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IndiePulse Interviews: S. Peace Nistades

Peace Nistades is a composer for film, fashion and stage. Born in Thailand, he has scored numerous films in over six countries worldwide. Among artists he has collaborated are Lisbeth Scott (The Passion of the Christ, Munich), Karen Han (The Hurt Locker, Kung Fu Panda, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End), Gingger Shankar (Charlie Wilson’s War), Jason Charles Miller (Godhead, Diablo III), Mitchell Marlow (Filter), Felicia Day (The Guild, Dragon Age: Redemption) and concert pianist Christopher Janwong McKiggan.

His work has screened in over 30 film festivals worldwide including the Cannes Film Festival (France) and can be heard on numerous albums including the classical release Paganimania for Albany Records with reviews stating “the sheer fragile beauty of some passages are miraculous” (Colin Clarke, Fanfare Magazine) and “perfect” (EFilmCritic.com for Dark Woods).


Nistades has collaborated with fashion designer Emily Daccarett on five of her collections creating original music for each campaign as well as the music for the entire runway show for her Fall-Winter 2015 Noir collection which premiered at New York Fashion Week and Paris Fashion Week that year.

He has worked as technical assistant to John Debney and served as score technical coordinator on The Greatest Showman as well as score technical assistant on the first season of Seth MacFarlane’s The Orville and upcoming films like Brian Banks, The Beach Bum starring Matthew McConaughey and Snoop Dogg, and next year’s Isn’t It Romantic. He also served as technical score engineer alongside Mikel Hurwitz for Danny Elfman’s Justice League score.

The S. in his name comes from his birth name, Sornsanti which means ‘arrow of peace’. He is based in Los Angeles, CA.

IndiePulse Music Interviewed this artist to gain insight on their work and to introduce you to their music, so, for the Interview:

IPM:  How would you sum up your background?

I came from a classical background musically though I certainly cannot say I reside in that world now nor do I fully reside anymore in the world of film scoring though film and literature has and always will be a big passion and influence in anything I do.

IPM: What inspired you to write music like you do?

The style of this album, In a Forest Dark, which also cements the style I’ve been searching for my whole career thus far, came out of a need to find a sound that is firmly rooted in the present as opposed to the traditional tonality of the past centuries as is easily the case when one has grown up in classical music, even film music, pop and rock. For me, the realization which subconsciously led to this sound was also, and more importantly, the need to create an internal space, one that only the self can live within, which is of course true for all of us in life, and explore the relationship between memories and dreams, the conscious and subconscious and the role they play in the longitudinal tapestry of our sense of time. Ultimately this came from my own writing (the track The Palimpsest is named after my recent short story of the same name as well as a nod to Thomas De Quincey’s use of the palimpsest as a grand metaphor for the mind and memory) and the writings of those who have most influenced me, Samuel Beckett, De Quincey as mentioned, William S. Burroughs and others.

IPM: Do you do most of your work “SOLO”?

I work on my own and one of the things I’m very proud of with this album is that it was exclusively self-contained. Having said that, the members of my innermost ‘band’, if you will are mixing engineer Ken Goerres who I co-mixed this album with, Gerhard Westphalen who mastered it (and has mastered all my work for the past several years) and Chen Shen, my assistant particularly in my film work and wonderful artist in her own right, who helps me maintain the technical aspect of my workflow.


IPM: What are or were some of the challenges for you in producing or performing while keeping true to your vision of your music.?

For me everything comes back to story and arc and the world you are creating. What was unique about this specific project is that the world was not the world I created nor was it one I inherited directly from another storyteller (though there are of course roots that span three centuries of literature) but one that I fully inhabit every day. This ‘reality’ as well as these literary roots (Dante, Petrarch, De Quincey and Burroughs) shielded me within the creative aspect of the album but of course there is also a technical side to it and since the majority of the album is more ‘sound reliant’ than the traditional musical chord/melody progressions, it forced me to be much more observant and studious about educating myself further into the technical aspects of mixing etc. than what I had already known which served me fine in my previous works in order to be fully in control (and aware) of the sonic world I was creating and present it the best way I could. This was the biggest challenge: maintaining the balance between the creative side, what you’re trying to say, the arc, etc. and the technical hows of doing so. More than once, especially towards the end as frequently happens, I found myself loosing grasp of my sense of direction and becoming lost in the minutiae of mixing and trying to make things sound ‘better’ and more than once I had to unravel the entangled threads and move back towards a stage where the expressive intent had already shown through. Speaking of it now I can appreciate the metaphoric significance of this in relation to the subject of the album and the references to Dante’s own path in the forest but it naturally was quite frustrating and fearfully delicate, albeit a very important part of the process.

