British producer, Ben Frascina, has been tuning in ears with the beautiful atmospheric music he brings to life under the moniker Skylab 3. Influenced by a myriad of dynamic music pioneers from DJ Shadow to Massive Attack to Wu Tan Clan, he cultivates an eclectic and entrancing catalog that allows fans to transcend reality.
Frascina recently unleashed a new full-length album called A VIEW FROM ABOVE, via Babygrande Records. The project’s title track is the first single off the record and provides a perfect introduction to the sonic adventure in store for the rest of the album. Building off the orchestral, sensory-captivating style of his music, Frascina dreamed up a mesmerizing cinematic treatment for the “A View From Above” music video. As you follow the storyline the song serves as the soundtrack, enhancing the narrative and truly bringing the story to life. Watch Skylab 3’s “A View From Above” music video exclusively on BLACKBOOK, here: http://bbook.com/national/blackbook-premiere-gorgeous-neo-noir-skylab-3-video-for-a-view-from-above/
Skylab 3 comes from a musical family and was exposed to a great many kinds of music and instruments. Skylab 3 learned to play keyboards at the age of 9 and guitar at the age of 11. “I’ve always been compelled to create music and share it with others,” he states. His love for hip-hop beats played a huge part in the creation of the featured tracks on the A VIEW FROM ABOVE album.
Whether the album name refers to the feeling you get when looking at a landscape from a tall building, mountain, airplane, from outer space, whether it refers to being happy or even being in an altered state of mind as a result of drugs or other spiritual methods practiced by different cultures is up to the listener entirely. Frascina’s intent is to take the listener on a journey – a sonically dynamic escape from reality by getting lost in the spacey, atmospheric soundscapes that make up the album.
A VIEW FROM ABOVE was recorded in Sheffield, England and at Frascina’s home in Cardiff, Wales. He produced and engineered the album using his MacBook and a pair of KRK Rokit 5 monitors. The main DAW used was Logic 9, and many VST instruments, Plugins (for compression, effects, re-amping etc) and audio samples containing drum hits, vocals, various sound effects and speech, which he used in tracks on the album. In addition, the album was mastered by Daddy Kev at Cosmic Zoo.
Learn more about Skylab 3 in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time! How’s 2016 been treating you? What were some of the highlights of 2015 for you and your music?
Thanks for your time too! 2016 has been great so far, I’ve recently got back from visiting New York City for the first time and I’ve just been preparing things for my album release since, so I’ve been pretty busy. I spent most of 2015 finishing up the final parts of my album, but I’d have to say a massive musical highlight was being given the opportunity to release the remix for Cannibal Ox’s ‘Iron Rose’ (featuring DOOM) as a bonus track on their latest album. In general, everything’s cool in my personal life so I enjoyed 2015 and now I’m excited to see what this year brings!
Growing up, did you always want to work in music? Can you recall your earliest musical memory?
Yes, although I’ve always been into sports like football and skateboarding from a very young age, music has been the most consistent interest I’ve had, which I’ve always wanted to be involved with. Since getting my first keyboard at around the age of 9, then moving onto guitar and then experimenting with music production, I haven’t really wanted to do anything else or found anything I enjoy as much. My memory is a little blurry, but my earliest musical memory is either listening to my Dad’s music he created when I was young, or listening to songs in the car on family holidays as a child.
How did you come up with your name? Why not just go by your real name?
The name I was using before I decided on ‘Skylab 3’ was already the title of an EP by another band, so I wanted to change it for some originality. ‘Skylab 3’ is a reference to the UFO sightings during the 1973, manned mission to the space station, Skylab. I loved the element of mystery, I’m fascinated by space and science, and it feels to me like it fits my music really well. I personally felt that it’d be more interesting to use an alias rather than go by my real name, and that it’d bring an element of fiction to the music. Also, my surname ‘Frascina’ tends to be mispronounced a lot, so I thought ‘Skylab 3’ would be easier!
Next month, you will release “A View From Above.” How is this music different and similar to other things you’ve released?
The tracks from ‘A View From Above’ tend to be quite similar to music that I’ve done in the past in terms of their atmosphere, instrumentation and general sound, however I feel that the production value is different to anything I’ve done in the past. I used a bunch of new VST’s, plug-ins, did research on various production techniques and combined all of this to experiment and really take my time to come up with a whole album’s worth of music. When I listen to it back, there are some sounds I’d probably tweak a little, and inevitably there are other producers who will pick things out that they’d change, but for me this album felt like a personal step forward both as a composer and producer, so I’m really happy with it! Tracks that I’ve made in the past have tended to be a lot longer, more progressive and experimental in terms of their overall structure, but with ‘A View From Above’ I constantly had loads of ideas floating around so some of the tracks are relatively short, but there’s a lot of variation in there.
Where do you get the inspiration for your music? Is that constantly changing?
Rather than specifically writing about life experiences, I tend to get inspiration unexpectedly when I’m outside walking around, watching films, drifting off to sleep and often when listening to other music. Usually I’ll come up with a sound, beat or idea in my head and then hopefully keep it there until I manage to get to my laptop and make it a reality! On the other hand, sometimes I’ll try to sit down and build a track from scratch, which often goes totally wrong and takes a number of attempts until something good starts to happen. Overall, I’m inspired by anything, whether it’s a film, person, picture or sound that interests me, makes me wonder, summons some kind of emotion and motivates me to create something.
Can you talk about recording this newest collection?
Most of ‘A View From Above’ was recorded in a spare room in Sheffield, England, and the remainder was recorded in my childhood bedroom in my home in Cardiff, Wales. I wrote and produced the entire album using my Macbook, a pair of KRK Rokits and a load of software synthesizers and plug-ins. Most of the album was created during the autumn/winter period, so I spent a lot of time hidden away in my rather isolated and dark makeshift studio, experimenting with sounds, trying to create an atmosphere and generally enjoying the process of seeing the album slowly come together. I have a huge library of drum samples and I like to synthesize a lot of my own sounds, so the writing process was really a case of playing around with these elements until the music started to come to life and then build from there. If a track I was creating didn’t really make me feel anything I’d just leave it alone and start a new one instead, therefore all of the tracks that made it to the album are ones that I took a shine to.
Who are some of your favorite artists? What artists have continued to inspire you and your music?
At the moment I’m listening to a lot of music by artists such as A Tribe Called Quest, Massive Attack, Flying Lotus, The Herbaliser, Nas, Shpongle, Dreadzone and Burial, so there’s really quite a mixture with influences and inspiration coming in from all angles! I’m a huge fan of artists who incorporate visual elements with their music, for example Amon Tobin’s ‘ISAM’ show. In addition to the aforementioned artists and musicians, I’m inspired by anyone who creates music that’s unique, interesting and that I can make a connection to.
What advice would you give to a musician/producer just getting started?
I’m still very new to the whole thing, so I don’t have much advice to give at this point really! It’s all very exciting and I’ve already realised that there’s a lot to learn along the way. Make music that you love, have fun, be honest, don’t worry of it’s taking you a while to come up with new material, experiment and learn from others.
What do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope listeners take away from your songs?
Many of the song names are quite vague and indirect, so I’m happy for listeners to interpret the music however they like, see how it makes them feel and come to their own conclusions.
Overall, the album ‘A View From Above’ is what I consider to be an atmospheric, sonic representation of my thoughts, memories and ideas. I’d love it if the album could take the listener on a journey and I’d take great satisfaction just from knowing that people are enjoying listening to my music!