Welcome again to Patrick Samuel, a neurodivergent creative who is taking up the first of our Digital Residencies. If you missed Patrick’s first guest post you can find it here, otherwise read on for insights into a new approach to his music on the album “Distant Star”.
The Making of Distant Star
I had already self-released an album of instrumental electronic ballads, 2017’s Beyond The Spectrum, which I sold copies of at autism shows and conferences, but this time I wanted to use my voice to tell stories in a different way.
What started Distant Star?
The album is the culmination of how low I was feeling at the time. I still felt I wasn’t connecting well with people around me and struggling to form friendships, so there’s a lot of loneliness and longing in the music and the lyrics.
I felt isolated, at times broken and still traumatised over losing my last job when my autism became too challenging, so there were all these things I wanted to focus on and I realised I couldn’t do it with instrumental music. I needed to write words and I had to sing them. The problem was I never sang before.
The other challenge was that I felt it couldn’t just be electronic music, I needed actual instruments to play.
What were the challenges with producing an album like this?
Getting comfortable with how my voice sounded. I was terrified, but I would go to the nearby park early in the mornings and just let it out and hear myself.
I also began teaching myself how to play acoustic guitar, electric guitar and bass guitar. Autism, ADHD and being left-handed did not make it easy, but I soon realised how to do it my way and tailor my lessons to my needs and pace, I was able to record what I needed and move on with the rest of the songs. I wanted the album to have a distinctive sound influenced by post-punk as well as synth-pop.
How did Tiergarten Records come into the picture?
I first met Robin Jax, founder of the label, back in early 2018 when he came to one of my solo exhibitions. That’s when I learned about the label and how and why it was set up; to support neurodiverse musicians in getting their music out there. So I sent across the first batch of demos in late December 2018.
At the time, the album was called The Grand Grimoire and it was much more esoteric and completely focused on magic actually. Robin was interested in releasing it on the label so, once I knew that, I began developing the songs more. Lyrics, melodies, track titles, a lot of things changed before the album became Distant Star.
What are the themes that ended up on the final album?
It has a lot to do with nature, magic, the cosmos, wonderment and innocence. That’s reflected in the artwork and packaging of the CD and in songs such as the title track, Binding Ritual, Lovecraft and the lead single Witchcraft. But there’s also that feeling of loneliness, isolation and trauma that I was talking about before. That comes through on Tomorrow Today, Be Silent Be Still and Napalm Heart for sure.
I was careful about how far I went with the lyrics because I didn’t want to frighten people with being too explicit about how dark I feel in my worst moments. For this album it seemed ok to just hint at those things and to keep it moving. My hope was that it would be an album that people who’ve experienced similar things would connect with, because that’s how this all started. I wanted a connection.
What did the promotion look like once Distant Star was released?
I was quite lucky. My local paper, Enfield Dispatch, ran a piece on it. The National Autistic Society did an interview with me and published it on their site. I launched my 7th solo exhibition, Spellbound, to coincide with the release of the lead single. I then launched a later exhibition called Distant Star to coincide with the release of the album with original paintings connected to the album.
And in late 2019 I performed a selection of songs from the album at a theatre in London. Of course, the pandemic in 2020 made live events completely impossible, but restrictions were lifted long enough that summer to allow me to showcase the music videos at a screening event for my last exhibition to date.
Buy the album
The album Distant Star is available to purchase as a digipak CD and as a download from Patrick’s Bandcamp page, which is managed by Tiergarten Records. It’s also available on several streaming platforms. The videos are 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.