IPM: Are you primarily a Studio based artist or do you now or plan live shows?

My work is primarily studio-based so I haven’t performed in several years. The last concert I did was with concert pianist Christopher McKiggan in Houston, Texas performing selections from an album we’re still working on which is essentially a new take on the ‘solo piano album’ where all the sounds have been recorded acoustically from a piano but manipulated into being what one wouldn’t normally think comes from an acoustic piano. In a way, this album, though musically very different, is a more complete finalization of that idea in terms of the internal mind and the self-contained nature of the piece.

IPM: Tell us about the New Music you are working on.

My latest album, In a Forest Dark, has just come out on January 12, which is Thailand’s National Children’s Day. This is of course no coincidence as the album is dedicated in remembrance of the six youths of my home country who were fatal victims of military abuse in the past ten years and stands in solidarity with those who have been silenced by the cultural authoritarianism that prevails there (and elsewhere) still. Having been myself unable to return this past decade, I’ve only been able to watch the sad events unfold from afar and this album is certainly the first work musically that has directly addressed my past and the dark future that we are looking into.

IPM: How did you find inspiration for this album?

This album pretty much began as an accident. I hadn’t planned to work on a solo album but was simply playing around with Sampler in Ableton (I’ve previously mainly used Nuendo for my film scoring work) and a few hours later came up with what is basically the first track of the album. It was the first time I felt a kind of strange excitement in a long while so I explored it further and that led to the idea of an EP which eventually became the full-fledged album that is out there now. Most of the album is me on a laptop which is again very unusual as I come from the film scoring world of many rack-mounted computer systems etc. so this was new and very liberating for me. As I said, I haven’t performed a show in a long while but with this project I hope to go back out there and perform though I do have a history of pretty bad stage fright so it’ll be an adventure!

IPM: Where do you see your music going, where would you like to be in the near future, goals, dreams and passions?

I’d like to be able to find a way to explore the many ways of enveloping the audience live within the music. By that I’m referring to the different platforms of surround sound music in venues, particularly 4D Sound which extends far beyond normal ‘surround’ into much more of an experience. I think this album is well-suited to this kind of treatment and even during the writing and production itself I’ve had ideas of utilizing a spacial system such as this to express it in a more visceral way for the audience that could better communicate the physical nature of the journey.

Of course, I hope, as most artists do, that the work speaks to people and becomes a vehicle to participate in the overwhelming discussion of our time which seems to center around the complicated subject of present and past. Music in its purest form (meaning with no lyrics or spoken language) is emotionally direct but can never be specific whereas in writing, the emotional impact comes often through the specificity of language. I’ve struggled with this in my pursuit of both artforms individually and I hope that the non-specific directness of this album can spark more specific discussions and dialogue. One of the great things about music (with no lyrics) is that almost any kind of meaning and interpretation can be imprinted onto it depending on each listener’s background, point of view, frame of mind while listening to the album, etc. I’d love to hear what the piece evokes in people and for that reason I’ve tried to refrain from being overly specific in what I share of the inspirations and trajectory that I thought about while writing and let those lie submerged.

IPM: What would you like our readers to know about you, Why do you think that they would enjoy your music?

Walking the tightrope between being true to your own voice or character and being self-indulgent is always the biggest danger for any artist and of course the jury of the audience will come to various conclusions of you and your work. I can’t quite say why someone would enjoy my music but I do feel that with this album I’ve been able to communicate as directly and honestly as I’ve ever been able to. So I hope it can touch some people but in the end, the only thing one can do is be as true as one can be and the rest is what it is.

IPM: Where can our readers find your music

You can find it online at www.nistades.com/inaforestdark and I have online media at Instagram: @nistades and Twitter: @nistades



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About Joseph Timmons (9972 Articles)
I am the Father of 5 and a "Would Be Philosopher of Idiocy" - Author and Writer for several Blogs and Online Magazine. Review Journalist, Musician and Audio Buff. Follow Me and I'm Sure to Entertain.

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