"We All Hid Away In Fear": Alan Dweck's Discussion on Lockdown, Documentary, and The New Single
In the midst of a world engulfed by lockdowns and isolation, Alan Dweck's passion for creating his own art led him on an extraordinary journey. Like many other musicians, he yearned for a personal studio where he could unleash his creativity without the constraints of studio investments.
And now, that dream is becoming a reality. Dweck's determination led him on an 18-month search for the perfect space, filled with ups, downs, and countless peculiar houses. Finally, he discovered a charming cottage in the heart of Wiltshire that instantly stole his heart. Its crowning jewel was a stone barn outbuilding, equipped with its own electricity, water, and toilets—a perfect sanctuary for his studio. In an unprecedented move, Dweck has decided to document the entire process of building his dream studio through a captivating docu-webseries. Each episode will immerse viewers in the heart of the project, as Dweck shares his insights, breaks down each step, and provides an intimate front-row seat to the development. But this web series is not only for music enthusiasts—it also offers a unique glimpse into the world of property development.
The ambitious project seamlessly blends the architectural charm of a 17th-century cottage with cutting-edge 21st-century music technology. Viewers will be captivated as they witness ingenious engineering transform a cottage steeped in history into a music studio that meets the highest standards of today. Alongside the enthralling documentary, Dweck's pilot episode features his latest single, "Lockdown Song." This poignant track, led by haunting piano melodies, beautifully captures the shared experience felt by people across the globe during the pandemic. Alan's soulful vocals and intricate acoustic guitar stylings breathe life into the emotions we all grappled with during those challenging times. Indie Boulevard delve into the mind of Alan Dweck, explore his journey of building a studio from scratch, and gain insight into his musical influences and creative process.
INDIE BOULEVARD: Hello Alan, it is an absolute honor to have the opportunity to converse with you. During the challenging period of lockdown, when many musicians found themselves unable to access professional recording studios, what was it that sparked the fire within you to embark on the ambitious journey of constructing your very own studio? It must have taken great determination and vision to envision a space where you could freely unleash your creativity.
ALAN DWECK: For me it was a combination of my wife, son and I being locked into a 2 bedroom flat and then the sheer tediousness for them to hear me pottering away for hours in our front room. In many ways the lockdown period brought the sort of changes and emotional ups and downs that are a songwriters bread and butter. So my songwriting was firing on all cylinders but this came with increasing frustration at not being able to get those ideas down. I also tend to get a little obsessive and have a tendency to dive down into depths of minutiae, especially with my songwriting. I recognize that is not always helpful and I need to be able to step away and change perspective. Lockdown prevented that from happening: I believe I had the presence of mind to understand what was happening and I started to envisage the kind of environment that I needed, one that would allow me to both fulfil my musical ideas and gain perspective on where I was going, i.e. A studio in the country. The problem really came with finding the right place for it. That’s where determination, perseverance and attention to detail all came in again.
IB: Can you share any interesting or challenging moments you experienced while searching for the perfect space for your studio?
AD: There were a couple of near misses. One place I got very excited about was an 18 century stables next to a manor house. A complete conversion was required but the property was just gorgeous and planning permission was already granted. A few artists and artistic types lived in nearby cottages on the estate and I really felt it would have been creatively fantastic. They wanted to sell to someone who would fit into their community and they were very nice and welcomed my approach BUT… the barn was reasonably priced and that was also attracting developers who were clearly not happy with a genuine buyer coming in. I could never prove it but felt that the agents were not really working for the sellers and probably had some arrangement with a developer or similar interested party. They worked hard to try to discredit me and finally managed to persuade the sellers that another offer was genuine and would complete sooner despite being slightly less than my offer. I believe the Stables conversion was still unfinished almost 3 years later, with only minimal work done. The property world is full of corruption and extremely dodgy dealings. Buyers, Sellers and even the law is considered as mere pawns to be manipulated for developers and agents gain. It was not to be and it took me another couple of years to find a suitable place. However, to be honest I am now relieved I didn’t get that place. The cottage that I ended up with is far, far better.
IB: In your web series, you aim to captivate and educate viewers by showcasing the delicate balance between the charm and history of a 17th-century building and the cutting-edge technology of the 21st century. Could you provide us with some insights into your approach?
