The Genesis of Ambition
Updated: Sep 23, 2022
by Alan Deeth
“Before they may end, all things must first begin.”
That’s the opening line of narrative from Archive of the Unbounded—a supposition that for a thing to ever have happened, something must catalyze its beginning. For New Origins in its current incarnation, that catalyst was a text message sent April 23, 2020.
“I’ve been thinking about music a lot lately. … I don’t know what y’alls lives look like at present, but would either of you be open to creating some tunes?”
It sounded daunting at the time, but we agreed to at least talk about the possibilities. Now, we’ve released a 37-minute album, with the hour-plus follow-up well on its way—and that’s only the beginning.
How did a vague conversation about recording one or two old tracks end up ballooning into a dystopian sci-fi triptych? Where did the inspiration for this over-ambitious project come from? And what’s the inspiration behind our story?
We invite you to join us as we look back at Archive of the Unbounded: Arc One in this series of blog posts. Through the course of this series, we’ll discuss how we weave narrative, music, and visuals together to create our project. We’ll share our process for creating this content—both from a creative and a practical standpoint. And we’ll examine the challenges we’ve faced in doing this all remotely.
Along the way, we’ll each provide our own insights into what we’ve learned and how we’ve developed as musicians and creatives through this project. Sharing the “official” perspective is all well and good, but we thought it might be nice to get a bit more personal here. That said, I’ll go ahead and stop saying “we” now: Alan is writing this introductory post, and you can look forward to a follow-up from Gabriel in the not-too-distant future. Ross will be tagging along shortly thereafter, and then we’ll be jumping between the three of us as we look back at the individual tracks of That Light You See Is Hope, and It’s Burning Down Your City.
And yes, I realize I wrote “we” again in that sentence. Forgive me.
Now, let’s start at the beginning.
Where We Began
New Origins formed in Salt Lake City, Utah, back in 2011. But our musical story actually begins earlier even than that: Ross and I have long shared an interest in music. From the moment I first picked up a guitar in eleventh grade (at his urging, I might add), he and I were throwing tabs back and forth, sharing our compositions and sharing inspiration. In 2010, the two of us found ourselves living in the same city for the first time in a long while. And we immediately set to bringing our musical aspirations to life.
Gabriel and I connected over Craigslist, and the three of us clicked quickly. We had enough overlap in musical tastes to work well together, while all branching off with our own preferences: this meant we were constantly challenging each other to take things in unexpected directions, which inspired greater creativity.
We’ll get into more specifics about how we’ve avoided falling into any musical ruts as we talk about individual tracks in the future. But even in those early days, we enjoyed experimenting with different creative processes: some tracks were born of my existing compositions, some from Ross’s or Gabriel’s. And some were born of the three of us getting together, and Ross saying, “I want to write a new song. Alan, play something weird.” Even today, we’re still experimenting with new ways of composing, which will doubtless be evident when we release Arc 2 of Archive of the Unbounded.
Where We Fell
Composition is only one part of the story. The music’s not going to put itself out there. For 2011/2012 New Origins, the next step was performing. As a three-piece, that wasn’t feasible: we needed a drummer, at a minimum; ideally, our compositions wanted a second guitarist and a keyboardist or two. Where’s the fun in dreaming small?
We performed a handful of gigs and ran through several drummers/keyboardists, doing what we could to perform with the lineup we were able to put together. At the same time, we visited a recording studio and put together a pair of very rough recordings. But it was rough. None of the other rotating cast of musicians clicked with us creatively or personally the way that the three of us had. And our first taste of recording was a mess: with severely limited studio time, we struggled to put something workable together.
Finally, after parting ways with our longest-running drummer, we went on hiatus. Trying to get the project off the ground was taking too much time and effort, and it felt like we were spinning our wheels. Our compositions might never have hit a rut, but in practical terms, we were going nowhere. In time, Gabriel moved to Florida, and I moved back to Oregon.
New Origins was, for a time, finished.
A New Origin
For seven or eight years after going our separate ways, the three of us texted about trying to revive New Origins in an online format. We all missed playing music together—it’s rare that you meet kindred creative spirits, and rarer still that you find ones with whom you work so well. But for many years, the task seemed insurmountable; a pipe dream that lurked forever beyond our reach.
Other projects came and went, and we all kept pursuing music in our own ways. For myself, I acquired a recording interface and started experimenting with composing and recording solo. Between a Focusrite interface and Ableton software, I learned a lot—not least of which was just how fun it is to hear my compositions come to life in a way that had never been possible with our three- or four-piece band performing live. As I said earlier, what’s the fun in dreaming small?
Then the pandemic happened. The world went into lockdown, and suddenly all three of us had a lot more free time on our hands. Free time in which we were confined to our homes and unable to interact with the world.
How better to get through such gloomy times than by remotely reconnecting with old friends and getting stuck in on the creative project you’ve dreamed of for years? You might call it a new origin, if you were feeling cheeky.
And what an origin it proved to be. None of us knew what we were getting ourselves into. We kept our ambitions small: we’d try recording one of our old tracks from back in the day, and see how it went. Neither Gabriel nor Ross had an interface for recording properly at that stage, so they’d have to acquire the means to do so, and then they’d have to learn the software. And while I had experience with the tools, I’d never delved into their depths: I had only gone so far as creating content for my own amusement.
There was no talk, then, of Archive of the Unbounded. No mention of a multi-arc triptych, nor imprints, origins, and Yevhen. For once, we kept our dreams small: we were recording an existing composition or two, nothing crazy.
Yeah. That didn’t last long. What’s the fun in dreaming small?
So where did the madness begin? When did we fall off the rails and start building a dystopian sci-fi epic?
It’s all Gabriel’s fault.
So I’ll let him tell you the details. Until next time—thanks for reading, and thanks for listening!