Interview with Jon Smoil of Pg. 256

Meet Jon Smoil. The main man behind Pg. 256. With the release of his latest record, I went ahead and took time to ask him a bunch of questions pertaining to his music. It is really a rewarding experience when you really get to know the things behind the albums you listen to. And this is exactly what happened during this interview. I got to ask his top 5 albums as of the moment, the story behind the name Pg. 256 and also the Revolutionary War costume.
What made you conceive this musical vision?
This project was conceived during the construction phase of the actual studio. The same day that Matt and I wired up the control room, we were also working on Shots to the Kneecap.  I wanted to do something that incorporated elements from all the different styles of music that I enjoy, and so I just started programming in between framing out walls for the band room. There were no creative boundaries, but I know myself and so I kind of knew what to expect.  Industrial, metal, hip-hop, progressive and occasional moments of whatever else comes to mind.
You’ve got interesting influences that I am sure also helped in shaping your music. What’s your promotional plan for Pg. 256?
Right now I’m learning how to promote as I go. I’ve read 2 books and a bunch of articles on marketing independent bands, and I’m more or less throwing things at the wall to see what sticks so that I know where to focus my attention.
The latest idea I had was to make a few cover songs that I hope will help with gaining exposure. Once we have a full live set tightened up I’m going to start gigging again. For the last few bands I’ve been involved with it’s been public performance that’s really brought in the most hardcore fans.
Why Pg. 256. What’s the story behind the name?
In high school my buddy Jeff noticed the number 256 popping up all over the place and eventually said something. Since then it’s been kind of a running joke between a small group of friends. When it came time to start showing some of the songs I needed a band name quick, and somehow 256 came up again, so I stuck “pg.” in front of it and called it a day. I like it because it’s a wide open name. It’s not tied down to a genre. Anything can be on that page.
Please tell me about the songwriting process for you?
 Song writing happens one of several ways for me. Usually it starts with lyrics and a melody that I kick around in my head. That goes to paper, then it gets organized, and finally I can begin programming and recording it.
Sometimes I’ll just sit in front of a blank session and start creating instruments just to see what sounds good. If I’m doing a cover I won’t make an exact copy. I’ll use the same framework, but I try and fill it in different from the original. No matter what I’m trying to do I can guarantee that the plan will change along the way.
The song Stealth Bomber came from an e-mail conversation with my friends Andre about a painting he did. We went back and forth for a little bit, and concepts started presenting themselves. At the time I was working on the music for the song, and up shit’s creek for lyrics. After that email exchange, the creative ball started rolling and the song wrote itself. Find it and follow it wherever and whenever you can.
Care to share the challenges you faced in forming the project and what did you do to overcome them?
 I can honestly say that in the studio, this project runs pretty smooth. If I end up not liking a part I just change it. If a song gets too far out of whack I just move on. The only real bumps in the road came when Matt and I were getting all the gear calibrated to work together. We ended up reading a bunch of manuals and watching way too many tutorial videos on the inner workings of various DAWs and pieces of gear. Matt, thanks for sticking that out with me bro.
What are the important things a performer should remember when performing in a new venue?
In a new venue I would be really worried about sound, but I was lucky back in the day. There were live sound guys that ran most of the shows we played, and for the bar shows Codeman did a lot of the work.
One place we played at was run by drug addicts who stopped the show half way through because they smoked everything that they skimmed off of the door money and decided to shake the people down for cash and beer mid-show. It was a BYOB show. So sometimes there’s that kind of thing to watch out for, but it’s rare. Most venue people are professionals and can be reasoned with.
Things one must avoid when playing for a much younger crowd?
 I think you gauge what you can get away with by the tendencies of the crowd rather than the age. If you’re playing for a bunch of ICP fans then you’re safe to say or do pretty much whatever you want on stage. If you’re playing at a decent bar you might want to keep it dry, be less animated, and leave the penis and fart jokes in your left pocket for later. Instead say things like, “I never dreamed I’d be playing for crowds of five” or “(Insert Venue), the Taj Mahal of (Insert Town).” There’s also what I call the Gordon Freeman method where you say nothing outside of performing the song. Usually if you’ve had a few drinks it’s good to practice that one.
If you have a chance to tour outside the US what country would you surely go and why?
 If we actually gain enough steam to support a tour that goes outside of the US then I’d play anywhere where we were received well. At this point it’s been Canada, the Philippines, and England that have responded more to Pg. 256 than even the US. If we ever get off the east coast I’d like to start in those three places. Of course at that point we’d have a tour manager and they’d be telling me where I’m going.
I am browsing through your videos/press photo via Sine Wave and what’s the story behind the Revolutionary War costume picture?
 Good Question! At one point I had written a bunch of educational songs related to Revolutionary War that I was planning to perform at schools in the area. I went as far as buying the coat and hat, talking to history teachers about subject matter, and composing beats and lyrics. It just seemed like a fun project to me.
Eventually Pg. 256 took precedence over that idea, and it got put on the back burner. I still love the costume though. It’s really well made and actually very warm, plus it’s appropriate for a guy from New England to wear a French Lottery coat. At this point I put it on because it’s more interested than a hooded flannel coat. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll end up doing something with the material I have on the Revolutionary War, but one thing at a time.
Every genre has something about its fans having a common ‘culture.’ What have you found so far in terms of the kind of ‘culture’ you are in and the kind of followers you have?
A bunch of the fans carried over from a group called MIDI and Code that I was in a few years back. That would be the ICP crowd. I never really got into the band myself, but their fans have been super cool and open to our shenanigans. Beyond that we have the people stuck in the 90s (including myself), industrial metal fans, industrial hip hop fans, and fans of other obscure genres that we somehow fall into. It’s my feeling that the band attracts small niche audiences. We’re far from Pop Culture. Every review I get back from A&R reps tells me that I need more predictable rhyming schemes and lyrical content, and that the music itself needs to be less obscure and appeal to a mass audience. To me that spells out cliché, and that’s just not going to happen with this project.
Things you do when now working with music?
When I’m in the studio by myself for hours and hours (and sometimes days) on end I get the Keurig machine going and drink tons of tea and coffee. When something good starts to happen I’ll run with it until I either fall asleep at the keyboard, or the law of diminishing returns kicks in.When I’ve got someone in there working with me I try to keeps things relaxed. I’ll have that person do what they do best whether it’s guitars, vocals, drums, or bass. No pressure during takes on my end. I just let the tape roll and let them do as many takes as they want, and save everything. Then I go back later on and find all the best parts and mix them into whatever track I’m working on.
Top 5 albums you listen to these days
I STILL listen to Peter Gabriel: So a lot. I first got that one on cassette when I was six years old. Tool: 10,000 Days has been in constant rotation since it was released. Lately Death Grips: Money Store has had me looking at music a little differently. That’s a cool album. I’ve been going back and listening to NIN, mostly Downward Spiral, for ideas and inspiration. I’ve also gone back to Ministry: Filthpig for the open drum style and Al Jourgensen’s vocal effect techniques. These are the albums that I will A/B with while mixing and mastering.

