SONGWRITER / MULTI-INSTRUMENTALIST IAN SMITH – AKA ZERO FREQUENCY – RESURRECTS HIS MUSICAL DREAMS
Those who’ve been rocking out to the intense, guitar driven fire of Zero Frequency’s epic, high concept The Ocean’s End trilogy of full length albums may wonder who the man behind the curtain is – and why it took songwriter and multi-instrumentalist (guitar, bass, keyboards) Ian Smith till his mid-40s to get around to sharing his multitude of talents on this epic scale.
An artist, graphic designer and college professor by trade, he’s been in and out of bands and recording music for the past 25. “Now in my 40’s I have some wisdom and perspective that can inform my songs. I just want my music as Zero Frequency to be the complete package. That’s why I do all the artwork/graphic design on the albums myself, except where otherwise credited. I would still be doing my music whether or not anyone was listening.”
The scientific definition of Zero Frequency roughly translates as – having no static or bad connections, creating the perfect feedback – dovetails perfectly with his concept to create straightforward rock that connects with a broad audience. “I had been musically dormant for many years before taking on the Zero Frequency project,” he says. “I had so much pent up anxiety while writing my Master’s Thesis, that I channeled all my downtime into this ‘band’ to help relieve my stress.”
The artist’s creative process is nothing short of fascinating. He starts with loops, beats and riffs in Garageband, then builds up the track and comes up with the vocal ideas. He gets several rough mixes together and sends them to Alessandro Salza, his audio engineer (and fellow musician) in Italy that he considers a true collaborator in Zero Frequency. Salza does the final mixes and sends back master files.
To flesh out the sound, he invites musician friends, hires others from AirGigs.com and uses pre-recorded loops. One of the project’s most fascinating trademarks – and adding a compelling emotional element – is the plethora of vocal contributions by various female singers. “I love the juxtaposition of the raw female vocals against the rough DIY music,” Smith says. “It has a real emotional impact, even though it’s mostly created with loops and computers. It’s ironic that I’m trying to create raw 20th Century music with obvious 21st Century technology, but that makes this project unique.
WARNING: THE VIDEO HAS REFERENCES AND DEPICTS SCENES OF A SEXUAL NATURE – NSFW –
Inspired by the films “Nymphomaniac,” “Kink” and “Rocco” (about porn star Rocco Siffredi), Smith employs these female voices throughout the trilogy to tell the story of sexual self-discovery from a female point of view. Artemis (goddess of the hunt, moon, chastity) is the name of the main character in his story. She quickly loses her chastity when friends introduce her to the BDSM lifestyle in San Francisco. She goes deep down the rabbit hole and loses herself in a very submissive yet empowering role. The story is not a straight literal narrative, but a vignette of moments, encounters and emotions experienced by Artemis during her sexual awakening.
The first four tracks of The Ocean’s End, Vol. 1 lay a powerful foundation for this narrative. “Artemis Descends” puts a Winehouse styled vocal over a throwback 60’s garage/punk vibe, with lyrics about her fall from grace with a body that won’t “let her drown.” “Bondage Swan” offers a hard rocking, Hendrix like hypnosis behind lines like “the beauty in your heart has set me free, somewhere between my need and pleasure, my love for you has brought me out of me.”
The highly danceable “Black Light Stage” is Smith’s ode to strip clubs and his fascinating about how/why young women explore dancing and escorting. “Euphoria, Euphoria” is a straight up grunge rocker about Artemis being reborn after her sexual awakening. Like a phoenix learning to fly, she’s discovered her potential sexual powers.
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