Interview with Inner Travels (July 2016)
1. What are some recent inspirations?
Singing bowls! Just starting to record with them. Watched a special on Mickey Hart recently, then I bought “Spirit Into Sound.” Also, in heavy rotation: Laraaji, Iasos, Frank Perry, Karma Moffett, Craig Kupka, Lino Capra Vaccina, Deuter, Pulse Emitter, SunPath, Hiroshi Yoshimura. Many, many others. And it’s summer, so the changes in nature around me. The green-ness.
2. What is your relationship with live performance? Do you play Inner Travels shows?
No shows yet. I’m open to the possibility, but you know, I’ve never actually performed live. Well, once, for my music theory class in college. Think there were maybe 30 to 40 people in the class. I played Yamaha DD-6 drum pads through a guitar amp, with a friend who played bass, guitar and sang. There was a saxophonist. We didn’t practice or jam before the performance. I remember being so nervous, then proud of myself when it was over. Don’t think the rest of the class liked it, though.
3. Do you have to be in a certain mindset to record Inner Travels music?
I explore sounds or musical ideas, see where that takes me. I’ll record something I like, build off of it from there until it sounds complete. Frequently, explorations yield unfinished results, but that’s fine because whenever I’m playing, I’m learning. Also, it’s therapeutic for me to play. Meditative.
4. Do you see your work as part of a certain tradition or community?
It’s my take on the New Age tapes and LPs from the 1970s and 80s. Some of the keyboards and synthesizers I use date back to that era. Others just sound like they do. Always believed in the DIY spirit. To me, making music at home seems freer. I also try to pursue a much older tradition – music as a healing force.
5. What guided the transition from Riotmeadows to Inner Travels?
A desire to create a more peaceful, healing music. Riotmeadows was a mad-scientist project. Although I used nearly every idea I ever wanted to use – making sample-based music on a computer, exploring lo-fi textures, smashing genres together – I grew out of the script I had created for the project. My desire increased to make electronic music much more simply, organically. In this world, I want to leave a much more positive type of music that helps people. That’s the focus of Inner Travels, and it remains so today.
6. How do you see the trajectory of Inner Travels, from “First Light” up until now?
Everything from “First Light” to “Phases of a Forest Moon” is one era. The equipment used to make that music was primitive, as far as synthesizers go, but I wanted to prove that intent far outweighs the limits of the equipment. To me, they don’t sound like they were made with Casios and Yamaha Portasounds – they were. And everything from “Bakasyiong” to “Clear Seeing” feels like a longer journey with smaller, more sophisticated equipment. Albums feel less like collages now. Songs are getting longer. Trances getting deeper.
7. What is your relationship with the phrase “New Age?” I see a lot of folks gravitate towards different aspects of that phrase. I’m wondering how you see it.
My relationship with the phrase seems to only now be expanding from where it began – with the music. I’ve always been very, very into music. Growing up in the 80s, most people I knew, most music reviews I read, used the phrase “New Age” negatively. To describe something as being strange or cheesy. So, naturally, that was how I would have described the first New Age album I listened to back then, if anyone would have asked. When I got older, I listened to New Age music after experiences with other musical styles, so I understood it better. New Age music wants you to feel good. Music is such a powerful force, but never had I felt something this positive in it before. Plus it embraces the electronic sounds that I’ve always loved. The experiments.
8. Your music seems very driven by image and landscape. Are there any special places that you would want to record new music in?
Thanks! For me, the music creates the imagery and landscapes. This summer, I want to record music outside. I need to make more field recordings, though, so that’s at the top of my list. It’s really wonderful to just sit in a park, the woods, by a lake or a river and just listen to the world going on around you in your headphones. One problem around here now is traffic noise. I live in a very gorgeous area, but it’s hard to capture the songs of the birds when cars and trucks interrupt them every minute. So now, I’m looking for more secluded nature spots. Anyway, back to recording music, the ultimate for me would be to record music inside of a cave. Or a cathedral.
9. Why do you make space for music in your life?
It’s my passion. Oh, there was a time when I packed away all my instruments and cut back my trips to the music stores because I foolishly thought I could forget it all. But a life without that stuff is just not for me.
10. Words of wisdom you like to recall in times of need?
The universe provides.
Inner Travels is the work of Steve Targo, based in Pell Lake, Wisconsin. In May he released Clear Seeing
, his first album with Inner Islands.