Daydream with Constantine's Acid Folk odyssey made with members of O.W.L. (Of Wondrous Legends). Day Of Light was recorded in Chicago but it has a vibe like it was recorded somewhere in the hazy meadow back in the 1970s. Stephen Titra of Of Wondrous Legends made artwork based on his reflection when hearing songs from Day Of Light. A truly wonderful Acid Folk masterpiece which can be rarely heard these days. Here's our interview with Constantine Hastalis.
How did you first got into music and what was the first instrument you played?
I learned piano as a child but didn't appreciate Classical music at the time; ironic that I've now recorded an album with baroque harpsichord on it! My primary instrument is guitar.
You're making Psychedelic/Acid Folk music sounding like it is coming straight from the North of UK back in the early 1970s. The atmosphere on the album is truly stunning. I experienced it only on a very rare occasions in the current music scene. What influenced you when you were becoming a musician and how did it evolved?
When you travel with your mind you can go anywhere you want. I'm always dreaming of living in some delicate utopia instead of on the Northwest side of Chicago so maybe my songwriting is a vehicle that helps me get there. I've always loved Psychedelic music and for me I think the evolution into Acid Folk was the natural course.
Were you part of any music projects before your solo release?
I've played in a number of short-lived projects but nothing that really stuck. I formed my own band which included some of the musicians who played on Day Of Light, but we broke up in 2009.
What are the circumstances behind making your 'Day Of Light' accompanied by single "Worshipping The Sun"?
I guess I just felt inspired and decided to finally record a proper album. The plan was to record it in a week, which in retrospect was pretty naïve considering the project took nearly four years to complete! I think I did some growing up during that time and as a result my songwriting and tastes matured as well.
Can you tell us more about the collaboration with Of Wondrous Legends who were a group of musicians that recorded some very interesting material which wasn't released in its own time. Locust Records made a proper release back in 2008. (One of our favourite and we definitely recommend to check them out)
A friend of mine put me in touch with Al when I was looking for a vibes guy and Al later put me in touch with Stephen to discuss the possibility of doing the album art. Stephen and I first sat down for coffee at the Heartland Café on the north side of Chicago and had a lovely time. He's a very busy and prolific artist but he believed in the project and agreed to do the artwork. He later added 12-string guitar on "Voyage Of The Crystal Bird" and "Forest Path". It was an honor working with Stephen and Al and it saddens me that we live in a world where a masterpiece like O.W.L. can go undiscovered for so many years while so much rubbish gets released every day.
The songwriting is really well arranged, but what really stood out is the utopian atmosphere.
On one hand, a painstaking amount of thought went into creating the atmosphere of the album; the instrumentation, track sequence, vocal style, use of effects, mixing, consistency of lyrics, adding a reprise on side B, ...
My favorite kinds of records are those that are highly consistent and propel the listener's imagination into a magical far away land - the ones where upon each listen you joyfully and effortlessly slip into the world the artist created - the ones that allow you to daydream on a rainy summer day while drinking a cup of mushroom tea! On the other hand, I was just focusing on building the songs from the ground up to make them sound as good as possible so maybe it's a few teaspoons hard work and a teaspoon of luck?
Where was it recorded?
Drums and electric instruments were recorded at a warehouse/studio on the Northwest side of Chicago. A good portion of the vocals, mandolin, acoustic guitar and sitar were tracked at Mike Novak's apartment - my friend who engineered the record. Mellotron and electric harpsichord were recorded at two separate locations.
What's the process behind your songwriting?
I'm always jotting down thoughts and ideas so that I have a palette to choose from when I get stumped or I need something to spark my imagination. I usually just come up with some small idea, guitar part or set of words and try to elaborate. For me it's important to pause, close my eyes and try to envision myself in the song.
Stephen Titra of Of Wondrous Legends made artwork. I think it's quite incredible and really captures the whole concept of the album and also I have to mention that the packaging is outstanding.
It makes me very happy people are noticing the effort that went into the packaging - being a record collector I'm fairly old-fashioned so I wanted the whole package to have a vintage feel. To me such details as a paste-on sleeve, shrink wrap, black-only vinyl and lyrics printed inside the gatefold were essential. I even designed the labels specifically to have a very private press feel!
Stephen's a professional and conjured up a sublime image of what he was hearing in the songs. A friend of mine told me if there was an award for album art, this would win - haha, I think he's right!
Do you have any new material you're working on?
I have more songs written and I'd like to record a follow-up at some point - hopefully this time it won't take four years!
Last word is yours.
Thank you for taking the time to interview me, I'm a big fan of It's Psychedelic Baby Magazine.
Interview by Klemen Breznikar/2016
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