Secret Pyramid: I find comfort during the night when all is quiet and the rest of the city goes to sleep
Secret Pyramid is the solo project of Vancouver-based musician Amir Abbey, who masterfully navigates the properties of sleep and unconsciousness, charting a course that is equal parts harrowing and funereal, tranquil and sublime. The more you listen to it, the more it grows on you, it’s one of those records which either makes you feel warm and whole or condamnates you to be the most lonesome person on the planet. You cannot choose it, it chooses you. As a debut interview for Sounds Of A Tired City, we have chosen to talk to Amir about music, nature, the sleeping Vancouver and everything beyond.
I’ve been recording music by myself for well over a decade now, just the typical home-recording experimental stuff, nothing that I would ever release. Recently, I have started feeling more comfortable with the creative process, especially within the last couple of years. This project is just an outlet for my ideas/recordings since 2010.
Movements of Night has a strong affinity for nature. Being based in Vancouver, what is your relationship with nature? How do you think that living in an urban area influences your ways of creating?
A lot of Movements Of Night is connected to the environments that we find ourselves in. A lot of it is related to finding solitude in one’s environment whether it be in a state of consciousness or a sleep/dream state, and being able to escape the rigors that are constantly presented in our environments. I’m more of a night person, and I find a certain level of comfort (especially artistically/creatively) during the night when all is quiet and the rest of the city goes to sleep. A lot of the album was created and recorded at night, and at the time this process was the best way for me to escape the routine and often mundane aspects of everyday life. I also spent a good amount of time (and still do) outdoors just walking around, or looking up at the sky. Vancouver is great for that since it’s quite a beautiful city, even at night! It also rains quite a bit here, and others have mentioned to me that they see a possible correlation between my music and the rainy and grey weather of Vancouver.
What and who has inspired you to start experimenting with music?
Even when I was learning how to play music as a teenager, I was never really interested in making typical and conventional sounds. I gravitated towards irregular or abnormal styles and techniques. As a teenager in the late 90s/early 2000s, there were many pivotal records that helped open my eyes to what music could be. I discovered albums like Kid A and Loveless and they blew me away at the time. I was fortunate enough to see Spiritualized touring for Ladies & Gentlemen when I was 14, and that really opened the doors to new sounds, and lead me to Spacemen 3, Steve Reich, Kraftwerk, etc. You have to remember that as a teenager I was used to hearing conventional rock and punk records, and then out of nowhere came these experimental rock albums that were so alien, yet so powerful at the same time. This lead me down the road to electronic music, minimalism, jazz, krautrock, etc. which ended up having as much, if not more of an impact on my music than those earlier influences.
How did you get in touch with Students of Decay?
Alex who runs the label got a hold of the The Silent March cassette shortly after it came out, he really dug it and got in touch about working together in the future, the rest is history.
Who influences your style nowadays? Whose music do you listen to when it comes to electronic music? Do you have any special favourite records from the last years?
It’s difficult to pinpoint what my musical influences are nowadays, I think one of the factors that has made me feel more comfortable with the creative process over the last couple of albums is the fact that I no longer look to other recordings as a catalyst for my own. I mean I’m constantly listening to and getting inspired by other music, but it’s no longer a conscious effort along the lines of “I love “x” record or “x” song, I want to make something that sounds like x”. Recently, the music that I’ve made has been more influenced by everyday life, situations, moods, environments, escapism, etc. I tend to just let “things happen” these days when it comes to creation, and actually prefer to tune out other music while doing it. There are tons of electronic artists/albums that I love listening to, I wouldn’t even know where to begin. But, over the last year or so I’ve been enjoying some of the GRM reissues that have been released, and have also been listening to a lot of hip-hop. As for special records from the last few years, I’m gonna have to say Donuts by J. Dilla. I absolutely love that album.
Have you ever thought about collaborating with someone? If yes, who would you like to work together with?
I haven’t collaborated with anyone recently, there have been low-key collabs/jams with friends in the past, but nothing that was taken that seriously, or with the intent of a release in mind. To be honest there isn’t one person that I’m totally dying to collaborate with, however I’m fortunate enough to know many talented artists who I’d be more than happy to collaborate with if the opportunity presented itself. I’m also really interested in doing a collaboration with filmmakers/visual artists.
What would you do if music would cease to exist, starting with tomorrow?
This would be very, very grim. I would not be a functioning human without music in my life, and because of that I wouldn’t be able to “do” much.
How about moving images? Do you have any favourite films that radically shaped your aesthetic vision?
Definitely, this is probably obvious to the people around me, but I would have to say the work of David Lynch in general. I was introduced to his work as a teenager, and like most teenagers, I was only familiar with fairly conventional and linear films. Discovering Lynch was quite pivotal for me since it really helped me view and approach art from a different angle, and made me think more deeply about images, moods, and even sounds. While watching his work, I can’t help but feel like I’ve been transported into another world, a characteristic that is shared with some of my favorite music. I also have to say that the film Paris, Texas had a big impact as well. A moving, poetic, and beautiful film that really resonated with me.
If you would have to direct your own movie, how would it look and sound like?
It would probably have only two or three characters max, and the music would likely be sparse as well.
What is your favourite album cover?
What are your next plans with Secret Pyramid?
Well I’m constantly recording new material, and taking a break from playing live for the time being. The plan is to have the reissue of The Silent March come out sometime during the summer, and following that, Distant Works II should be ready in the fall.
Who would you like to read an interview with on Sounds Of A Tired City?
Either Madlib or Andrew Chalk.
You prepared a special mix for us, can you say something about the selection?
A selection of tracks that covers a decent range of stuff I’ve been listening to recently. A good chunk are old favorites, some are fairly new-ish tracks that I’m digging (Nosdam, Panabrite), and one fairly new discovery (Has-Lo). The Alireza Mashayekhi track is from the excellent Electronic Panorama 4xLP boxset, which is pretty hard to find, would love to see a reissue of it someday. The last track (Lovisoni/Messina) is from a new reissue on Die Schachtel, they also did a Luciano Cilio reissue which also comes highly recommended.