Charles Sekel created an alter ego we know as First Blush. We interviewed him below about his process and inspirations.
Tell me about your creative process?
Typically my songwriting process starts at the piano. I’ll improvise and try to let my mind wander until I stumble on something that resonates with me. Then I’ll quickly record the idea on my phone or my laptop if I have it with me. After that, my DAW (Logic Pro X) usually serves as the hub for further experimentation with different sounds and textures as I continue to revise the material. At a certain point vocal melodies will start occurring to me (if I’m lucky) so I’ll record those and see how they fit in the instrumentation. Then the real work begins as I start to evaluate whether or not I like how the elements have come together. Lots of times I’ll abandon the song at that point, sometimes to return to it months or years later, but sometimes to just discard completely. I’d say about 80% of my work sees that fate. The rest I release into the world.
What do you find interesting about music today? Do you draw inspiration from many time periods and how do you reason with these.
I think it’s interesting how technology has made it possible to be influenced by any type of music at any given time. This makes the creative well an artist can draw from infinitely deep. That in itself can provide challenges, but I think our music is all the richer from it.
Digital liner notes you talk about darker themes in society whether it be “depression and addiction or a struggle to be optimistic while journeying through the darker corners of the psyche”. Where do you find your material these days?
From my own experiences with the things you just mentioned. I have a naturally depressive personality, but I’ve learned to cope with those feelings and turn them into a positive force in my life through music. Lemonade from lemons sort of thing.
Tell me about your tones. What are the distorted and atmospheric textures you are working with right now?
I use Arturia’s analogue synth plugins a lot, especially their Jupiter 8 and CS-80 emulations. I also recently got the Korg Minilogue with has been a great tool for stirring up inspiration. Lots of the time I’ll run the synth sounds through guitar amp plugins and usually add plenty of reverb. The dustier the better.
How did Monologic come together. What was that journey like?
Painstaking, but rewarding. The process lasted the better part of four years, and saw the writing and discarding of about five times as many songs as are on the album. Maybe I went a little overboard, but I think it was worth it and hopefully others agree.
You are a NYC based musician. Do you play around the city often?
Yep, I’ve actually got a show coming up on December 15th (11 PM) at The Well in Brooklyn.
Who should Frontrunner interview next?
Andrew Charles is a great singer/songwriter who has played with First Blush in the past, so I think you should check him out!
His debut album is beautiful.