Silas & Saski | Interview

February 6, 2021

Silas & Saski | Interview

Silas & Saski are uniting in collaboration to create a songful blend of transcendental harmony and innocent beauty, merging to form a new super breed of ethereal space music.

Silas Neptune is a unique and accomplished musician, widely known for his role as synth player for the cult indie band Ozric Tentacles. His solo album ‘The Scales of Tahuti’, further showcases his seamless and evocative sense for melodies and harmony. With a range of instruments at his fingertips including synth, guitar, Turkish saz and bass, Silas experiments with soundscapes that open windows of imaginative perception.

Saskia Maxwell is a singer, guitarist, flutist and dancer. With a voice of haunting beauty she tells timeless stories that explore truth and revelation, gently provoking us to look into our own selves and question the universe around us. Saskia was born into a musical family and grew up through a world of folk. She has toured extensively across the UK performing hundreds of solo acoustic gigs and was classically trained on guitar and flute from a young age.

‘Power of Three’, released by Erpsongs label, is a myriad of sonic blasts. The EP features members from the early days of Ozric Tentacles, including the founder Ed Wynne with a guitar solo of epic scope, Tom Brooks making EMS Synthi bubbles and percussion from Paul Hankin. Together they enter unknown musical territory by fusing aspects of electronic music, folk, space rock, ethnic, psychedelic and traces of metal.

“Music can be quite mischievous in its nature”

How did you two meet and what led to the ‘Power of Three’?

Saski: Well, I discovered Silas’s solo music by complete chance early in 2018. I came across a video of him performing his glitchy guitar solo on ‘Aqualight’, I remember thinking “what the hell is this music?!” Then I listened to his solo album ‘Scales of Tahuti’ and was blown away, I hadn’t heard anything quite like it before. At this time I was recording with a producer in Cornwall called John Cornfield, I contacted Silas and asked him if he would record synth on some of my solo tracks, Silas replied “yes, but I am in the Himalayas at the moment, I will when I get back home to my studio in Colorado!”

Silas: So we didn’t meet on the physical plane first, we encountered each other in the musical realms. I got to know Saskia by exploring her music. Our communication was almost entirely musical and we could tell a lot about each other through our creations, we recognised each other’s sonic signature.

‘Power of Three’ came about when ‘Magic of Words’ multiplied itself into three songs. It kind of spilled over into a harmonic plateau which became the setting for the next two songs. This “spilling over” became a theme which happens quite often these days. It’s like finding a little doorway at the end of a song that’s slightly open, we can hardly resist pushing it wide and walking through to see what’s on the other side.


How do you usually approach music making?

Silas: We don’t, it approaches us… Well, on a good day anyway, other times we go chasing after it as it disappears around a corner, running to keep up as it leads us to a place we’ve never been before… Music can be quite mischievous in its nature, but it also listens to us just as we listen to it. When we’re lucky enough for music to come to us, it seems to just guide things into place for as long as we stay receptive… It’s important to form a good relationship with Music, we give ourselves to it and it gives itself to us.

Saski: In slightly more normal terms, it happens in all sorts of ways. Sometimes I start a song on guitar and voice, then Silas comes along and adds synth, guitars and puts all kinds of layers around me. Other times the songs start with Silas, he might write a synth sequence and a bass line or whatever comes to him and then my vocals are inspired by his ideas. Sometimes Silas’s synth lines turn into vocal melodies and they are rather unusual to sing!

Can you share some further details of how your latest album ‘Power of Three’ was recorded?

Silas: It just kept growing and developing until we realised it wanted to be three songs. It was originally going to be the opening for the full album, but really it’s a self contained journey in itself so we separated it off from the rest. The music began before we had met, we were sending recordings back and forth across the ocean while I was in Colorado and Saskia was in Cornwall, ‘Magic of Words’ was one of the first songs we worked on together.

How are you coping with the current world situation? What are some future plans?

Silas: We’re pretty much staying in hibernation mode i.e. in the studio. Using the time to go deep and explore the inner realms rather than the outer. We’ll be doing the odd stream here and there to get our performance fix. Beyond that waiting for things to go back to some kind of normality, our tour is currently being pushed back again and again, we’re now looking at the end of 2021. It’s the first year I’ve spent without playing a gig since I was 17!

Saski: It’s all a bit weird really, but considering the circumstances we are actually doing pretty well. It’s a great excuse to hide away and work on new releases with less distractions. It’s a shame to not be able to perform live, but fortunately there’s plenty of other fun stuff to be getting on with from home. Future plans include pulling a live band together, more live streams and releasing our debut album ‘Entertaining Possibilities’.

“Music is behind the concept”

Is there a certain concept behind your music?

