I met Lia Shapiro aka ALiEn TriBe through ElectroCelt. At that time I was doing a story about Geoff and he recommended that I should check out his friend who was about to do a collaboration with him. I said absolutely! I am very visual when it comes to knowing people so I am very observant about what they have online or offline. The clothes we wear, the things we say and the music we listen to, tell strangers bits about us.
I noticed stacks of digital equipment in her photo albums. I have this thing for studio equipment. I miss the days when I used to be part of a band. I miss the feeling of being inside a shed with all the musical equipment and just playing music. It doesn’t matter what kind of instrument you have but as long as you know how to play them, then you are interesting in my book. So my curiosity about Alien Tribe’s music eventually led to this interview.
I’d describe ALiEn TriBe’s sound as mesmerizing ambient/dance with the tendency to lean on mid-eastern melodic style. Her use of exotic scales and bundles of voice layering make you think she’s channeling Lisa Gerrard. There is something very primal about Alien Tribe. But don’t let that overwhelm you. In the end it is all about the universe of sounds and the different sensations one can experience listening to music- the language behind the swirls of wordless vowels and consonants. I am sure you will enjoy this interview and the detailed answers of Lia Shapiro a.k.a ALiEn TriBe
Hi Lia. I guess I need to start the ball rolling and send you a few questions:
You have a global outlook when it comes to music. How has collaboration affected you creatively?
LiA – Concerning my global outlook, it probably results from having lived, traveled and worked around the world combined with the
good fortune of having been exposed to many different kinds of music. In essence, I think this has contributed greatly to my overall musical sensibilities. At this point, I seem to merge and mingle all sounds in my head, everything I’ve ever heard and uniquely make it my own way and my own style. I believe that having experienced so much of the world’s culture has enabled me to create music that is vast in scope and varied, while also throwing in bits of random American elements. Because of such an extensive global background, starting from the day I was born, my music is permeated with sound bites for everyone. I believe global hopping also lends itself well to working and getting along with others outside of my own American culture.
Delving into collaborations beyond my borders and boundaries excites me in that it brings an extra special challenge to merge my stuff with other stuff to come up with new stuff. That’s always exciting, like adding an extra special layer of intrigue to my creations, something new and foreign. I find I really enjoy collaborations, but it has to be right, not only musically but personality wise. Merging music and personalities is like any other business, partnerships or relationships. It either works or it doesn’t and sometimes it can even be a disaster if not thought out carefully. Right now I’m involved in an ongoing, permanent and immortal collaboration with Geoff Keogh. Together, we are called AlienCelt. We took a part from each of our band names and came up with that. Alien from ALiEn TriBe, my band name, and Celt from Geoff’s band name of ElectroCelt. Geoff is from Dublin, Ireland, but lives in Australia for now. As an American in Southern California, somehow we’ve brought both our talents together from two different continents and are busy building songs that I’m quite proud of. We work equally, both of us making the music, mixing and producing, while I add an extra element in the vocals.
2. What do you think electronic artists can do in order to up the niche a bit and also gain more listeners?
LiA: Technically and accurately, much of the music we’re hearing now is electronic. People tend to think of electronic music as spaced out weird stuff created on equipment with cables and wires protruding and hanging all out. These days, any instrument or sound can be represented by playing it on a keyboard. Inside our keyboards and specialized programs, we have banks of sounds and musical instruments and even voices that are all programmed into our music gear with great accuracy. These instruments sound just as real as the original instrument, and in fact are real. I can play any type of guitar, or stringed instrument on my keyboard or any kind of horn and so on and you could not tell the difference. I also have the ability to electronically re-program any sound to make it my own sound, even the original sound of a physical instrument all within my keyboard and programs.
Many people are listening to electronic music, although they may not be aware of it or know exactly how it’s created in the studio. Pop songs, rock, hip-hop, any music at all can be created electronically, then reproduced on the stage for live performance by simply converting to physical instruments played by humans for the sake of visuals. What I mean is, I can play a guitar for example or a violin, even a whole orchestra of violins, all on my keyboard by simply programming it in, then playing. In a live performance, I might choose to hire a person to play a guitar or have people playing a whole section of violins. But, I do have the capability of designing my own violin section in my programs and playing it myself on my keyboard. It’s all really quite magic, what we can do now with music technology!
As far as gaining more listeners, this is easier now than ever before considering all the social sites. On the other hand, it can also be difficult for the independent artist as it requires constant work, long hours and the ability to promote without sounding promotional. It also requires the ability to socialize nicely online as a real human being without coming on too strong or being overly and musically aggressive.
3. What’s the best part of the world to be an electronic musician?
LiA: Hmm, well, if you consider that a lot of music out there is technically electronic music, then anywhere in the world would probably be a good place. For pure and obvious electronic sounds, probably anywhere beside America would be good. Europe seems to embrace pure electronic and alternative sounds more than the US.
