Cazz VI is the side project of Kansas Bible Company lead singer Jake Miller. “Psychedelic Seasons” was released on Hotel Records June 21. The EP is the product of organic collaboration, as over 20 musicians worked to create the four-track release.
Miller got the notion to write a book of poetry while jogging through the Shelby Greenway in January 2016. By spring, the project had shifted from poems to songs. The spirit of the endeavor was rooted in documenting subtle changes and varying moods we encounter from season to season.
“I thought it’d be fun to just rip off the idea of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons,” Miller said.” I wrote much of Day Witch running around Edwin Warner Park in March. As a runner I frequent different parks and am able to see how the nature changes season to season. I wanted to represent that.”
Each of the four songs started with an acoustic guitar, developing slowly and naturally over the course of each season.
The EP’s second track “Strawberry Moon,” sounds like a folk song from a bygone era. Ambient noises of crickets compliment collaborator Jordan Reynolds’ voice.
“You sing this soft sweet tune of happenstance and lost romance, by the light of the strawberry moon,” Reynolds sings.
About a minute in, though, the song takes a heavy sonic turn. What at first sounded like a Carter Family campfire sing-a-long abruptly turns into a sludgy rock number. Warped sounds of radio static blend with heavy guitar riffs beckoning a frenetic change in pace. Suddenly the song’s lyrics detailing heartbreak go from heartfelt to sinister.
Roots influences make for lush and ethereal soundscapes that conjure the warmth of spring and summer. Frantic guitar riffs and warped soundscapes jilt listeners, much like the first frost in December. When all the leaves have fallen, overcast skies magnifying piles of leaves in varying stages of decay.
All four tracks came together naturally in their due time, Miller said.
“I always started the same way with an acoustic guitar and a tape machine and then added players in one by one,” Miller said. “Songs would slowly blossom until they were complete. At times I’d have to wait to get someone in the studio other times it’d come together very quickly.”
“Indian Summer,” begins with drum machine percussion and quickly blends soothing acoustic guitar. Layers of saxophone, percussion and vocal harmonies blend to create a soundscape reminiscent of traditional Latin or Caribbean music. The song’s transcendent sound seems to signify the passing of time.
“We sit on the steps of the cemetery lost in memory of how things used to be,” Miller sings.
Read an interview with Miller about “Psychedelic Seasons” below.
How important is the power of collaboration for you? When did you get the idea for this project?
Collaboration is one of my favorite approaches to making music. I’ve always played in large bands and I think one of my greatest strengths is being able to organize lots of ideas into a cohesive song. It’s really fun to be able to have other people to bounce ideas off of. For this project I didn’t have specific instrument parts written or worked out. A lot of the players were able to add their style by creating their part. I’d say that all of them are better musicians than me so they can play much better parts. Better than I ever could. Sometimes I’d give some direction but it was mostly their vision. Overall I worked with 20 other musicians. It was very inspiring. Everyone was so much fun to work with. A real treat.
I came up with this idea when I was running on the Shelby Greenway in January 2016. I thought it would be cool to create a short book of poetry about running in different seasons. As spring came it shifted to music and I thought it’d be fun to just rip off the idea of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. I wrote much of Day Witch running around Edwin Warner Park in March. As a runner I frequent different parks and am able to see how the nature changes season to season. I wanted to represent that.
Most of the writing process was organic. I gave myself several months for each song to come together, in its season. There wasn’t really any rush. Like seasons tend to flow. There is never any rush through spring or summer. It all happens when it needs to happen. I really enjoyed having the time and space to craft each piece. For the first song I tapped Twiggs on the shoulder and Joe and Abbey helped me finish writing that one. They were great to work with. Once I had completed each song it became more organized and sequential in the recording process. I always started the same way with an acoustic guitar and a tape machine and then added players in one by one. Songs would slowly blossom until they were complete. At times I’d have to wait to get someone in the studio other times it’d come together very quickly. For Turned On Winter I was able to get the whole group for that song in a studio and we tracked it all in one night last December. I was still finishing up some of Strawberry Moon this February. As far as knowing when they were done, I just knew. As when you can just tell when summer is over and fall has arrived.
This was an outlet from Kansas Bible Company in several ways. There was less collaboration upfront. I was solely in control of song content and structure. I still called on a lot of the KBC boys to play on the record and add their flair here and there. They’re my homies. Another difference was that there wasn’t as much pressure. There was not outlet, no live performance to worry about. I could just focus on creating and manifesting the weird vision I had. They only timeline I had was my own.