Jonathan Smoil: music/lyric composition, engineering, editing, programming, samples, mastering, post production, keys, guitar, vocals

Matt Tonges: music composition, engineering, samples, keys, guitar

Julio Sapere: lead guitar

Jessica Lee: vocals

Dan Brimberg: lead guitar

Joe Cipriano: lyric composition, house kit drum samples

Keravel: voltz

Artist: Serge Keravel

Album: Voltz

Genre: electronic

Location: Gatineau, Quebec, Canada


PULSE (extended mix)
PULSE (Rick LP Remix)


Composed, Arranged and Performed by Serge Keravel

Mixing by Pierre Messier at Studios Piccolo

Mastering by Marc Thériault at Le Lab Mastering

Art Direction for the CD “VOLTZ” by Élisa Keravel-Bertrand

Photos and Media Relations by Jean-Louis Pitre

Web/Graphic Design by Simon Guibord

Web Development by Jean-Pierre Guévremont at eeknanomic

Sounds that flow and work regardless of the direction, this is what Keravel is. The music just clicks and that’s it, you tend to like it regardless of what influences that Serge Keravel had layer in his album Voltz. And like the title itself, everything is electric. The vibes are unmistakably European. I think this has something to do with his genetic lineage. His father’s of Breton origin and his mother has Italian blood. And the chemical composition of the combination results to passionate works. The kind of passion that fuels tracks like Pulse, Softsurge, Positivity and Darksparks among others.

There are also moments of calm as he dips into languid seas of sounds like in the case of Softsurge. His music is primarily electronic but the World influences are clear in his melodies and arrangements. You get the feeling of Celtic Brittany along with the melodic Italian. Being from Quebec his musical environment has always been multicultural. And yes Volts is something you should have when you go on a vacation where the sand, the sea and the sky are all part of the getaway.


