocal parts. I am able to get different sounds from my natural voice from years of doing vocals. I can alter the pitch, tone and resonance to create my own type of effects. Of course we naturally use reverbs and delays during mix down, but over all you would be quite surprised at how little vocal processing really takes place in making our album.

Jester: The snake-like vocal effects on 'Rattler' definitely work well with the theme of the music. How did you accomplish such a subtle lisp effect for that track?

Ric: Thank you!! After years of doing a lot of different vocal styles, I can submerge myself into the mood of the song. The vocal part on 'Rattler' came very quickly, and in most cases the idea for any vocals come while I am writing the lyrics and listening to the music. So the music inspires my vocal idea almost immediately.

Jester: Many of the tracks on "Resurrected" have more of a 'Pop' feel to them that is very different from the usual material on the COP International roster. Why did you choose a more accessible sound for Imbue?

Ric: There was never any discussion to make a 'Pop' album. Just to let readers know this ain't no Hanson record. When we write music, we write for ourselves. We write what we want to hear. So since what we wanted to hear had not existed, we went and made it. The songs came together very quickly. I have always enjoyed songs with a fat beat and groovy base line. I grew up listening to funk and disco, so that influence is in our sound. We all bring something different to the sound of Imbue, yet all have the same vision.

We write together as a team. No one in the band is a leader. The ideas could be started by any one of us, which provides an enjoyable creative atmosphere where anything goes. That is the best way I can describe our music. We do the things that we have always wanted to try and next thing you know we are in the basement hanging out and having a great time. I think that shines through in our sound.

Jester: The cover art for "Resurrected" is also very atypical for an Electro band. Who designed the artwork?

Ric: The artwork it brings a smile to my face every time I see it. It started out when I met my close friend from Portland, Katie Lake aka Kayteek. She had told me she did photography, so I asked to see some of her work. She sent me a bunch of photos and I was so intrigued by them that I put her in touch with Tim who was working on our album art. Tim is a very visual person and is amazing with Photoshop. The next thing I know, I get this image he sent back of a photo that was once black and white and had now been colorized. Let me tell you when I first saw what he did I lost my mind! Here in front of me was this image of a girl's back dripping wet and holding a flower behind her back. I told Tim that was it, thats an album cover. See what you can do to make that image a part of the art.

The image represented so much about our album, our music and us. Listen to 'Hallucination Child'. That says it all about the image of a flower. After Tim messed around with what to do with the picture, he finally got what he was looking for and sent it to me. The picture was placed against a pink rose which was layed against a black rose. It was very visually appealing to look at. The image just jumped out even more. The inside art also features more pictures that Katie took on which the lyrics are layed.

Jester: Unlike Under The Noise, you have stated that you would like to perform live with Imbue. What can we expect from a live performance with Imbue?

Ric: I don't know what you can expect from a live Imbue show since we have not yet hit the stage. As you know, practice in a basement and performance in front of people are two very different types of energy. I can say honestly our show will be full of energy, groove and lots of getting down! We have added two more people for our live set, Wayne Crother who plays guitar for a track on the album with us, and Emroy Mingee on drums. The five us are balls of energy so definitely expect a lot to be going on and be prepared to get down and groove.

Jester: How did you first get involved with writing and composing music?

Ric: I first got started when I was a child just making up silly songs in my room singing and into a tape recorder. Then, as I got older, I realized that I enjoyed writing and have been doing so ever since.

Jester: Why did you choose to become involved with this genre of music as opposed to any other?

Ric: After many years of doing just Industrial, I had the desire to do something else, which is where Imbue comes in to the picture. As time has gone by I have been exploring more of my roots such as Funk and old Rock'n'Roll like Led Zeppelin and combining all these influences with the electronic movement. Currently, I am listening to a lot of Acid Jazz and Jazz influenced music. I dig anything with a bumping beat and a fat groove.

Jester: Have you ever had any type of formal musical training?

Ric: The only training I had was for voice. I took lessons for three years just for vocal strength. Everything else is self taught.

Jester: How has your vocal training changed the way you approach singing?

Ric: In the past, prior to vocal training, I was limited because I only knew a few ways to sing. One of which is the typical growl usually associated with the Industrial/Electro genre. Since Imbue is not working in that format I have explored my other abilities in vocal performance through the training I had, which has allowed me to actually "sing" on our album and provided me with a more cohesive outlet of performance. I now know my range a lot better and I am always working on improving it with every performance. Vocal training is necessary if one wants to explore the other possibilities in one's voice, that way I am not limited to one set style. I am an advocate of diversity.

Jester: What musical roles do each member of Imbue perform?

Ric: One of the things I love most about Imbue, is that each of us are capable of playing and programming a keyboard/sampler. This allows us to all have our hands on what is going on. However we all have our strengths in the band, so if I were to list what each of us do I would say myself on vocals/lyrics, Tim keyboards, and Jesy guitars. Jesy also has an incredible voice which can be heard on backing vocals on some tracks on "Resurrected".

Jester: Will there be a remix EP?

Ric: Yes, we are working on remix trades right now. We have confirmed remixes from Pulse Legion, Fishtank #9, DLI, Doo Doo Brown (hip hop artist) and a certain member of Pigface who has contacted us and recommended an artist on Invisible for a trade. As far as an EP, this is something we of course want to do, but first we want to get the remixes done and decide what would be the best way to release them. There are also other artists which we are in contact with that have expressed interest in trading, so we want to get those confirmed and done before we plan any type of release.

Jester: What is your favorite track from "Resurrected"? Why that track?

Ric: This is a difficult question to answer only because I have no attachment to any particular song. I enjoy "Resurrected" as a whole and cannot pinpoint which song would be considered a favorite. I look at the album as a whole not just eleven songs. They all have things about them that make them an equally enjoyable listen.

Jester: What does the future hold for Imbue?

Ric: I say the future looks bright and we are always writing new material. Since we have now been working together for almost two years, it makes the writing process fun and adventurous. We are always trying different things that allows us to change our sound from song to song, while maintaining a sound that is Imbue.

Jester: In there anything you would like to add in conclusion?

Ric: Making "Resurrected" has been one of the best experiences of my life. Working with Tim and Jesy has been wonderful because we are best friends and that goes beyond the band. I think this shows in our sound. COP International has also been very supportive of the direction Imbue has taken with it's sound. I think that is one of the strong points to bring up about this whole experience so far, because it is rare to have a label that is supportive. COP is like a family, in the sense that all the bands stay in contact with each other, and have such a close relationship with the label, which makes for an enjoyable experience.

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