Following up his third album 'Endless Planets' (2011), Austin Peralta’s latest offering 'Views of Saturn Vol. 2' is out now. Based in the heart of LA’s experimental scene, Peralta has been composing, collaborating on, and producing music that explores the frontiers of jazz, hip-hop, and electronica as part of Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder universe. To date Peralta has worked with The Cinematic Orkestra, Teebs, and Flying Lotus himself as well as legendary bassist Ron Carter. We caught up with Peralta to ask him about his cosmological fascination, Sun Ra’s Intergalactic Arkestra, and spontaneous creation.
Dazed Digital: Do you have an enduring fascination with space and the cosmos?
Austin Peralta: I’m definitely fascinated by the cosmos. It has intrigued me since I can remember. There is something mystical and expansive about its beauty and intricacy that continues to bewilder and inspire me.
DD: Does that reflect itself in your music?
Austin Peralta: My music isn't "me" per se, nor do I try and capture my understanding of the cosmos when I compose or improvise. If I'm lucky I merely channel its essence into the music.
DD: What’s the inspiration behind your interpretation of Space loneliness # 2?
Austin Peralta: Reinterpreting anything, let alone Sun Ra, is challenging for me because of its given uniqueness. In the case of Sun Ra, whose music is markedly abstract and protean, made finding a fresh perspective both very difficult and yet simple. The freedom of his music lends itself to a freedom in re-envisioning it and in that way my attempt at recreating his music is an exercise in freeing myself.
DD: Sun Ra rejected conventions of any time, recreating himself as a messenger from Saturn- “a planet of discipline” and musical genius. What’s your experience of the relationship between discipline and creation?
Austin Peralta: I think for Sun Ra it wasn't a recreation of himself as a messenger from Saturn, but truly a reality. He was not from Earth. And with that comes a radically different approach to art and life. My approach tends towards the spontaneous in both performance and composition. That’s where I'm able to truly convey meaning. If I over-analyze what I'm doing it becomes removed and contrived. Discipline is necessary for maintaining strength and for growth, but the real art happens in the moment.
DD: So how much of an influence did Sun Ra and his Intergalactic Arkestra have on your style?
Austin Peralta: Sun Ra was never at the forefront of my musical consciousness growing up. I always had his records and checked them out, but it wasn't my bread and butter. But that isn't to say that it didn't intrigue me; his music is fascinating, challenging and very beautiful. It always evolved. That’s how I came to love and respect him and his art. His influence remains strongly palpable because of the freedom of his expression and his fearlessness, which is what we should all strive for.
DD: How important is it to you as an artist to move beyond ‘Earthly conventions?’
Austin Peralta: I don't think art can or should be classified into "Earthly conventions." True art defies categorization and transcends boundaries and shouldn't be looked at through a lens of "earthly" or "not earthly." If you let it wash over you and carry you away, that experience may not feel like anything you've ever experienced here on Earth. It can be the doorway into an infinitude of worlds.
DD: How would you say visions of space and cosmology translate through music?
Austin Peralta: Music is the cosmos.
DD: As a producer, live performer, and multi-media audio/visual performer, how do you create the experiences of life and the Universe within the listener?
Austin Peralta: That is the essence of all great art. It brings together those elements into a cohesive whole. One cannot help but do this when they're engaged in making authentic art. I try to let go of my thoughts and fears and move deeper into a flow, and when those moments happen, all of life, the universe and the infinite begin to manifest.
DD: You have a classical background. What composers do you revere and why?
Austin Peralta: Mozart was the reason I began playing music as a child. I heard one of his symphonies and lost my mind. As I got deeper into the music I developed a profound affinity with Chopin's music. As a kid I would even dress like him. I still play his music to this day. I'm also affected deeply by Brahms, Beethoven, Rachmaninov, Prokofiev, Ravel, Schubert & Schumann. I'm continually learning more about Classical music because it’s where my heart lies.
DD: Does modern equipment and production techniques allow for a more expressive cosmological experience?
AP: I don't think so necessarily. You can listen to a piece by Bach played on acoustic instruments and it can sound just as 'cosmological'. All music making technology can lead us to the same places.
DD: What’s your set up when you perform live?
Austin Peralta: I use lots of different set ups- most often trio with keys, bass and drums- but I do expand with saxophones, violists, vocalists and electronic / visual elements. I'm open to just about anything. I've done experimental shows just with Strangeloop on electronics and myself on keyboard.
DD: Do you prefer spontaneous creation or structured development of form?
Austin Peralta: Spontaneous creation. But form is a beautiful thing as well. It's great to combine the two.
DD: Are there any musicians in the LA scene that you think we should be listening to at the moment?
Austin Peralta: Mono/Poly has been making some incredible music, as well as Teebs, whose new album I'm featured on. My buddy Thundercat is doing some amazing stuff. We have some collaborative music in the works. I've made contributions to both Daedelus and Flying Lotus' upcoming records. There are lots of great things on the horizon.
All City Records
Text by Ross Bryant
Dazed & Confused's space-themed June issue, with Prometheus star Noomi Rapace on the cover, is out now