The folky, bare World of No Errors EP was always meant to be a practice run of sorts, but we grew to believe that stylistically, it really didn’t represent the artistic direction we wanted to go with Minnasia. We were also trying to see if that approach to recording — one where we’d just put enough production around it to let the songs speak for themselves — would be something we’d do on an on-going basis. We wanted to build up our song catalog as quickly as possible, to showcase our breadth.
But, we also knew that quick, stripped production like that wouldn’t showcase the songs’ full potential either. Songs like “August Moon” deserve to be fully fleshed out.
Recording a set of rock songs was always going to be our next step, but we decided that this would be a more full-production recording based on how we felt about the last EP. Of which, “Raid” was a song we actually tried recording before — it was going to be the 3rd single after “Bleeding Redwood” and “The Must-Save List.” But we lost momentum on it. Another song “Half Step” was a song off of my solo album Aries9: Darkness Reveals the Beauty of Truth that Bob has been really attached to, because of its demanding vocal melodies. I presented four other older songs to Bob and he chose three. Again, I mined my older catalog because these songs were still simpler than my more recent, ambitious songs.
We also decided to bring a cello into the mix, as we were pleased with how it sounded on the Promised Land project. The experiment this time was to see how a cello would sound if given an electric-guitar-like role in a rock band, while maintaining the integrity of the cello as an acoustic instrument. I know that acts like Apocalyptica and 2Cellos are creating great success with distorted electric cellos, but in a band context with a real electric guitar, the intention was to let the electric guitar be the distortion and have the cello be the contrast and also the intensity. With its deep, present voice, cello in its low range commands heaviness and authority that no guitars can match, but an electric cello would lose that distinct voice because distortion robs the low-end and thus the sense of authority.
In short, we were searching for a unique sound that we can call our own, a style that we felt were truly impactful. Between my songwriting, guitar-playing and Bob’s voice, Minnasia already had its own sonic signature, but we wanted to take it up a notch and make it really distinct. The cello would infuse the element of classical music and intensity. This approach to a cello-guitar-bass-drums band has rarely been explored so we were trying to see if that’s where our niche lies.
Songs & Lyrics
It’s funny you assemble a random collection of songs for varied reasons, but when put together they start to form a cohesive whole. When sequenced all together two major themes emerged: a journey, and war.
The war theme comes from being referenced in three out of five songs. We even considered calling the EP Hidden War off of a line in “Web” at one point. An overt reference to a real war is not a norm to us, as we’re more interested in exploring introspective terrains. But some of these songs are clearly influenced by the wars that were going on at the time of writing. And it still resonates with us in the current climate.
The journey part comes from the sequence these songs settled on. During the recording of this EP we started using the phrase “healing catharsis” to describe our ideal in music/songwriting. It’s not something we pull off or even aim to with every song, but it’s still an apt term to describe our mission, as we want our songs to bring up emotions that are buried and hidden, but in a holistic, healing way (even if those emotions may feel abrasive and hideous at times). So when we think about any collection of songs, whether it’s a recording or a live set list, we concern ourselves with how the narrative flows and on what note we end it.
So on that level, it’s curious how these songs fit together in a sort of story. “PK” is a painful realization, “Arms Lost” is a blame/resentment. “Half Step” is lyrically about a disillusionment, but the choir and the music seems to relieve the burden and perhaps provide a ray of light. “Raid” tells a story of remorse, repentance and finally, longing for reconciliation. “Web” closes this chapter with a notion that that reconciliation is possible, even if it’s still ahead of us.
Everything to Your Cause is off of a line in “Arms Lost.” Association with that song brings up a sense of anguish and betrayal — but a collection as a whole, it brings up a number of great questions. What is your cause? What does it mean when you give everything to your cause? Is it worth it? Does it pay off? Are you really giving it everything? Whose cause is it, really?
Now that it’s completed, this EP feels like a solid step in a good direction, one that we feel comfortable continuing to pursue. We hope these songs will be meaningful to our listeners.
Lead vocals: Voua ‘Bob’ Yang
Cello: Daniel Zamzow
Monologues on “PK”: Robyn Anderson, Christopher Petermann, TinyMonsteR, Mike Koenig, Cecile Belluard
Mastered by Greg Reierson, Rare Form Mastering
Everything else: Ari Koinuma
Drums were sequenced using samples from Analogue Drums
All songs written by Ari Koinuma
Except “Web” by Nathan Hutson & Ari Koinuma
Album: “Black Plastic” Billy Frank Alexander
PK: “The Room” Jesse Therrien
Arms Lost: “Harnas” Joqui
Half Step: “Dark Forest” Alfred Borchard
Raid: “KO 14” Ryan Aréstegui
Web: “Firework 1 1” kevinmood
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