Jordan Rudess Talks PledgeMusic Campaign, What's Next for Dream Theater, and Looks Back at "Scenes From a Memory"
Thu, 16 May 2013 15:29:40
Jordan Rudess is the guy who opens up Dream Theater's sound into the most magnificent expanses. His keyboard playing spans the spectrum from lush to intricate, baring the power of your favorite classical piece on steroids. However, now he's launching quite a few solo projects that bring fans deeper into the heart of his world. With his Explores and Explorations albums and apps, listeners can become part of the music literally, and it's truly mind-blowing. In addition, he's turned to fans to be a part of the whole process via a PledgeMusic Campaign, keeping them involved every step of the way.
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Jordan Rudess talks the campaign, Explores and Explorations, and what's next for Dream Theater.
Do Explores and Explorations feed off of each other for you? Are they separate?
In some ways, they're separate. In others, they're very connected. One way is the timing of it all. They're both things that really need to get done. The way they're one thing in my mind is they're both very creative, outside-of-the-box types of projects that I really want to do. I thought they were appropriate to bring into a PledgeMusic campaign [The Explore Project at PledgeMusic]. I thought, "I've got these two cool things. How am I going to get them done?" I knew exactly how it would happen. That's how it came about.
It's the perfect platform because it allows that diehard fan base to be a part of the project. Did that attract you to PledgeMusic?
Yeah, totally! I've watched the music industry change so much over the years to the point where there are hardly any record companies left. It's very difficult for professional musicians these days to take the traditional course of a record company to put out their music. In the case of Dream Theater, we have such an unusual situation because we actually have a traditional record company. It's a working great situation, but that's so rare. For everybody else in the world, you have to think of new ways to do it. For me in my solo career, I have to think of new ways to do it. Being a kind of creative person who's into social media and technology, I thought, "This could be a really cool way to get this music out there and have some fun". The reality is I like to make movies and share. I have a good time with social media. The whole Pledge thing is all about that. The combination of having the fans out there all over the globe and the desire to share with them and doing something creative and outside-the-box led me to this avenue. I think it's really cool.
What's your approach on Explores?
It's a solo piano album. The main difference is that it's going to be an interactive experience. The user or listener can use his or her iOs device to use gestures to interact with the music, make it sound different, and turn it around. It can go from really bizarre to adding gentle effects. The main part of the app involves figuring out all of the interaction. What happens when you touch the screen? What visuals will come out? How will we share it? There's a large project around creating this experience.
Is conjuring visuals important to you as a musician?
Oh yeah, the whole idea of putting together the audio and visual domains has been on my mind for a while. I got into it when I started my app company. Of course, our first app was MorphWiz, which combined visuals and audio together as one. I spent a lot of time looking at that and thinking about it. To me, it makes total sense to release my future musical projects in a way that combines visual with audio. In my head, they're really one anyway. The new platforms for entertainment lend themselves to being able to experience both mediums at the same time.
What kind of imagery does Explores evoke?
The way we're setting up Explores is we're going to have different modes of operation. You'll go to different screens. Each one will offer a different kind of visual experience and effects for audio. You might go to one that looks like a moving Monet painting. You might go to another one that's like tight geometric shapes. Another one might be cloudy sky images. We're offering different types of visual imagery and sonic possibilities around the piano.
How does Explorations differ?
The Explorations project with the orchestra is a big part of what this whole Pledge thing is about. It's not only a creative project. It's demanding as far as hiring the musicians, the conductor, and the videography person. It has a higher demand in terms of needing involvement from the Pledgers, so to speak. It's going to be really cool. I wrote this piece a couple of years ago and took it to Venezuela and premiered it with a youth orchestra. I never got the recording I wanted out of it. I needed to get it out there though. I had a thought that this would be a great way to do it. We turn it into a virtual experience, get a great recording of the piece, and also create some kind of a nice artistic video. That's what it's about.
How different is the solo material from Dream Theater?
They overlap in the sense that it's my music and it's me. The method of release doing the PledgeMusic thing is a big step outside of the traditional Dream Theater way of working. It shakes that up. It's my own thing in regards to the way I'm getting the music out there. It's a bold step, if you will, in general. Even though PlegeMusic has been around for a while, the concept isn't widely used and accepted by musicians. I think it will be shortly though. For me, it's like pushing the boundaries a bit. My life is music. That's what I do, and I happen to play a lot of different kinds of music—everything from orchestral music like Explorations to piano music like Explores. A big part of my life is Dream Theater as well, which is prog metal. Because I'm such a dedicated music, I have time to do all these things. When my day ends recording tracks for Dream Theater, I go and work on my other projects. I need to do my solo projects. It's who I am. I have a big life musically outside of the Dream Theater experience.
Who's on your playlist?
My buddy Steven Wilson did a great show in New York City. It was wonderful! His music is always on my playlist. Thankfully, I also played on some of his albums, which is fun. I really like Sigur Rós. I dig electronic music. I've been listening to the new Autechre. I like the latest Rush album. I've been listening to a lot of Jeff Beck lately.
What do you think of now when you think of Metropolis, Pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory?
That was the first record I did with Dream Theater. It was an exciting time in my life. It was very special. It means a lot to me that record became a standard, if you will, in Dream Theater's catalog. It was an important time in the band. They were going through all of those changes, and they took me into the band. It was a spark of inspiration, much like what we got having Mike Mangini in the band now. It was the first time I had toured around the world. Every time I hear that, it brings me back to recollecting all of those experiences. It's cool that album is special for a lot of people.
Where are you on the new album?
We're totally immersed in it! I'd say we're in the final stages of getting this thing together.
Learn more about Jordan's The Explore Project at PledgeMusic.
What's your favorite Dream Theater song?