4. Can you give us a bit of info about your studio gear?
LiA: I’m an all Korg kind of person and one of few females listed on the Korg website in a massive sea of guys. My main piece of equipment is a rather large sized Korg Keyboard called an M3-Workstation. Attached to it in true outer space style is a Korg Radius synth with lots of knobs, lights and endless possibilities for creating sounds. Also I have an old Korg Triton Module, again, endless sounds and the capability of creating my own sounds and reprogramming all sounds. Between these three Korg products, I have enough sound producing equipment to keep me busy for the rest of my life and into the next one!
5. How about a background concerning the collaborative work you are doing with ElectroCelt? How’s the production going?
LiA: Geoff Keogh is ElectroCelt from Dublin, Ireland now living in Australia. We met up on Facebook through a mutual friend who lives in Ireland. As well, Geoff first heard my music on a UK radio station presented by Terry James Hawke. He said when he first heard it, he went, “who is that?” I’m not sure if he heard my music first or if we became friends first through our mutual friend or maybe it happened both at the same time. It wasn’t long before he asked if I’d like to do collaboration with him. I was astounded because I knew of ElectroCelt and had heard his music as well on the UK radio station. Back then, I was in awe and thought of him as “The Great ElectroCelt,” so when he inquired about a music collaboration with me, I was amazed and very surprised. We proceeded nicely and found that we worked well together, very compatible musically and our personalities fit together as far as forming a musical collaboration.
I’ve learned over time that music collaborations are like any other partnership. Besides the music part, personalities and similar emotions are also involved and it either works or it doesn’t. The music started to flow between us as we passed tracks back and forth between California and Australia, each of us doing our part equally in creating music and doing the mixing and production. Geoff and I work very harmoniously and somehow agree about everything. We also give each other space and freedom to each do our own thing within a piece of music that we’re working on. Amazingly as well, we seem to not only agree on everything, but we genuinely like what the other one does.
We’re finishing up a fourth song for an EP that will hopefully be released in 2013, then we’ll get busy on another one. We sort of decided to release shorter length EP’s, versus longer playing albums because people seem real eager to get their hands on the music as quickly as possible. I think people will be surprised when they hear our music together. Seems we bring in all the best elements of our individual music and when it gets merged and mixed up together, something new and quite exciting happens. What appears is a bit of Irish, a bit of Australian and a bit of American, even maybe certain elements of Native American, but also remnants of rock. It becomes just a big swirl of musical intrigue that meanders down a new and different, very international and diverse path, but one that will forge ahead and seems to make people perk up along the way and take notice. That is AlienCelt…and we’re really quite excited and proud of ourselves.
6. You are good in engaging people in a conversation. And you are also involved with your online listeners as you try to accommodate questions, responses and even humorous topics. Is this an acquired skill as you evolved personally and musically?
LiA: Yes, it’s very much an acquired skill and one which came to me rather late in life. For the first half of my life, I was extremely shy and it was very painful being that way. With all my heart, I really did want to connect with others and to be comfortable in talking with them. When younger, all through school, I was hardly able to talk to anyone. It truly felt like I was an alien and had dropped down in the midst of a strange and foreign world. Before the Internet, I’d be at the library pouring through stacks of books on the topic of “shyness.” They called it being “shy” then, but now it’s called “social anxiety.”
Later on in life as a young adult and much to my dismay, I was still shy and could not get or keep a conversation going. I had read that for shy people to do well, just ask questions. I tried that approach, but once the person answered my question, I couldn’t think of anything more to say. Many years later, I don’t know what happened, but maybe with the experience of life and wanting with all my heart to engage people, things started happening bit by bit. I’ve always been involved with music one way or another, and it doesn’t really pay to be shy, so the music brought me out, as well as a lot more exposure to people through various activities. As well, I was online from the very beginning when a lot of people were not there yet.
My first online exposure was at the early Compuserve message boards. After that I created my own website for a book I wrote, called, “Comes the Awakening: Realizing the Divine Nature Of Who You Are.” That book is still making the rounds and from that, I was known as LiaLight. For my LiaLight website, I made a message board and a chat room when many people had not yet discovered the Internet. I started to gain real skills in online communication and was very active for five years managing my website, message board and chat room. Eventually Myspace came along and I spent years there, uploading my music and talking to people. Finally a friend talked me into joining Facebook. For awhile, I was involved in both Myspace and Facebook until eventually I started to settle in more at Facebook. I’d say it’s taken me many years to gain experience in online communication, as well as “real life” communication. When you think about it, being able to communicate effectively online is a fairly recent phenomenon. I’m not sure any of us start out as naturals without a few glitches here and there and misunderstandings. One thing I’ve learned is that written communication is an art form in being able to translate all we think and feel correctly into the written word.
When you have a product as well, such as music, art or a book, for instance, that’s another level of correct communication. Of course you want everyone in the world to know what you’ve created, but we can’t go beating everybody over the head with it constantly. It takes a lot of restraint, diplomacy and good manners to communicate effectively on social sites when you’re just about dying for everyone to know your product…and hopefully they’ll buy it when they do know it. I’ve learned through much experience that it’s better to hope for the best and in the meantime, just do your best. These days, that means being a warm, friendly person…just getting along with everyone is the key.
August 1, 2013
Lia Shapiro aka ALiEn TriBe
Coachella Valley, Southern California USA
Writer and Author