AD: The property was originally built in 1600. It has existed for 430 years and will presumably exist for many more years after I am gone. In many respects I do not feel that I actually own the property. I am just looking after it for a few years. Nothing truly stays the same, If you do nothing to a building it will eventually fall down and be recaptured by nature: stagnation is the death of all things. My work will keep the walls, look and feel of the original building. By constructing an internal frame I can construct new rooms and structures that house the technology I need, achieve a high level of insulation and give the building a new lease of life. Allowing it to stand, be useful and avoid stagnation for many years to come.
IB: What motivated you to document the construction of your studio in a web series? What do you hope viewers will take away from it?
AD: I felt it was an interesting project that deserved documentation. Many people are interested in renovation and many musicians have / want better home studios. The series will hopefully help people understand what’s involved and help people make better choices when it comes to their own projects. If you can’t learn from your own experiences learn from others!
IB: In the pilot episode of your web series, you delve into a fascinating discussion about the distinctions between digital and analogue recording. This is an area of great interest for both music enthusiasts and aspiring artists. Could you expand on this topic and provide us with a deeper understanding of how these recording methods impact your music production?
AD: Firstly let me state upfront that there is absolutely nothing wrong with digital recording. I am not one of those who believes in some purity of analog over digital. Everything and every technique in music has a place and can/should be used by artists to achieve their creative intentions. There is a certain feel and warmth that I like, that is best achieved through the use microphones and some analog recording techniques. I do not miss the hiss of tapes or the rough edits that accompanied many older recordings. But I do like the warmth of some classic older recordings. You can just listen to them hundreds of times and get lost in their sound, something that seems harder to do with other more recent recordings.
Just a few days ago I found myself listening to an old Supertramp song - “Asylum”. I turned it right up and got completely lost in it. Loving it despite having heard it a thousand times over god knows how many years. I do not find myself doing this to more recent recordings. I may love the music, production or the writing just as much, if not more so, but I just don’t get as lost in it. I want that warmth and I want the precision and flexibility of modern techniques. I guess I just want it all - but why not? What’s to lose by such ambition?
IB: Do you find that one method lends itself better to capturing the essence of your sound or conveying the emotions you seek to evoke?
AD: As I said above it all depends what I am trying to say. I think of it as an artist’s palette, you need all colors to be available to paint your picture. I too need all sounds to be available in order to make my music. I have written a song I will release soon that is all about the corporatization of so many aspects of our everyday life. For that song I used heavily electronic sounds to depict the robotization I wanted to express. For lockdown song I used a much more warm sound, full of intentional imperfection that I felt made it more human. My intention was that it hopefully brings the listener closer to the singer. These are artistic choices of the musician whose palette should not be constrained by debate over sounds and techniques.
IB: Your single "Lockdown Song" captures a shared experience felt by many during the pandemic. Can you tell us more about the inspiration behind the song?
AD: We all hid away in fear, we looked back or what it was like before lockdown, we did this day after day. Going round in circles with little new to say. I think We all felt that and I wanted to try to capture it. To do so, I devised a simple chord progression what went round in circles, seemingly endlessly, apart from 2 points where I briefly introduce another chord followed by a pause to express yearning before going round again.
IB: As a contemporary prog-rock artist, how do you incorporate the influences of Pink Floyd, David Bowie, and Lou Reed into your music? Do you have a particular approach or style that sets you apart?
AD: It’s interesting - we are all always the sum of our influences and inspiration. I don’t believe in pigeonholing artists into genres. I see myself as making music, rather than Prog rock music. However I think there is a style and consistency that somehow comes through in all my music, despite my desire to mix things up. In the end it’s for me to make music and for listeners to categorize it as they see fit. The day I start writing to match the category that is expected of me, is the day that I become part of the machine rather than an artist who in my opinion has the role of reflecting on the emotional Impact of that machine.
IB: We've heard about the music side of things, but what about snacks? What's your go-to comfort food or guilty pleasure snack that fuels your creative sessions in the studio?
AD: Milk chocolate hobnobs! Best biscuit in the world.
IB: And the final question. During the construction of your studio, did you ever have a "MacGyver moment" where you had to improvise with unconventional tools or materials to get the job done?
AD: I doubt that it is possible to create something new without some form of “MacGyver moment” somewhere. However the exact answer to that question will come when the studio is completed. Right now I’m still trying to get my builders in. But more of that in the next episode.
The series will be available to watch on the Global Talent World YouTube