Canadian musician Gustavo De Beauville, known in the metal world for his work in the Alberta-based award-winning duo the Unravelling, has unleashed his instrumental solo debut, Volume 1. The album is a fascinating 15-track slab of psychedelic, ambient compositions with elements of industrial metal sprinkled throughout. He recently spoke to GuitarWorld.com about the album, his preferred gear and more.
GUITAR WORLD: How long did it take you to complete Volume 1, and what was the creative process like?
Volume 1 is a collection of my favorite songs from the past four years. Some of the tracks were written with the Unravelling in mind. Others were specifically written to enhance visuals such as video games or movies. The majority of the songs have been sitting on my hard drive for way too long, taunting me to reveal them to the public in all their rawness and imperfections. Releasing them has been cathartic, to say the least, and the beginning of my personal acceptance as a creator.
How did you develop the idea of mixing instrumental guitar parts with electronic and industrial sounds?
As a young punk, I thoroughly believed keyboards had zero place in metal! Over the years, this mindset was thankfully shattered with my discovery of so many other great genres and bands that use synth and keyboards in their music. From the industrial savagery of Bile and Nine Inch Nails to the elegance of Peter Bjargo's Arcana and Dead Can Dance (The list could go on), artists showed me it was OK to utilize synths and electronic textures to create dark evocative, powerful music.
What was your gear setup for this album?
That’s my kinda question. Anyone who records probably spends way too much time lusting after that next piece of gear that will take their creations “to the next level.” I certainly have my setup. I’m not a hardware fanatic, I keep things simple and inside the box as much as I can with an Apple Macintosh-based Pro Tools home studio and the Avid Eleven Rack as my interface. I used Event Nearfield monitors and Fostex headphones for playback.
For drums, it’s all Toontrack Superior Drummer. Those guys are cool and they love metal. Guitars and bass get a mixture of Axe-FX, Line 6 and Toontrack EZ mix tones. In terms of the instruments, I have a fetish for the Gibson Gothic series of guitars, plus Omnisphere for the synths and quite a bit of the Heavyocity synths. Plugins from Slate digital and IK Multimedia and I’m ready to go.
Is this a studio-only project or do you intend to perform it live?
I prefer the writing and creation process the most. Building something from nothing makes me feel alive. My home studio is my sanctuary. Performing has always been a bit of a drag because you're at the mercy of the venue and the sound guy, getting paid in drinks and heaving equipment up stairs at 2 in the morning. Don't get me wrong, I'd love to perform live given the right setup. Me and Steve have some ideas for a live show, but we would have to have more control of the event, providing the correct lighting and visuals. I truly believe a show should be an enchanting experience for the band and the audience — a place where reality is suspended and the mythology begins.
Are you the kind of musician who constantly writes new material? How far are you from writing your next solo album?
Writing is a very spontaneous thing for me. Back in the day, I would sit down and force myself to churn out a song every time I picked up the guitar. But from recent experience I’ve noticed good material comes in waves; one has to latch on and ride the vibes when they come. At the moment I feel as though a huge wave is just around the corner for the Unravelling, so I’ll focus on that next. Volume 2 will have to wait.
Since the tracks on Volume 1 are all instrumental, how do you come up with titles?
I tried to give listeners a glimpse into my world with the titles — themes and imagery that fascinate me like shamanism, esoteric studies, the occult, self-empowerment, escapism, psychedelia and mind-altering states. Though some of the titles simply came about because it’s what came to mind when I first heard the songs. I will admit, though, the flow of the titles was unconsciously meant to carry on from one to the next like a long thought. It was my attempt at Zen.
You've contributed musically to the fields of gaming and film. Do you see the tracks on Volume 1 being featured as soundtracks for things of that nature?
Absolutely. As we speak, a few of the electronic tracks are being incorporated into a first-person shooter called End of the Beginning. I remember how much fun I had back in the day playing Perfect Dark and James Bond Golden Eye with friends and loving the stage music for those games. So to create music for games is amazing. This time around, instead of busting out the super dragon or golden gun, you’ll be wreaking havoc by opening dimensional portals with an actual black hole gun!
What kind of demographic do you think this album would most appeal to?
So far I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the locations where the album has ended up. It’s been pretty cool. I would like to think that my music would be enjoyed by people who want something creative with a bit of darkness and substance to it. People who want to relax and possibly smoke J, have some drinks and talk some s--- with their friends and have some laughs. Folks who close their eyes and imagine themselves being taken to distant realms where they can be whatever they can think up. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
What are your future plans for the Unravelling
Our sophomore record is my current priority. During our hiatus, I’ve been studying artists that seem to be doing the live thing right. Bands like Tool, Das Ich, Skinny Puppy and Black Sabbath. With the right planning and conditions the Unravelling will hit the stage in a more performance-art-type setting. I know Steve has a lot of powerful things happening in his life right now so I’m confident his input in the direction of the stage show will be intriguing, to say the least.
You worked on Volume 1 entirely in your own studio. Do you also work on mixing/producing/mastering albums for other bands in your studio?
That’s interesting you would go there. For the past seven years, I've vehemently stayed away from working with other bands, out of pure disinterest. I’ve been a bit of an a------ really. Recently though, I’ve realized I have the ability to help other people, younger artists especially, who have no idea how to make their visions come to life and take their ideas and material to a more polished state. It’s actually helping me to grow as a musician and producer because I get exposure to genres I never would have dabbled with. As long as the content is interesting and the direction intrigues me, I’ll give it a shot. P--- me off or waste my time, however, and you're f---ed.
Andrew Bansal is a writer who has been running his own website, Metal Assault, since early 2010, and has been prolific in covering the hard rock and heavy metal scene by posting interviews, news, reviews and pictures on his website — with the help of a small group of people. He briefly moved away from the Los Angeles scene and explored metal in India, but he is now back in LA continuing from where he left off.