Released in early 2021 on the Tiergarten Records label, neurodiverse musician and artist Patrick Samuel shares a behind-the-scenes look at the making of his most daring and controversial work so far.
Thank you to Patrick, our Digital Resident during the month of May, for sharing this look at how he has worked and created during a global pandemic and what impact it has had on his creative output.
How would you describe Communion?
It’s a hybrid of industrial and ethereal influences melded with angst-fuelled lyrics, mantras and a smattering of cult film clips. It’s the amalgamation of watching the world descend into chaos over the past year as racism, political upheaval and a pandemic ran rampant through the western world. It’s the world filtered through the lens of autism and struggling to comprehend the mess of it all.
Why was making this album important?
I’ve always been a mild-mannered person, polite, courteous and please and thank you. But I’ve also been taken advantage of, held against my will, bullied, pushed over, assaulted and victimised. What I saw happening in 2020 was on a scale that filled me with rage and anger and I just couldn’t sit quietly anymore.
I wanted to be out on the streets protesting. I wanted to disturb the peace. I wanted to do all these things, but I couldn’t because my autism makes it incredibly difficult to be there. So instead, I channelled it through my music. Communion is my protest against all I saw that was beating people down. It’s violent, it’s ugly, it’s offensive and it’s the truth.
How did you come up with the visuals this time?
Because of my synesthesia, music is always a visual experience for me, so I was constantly seeing what I was hearing. There was a lot of red in it, a lot of unsettling atmospheres and it was quite horrific. So, I went with that. Inspired by a lot of Japanese imagery from kabuki theatre where those expressions and gestures are exaggerated, it felt like the perfect match.
I remember with my Distant Star visuals I was very preoccupied with appearing slim, having perfect hair, being handsome and beautiful for the camera. And it was all a lie because that wasn’t how I was feeling inside. Most of the time I feel pretty awful, so I thought to play with that and it gave me a lot of freedom to experiment with identity, gender and sexuality as well. It was breaking all the rules I’d long ago set for myself.
What’s been the biggest obstacle in getting Communion out there?
Because the language is at times explicit, I haven’t been able to present to friends and family. The artwork on the inside of the CD sleeve is also quite daring so I’m not sure if presenting it to families at my autism shows in the future will go down well, but at the same time we’re living in increasingly difficult times, and these things should be taken into context as well.
The album is hard to swallow because events globally have influenced it. I’m hoping as we overcome the pandemic, I will be able to showcase the songs and videos to audiences who won’t be put off by the themes. I’d very much like to do a few shows where the album can get the best exposure possible.
Has live internet shows not been possible?
It’s possible, but not for me. The songs are kind of larger than life and performing them in my living room with an inadequate sound and lighting setup won’t be doing them justice or the people watching any favours. I need a stage and video screens. I need the theatrics and the space to really bring it to life. I need to be in front of people, not behind a screen. I need that kind of audience interaction to feed my performance, and that’s something you just can’t get with YouTube live. It’s back to being isolated.
Which song proved to be the most difficult?
They were all challenging in their own way. Some of them I started from scratch all over again a couple of times when I felt they didn’t sound right. Messiah was complicated when it came to the drums because I wanted it to feel ethereal, but if the drums came in too heavy it would take that ambience away.
Ministry Of Defense sounds like black metal and features polyrhythmic drumming, and this was something quite new to me in terms of production, but was really fun to do. The title track went through several revisions to get the balance right between industrial and ethereal as well.
White America was probably the most painful one to record because it deliberately needed to sound “off” in order to give you that jolted feeling. None of them were envisioned as radio-friendly songs, but they each had a purpose on the album to tell a cohesive story lyrically and sonically.
Where can people find Communion?
All of the usual online places, but if you go to my Bandcamp you can pick up the limited edition digipak CD with glossy artwork and the bundle that comes with a collection of thick velvety art cards.
The videos released so far can be found on Tiergarten Records’ YouTube channel.
Digital Residencies is part of Drake Music’s covid-secure artistic programming and is supported by the Arts Council England Culture Recovery Fund. It is a self-directed online residency for Disabled artists.