Silas: At least for me, it’s more like the music is behind the concept. After working a while with a track it starts suggesting ideas and forms which may then become a kind of concept, but it’s also fairly malleable and subject to change. For Saskia perhaps it’s the other way around as she works more with words than I do?

Saski: Yeah, quite often the words inspire the music I play, but it can work both ways. I like singing about nature, mystical experience and the beauty that is all around us, also about silly things that don’t make an awful lot of sense. I just hope our music has an uplifting and positive effect on people.

Three original members of Ozric Tentacles played on the record (Ed Wynne, Paul Hankin & Tom Bubs). How was it to work with them on your own project? How much do you think they influenced the sound?

Silas: These guys are family anyway and they know exactly what is required. Ed is a master at what he does and I was quite astonished at the solo he recorded for us! We had fun visiting Tom and Paul, they’re always full of amusing stories about the old Ozric days… Getting friends and family involved is always a joy, their characters become part of the music and they influence where the tracks go from there. I especially love bringing people in who I have a connection with because there is a magic which works on beyond the sound.

Saskia, you toured extensively across the UK performing hundreds of solo acoustic gigs. Did you release any solo albums as well?

Saski: I released 3 EP’s, one called ‘LIES’ when I was 15 years old, another called ‘Feel It Too’ when I was 17 and one called ‘Dancing with the Night’ at 20. However, I recently decided to not make them available to the public anymore because I’m not happy enough with them, my music has changed a lot since and I’ve also grown up a fair bit. I’m currently working on a full length solo album and I am very happy with where it’s going and I look forward to sharing it when it is ready.

Silas, you’re a synth player for the legendary Ozric Tentacles and you have a brand new album out, ‘Space for the Earth’. What’s the story behind it?

Silas: Well first off quarantine came along locking us all up in our studios and it happened to be about time for a new Ozric album. With the outer world coming to a standstill it was like the Earth was given some space to rejuvenate and heal itself, hence the title ‘Space for the Earth’. Humanity was having a crisis while the planet took a deep breath and relaxed. Not to mention we spend most of our days pouring space music into the earth… It was an unusual recording process with the band scattered around the planet and everyone stuck in place, we ended up throwing the tracks back and forth a lot, pinging them off the odd satellite here and there.

How about your solo album, ‘The Scales of Tahuti’?

This album was my first real endeavour outside of Ozric Tentacles and the tracks were in essence the discovery of myself as the musician that I am. I was working on this behind the scenes whilst touring and recording with the band, my spare time was spent fully immersing myself in this music. I was exploring and learning through creation, as I will hopefully be doing with every piece I work on, forever learning… I was going through an Egyptian phase at the time and was reading a book by my great grandmother called ‘Winged Pharaoh’, I learned many things from that book and it inspired me deeply.

You can hear its influence especially in the opening track ‘Feathers of Ma’at’. Tahuti was the ancient name of the god Thoth who was the keeper of the akashic records, the one who keeps an eye over the balance of all things and writes it down as cosmic memory. I saw a transformative power in the symbol of the scales and wanted to encapsulate my album in this symbol. I also just so happened to have used a plethora of “scales” throughout these musical journeys!

Let’s end this interview with some of your favourite albums. Have you found something new lately you would like to recommend to our readers

Cocteau Twins – ‘Treasure’ (or any other Cocteau album!)
Killing Joke – ‘Pandemonium’
John Martyn – ‘Solid Air’
Divna Ljubojevic – ‘Doxology’
Pentangle – ‘Basket of Light’
Dead Can Dance – ‘Toward The Within’
Azam Ali – ‘Portals of Grace’

Something new: I recently discovered an album called ‘Songs from the Victorious City’ by Anne Dudley and Jaz Coleman (Killing Joke). I love music from the middle East and this certainly has an interesting flavour and something different about it. You can hear Jaz Coleman in the driving low end on some of the tracks.

Tomita – ‘Snowflakes are Dancing’
Jon Hassel – ‘Powerspot’
Baligh Hamdi & Magid Khan – ‘Indo-Arabic Variations’
Caravan – ‘In The Land of Grey and Pink’
The Beatles – ‘Magical Mystery Tour’
Nodens Ictus – ‘Spacelines’
The Gladiators – ‘Dreadlocks the Time is Now’

Something new: Sometimes you just feel like being hit in the face by music, well ‘Arachnid’ by Circuit Bent does just that. For those who want to know what it would be like to have their consciousness transplanted into a giant robot who’s waking up after a long sleep.

Klemen Breznikar

Silas & Saski Official Website / Facebook / Instagram / Twitter / Bandcamp / YouTube / SoundCloud

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