These days it’s pretty difficult to find a psychedelic album that really impresses you, but this wasn’t the case when I had a chance to listen to Keefer Schoon or as known by his music project DZ Riley‘s album Entropy. This album made me more curious to know the story, especially when you recognize that this young and talented musician collaborated with several professional musicians to follow his compositions and lead to make such a stunning 14-track concept album. Let’s find out below!
First, I’d like to tell you that you did a psychedelic rock music scene revival in 2020 indeed. Tell me more about your story with music. How did it all start?
Thank you for your kind words. I picked up the guitar around 10 years ago. I was inspired to do so heavily by the great guitar work of Jimmy Page, among other classic rock guitarists. I took lessons for a little bit but eventually became mostly self-taught.
So, tell me more about DZ Riley. Is it like a solo project?
‘Entropy’ is definitely more of a solo project. I had come up with the idea for the album and everything in between on my own but then partnered up with a colleague of mine, who is also working on his own large concept album. We decided to team up together under the alias ‘DZ Riley’ and release both of our albums through it since it seemed optimal. My partner’s album is still in the works and will be released quite a while from now. Right now, we are working on a new album of catchy and funkier pop songs with no remote concept that will hopefully be released by early 2021.
Okay, is ‘Entropy’ your debut music experience?
Not technically, no. About 2 years ago, a friend and I wrote a handful of songs and released an album under the name ‘Marty Wheel’. Since then, I had been working on the instrumental parts of the songs for ‘Entropy’ and eventually, we went our different ways, and I used these instrumentals in the debut DZ Riley album.
After checking more info about you, I noticed that it’s about your grandmother (RIP) who passed away last month. I am kind of confused; when did you start working on Entropy?
I began working on the concept and goal towards the album a year ago. I piled in the songs that were instrumental at the time which I had written around 2 years ago.
The 14-track album is like a journey, and there’s a huge connection with the Yin and Yang Chinese philosophy. Can you tell me more about it?
I’ve had a respect for Taoism for quite a while. I’m not claiming to be a Taoist, but while writing the album, I noticed a resemblance of the philosophy and found that I could emphasize its attributes, specifically the yin and the yang. Alzheimer’s disease, being an unnatural occurrence in the ageing process, gradually becomes worse and never better. It is the sad truth, but it made me think about imbalances, and how circumstances within life fall both in and out of balance. I guess that more or less led me into that connection.
You mentioned on the album details that there was a reason behind the Roman numerals. But why you didn’t choose the regular method of numbering the track-list and mention that it follows the same album concept?
It started as an attempt to prevent listeners from accidentally experiencing the album on ‘shuffle’, noticing that songs were numbered specifically would signify a reason to listen to them in the order given. However, upon the release, I took out the Roman numerals for the sake of the track titles not being able to be searched for or dug up as easily. The Roman numerals were also supposed to differentiate the sides of yin vs. yang.
Being in a group of 4 could be a hassle to lead them and management as well. I noticed there are numerous professional collaboratives musicians who recorded with you, how did you manage such a process?
The vocals, drums, and orchestral strings were all either friends of mine or session musicians which I hired over quarantine.
“I played all of the guitar and keys and wrote all of the lyrics/ concept and orchestral compositions.” So, this means you did all the notation and they just played? Or how was it?
Pretty much. For vocals, I sent them demos of the songs with my very unfitting vocals on them to show them exactly what I wanted them to sing.
It’s such an amazing dedication to making all the album profits go directly to Alzheimer’s Association. Is this being your plan from the first moment while writing the album?
That idea came to me around halfway through the year of making it. I figured that it could gain more attention that way while also doing some good for exactly what it is that I was writing about.
The artwork reflects the album’s idea very nicely. In your opinion, is it important the album cover-art serve its lyrical theme and idea?
For this album, certainly. Any concept album should convey it as fittingly as possible through the artwork. I also have such a respect for album artwork, whether there’s meaning behind it or not. It’s the only permanent visual attached to the music that is given to the listener, so of course, it should be made special in anyway possible.
I am wondering about production and funding now. Have you produced the whole album alone? Or you get some help in coproduction process?
I recorded most of it myself and then my colleague and I mixed it together. I had Mystery Room Mastering master the album though.
Finally, the album reminds me of several iconic psychedelic acts. Tell me about your influences.
My biggest influences would be Led Zeppelin, The Doors, and Pink Floyd. Jimmy Page’s influence is probably most noticeable in the guitar composition that is “The Mountain”. When it comes to conceptual aspects, Pink Floyd will always be who I admire most. That goes for lyrics and musicianship as well.