Novus Cantus – Interview – Thanks for Asking

Written by on February 26, 2024

Novus Cantus – Interview – Thanks for Asking – by Liam Sweeny.

RRX: Who all is gathered by the hot mic today? What are your name(s) and what do you play?

Alex: Hi there! Well, I am Alex, and I sing and play guitar primarily. I also play some other stringed instruments, like the charango, tiple, ukelele, and most recently, a Syrian Oud!

Christian: And I’m Christian. I play a traditional drum set, but also have a “world” set that includes African, Arab, and South American drums. I also took some time to learn pan flute recently.

RRX: Every artist’s first song is a milestone. But so is the latest song. Describe the first song/album you recorded, and also the latest song/album you recorded; what are the differences?

Alex: The FIRST album we did was a self-titled demo that included some ambitious songs. It was acoustic, but intense, and influenced a lot by both ancient music and modern rock. We were also trying to incorporate a lot of the world music influences we’d been exposed to, but it was done in a stripped-down way, with minimal layering.

Christian: We were teenagers, so we didn’t really have the instruments we imagined when composing; definitely more of a demo. I think I had a conga, a djembe, and a tambourine I had bought in Disney World! But it worked!

Alex: Our latest official release is “Caterpillar”, which is a dreamy, South American (Andean) inspired song. Certainly, more produced, but not all that different in overall feel.

Christian: And this time we had some of those instruments we dreamed of having as teens, like a pan flute, charango, and a bombo.

RRX: We have to play somewhere, and sometimes those places have more going for them than a stage and a power outlet. What is a memorable place you played, and bonus points if it’s not a well-known place.

Christian: Oh wow, we’ve had some interesting gigs in the past. Alex, what do you think, the Cubbyhole in Poughkeepsie?

Alex: Yeah! Sure that’s a good one, and sadly the Cubbyhole is no more. Talk about intimate, there was this tiny stage in the front window, so we had to really keep the setup to a minimum; but that was part of the charm. It had a “broken-in” homey feel. A worn out couch, tons of mismatched mood lighting, it really looked more like a dark living room in a tenement house. It was very cool and Lee, the owner, was so generous to even let us play there. We were nobodies.

Christian: I remember one of the first times we played there, we had done the footwork of putting up flyers, contacting the papers, etc., and then at show time, there were literally three people. They still got the full show!

RRX: Sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Or so they say. Whether you’re off the wagon, on it, or never been, there’s something you got a thirst for. What are some of your basically harmless vices?

Christian: Alex and I do have a secret vice… we love abhorrently immature movies. Yes, we are talking MacGruber, Dumb & Dumber, Step Brothers, Tim & Eric’s $1 Million Dollar Movie, and many more. Most people are surprised to hear that. Our music comes across so serious!

RRX: With the exception of singing, everyone has an instrument, an inanimate object that has the distinction of being a lifelong friend. Smooth or temperamental, these objects have a character. So can you tell us something about your instrument’s character?

Alex: Oh sure, I’d say it’s my steel string dreadnought, and to me, it is delicate, magical, and emotional.  I say this for a couple of reasons. First, this guitar was actually my first acoustic guitar, and it was given to me by my uncle when I was a teenager. It means a lot to me. Second, at its core it just speaks to me, and allows me to express myself and explore an infinite array of feelings. How can a chord on this instrument, picked or strummed, reliably add so much, or even completely transform a song? It is so special, and I treat it like my baby.

Christian: I am going to go with my bombo, which has been with me for such a long time and is like my gruff wise old man. This thing has thick furry goat skins on either side, super beefy, not ever in perfect tune, and apparently indestructible. It’s a constant presence.

RRX: We let it out differently when we play music. The happy, sad, good and back; it can all be put out musically. Overall, do you feel better when you sing about the better times, or the worser times? Is there a difference you can describe?   

Alex: This is difficult for us to answer because I think we’ve really erred on the side of “dramatic” with our style. The subject matter ranges from intimate and whimsical like “Autumn”, to intense but darker, like “Georgia”. So, I guess as long as the song has a basis in the deep, the spiritual, inspirational or surreal, that makes me feel the best. What do you think, Christian?

  Christian: I totally agree. I’m not sure we feel better based on a song that is about good or bad times, but rather about genuinely capturing the inspiration that brought that song to life.



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