David Small of one-man band Piuma answered some questions about his first release. His self-titled EP is a sweet mix of catchy mainstream hooks augmented by plenty of nooks and crannies to appease the music geeks.
Can you explain the meaning of "Piuma", the name you picked for this project?
Piuma is a rocky outcropping that overlooks Santa Monica Bay and LA at the top of Piuma Road. My friends and I used to go up there on full moons, as teenagers and bring hand drums because there were these gatherings of random people that would show up with instruments—and everyone would jam and hang out for hours. That combination between being up in nature, creating a wild in-the-moment music with friends, and having a sort of perspective on life that you get from vantage points like that — reflects the art I want to create under the name Piuma. The album artwork photography was taken up there.
Please describe the recording process of your songs.
As for the recording, Piuma was a one-man band, but for the show that will be live streamed in HD on November 14th I will have a full band (bass, drums, keys) of phenomenal musicians taking these songs to the next level.
In the studio, I first start with imagining how I want the song to sound, envisioning a sonic landscape—almost in three dimensional space; with a field of depth and a width from left to right. And I try to picture in my head how the instruments will be placed, and how they will move as the song progresses and builds feeling-wise. Once I have the sound in my head, it is just a matter of doing anything and everything I can to get that sound coming out of the speakers, whether by-the-book or experimental. I start instrument by instrument, layer by layer — usually with the drums early on — and once I have a sketch of each part: guitar, keys, drums, bass, strings, synths, etc., I will go back and record another round where I develop the parts and performance to play off the other instruments I recorded. I love when instruments interplay with each other, and it is a balancing act between leaving room and filling the space — so I usually start with simple parts, and then as I see where there is room, the next round I will start to fill it in so they start to lock and create interdependent parts—which is my favorite sort of sound. Then it is on to mixing and tweaking knobs and pushing things left, right, back, and forth with panning, reverb, and effects to get that overall sound — where it is bigger than the sum of the parts, and the sound coming out of the speakers is what I heard in my head. It’s so much fun; I really love recording — even though it can drive me a little crazy and get frustrating at times.
The EP is promoted as a carbon-positive release. However, sending out vinyl and CD's can mess up the ratio. How does that add up?
The only shipments going out are either promotional or orders my record label will be fulfilling through the online store. Since this is a limited edition release, there are only a very select few promotional copies being shipped to select press/blogs/radio stations, which are offset through my record label’s tree donation (since the recording/production of the album was already powered by renewable energy). The copies being shipped from online orders through the online store, or to record stores, will be sent through USPS utilizing normal delivery routes—which means that the weight added to the delivery truck is nominal. The donations my record label will make to plant trees, based on the percentage of proceeds, will push the release into being carbon-positive — especially considering that a portion of digital sales goes towards planting additional trees, and we utilize a green web server in Los Angeles.
Would it bother you if people named you a naive hippie?
Well, I would definitely say that I am a hippie at heart, but I don’t think that I am naïve—so I would have to agree to disagree. I’ve been on the front lines of causes and know what it takes to make positive change. I dedicated two years of my life to teach literacy intervention in a middle school in Watts, California. The school would go on lock downs as guns were fired across the street—and the lesson of the day was to focus on what was in front of us, what was in our control. That experience taught me that all you can do is what is in your control. I am not pretending that creating an environmentally responsible album will stop global warming. But creating something responsibly is what I can do—it is me doing my part. There is so much negativity in the news, so why not promote positive things that people are doing and spread the word to inspire others? I was blown away that all the incredible vendors, that I worked with in the manufacturing process, were behind what I was doing and all made donations to each plant a tree in the name of the album. To me it’s one of those things where someone might have called me naïve to think that these big manufacturing companies would care about making a donation to support the concept behind my album, but they did. I just want to put my head on my pillow at the end of each day and know I did the best I could—and to look back at the end of my life and know that I am leaving the world a little bit better for my children—and their children.
After laying low for quite some time progressive music is back. Not as big as the early Seventies by a long shot, but mainly riding the coat tails of the neo-psychedelic movement. Does this mean that it is (a little) easier for you to get your music featured in magazines and online?
This is my first official release through my record label, so we will see. I just create music that I love, stylistically, and try to broaden out to universal concepts and experiences. And if I happen to be on a trend or out of a trend, then it is what it is.
What bands do you listen to besides Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin?
A lot! Bob Marley and the Wailers is my fav, but I have many others:
Van Morrison/Michael Kiwanuka/Ben Harper/Michael Franti
Grateful Dead/Tame Impala
Toots and the Maytals/The Meters/RHCP
Tycho/Washed Out/Ulrich Schnauss
Chris Cornell/Alice in Chains/Nirvana
The Piuma EP is released on his own label Shining Light Records. CD, 12" vinyl (limited hand-numbered edition of 500 copies) and digital. Release: November 12th. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to TreePeople and all the manufacturers involved made donations to offset carbon emitted during the manufacturing process to make it a "eco-vinyl concept album". Pre-order here (use "piuma-presale" for a 10% discount).Live dates:
- 10/30 Burbank, CA @ Park Bar & Grill ($5 at the door)
- 11/14 Studio City, CA @ Kulak's Woodshed
(record release show tickets - HD live stream via Concert Window)
HCTF review of Piuma.