DOTDR: Upon receipt of your album Passing Through the Outer Gates and reading the info card, I was really interested because the whole idea of that Eulogy Series by FFS was to have each artist express their perception of the death experience in their music. Death is a fascinating concept to work with and it’s always pretty intriguing to see what peoples own perceptions are of it. In listening to Mystified I was pleasantly surprised at how meditative and celestial your take on it was, it really wasn’t very dark but more of a sense of achieving enlightenment. How do view the concept of death and what did you really want to convey in this release?
Mystified: Well, death is usually seen as an ending point to life, and in a lot of ways it is one. We lose our consciousness of this world (apparently) and leave our earthly connections behind. In another way, though, maybe death is a new beginning-- a transition of the soul away from the body. If it is our fleshy forms that cause so much suffering, then to depart the body might actually be a relief, though a scary one. In "Outer Gates" I imagined I was portraying the journey of a soul, from the moment it left its body, through various stages (or "gates"), until it found a place of rest at a distant quiet point. Actually, to me, the music is dark, though not as oppressive as some dark ambient releases.
DOTDR: I actually view death the same way as you do, as a sort of freedom as opposed to an end. This release definitely had the feeling of a souls journey and was still dark in sound, just not so ominous and morbid. Was there any specific response that you had wanted to invoke in the listener? What do you aspire to create in your artistic form of Mystified?
Mystified: I definitely wanted the release to be enjoyed as a whole. A person is welcome to listen to songs individually, if they like, but part of the point of the cd is to portray a complete transition. This involves a sad and moody beginning, changes and transformations both exciting and scary, and finally a peaceful resolution. So I was hoping the listener might find this trip to be engaging and might find a point of resolution at the end by listening. As for my artistic goals as Mystified, there honestly have been many, but one of my main goals has been to find music in the world around me, and to fuse different ideas of what might be called "atmospheric". For example, I have used data I gathered from flowers and star patterns to create music, and even actual radio waves generated by lightning. I did not use these techniques in "Outer Gates", but I did try to create a broad picture of atmosphere, with lots of expanse, and nice, graceful subtleties going on.
DOTDR: The album definitely is best as a whole and I really can’t see it in parts myself. The whole thing about using star patterns and radio waves generated by lightning, that’s completely awesome and is one of those facts that will make me run and get a copy of something. I’m always up for the unusual and new, so the most bizarre and intricate audio is more than just sounds for me, I really enjoy Japanese noise and experimental and have always been a big follower of Nurse With Wound, Einsturzende Neubauten, Monolake, and Biosphere, with all of them there is a change in styles from some groovier bits, jazz even, minimal, and so on. It’s as if each album is still distinctly them, but it’s not like the others either. Tell us a bit about Mystified as a whole (past, present and future)?
Mystified: Mystified is my main musical entity. I've been around for over a decade, and composed in many different styles. Looking back, I would say that the main element of Mystified is one of growth, which I feel I can observe through the years. I'd also hope that there has been a consistent insistence on a certain quality, especially in terms of sound and achieving atmosphere. If you were to listen to my releases in chronological order, you could definitely notice trends-- such as primitive ambient, phonographic, minimal drone, droney techno, and so forth. At this point, I have quite a few pieces. Rather than discard them, I keep them, for various purposes. I like to listen to the best pieces from each phase of growth.
DOTDR: I’ve always found ambient in all its forms to be fascinating because the compositions are generally cinematic, even the most minimal of them. They somehow conjure up images in your mind and play out a narrative derived from your unconscious and conscious responses to the sounds; it’s almost psychedelic in many ways as well. How do as an ambient artist view the style?
Mystified: I think your description is excellent. With "Outer Gates" it was especially interesting, because, for me, true ambient is abstract. It goes back to the original notion-- something quiet being played in the background, barely heard. Ambient music is a lot like elements of the world around us-- the sky, moon, stars, and such. They beautify or transform our surroundings, sometimes with us hardly noticing. But in "Outer Gates", when I submitted some minimal, "naturalistic" bell drones, Chris at the label First Fallen Star pushed me to add more to them, striving for more power and complexity. So I think especially with this release I explored the cinematic style of ambient, rather than the strictly abstract.
DOTDR: I definitely noticed the bells and found that they fit the compositions well, but I also really enjoy the abstract aspects of the music and this release was definitely abstract. I’m really drawn to most things abstract, I don’t typically go for simple and straightforward unless it’s something specific. Aside from this album and the theme of death, what themes/ideas influence your music, if they are anything specific?
Mystified: Certainly nature and the world around me, which I believe stems from some cosmic consciousness, or at least a great primal source. In this respect, I have done lots of stuff about urban environments (since I live in one, and it's also part of my atmosphere), tribal environments (for me pretty imaginary, but indicative of some primal atmosphere), science fiction, carrying with it a fascination with space as a part of the universe we are just beginning to explore, and many other themes. I would say I tend to be less emotive. I am moody, but not emotive. There is a trend in ambient I would like to call "Emo-bient". It's been around from the beginning. But I tend to shy away from that, a little, from the syrupy, gosh golly pieces. Feeling in Mystified is usually tempered by darkness, or maybe maturity.
DOTDR: I’ve been really inspired to start creating art based on urban environments and even did some architectural stuff for a conceptual art class that involved sketching of dilapidated old industrial areas. I really love the concrete and clutter of the urban environment, graffiti, trash, it all has a sculptural aesthetic I think. For me art is very personal and it’s not always easy to express what you want to and then be open to explaining it to others who might find it confusing or in my case disturbing. How do you view music, do you see it as something that can be very personal?
Mystified: Well, I do attribute a certain importance to the stuff I've done, which may be silly. But it is part of the human ego to connect with its creations. Honestly, most of my music is abstract and theoretical, so I feel less like I am exposing myself emotionally and more like I am interpreting or re-creating the world around me. "Outer Gates" is an exception, as with Chris at the label pushing me I really had to dig deep so you are seeing more of Mystified as a person in this cd.
DOTDR: I really respect what you have created with Passing Through the Outer Gates and look forward to hearing more of your stuff in the future. In closing, is there anything that you’d like to add?
Mystified: Thanks to Chris at First Fallen Star for his inspiration, to my fans for their dedication, and thanks also to you Janet for interviewing me and for your thoughtful and searching questions. Don't forget to visit me at http://www.mystifiedmusic.com