Hugo Selles is a composer, pianist and a man behind the project Psychic Equalizer. He released a full-length album “The Lonely Traveller” in January, and I got a chance to ask him few questions about the album, his favorite records, and more.
Hey Hugo. How are you doing?
Hi! Pretty busy, but good!
You have just released “The Lonely Traveller” with your project Psychic Equalizer. How do you feel about the release?
Exactly, it was released on the 20th of January. I have been working on it for almost two years, so I feel very excited about it being out there for everyone to listen.
How much of a challenge was to work on the album?
It’s been the most difficult recording I’ve done to date. Apart from the normal process of composing, arranging, recording demos, contacting musicians, etc; the whole album was rehearsed in the studio for a couple of days and due to the lack of time, 75% of the music was recorded live (some of the final versions that you can hear in the album are the only take ever made). Just the strings, voices, some percussion and keyboards were added afterwards. We also had to deal with many other unexpected things. For instance, on the fifth or sixth day of the recording, there was a flood in the studio caused by some burst pipe in the heating system. I mean, you can expect that a guitar gets damaged on a flight – even when you take all the precautions – but water falling from the roof…?
What is your opinion about the current experimental scene?
To be honest, even though I love lots of music and try to listen to new things regularly, I’m a bit outdated in this field. I do know some bands or artists that are active nowadays, but unfortunately, I don’t have a whole picture of how the scene is. I have heard from others that last year has gone through a magnificent revival of progressive music. So I should definitely check it out!
Can you tell me something about your influences?
The music by Rachmaninov, Pat Metheny, Radiohead and Pink Floyd. Those four are remarkable. Others depend on which stage I’m at in my career or life. Some years ago I was obsessed with Brad Mehldau, Anna Maria Jopek and pianist Krystian Zimerman. Now I’m truly re-discovering Dream Theater, Paco de Lucía and Dvorak. I guess they have all marked me in some way. I do also find nature and painting to be great influences in my music.
What are you listening to these days?
At this very moment, while writing these lines, Fragile by Yes. I’ve also been listening to Anoushka Shankar and Stephan Micus quite a lot for the last month. There’s also space for Anathema’s Falling Deeper in my playlist and for this other album that never saw the light as The Alan Parsons Project but as an Eric Woolfson’s project called Freudiana. It’s simply magnificent.
Your 5 favourite records of all the time?
I’ve always been worried about someone asking this question to me, so difficult to choose! Although it’s true that there are two which I’m completely sure about: the recording of Bartók’s Piano Concertos by Géza Anda and Ferenc Fricsay, and The Way Up by the Pat Metheny Group. Those two are outstanding. And knowing that I’d possibly change my mind tomorrow, the other three: the recording of Beethoven’s last Piano Sonatas by Maurizio Pollini, Mychael Danna’s original score for the film Life Of Pi and In Praise of Dreams by Jan Garbarek.
Can you tell me a little bit more about the gear you use to record “The Lonely Traveller”?
In general, I think we used high profile gear. I recorded with a grand piano Fazioli, which has a very powerful bass sound that India Hooi, the sound engineer, managed to capture perfectly. I’m a great fan of Kurzweil and brought my SP3X to the studio. Every single synth, hammond or rhodes is played on it. I use some of my own setups as well as the default ones. I know that Quico Duret, the main guitarist, is obsessed with the best sound quality too. He plays a Fender Telecaster and have tons of different pedals: Memory Boy Deluxe, Fulltone OCD, Verbzilla, etc. I specially like that reverb one and always encouraged him to use it. We used the “classic” amplifier VOX AC30 for the guitar, and apart from all the different precious instruments, we also used DPA, Sennheiser, AKG, Royer and Shure microphones. The console was a Lawo, of which we combined the use of its preamps with some Neve and LA.
Besides the release of the album, are there any other plans for the future?
We are planning a summer tour presenting the project and I personally would love to record the already-composed next album towards the end of the year.
Any words for the potential new fans?
I believe Psychic Equalizer is a very eclectic project and I’m sure that jazz fusion or progressive rock fans will find it very interesting.
Visit Hugo Selles’ website for more news and info.