Train Conductor Releases Aqueous and Poignant Heartbreak-Ballad ‘Light (underwater volcano)’
Train Conductor plays with psychedelic instrumentation and noise to create multidimensional music.
Their acoustic riffs juxtapose otherworldly melodies and ethereal vocals while the bass and drums echo from another dimension and also deep in your chest. The group has shared the stage with OSees and is currently a dynamo in their city’s psychedelic scene.
Train Conductor is a 6-piece band hailing from Albuquerque, NM, and includes members Rayna Torres, Cati Ambriz, Eric Lisausky, Austin Morrell, Nolan Seidler, and Will Byrne. In this single, Cati Ambriz takes on the mains vocals, while Will Byrne sets the synths into motion. Grammy Award-winning Marc Whitmore can also be heard in ‘Light (underwater volcano)’ on drums and piano. ‘Light (underwater volcano)’ is a single from the Train Conductor’s ethereal EP Geodesic, which will be released this coming June.
The kaleidoscopic single has a classic minimalist sound and was recorded in the desert with solar power.
The synths and percussion lay down the foundation for Will Byrne’s atmospheric first line; ““the sound ripples through space and time”. Cati Ambriz answers wistfully; “When the pressure is building and I don’t know what to say. The way the words just seem to bubble under the surface and anyway.”
The laid-back tempo and heavy emphasis on the two give us the sense that they are trundling through a relationship. But the underlying bed of synthesizers and gentle moving lines hint that they are still each other’s amour.
The piano has an exchange with the vocalist, echoing and responding to her distress. As things build and burn, bust and break, the two try to separate from one another. Eventually, we arrive at an emotional conclusion: “I’ll always be in your dreams”.
Ambriz’s lyrics and vocals are saturated with raw emotion, leaving us to contemplate what we should do when we’re stuck just beneath the water’s surface, or one decision away from it all falling apart. The dream pop single comes to a close as trumpets and synths surround us sonically; marking the end of a relationship and the song.
‘Light (underwater volcano)’ is a romantic heartbreaker of a song. One of the goals of this track was to bring in other talented musicians from the Albuquerque area and showcase their talents in a dream-pop collaboration. This aqueous toned was written by Will Byrne, Train Conductor brainchild, and incorporated lead singer Cati Ambriz. The female voice takes you on a lyrical journey along the sequence of events that lead up to a relationship’s demise and subsequent heartbreak. The soft synths, reverb, and chorus create a unique tone that makes the listener feel like they are underwater. The title was created before the lyrics were even written, and inspired by the deep resonating synth and dreamy beat. With only a title, Cati the singer and lyricist was free to translate the tone of the instrumental into her words. The instrumental follows the feeling behind the lyrics and the lyrics follow the instrumental, creating an extraordinary conversation”.
‘Light (underwater volcano)’ has a fitting release date of Valentine’s day and is one of 11 songs from Train Conductor’s newest album ‘Geodesic’. The ‘Geodesic’ vinyl record release is scheduled for June 16th, 2023, and will be followed up with a tour. The recent success of the band makes the band want to keep going.
“I am continuously inspired by nature”
You mentioned that you came up with the title before the song itself. What inspired you to choose the title in the first place? Is the relationship itself here an underwater volcano? What are the implications of this?
Will Byrne: The Hunga Tonga volcano erupted in January of 2022. Scientists say the eruption’s sound waves circled the globe. I felt inspired enough to set the tone of the song with the imagery associated with it. I thought it would be a good idea to set aqueous tones with synthesizers within a song. By setting this tone, it could allow other musicians to easily build upon. Once the lyrics were added by Cati Ambriz the volcano became a metaphor for a relationship that was ending.
Will, can you tell a little bit more about the meaning behind the art for this single and how you made it?
The image in my head was a human figure from a geology textbook with volcanoes all around, some rendering of prehistoric times. I experimented with drawing volcanoes and how dramatic volcanoes seem. I then became very interested in inserting the subtle drama of a bubbling volcano into a human figure and realizing the metaphor of the song into a visualization. All the emotions you feel during a breakup can bubble up like an explosion. The volcano is like a window into the human figure, which light illuminates the volcanic emotions. When you go through a breakup you have to really look inside yourself and understand what you see. How do you weigh your emotions in this type of situation? When it comes down to it you really have to dig down deep inside and balance the risks of all the impacts the breakup will have.
Why did you decide to release a song about heartbreak on Valentine’s day?
Valentine’s day is a ridiculous holiday and it can make people feel alone. This is an anti Valentine’s Day song.
What are your favorite modes, sounds, and time signatures that you like to use in your songwriting and why?
I don’t particularly have a favorite “anything” in music. The formula is to not have a formula. Whatever sounds good together will work for me. I am inspired by everyday sounds such as kitchen noises, furnace noises, children’s toys, everyday sounds that you hear. I focus a lot on approach and attack. The way the vocals are first introduced into a song can really make or break the song.
You mentioned going on tour on the West coast. Can you tell us more about that?
We are currently planning out a tour to the west coast and back to support ‘Geodesic’ that will be released in mid June. ‘Geodesic’ vinyl will arrive from Third Man Pressing in June. We will have a tour kick off at the local live music venue Sister Bar June 16th.
What was your first Train Conductor gig like?
Embarrassing now that I look back at it. Train Conductor was originally a side project from my much larger band at the time. It was at a house party and it was just me playing a few songs I wrote on an acoustic guitar and ended with a noisy ending of me just bending the hell out of my guitar strings. It’s embarrassing because I think back to the audience and the high places they have gone.
In your bio you say your group is where “nature meets noise”. How does nature influence your art?
I am continuously inspired by nature. That is one of the reasons why I live where I live. The album ‘Geodesic’ has song titles ‘Wind Part I,’ ‘II’ and ‘III’ which are improvised psychedelic compositions inspired by the likes of Miles Davis, Frank Zappa and the wind that we were feeling out in the desert. We used nature to record the album and you can hear the actual wind at the beginning of the album and in ‘Wind Part III’. Solar panels provided all of the energy we needed to perform and record the album live using a limited setup.
Can you give us a sneak peek of what to expect in your album ‘Geodesic’?
I would like to think that the record is a timeless piece of art and a throwback record from the 70s but that will be up to the listener to decide. The album was recorded live in a field so it has energy that you normally cannot obtain from recording in a studio. ‘Geodesic’ is a mix of the old Train Conductor sound and a new sound. Lots of folks have been saying that the new sound gives off a Velvet Underground vibe, which has been interesting to hear. What you get out of music can differ so greatly from one person to the next.