Spartan Jet-Plex is an indie artist based in Richmond, Virginia, USA whose soft musical stylings swirl into emotional soundscapes with eerie occult inspired vocals, samples, and glitches juxtaposed with a classic guitar and vocal that creates an otherworldly experience. Their upcoming debut album Live will be releasing later this year and can be pre-ordered via their Bandcamp. ‘Dreambreak‘ is a wonderful slice of that album and we’re excited to share the music video for the first time. When discussing the project they said:
“‘Dreambreak‘ was written this past year while I was playing shows out prior to the pandemic. I ended up rotating it into live sets. I like that the standard guitar and vocal part of the song is short. That part of the song also sounds super sweet and syrupy on the surface. I’ve always played around with how my voice can sound and I’ve gotten better with that over the years, and this track has a sweet sound that my voice can sometimes have. Often I write longer songs or they end up evolving over time, but occasionally I write something fairly quickly and short and it just sort of sticks and feels right the way it is from the start.
I knew when I wrote the guitar and vocal part of it that I would be adding to the song later when I recorded it. When I record songs, there often are more experimental parts to my songs, and the idea for this track and entire album was to create what the stripped-down version of my songs sound like live, and then also add to them and create the experimental sample, electronic and weird vocal parts through the recording process. Although writing and recording music for over 20 years, I hadn’t had the nerve to play my Sartan Jet-Plex stuff out until 2019. January 2019 was actually the first time I played my songs in front of anyone. My sets were all just stripped-down versions of my songs on guitar and vocals. After playing out for about a year, I started envisioning where I wanted to take my live set next, which would include incorporating some of the more experimental stuff you hear on most of my recorded albums. After the pandemic hit and playing out was no longer an option, I decided I would play around more with that idea and try to create an album that had a live feel to it.
I wanted to write an album that would be similar to what my live sets might sound like if those ideas came to fruition. Collectively these songs tell a sort of odd dreamy or surreal story, and that the next step in the evolution of playing live would be playing the stripped-down guitar and vocal parts of these songs live while also playing the experimental transition stuff between songs in my set, and then the footage from the film of this album would be a backdrop when I’m playing. These were all just ideas I had while I was playing out before the pandemic hit. So the standard parts of all the songs on Live, including Dreambreak, were recorded as one straight live take with minimal to no overdubbing of additional vocals or other instrumentation. Then the transition pieces before and after it were recorded in the typical way I normally record songs using layers and sampling and pieces manipulated, clipped, and edited together.
‘Dreambreak’ is the 6th track on the album so it fits within the context of a surreal story, dream or nightmare that is being told. Every song also stands alone and has its individual meaning. ‘Dreambreak’ to me is a bittersweet song. It’s about the good and bad and the in-between in committed relationships but it’s also an inward look at myself. I’m taking a break and sort of dreaming and looking at myself through the eyes of my past trauma, my past relationships but also from the present where I feel so much better and stronger than all the past versions of myself. ‘Dreambreak’ encapsulates a whole bunch of things within a short amount of time and with brief lyrics. The beginning and end experimental parts of the Dreambreak do the exact same things but are just expressing those thoughts and ideas in a different way:
I’m home and you’re awake
my heart, it cannot break
I lost all of my parts
my brain fell into dark my thoughts carry me away
I’m hard, I’ll never break
your heart is never fake
our souls will never wake
Rafael de Toledo Pedroso, a Grimalkin [Records] member/dear friend, and I collaborated on the Live film and all the videos for this album. The film is similar to the album in that it is telling a dreamlike story that’s part surreal and horror and part lovely and beautiful. One of the themes of the album is a celebration of embracing life here in Virginia. I live in a remote rural area, which I quite intentionally chose when leaving Los Angeles after living there for 12 years. I also just celebrated my 12th year of living here this summer. Living out in the country has been immensely positive for my soul and well being. I wanted to be in a place where I would be able to embrace nature and solitude daily. Since living here, I’ve been recording sounds and filming nature in my yard and so some of the footage from the film, in general, is stuff I already had prior to recording this album but I also filmed a bunch of new things leading up to the film after the album was completed.
Rafa and I talked about ideas we both had and I sent them all the different footage I had, and they edited stuff together with some footage they took and that of their partner Pedro and Rafa also added all sorts of layers and effects to this footage. They would send me first drafts, and I would send them back my thoughts or ideas of possible suggestions, and then they would tweak it from there. We had a back and forth process while making all of the videos. Some videos for these songs or parts of these songs would be perfect on the first draft, and in other cases, I would send them back notes and they would take my notes and rework things based on my thoughts, suggestions, or ideas.
With ‘Dreambreak‘, and most all of the footage you see in the video and film, the footage you see during the stranger experimental parts of my songs is footage that they or Pedro took. Those parts in Dreambreak were so perfect from the initial draft. The beginning and end parts are just so oddly creepy and really fit well with the song. It’s actually a clip of Pedro doing a performance on a rooftop in Brazil while the sun was setting. Rafa told me it was a very haunting performance, and the shots work very well contrasted with the yard and cat footage during the standard guitar and vocal part of this song.”
Live by Spartan Jet-Plex releases on the 13th of September, 2020.
Photo credit: Jonathan Lee Hicks