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Spiral Cell Interview

9 September 2020 No Comment

Spiral Cell 1Spiral Cell describes themselves as, (Actually himself. Spiral Cell is a one man monster of a performance by Scott Uhl.)  “An immersive, theatrical, multi-level experience of music, storytelling, visuals, and art. Musically, Spiral Cell combines elements of movie/video game scores, layered vocals, dynamic guitar playing, and multi-instrument looping. ” All we know is Spiral Cell is very badass; kind of like a one man Pink Floyd with Nine Inch Nails dynamics.  Spiral Cell just released a music video that was entirely filmed underwater called “Ocean” which can be seen at the bottom of the interview.

What exactly is a Spiral Cell? It sounds ominous. 

It’s a play on words and can be seen in two different ways. A Spiral can either be a spiral that only appears to be moving, but never expands outwards (a “helix” spiral), or it can be a spiral that expands outwards and grows with time (the “fibonacci” or “golden” spiral). A cell can either be a part of you (DNA “cells”) or a prison (a jail “cell”). It seemed appropriate to have these 2 possible interpretations for a music project, because being a musician can either be incredible and rewarding (the golden spiral… as a part of my DNA/cells) or it can be absolutely depressing and I feel like I’m getting nowhere (a helix spiral in a metaphorical jail cell).

Scott, when did you get started in music and where has it taken your life from there?

Spiral cell 2I started playing guitar in high school when one of my good friends Bryon asked me “hey, take guitar class with me so I know someone in the class.” I had no desire to learn music before that. After that, I was hooked. I’ve been fortunate to play in multiple bands that have played some incredible shows over the years. My band Glass Delirium was together for 10 years before throwing a farewell show in 2017. I also played with another band called Tattooed Strings for about 4 years before a lot of band members moved away and we threw our final show in 2018. Nothing can take away from working in a group with multiple talented people in a band, but Spiral Cell was my desire to have something that I could work on at 3am if I wanted to and whatever I enjoy makes it to the album/show/artwork/etc. I still play in other bands, and it’s nice to have the balance: working in a group with talented people and compromising on the final product, and having my own thing that I get the final say on.

You are a multi-instrumentalist. Which instrument is your favorite and which was the hardest to learn and why?

Guitar is definitely what I’m best at for sure. That’s my main instrument, and I’ve played it the longest. The answer for what is my favorite AND what is my hardest instrument is the same: drums. I don’t play a full drum set, but I play a Roland SPDSX sample pad since I use so many different drum sounds. Drums are just a lot of fun, and there’s a reason why every guitarist at a band practice always ends up going behind the drums for some reason haha. I couldn’t tell you why, it’s just a cool instrument. But it’s by far the most difficult to play.

Tell us more about Spiral Cell.  What is the theme and driving force behind it?

Spiral Cell 3Spiral Cell started when I wrote a few riffs and at the time, Glass Delirium was my main and only band. A few of the riffs didn’t seem to fit for the band, and I figured why not use it for a solo record or something. To do a solo performance/project I figured I had 3 options: virtuoso guitarist, singer/songwriter, or looper. I’m not a virtuoso guitarist, and I’m not a singer songwriter so I got into looping. It was an easy jump into looping since I like focusing on all instruments of a song, not JUST guitar. I was just going to plan for it to be an instrumental album with weird noises and melodic guitar work and stuff like that. But 6 years later it evolved into a concept album with a surreal storyline/dialogue, cinematic arrangements like a soundtrack, and a live show that took forever to figure out how to program. I just kept thinking of new ways to “over-stimulate” and make it interesting.

Tell us about your debut album The Maze in the Tree Rings. What is the vibe and the mood and the vibe of the album?

