20th July marked 50 years since the first moon landing, which has encouraged a jam-packed calendar of celebrations and exhibitions across the globe inspired by that famous Apollo mission. Even here in Notts, The Motorpoint Arena is set to host its own event, Interstellar, this Saturday to mark the occasion, with the 50-Piece Limelight Orchestra performing all things space and stars, including covers of David Bowie, Pink Floyd and Elton John.
However, this isn’t the only moon-fuelled madness to come out of Nottingham. Producer, composer and Beeston resident Pat Keista has just released his own album E11EVEN which was inspired by the Apollo moon landing of 1969.
Pat is a classically trained musician, receiving Royal Academy of Music private tuition from as young as 9 years old. However, as he grew older and his career progressed Pat started to explore a range of new musical styles including, world, electronic, and rock. This passion allowed Pat to travel the world and he’s played in lots of luvleh places including New York, Singapore and Paris. Even so, it’s Nottingham that has helped inspire Pat’s most recent musical productions after he relocated here three years ago. We caught up with him to find out more…
What is it about the Apollo Moon landing that inspired you to produce this album?
I just find the whole notion incredible – to leave the gravity (in every sense of the word) of our world behind and visit the grace of space. I’ve seen countless documentaries on the Apollo mission and the whole project was an incredible feat of engineering, science and human organisation. Humanity at its best. But aside from the rationalisation, it’s almost mystical.
The album was written in San Francisco, Sausalito and Nottingham – how was that?
The Bay area is full of great music, musicians and studios - an inspiring, innovative place. I remember seeing motorised skateboards there, ages before they reached the UK. All sorts of unusual things and it keeps you creative. When I was there, I took a mobile studio – an Arturia Keylab25 + Mac n bits essentially.
When I got back to Nottingham, I continued in my home studio. You can make a home studio as you like it, so I prefer that situation.
Tell us about the recording process for the album
Big question! I’ve always wanted to make a space album. So, last year I made a plan to release one to coincide with Apollo 11’s 50th anniversary.
The musical impetus for the album came from a track called Contradiskshen. This was written around the concept of oscillations between centripetal and centrifugal forces – ie. winding and unwinding. The journey to the moon involved these forces – spurts of furious, ‘tight’ activities like rocket boosts, followed by graceful spacecraft cruising. I don’t usually begin with concepts, so this was a novel approach for me. It opened up more musical possibilities, instead of beginning with a go-to instrument. Contradikshen became Alla Luna (to the moon) – the first track on the album. Once this track was down, the rest flowed fairly well.
With E11EVEN, I wanted to steer away from my usual sound recording process. Instead of condenser mics, I used field recording devices. The camera ‘clicking’ sound on Alla Luna is actually layered recordings of sticks breaking and snapping. Another factor was I’d just bought a violin, so I was keen to experiment with it. I enjoyed the process of making E11EVEN because I was doing different.
You have a massive back catalogue of work in a range of different styles, from classical to EDM to rock, how has this piece differed to the projects you have done previously?
A key difference with E11EVEN was the fact I was making an album. Most commercial projects and bands I’ve been involved with, especially EDM, are always track driven.
But I really like the coherence and story you can bring to an EP/album. So allowing myself to indulge in an album felt less constraining. My other projects like Weeva (EDM) is where I truly learned how to produce though. You rub shoulders with ace producers and learn best practices. I’ve been in rock bands too and this influenced the latter part of Alla Luna, depicting the ‘rock’ of space, the delicious danger, the risk.
You moved to Notts three years ago - where were you previously, and how did you end up in the city?
I move around with the job (I’m an associate professor). Lived in Lancaster previously, Bath before that, even Singapore. All great places for music and jamming.
So, what about his music, ey?
We reckon it embodies the cosmological adventure that Apollo 11 undertook pretty chuffin’ well. It’s very clear from the opening track that there is a strong narrative throughout, and a range of genres are used very cleverly to portray different emotions and help Pat tell the story.
For example, Alla Luna is a 14-minute-long journey in itself and the opening sequence draws from ambient electronic influences. As the track grows a synthesizer starts to pulse, replicating expertly the tension but excitement that surrounded Apollo 11’s blast off into outer space.
It’s also important to mention his use of traditional orchestral music to highlight the beauty and peacefulness of space. This is evident in the track Sole which has an overall calmness about it, but is intersected with little stabs of drama which still highlight the magnitude of the journey. Final track Urano opens with nothing else but the sound of wind, which transports you to the vast desert that is the surface of the moon. As the piece progresses there is a hint of hopefulness and celebration in the music and it truly feels like a track made for a grand setting.
Overall E11EVEN is a piece that is expertly put together by Pat, clearly an expert in his field. His ability to produce imagery though music is what makes this a standout piece of work and inspires the listener’s imagination. It allows you to travel through the journey to the moon from the comfort of your own home.
Pat Keista released his album E11EVEN on 20 July.