The Kickstarter has passed its goal! So awesome! Thank you to everyone who has helped make this happen! Since we still have a few days left to go, our new stretch goal is $20,000. If we reach the stretch goal, all folks who have contributed $25 or more to the campaign will receive a special exclusive digital download EP of improvisations & developmental material from the “Cistern” sessions. The EP will be a window into my creative process. It will be between 20-30 minutes in length and will only be available to Kickstarter backers, and possibly part of the retail vinyl package when the album is released. No Spotify, iTunes, Bandcamp, nor any other digital storefront. And note, anyone who has contributed less than $25 can still increase their contribution to get the EP. All contributions above and beyond the original goal will be used to directly fund and promote “Cistern”.
Ahoy! My name is Jherek Bischoff. I am a composer, producer and musician living in Los Angeles. You may know me from my 2012 album Composed, or, perhaps, from some of the exciting collaborations I have had the great fortune to be a part of, with artists like: David Byrne, Amanda Palmer, Neil Gaiman, Kronos Quartet, Missy Higgins, People Get Ready and yMusic.
Or, maybe you've just stumbled across this page and don't know who the heck I am (check out “A LITTLE BIT MORE ABOUT ME” below). In any case, thank you all for stopping by. I'm embarking on a new adventure and I am hoping you will join me as collaborators on my latest project: Cistern.
CISTERN - A CAVERNOUS, UNDERGROUND SPACE
Here's the story: A few years back, I was granted an artist residency, by an incredible organization called Centrum, in Port Townsend, Washington, at an old army base called Fort Worden State Park. I had heard about something called the Cistern for many years, and came to learn that it was a 2-million-gallon, underground tank that stored water for fire-fighting, in case the base was attacked. After the base was deactivated and closed, the Cistern was emptied and has remained so for decades. Consequently, the emptiness revealed a unique quality: a 45-second reverb decay. Yeah, 45 seconds! Meaning, you snap your fingers and the sound lasts 45 seconds. As a musician, I had to check it out. (Any musicians reading will probably appreciate my geeking out!)
The only way inside the Cistern is through one little manhole that a park ranger has to open with a tractor. The entrance is so small, in fact, that I could not fit my double bass through the manhole! You climb into complete darkness, and it is as if you are in another world. It is pretty creepy. Immediately I knew, it was strange world that I needed to capture the only way I know how: through music.
There was no electricity in the Cistern, so I rigged up my computer to an old car battery with an array of crazy wires and set up a few microphones. I happened to be getting very into ambient music at the time, and the space was incredible to play in. I spent a few days improvising, trying my best to utilize and capture the essence of the space. I was amazed to find how much the space influenced what I played. For instance, the exaggerated reverb decay enabled me to harmonize with myself, first playing one note, and then layering other notes on top, all before the sound of the first note faded. Over time, the improvisations developed into aural snapshots of my time in the Cistern, and magically flourished into an entire suite of compositions.
RECORDING THE AMBIENT ORCHESTRA
In the years that followed, I began performing bits of this material all around the world – in a church in Haldern, Germany; a cavernous, old theater in Adelaide; a converted warehouse in Brooklyn; a series of clubs around the world – and it was surprising to me, how the music, inspired by and written in such a unique setting, worked so well in such different spaces. It felt as if I was bringing some of the serenity and wonder I found in the Cistern and my Pacific NW home, to the rest of the world. Many of you, who attended these shows, asked where you could get the music, and I realized it had to be recorded properly.
I've begun that process already. In complete contrast to how I recorded my previous record Composed, where I simulated the sound of an entire orchestra by recording and layering each instrument one by one, I wanted to record a whole ensemble at once, just as if they were all playing together down in the Cistern. For many of my recent New York shows, I've worked with a fantastic 19-piece ensemble named Contemporaneous, and we have enjoyed working together very much. We played several of the pieces for Cistern at these shows and we realized this was a perfect fit. We were mutually excited to record this music together. After consulting our busy schedules, it became apparent that we had to begin the recording process ASAP. Sadly, recording in the Cistern itself was not an option, not only because of the size of the ensemble, but also because of the lack of power, oxygen, and safety. Instead, we traveled to the thriving artist's community of Hudson, just outside of New York City, and worked in a great studio called Future Past.