The vibe and mood is hopefully a sense of mystery and wondering what’s happening and what will happen next. There is definitely a full concept for the album in my mind, but I like to leave it open to the listeners interpretation. If I was to say “to me, this is a metaphor of the process of making tacos,” it wouldn’t be as valuable to the listener anymore if they couldn’t apply their own life story to the album. But if to me it was about making tacos (spoiler alert, it’s not), and I do NOT reveal that, someone else might listen and apply it to the time in their life where they were homeless or something. I like to leave it open to interpretation as much as possible so it can apply to the listeners own experiences.

Your latest music video “Ocean” is a song off The Maze in the Tree Rings why did you choose that song for the video?

Ocean MermaidKyle Lamar of Digital Myle had done some footage of Spiral Cell live shows, and he mentioned he wanted to do an underwater music video. I told him that I had a song that might work for that, and I sent him the track. He loved it, and then we started brainstorming the ideas for the video.

“Ocean” was shot completely underwater. What were the challenges with that situation? Did the video turn out the way you wanted?

All of us were really stoked on how the video turned out for sure. It was definitely a challenge. You only have about 15-20 seconds per take since we have to hold our breath to get the shots. Kyle had the idea to use an underwater GoPro for some of it, but he wanted to use his super high-end camera. So we bought a fish tank, put the camera in the fish tank, and that was enough to submerge it underwater and then angle it just right. It was tricky for sure, but it was a lot of fun to do something different.

Word is that your new album is completely done and you’re just waiting on a drop date. What can you tell us about the new album?

Yeah, the new album is “finished” and I could release it tomorrow if I really wanted to. I’m working on a promotional strategy for this next album. Part of the difficulty with Spiral Cell is finding the right audience. Once I find that audience, they really love the multi-layers and immersive experience of it. But I need to find those people, and not people who want to hear 4-on-the-floor pop songs. Not that there is anything wrong with those songs/people… I’m a die hard Katy Perry fan after all! But I really want to use this next record release to find my target audience, which is why it’s sitting on the shelf right now. I have a lot of ideas planned for it… just have to see what’s possible.

How is it different from  The Maze in the Tree Rings?

The new album is definitely more cinematic/soundtrack oriented. More dialogue than the last album. Less guitar than last time, and more of a focus on keyboard/strings/synth and percussion. I’m also working on releasing it in multiple formats… but I want to wait to see what we can figure out before I commit to revealing what they are. I also plan for the live show to reveal more of the story than what you get on the album as well.

Did Covid hinder or help the recording of the new album?

Scott OceanCovid MASSIVELY hindered this album release. All the stuff I had planned for this album costs money. I did learn how to record and mix by myself so I could spend the money I would spend on recording to instead market this album correctly. My day job is I perform with cover bands. 2020 was supposed to be a fantastic year for my cover band stuff, and I was going to budget the money to put it toward the album release, visuals, unique merch, etc. Now I have to figure out how I’m going to do what I had in mind. It is what it is I guess. It’s very depressing to have a big plan for something so personal and time consuming, and then have it fall apart. But that’s part of life I guess. Although when Covid first hit, some of the dialogue on 2 of the tracks were not finished yet. The idea of the stories for those two songs involved characters not communicating with each other. So all I had to do was log on to Facebook for an hour, and I had more than enough dialogue ready haha. Looking at the glass half full I guess?

Once the world opens up again will you be touring?

I would definitely love to! Spiral Cell is very much a visual performance experience, so the live show is a huge part of that. Probably the most valuable part of the Spiral Cell universe is the live show. So let’s hope so!

And what about the next music video, what are your plans?

I’m talking with Kyle from Digital Myle about doing the next music video. We are talking about doing a video release for every song on the next album as well. Working on some concepts now. It would be a lot of fun (and work) to do a video for every song, but I think it fits for the project for sure.

Anything else you would like to add?

Thanks for taking the time to interview me, and thanks for the readers for reading this far. Check out the music videos on Youtube.com/SpiralCell or www.spiralcell.com and if you are into concept albums, or surreal narratives, or sci-fy type of stories, check out “The Maze in the Tree RIngs” wherever you stream music at. Looking forward to releasing the next record… whenever that may be.

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