Born in Quebec of a Breton father and a mother of Italian descent, Serge is, from childhood, immersed in a multicultural world. Early on, he discovers classical, Russian, gipsy, French and jazz music. Drawn to everything that is artistic, his first attempts are at painting, sculpting and writing plays for the theatre.

All art forms interest and fascinate him. He searches for all things different; his perspective is simple and spontaneous. He moves from one medium to another with ease and enthusiasm.

Like all young musicians, he forms a progressive folk music band, and as all young bands, its existence is short lived. He will however perform at live shows. This experience confirms Serge’s own vision of music and so, he decides to pursue his musical evolution on his own.

Improvisation is the open door to his beloved piano. A period of ephemeral compositions begins. Everything has to appear instantaneously, at that moment, and suddenly disappear. During this time, Serge will develop further his talents as both a musician and a composer.

His musical influences are diverse. He is intrigued by the vision of piano artist Keith Jarrett and by Joni Mitchell’s sensitivity and courage. He praises Peter Gabriel and Bjork for their efforts in trying to change conventional music.

Serge has great interest in the computer world. He first discovers graphics, experimenting with various software programs for four years, which leads him to explore forms and colours.

Then, it happens: software such as Reason from Propellerhead and Logic from Emagic arrive on the market. It’s the breakthrough Serge has been waiting for. He dives into this musical universe, full of sounds and rhythms that are varied and provocative. In 2003, Serge creates his first demo followed by a second one in 2004.

Prolific, he decides to become his own producer, not having the patience to wait for answers from other record companies. He feels the need to introduce and share his music with as many people as possible.

In 2005, Serge forms, with Andrée Ann Campeau, the record company Kassure Productions, dedicated to producing non-conformist music. His hopes are that this company will provide independent composers and musicians the means to expressing themselves, which is too often denied.

In September 2006, Serge launches his first album “MOODS” under Kassure Productions, distributed by Interdisc.

In April 2008, Serge releases his second album “NEXT”. Pierre Messier is in charge of mixing and mastering the music at Studios Piccolo.

In 2010, He releases his next CD “MUST”. Pierre Messier again mixed the album at Studios Piccolo. Marc Thériault mastered this opus at Le Lab Mastering.


ElectroCelt(Essay by Geoff J Keogh )

Our guest blogger this week is Geoff J Keogh who is better known by his moniker ElectroCelt. He now resides in Australia(Originally from Ireland) and he is making new tunes. Geoff and I met on the internet by chance while I was writing an article about electronic musicians. The electronic music community is close to my heart. The artists are very supportive with one another and they love to collaborate, paving the way to new styles.

The music of ElectroCelt.

If someone asked me to describe music in my own words, the closes to describing it would be: It is a universal language that has no boundaries.



It can tap into emotions and influence the way we can deal with decisions in a rational way. It also has a spiritual quality that lies between our world and that of a mystical source.

My music has traveled  with me since a very early age . My first live gig was a Tangerine Dream gig at the age of 10 . Music always moves me into different landscapes, it portrays life in different colours to me and defines who I am. I have followed many artists on their journey  and my love of all types of music stretches far and wide. Principally, electronic music  drives me the most  but always I remember that before the electronic age, the classics had their part to play in what we hear today. From as far back as man can go we have been  driven by music .

When talking in regard to my music … I love sequences. I think that the pattern created by notes in sequence  can develop out like a punchline in a story. These sounds mixed with layers of different toned pads once they are not sitting on the same  frequency creates powerful atmosphere andvery deep spiritual textures. Most of my pieces are grown out of direct life experiences, be it a place I am in or picture that is before me; then I find a way as close as possible to portray it in a musical term . The Digital fields album was a collection of pieces that I worked on for my own enjoyment. Digital Fields in one description is a field of vision used by opticians to describe the line of vision in a technical form. For example the track ElectroCelt is telling you that I had music deep within me but until I knew how to express it, I couldn’t portray it.  Silver lining was about the dreams we have  then too often we are let down … “Where’s the Silver Lining “.

As time passed and I grew into music production, the surroundings I found myself,  the people that entered into the music environment  just got blended. Into the music and each person  has left a trademark sound.  For Strange Elements album on board we have AlyZen Moonshadow  who comes from a classically trained  background  after studying music to a degree level  in Singapore and Kingston University London.  So a lot of classical structure is in the mix. Tim Pullen who is an excellent Guitarist  and very focused on his music, plays with a band in Somerset  called Obsession, so we get these wonderful delicate guitar scapes. Briefly, Stephan Whitlan  played on some parts of Strange Elements … He is a talented electronic artist from Sheffiled Uk. Now living in Co. Monaghan so you get some classical sequence patterns using VCS3 Prophet V  and Moog .

