Ark Patrol on taking a step back and creating an honest album

Ark Patrol, the alias of Brandon Gomez, is an electronic music producer currently based in Seattle.

On the heels of a period of tumult, Gomez powered through to create his upcoming self-titled record. Check out the newest single below, and read on to learn about how he wrote the album and how it impacts him when he listens to it today.

Talk us through the process of creating this album.

Very early on, I realized that this album needed to be honest, largely because of what I was going through at the time – I was diagnosed with cancer and had to start thinking about everything in my life differently. Before the diagnosis, I was releasing singles on a monthly basis. I had to take a step back and think about my work as a whole rather than the sum of its parts, and from the most honest lens. By that, I mean it needed to be a compilation of everything I had been working on up until that point. Normally, I would have cut so many things. There are so many projects and tracks I’ve left behind because I dreamed of creating something better. But when I say I wanted to be honest, it meant revealing the point at which I was at, for better or for worse.

Sometimes, deadlines never arrive and you have to make them yourself. Forcing myself through the gauntlet of now or never created the record we’re talking about today. And in the end, it progressed me and helped me move on. They say pressure creates diamonds and this is also true with music – only the listener can decide if it’s a diamond or not.

Having some distance from when you created it, how do you feel listening to the record now?

When I listen to the record, I hear a story that ends with me declaring my love for a certain instrument because I know it’s now or never. So it looks like a journey to me – a journey that culminates in me embracing who I am and letting go of plans and goals to make a statement about myself. Track 11, which you can’t see, is a eulogy delivered by my little brother, and to me the album sounds as if I were looking ahead to it track-by-track, realizing I was getting closer and closer and adjusting my trajectory to die with little regret.

The wonderful thing about music is that it can take on new meanings – so now, the tracks that I wrote in my hospital room don’t remind me of that environment anymore. Instead, they remind me of my love for listeners and for myself as well as my final hopes that I could create something better and brighter.

What did you use to create this album? Are there any particular sounds, synths, sample packs, etc. that gave you inspiration during this time?

Ableton, Splice Sounds, Sylenth1, Synplant… During the time, I had a small studio setup in my bedroom – an electric guitar and an amp, some monitors, and a replica keyboard of a Yamaha from my childhood.

There’s a “Future Pop & Vocals” sample pack from which I took some of the vocals for “Darling” as well as “Fiend.” I know there’s a vintage movie sample pack that I took some samples from for transitions between songs. The “Bright Lights” sample pack has some samples that I used as well. All good stuff, especially once you start manipulating them further.

Splice overall is great. It saved me many a headache with cloud backups, and now the sample library is massive. My appreciation for the platform grows every time I make a breakthrough, whenever I’m successfully able to convert some discoveries into a tune that I enjoy.

When creating the album, were there any new methodologies or techniques that you discovered?

The biggest thing I learned is that it’s okay to write something and let it sit for a while. Some of the tracks on the record were dormant for close to a year or longer, until I came back and found the good in them – at which point I added guitar, another section, and some transitions and polished things up.

Another thing I learned is how good things usually sound on their own. So I learned to stop messing with sounds so much and to just let them be themselves. That way, I could focus more on melodies and progressions rather than fiddling with tech.

What do you take away from listening to the album? What do you hope others will take away?

Now, this record makes me feel emotional. When I listen to it alone, I often feel comfortable as if I’m with someone familiar. But when I listen to it with others around, I actually get very emotional, almost to the point of tears… strong masculine tears of course, but tears nonetheless.

I hope the record reminds others of old feelings. Memories from other times. Promises never fulfilled, or still being fulfilled. Old love and new love. I hope it makes listeners reflect on their current direction and question themselves. And I hope they find some peace in their conclusion, just like me.

Check out Ark Patrol’s sample pack here.

February 15, 2019

Ken Herman Ken Herman is a producer under the name Exitpost and is an editor of the Splice blog.