Here’s One Minute of New Devin Townsend Music… About Coffee!
Devin Townsend sent out a lengthy update on his upcoming album Empath to his email list this morning. There isn’t much in the way of new information regarding the record itself — he gave us a whole ton of that in a previous update — but the newsletter serves as more of a reflection on Devin’s thoughts and mindset about it: what it represents to him, where it sits in his ever-evolving story arc of musical progress, what it sounds like, and so on and so forth. It’s a good read, and, as usual, seeing inside the mind of Devin Towsend is always a treat. I’ll post the full text of that letter below for you all to read.
But first: buried at the bottom of the email is a link to a one-minute snippet of a song Devin wrote “with and for” his Creative Academy students, a newly launched educational endeavor. The song covers typical Ziltoidian fare — Devy’s (or Ziltoid’s?) love for coffee — and he jokingly warns not to share it as he may use it for an eventual Ziltoid release. Phooey on that, we say! You can stream it below, followed by the full email newsletter text.
Hi it’s Dev here again. I really hope all is well with you? It’s been a really intense few weeks here, sorry this newsletter is a bit late.
I went to Wales to record drums and bass with Nolly Getgood engineering, Mike Keneally co-producing, and three stellar drummers doing amazing things (sometimes on the same song!) Morgan Agren, Anup Sastry and Samus. The bassist Nathan Navarro, was tracked by Mike and I flitted between rooms massaging the music as it went down. The idea was to make a ‘Frankendrummer’ and get the best people for each part and delegate the album accordingly. We all lived together and ate together, and the experience was easily the best drum tracking experience I’ve had. Just perfect sounds and performances and I am just home now and will start assembling it all tomorrow.
‘Empath’ is a very complicated record for me and I’m approaching it with a small bit of trepidation because there’s a lot riding on this record. I’m also spending a lot of money on this recording so it’s almost like my mid-life crisis album. Some dudes buy a red Corvette- I’m spending a lot of cash on a new record. haha. Oh well, screw it. The idea ultimately is that the music is just the exhaust of a process, and I feel that it is really important to make this uncompromised statement with the best quality I can. Its ultimately simply the next ‘Dev Record’, yet it sounds better, is played better, looks better and is recorded better than any records previously, and at this point, I’d say it’s among the top things I’ve ever done.
As you may or may not know, over the last 18 months I have been working closely with a great group of students developing my own online course- The Devin Townsend Creative Academy. Throughout the development of this programme, I’ve essentially been coaching students on how to efficiently maximize one’s creative output, using my own creative processes and strategies as the template for the course. This email to you is an extension of it, and it’s closely tied in with my current process. I’d like to say thank you again for those who have been involved. I hope you recognize in Empath some of the techniques I’ve explained over the last few months.
One of the things that I’m really happy about is that I actually followed my own advice on the creation of my new record. And via the process of teaching, I haven’t had to second-guess the development of my own new music (and there’s a lot of music coming).
So whilst my new record is not going to be what some of my audience might necessarily expect from me, it’s exactly where I’m at right now. It’s a reflection of a very confusing time for me as I’ve hit middle life, my dad is having a few health problems, my kid has turned into a teen, and the numerous other complicated and personal things going on in my life (which I’m sure most of you can relate to) have created a very unique and special moment in the scope of my work.
I don’t want to be ‘that guy’ and praise the new album as the best thing I’ve done, but if we were talking privately, I might be tempted to mention something along that line =).
So by taking my own advice, the same advice I’ve imparted to the students, what I have ended up doing, as opposed to merely making another DTP record, (which is what I think many people would expect, and probably what makes sense from a business point of view), I’ve actually gone as far into my own process as I can to make an accurate representation of where I’m at. And as a result, the music is all over the place. One second its death metal, then it goes into this meditation thing, and then it goes to prog and then changes to a kind of twisted Disney musical. It’s with the best sound quality I can do at this point, and I think the sheer glut of new ideas makes this one unique in my catalogue. I can’t wait to get it all perfect so you can hear it =)
I’ve got one song that’s got this orchestral groove going on and then it suddenly stops and goes into this crazy beach scene with steel drums and birds flying around. The orchestra guy asked me “why did you do that” and I said, “honestly, because I got bored when I was writing so I decided to dramatically change it and do this instead”. That kind of flippancy has made an interesting dynamic and it strangely works very pleasingly while adding a ton of colours I haven’t typically included in one place.
From a musical point of view Empath might make people go “what the heck is this guy doing”, but from an integrity point of view, it’s probably the most honest thing I’ve done in many, many years.
So what will all this new music mean to people? I think if I get it right, it will be a phenomenal experience. (And I will get it right :))
But I think the first listen for some of my audience who might have been expecting some more simplistic music, they might be saying “why the heck did he even do that?” But you know… enough of the excuses. In the next newsletter, I’ll get more into the technical side of it all, and suffice to say: I’m really in love with this one.
So Empath, it’s costing me a fortune, it’s a ton of music, it’s very odd, its very beautiful, it’s very creative, and it is really intense. My hope is that by having faith in the process, just like I’ve encouraged my Creative Academy to do, then I’ll still be able to continue =)
The Quote I’m pondering this week-
“The path of least resistance will never make you proud.”
What I’ve been watching, did you see Elon Musk being interviewed by Joe Rogan? I enjoyed simply watching him process information
What I’ve NOT been drinking? Well, it’s been several months now without coffee. The first month really sucked but now it’s alright. I feel calmer overall I guess, I’m sure I’ll have it again at some point but for now it’s alright. This is actually slightly ironic because I wrote a song with and for my Creative Academy students about my love for coffee. I’ve included a sneak preview of the song for you so you can listen. But please don’t share it as I might include it on a future Ziltoid record or something :))
Anyhow thanks so much for reading and thanks as always for supporting me. You’re amazing and I feel so lucky to have you as a supporter.
Until next time, be kind to yourself.
Love, Dev. =)