Since then and moving to Australia,  the culture has blended into my music with pieces like “Out of The Loop” … This is a music piece about the FIFO life I have been working where times of isolation can make you feel that your out of the loop and wonder what has been passing you by. “Desert Mystery” a love of the Pilbara and the mystery of those silenced early morning sunrises where nothing stirs .  “Crossing The Great Divide” a music piece about the move from Ireland to Australia and again three different atmospheres make up this picture. “Migration Process” the endless paperwork and loops we have to jump through to get through the migration process.

But it was quite late when I started producing music. I was a taxi driver in Dublin  and with the demise of the industry I took to studying something that interested me  which is music production. I completed  City & Guilds  parts 3 but a chance meeting in my taxi lead the way to me on my music journey. Taken parts 1 & 2  followed by electronic music production. This in turn lead to “Digital Fields”  in 2008. Next was the sessions at Realworld, Peter Gabriel’s  studios in Wiltshire. This was a mixing session  for the Realworld of ElectroCelt. ep. A live gig in The Sugar Club 2009 followed. I was totally gripped into my music journey and so to today the journey continues with no end in sight. Next projects coming up are “Digital Fields II” , ” Chasing Clouds & Other  Imaginary Pursuits”, then “Druids Awakening 2014.”


Add ElectroCelt via facebook:

Electro Weekend: Welcome to the Strange Side.

In this edition: ElectroCelt, Scarlet Soho Feat Tagdual Pop, Timid Simian and Tangerine Dream.


ElectroCelt : Visions of Horizons

Hi there people. More stories coming out this month. Today we are featuring an Irish electronic musician now based in Perth Australia. His name is Geoff Keogh known by the moniker, ElectroCelt. He started off as a big Fan of Tangerine Dream attending most of the gigs. Between working on odd jobs and hanging with other musicians, he met Sean McLoud who asked him to bring out his music. That resulted to Digital Fields.

He spent the whole month of June 2008 locked away in the studio as he worked on the EP. Mixing of the tracks followed a month after. Only in the early hours of the morning would he emerge from the studio to start working on his other job as a taxi driver.

He  ended up in Peter Gabriel’s studio (RealWorld studios in Box Wiltshire in the UK) remixing the Digital Fields tracks. He also started working on Strange Elements but the physical release is yet to happen.

His music is expansive. It has that feeling of being swept into the horizon. My favorite track is Emerald Sand (Strange element) for its amazing sounds, subtle percussion and the feeling of floating into space. Get to know more about ElectroCelt by liking his facebook page and follow this soundcloud channel.

More can be heard here:


Scarlet Soho Feat Tagdual Pop

Here is a nice video  by Scarlet Soho and gang. According to Loic Rathscheck: “The reason you see me run around is because I play Tugdual in the video, one of the protagonists from the saga Oksa Pollock. He is the singer in a rock band. In our track, James lends his voice to Tugdual. So this song goes with volume 5 which has just hit the market. I sort of hope people will associate it with the book. That is the idea behind this track.” Since this is a collaboration,  Loic added: I did the video. Scarlet Soho wrote the lyrics to the song and then James sang the tune.

Well I like the video and the concept behind it. I think it is clever for the writers behind Oksa Pollock to collaborate with musicians because these days music is the best vehicle to have your art across.

Find out more about this track and the people behind through the following sites:


Timid Simian

The first few minutes inside Timid Simian’s music is like being incase in a bubble of light and vibrations. He has a way with melodies and synth programming. A kind of calm emotion runs all over his tracks. They are melodic too. There isn’t much info about Timid Simian other than the fact that he is based in Canada and he is a friend of Layne Greene whom I featured in this site. Well whatever he is doing, he is doing it really good. Can’t wait for this to become an EP or album! It the kind of music you would want to turn on when you are waiting for someone in a hotel lobby or when you are just tired and you want to chill out.


Flashback: TANGERINE DREAM – Hyperborea

One of the most influential bands of the contemporary electronic music. I first heard about them through the movie Legends starring Tom Cruise and Mia Sarah. I was a little kid. But I remember being fascinated by the sounds they made and I was like: Wow it sounds like golden snow. And I must have one of their albums. And I did.