The studio itself used to be a church, and the acoustics are warm and beautiful. It was the next best scenario I could possibly imagine, short of digging our own underground Cistern. (We nixed that idea for budgetary reasons. Artists are practical people sometimes!) We recorded 10 songs in 3 days, live to 2-inch tape, which is done very rarely in our digital era. (Audiophiles will appreciate this part, too!)
WHERE THE MONEY WILL GO & REWARDS
Contemporaneous and Future Past brought so much love to the music. Now, I am looking to you for support to help me bring this project to life and make it available to the world. The funds will be going toward paying the lovely folks of Contemporaneous and Future Past for their time, space and expertise; mixing and mastering; artwork; CD manufacturing; videos and other related visual elements necessary to bring this music into our digital world, and – hopefully – make it possible to tour the work far and wide.
In return for your most appreciated support, I have some sweet rewards: you can get the record when it is done; you can get the actual paper scores that were used during the recording session, which will be signed by yours truly; Skype lessons with me, for arranging, bass guitar, or ukulele; I will master your record; I will arrange one of your songs for string quartet, or full orchestra; I will write and record an original tune just for you; you can get a Jherek Bischoff certified composer wig which comes with a certificate of authenticity, and also a Jherek Bischoff certified bow tie complete with a Skype lesson by yours truly on how to tie that puppy (Also comes with a certificate), and so many more awesome rewards!
If things get wild and we surpass the goal, I have some really, really great ideas to make this project even more amazing. But let's just see how we go first. Remember, every bit helps, but Kickstarter is all or nothing: if we don't reach the goal, this Kickstarter campaign will not be funded at all, so please spread the word to people you think might appreciate this project.
Thank you so very much for reading and checking this out! I truly appreciate any and all support, and I am super excited to share this music with you!
WANT TO HEAR MORE?
This is a piece that I wrote in the Cistern called...Cistern! The recording and video is from a performance at The Moore Theater in 2012, with an orchestra made up of a bunch of my friends.
A LITTLE BIT MORE ABOUT ME
If you're happening across this page and don’t know who the heck I am, thank you so much for checking out my Kickstarter campaign! If you want to know more about my life and music, the best place to start is this half-hour interview from 2013, which NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross devoted to my life and music [http://www.npr.org/2013/04/09/176591621/jherek-bischoff-crafts-a-symphonic-sound-on-composed].
I've been a touring musician for over a decade, but here's some information about the incredible things that have happened over the last two years: I had several pieces commissioned by Lincoln Center; made my on-stage debut at Carnegie Hall (at Kronos Quartet's 40th Anniversary show); made my live radio debut on WNYC and KEXP; was invited to create solo shows for the Walker Art Center and St Ann’s Warehouse; I have been to Australia 5 times for various musical adventures; my last record Composed received a 4-star review in London’s the Guardian, while one of the shows in support of it got a lovely write up in the New York Times; and best of all, I’ve had the chance to meet & collaborate with some wonderful new artist friends like Amanda Palmer, Neil Gaiman, Missy Higgins, Sondre Lerche, Go-Betweens founder Robert Forster, Marcelo Jeneci, and Zola Jesus. Finally, like a cherry on top, just as I was moving away from my longtime Pacific NW home, the Seattle Weekly gave me an award calling me the city’s “Best Collaborator” [http://www.seattleweekly.com/home/954010-129/best-of-seattle-collaborator].
I'd like to thank the following folks I've collaborated with, who've inspired and mentored me on this journey: David Byrne, Amanda Palmer, Neil Gaiman, Missy Higgins, Kronos Quartet, Parenthetical Girls, The Dead Science, Jason Webley, Grant Hart, Mirah, Channy Leaneagh, Olof Arnalds, Stargaze, Carey Mercer, People Get Ready, Soko and Craig Wedren. Please check their work out if you don't know them already – they are the ones who make my life in music possible, and I recommend their work whole-heartedly.
Risks and challenges
As we have already finished the recording part of the project, the risks and challenges are very minimal. Just like with my last record, I will be mixing and mastering the record myself and foresee no setbacks here.
One possible setback is that I am on the road a lot, and sometimes it is difficult to work on projects while on tour. I will need at least three months between finishing the record and releasing the album. If things get extremely busy, the record may be finished a month or so later than planned. To prevent this from happening, I have set aside a specific period of time to work on this project.
Beyond my control, there could also be delays during the manufacture of the record. In any case, you will be notified of such delays.
- (46 days)