Neurodiverse artist and musician Patrick Samuel is our Digital Resident here at Drake Music. He is taking over our digital channels through the month of May, sharing blog posts, playlists and videos.
Today he explores what is what like to be a creative in the era of a pandemic and lockdown, and how he coped with the difficult challenges that created.
Diagnosed with autism and ADHD, I was able to apply to for funding with Help Musicians which secured me a Focusrite audio interface and microphone, and Drake Music, who helped me with a new computer.
Unphased by stay-at-home orders, I now had all I’d need to take the next step in home recording and set out to make a new album. I feel Dark Fortune breaks new ground again and is the next step for me as a neurodiverse artist.
What kind of album did you have in mind when you started?
Something that sounded different from anything else I’d released so far. I still wanted that goth-rock sound, and to explore industrial elements, but I wanted it to be even more intense. I also wanted to take my vocals even further than before. My last 2 albums each had 13 tracks and I didn’t want to repeat that again, so I set a limit for myself of 10 songs.
With the new equipment I had at home, I wanted to concentrate on getting my guitars and vocals as pristine as possible for the recordings so that when it moved on to mixing and mastering, my co-producer wouldn’t get a headache each time.
What else would make this album different from the others?
Almost 2 years ago I had an idea to write an opera and I began researching and learning more about the history and development of the genre, which I found really interesting.
I quickly realised that with my autism and ADHD I could never sit through them. It remained an art form I found completely inaccessible to me, so I knew early on with this album that was what I wanted to do. I wanted to break the rules about what people thought an opera should be. My album would be called Dark Fortune and would essentially be a 10-track alternative opera, a story told through songs.
What is Dark Fortune about?
It’s the story of a character called Max Fear who’s seduced by an entity and accepts an offer to become wealthy and powerful in the corporate world. In doing so, he loses the things dearest to him and helps to bring about the end of mankind.
Each song tells how he gets closer to that moment, if he’s able to undo it all, and what comes after.
How did you get it to sound different than your previous work?
The first thing I would start on with each song were the drums. Setting them all through various guitar pedals to get enough distortion was interesting work. Straight away that gave each song a unique quality from which I could then record these crazy winding basslines that would twist and turn back on itself.
The opening track, for example, Max Fear, has a lot of heavy guitar work, but it’s fused with eastern elements that were inspired by some of the Bollywood films I’d grown up watching, like Mughal-E-Azam (1960) and Pakeezah (1972). They’re very lush, dramatic and powerful films, but could also be described as operas because of their musicality. So I was borrowing from both east and west. That duality is present throughout.
Have you been working with others on this album?
I’ve done all my work before Dark Fortune on my own, so much of what I do is about escaping from others, but this time I wanted to open myself up to collaborating. At this point in time the album exists as a set of unmastered demos with a few of them missing finished vocals.
I’m in talks with various people about coming on board, sharing vocals or contributing in other ways, namely Wayne Hussey (ex-Sisters of Mercy and frontman for The Mission), Lisa Gerrard (Dead Can Dance) and Peter Hook (Joy Division and New Order), so we’ll see what happens.
Tiergarten Records are happy for Dark Fortune to take the time it needs for all the elements to come together creatively and naturally.
What do you hope to accomplish with Dark Fortune?
I’d like for people to see that you don’t always have to follow the rules. If something doesn’t work for you, you can change it. Opera doesn’t have to be what we always think it is. There are different ways in which we can present stories in music, whether that’s in a recording or a performance, so I hope to change people’s views on opera with the album.
Personally, I hope it will be the first step towards working with accomplished musicians in the industry whose work I admire and who I can learn from.
Ultimately, I hope Dark Fortune will be an album that many people can access and support, and act as a gateway to my previous work as well.
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.