SPACEPILOT, may sound like an astronaut maneuvering some UFO-like vessel through universal particles, but in earthlings terms is a sonic movement of galactic dimensions. SPACEPILOT are three UY Scutis creating music in planet Earth: bandleader Elias Meister (guitar, loops, effected noise), Leo Genovese (synth, keys, sound fx), and Joe Hertenstein (drums, stone percussion, effects). In their debut album “Particle Horizon,” they take off through abstract soundscapes, playing with astrophysics and cosmology. Their brilliance shines in their ability to fuse Jazz, Rock, Funk, and Techno while incorporating psychedelic sounds and even humorous spoken word; all improvised. The soundscape trip and multitude of musical layers makes SPACEPILOT’s “Particle Horizon” a daring album for those who enjoy something fresh, complex and unique.
Bandleader and current Residente‘s guitarist, Elias Meister explains his inspiration and the roots of SPACEPILOT.
Marlena Fitzpatrick: What inspired you to become a jazz musician? Aside of the guitar, what other instruments do you play?
Elias Meister: What I love most about Jazz is the improvisation, creating something new that can only happen in that moment, with the particular musicians you are playing with, in that particular place. And it is, mostly, based on a groove. I do not consider myself so much as a Jazz musician anymore even though I love to play Jazz and do it a lot, it is all music and melody and grooves. But studying Jazz definitely gives you a lot of tools to explore all kinds of music. Beyond playing electric- sometimes very effected, sometimes straight- and acoustic guitars, I play some bass and piano; meddle around with some synths. The first instrument I studied as a child was flute.
Marlena Fitzpatrick: You’re a very diverse musician. You’ve done pop, jazz, Latin alternative, classical, rock and the list goes on. What genre haven’t you explored that you’d love the venture in?
Elias Meister: I don’t like to think so much in genres. Whenever people ask me what genre SPACEPILOT is or Residente, I have a hard time describing it. I like to mix Jazz with Techno, Rock with noise improvisation, etc. Putting these ‘genres’ together and using them as a tool to create a concert or record is very cool. It doesn’t really matter then what genre the outcome is. I think finding new ways to connect with musicians and audiences regardless of genre is a great thing. I definitely have a lot to explore.
Marlena Fitzpatrick: I was going to ask what genre do you consider “Particle Horizon” to be, but I believe you made that very clear. You joined the Residente’s all-immigrant band. How that came about? What have you learned from the Latin alternative universe?
Elias Meister: Leo Genovese (the keys player) and I are lifelong friends and have played a lot music together in all kinds of settings. He introduced me to René [Pérez Joglar]. I have loved music from all kinds of places in South America for a long time and have played a lot of Brazilian music and folklore from Argentina and other places. But to go travel and perform in South America which such a special project as Residente with such a strong message and so many influences and such a great connection to the audience has been a very special experience. The band members are such incredible musicians and good spirits and to travel in South America and get to know different people, cultures and music is an unbelievably beautiful thing.
Marlena Fitzpatrick: It is a beautiful thing and what Residente has done is historic. Now, going back to your band, who and what is Spacepilot?
Elias Meister: SPACEPILOT is a band I started a few years ago with Leo Genovese, and Joe Hertenstein. The band really formed in the club Nublú in NYC, where we have played many shows. We are are fully improvising each show. To play an entire show improvised, but with the aspect of making people dance while we do it, has let to this mix of funk, rock, jazz, psychedelic noise. To this moment of releasing the tension of a noise improvisation into a groove with a simple chord progression, and then after you’ve done that for a moment, go back into something more abstract is very interesting and effective. We have never rehearsed. We barely talk about the music. So, the whole development of the band over the years happened very organically and completely based on the music and the reaction from the audience. After releasing ‘Exophonia’ in 2016 and two tours in Germany and Czech Republic, where we also performed at the Moers Festival and XJAZZ Festival, we just released our second vinyl ‘Particle Horizon’ on Springstoff.
Marlena Fitzpatrick: About ‘Particle Horizon,’ the jazz is very prominent, but also the electronic. There are many layers to the musical compositions. It’s somewhat futuristic. Why the title?
Elias Meister: As I said, nothing is pre-arranged, all the music is created in the moment. I am deeply fascinated with Astrophysics and Cosmology and all the recent discoveries in those fields, that’s where all the names come from. The Particle Horizon is the edge of our universe beyond which no signal or light haven’t had time to reach us since the Big Bang and never will, so we will never be able to communicate past this horizon or receive any direct signal.
Marlena Fitzpatrick: There’s a science and spacial feeling to this album. In “Kepler 442” and “Heliosphere” there’s humorous spoken word. Who wrote the lyrical content? Why the injection of humor?
Elias Meister: On ‘Particle Horizon’ we had two very special and very different guests. The incredible trumpet player Tim Hagans, who has a very unique way of playing and brings a very new quality to the music. And also the performance artist Jack Daniel, who is improvising spoken word and poetry. This juxtaposition of adding melodic complexity through Tim and the humorous aspect and awkward storytelling of Jack is very interesting to me.
Marlena Fitzpatrick: It is interesting to all! Congrats on a fantastic album!