Los Angeles-based guitarist/keyboardist Jairo Estrada is a man of many talents. His new project Death Of An Astronomer takes his knack for songwriting and fuses it with elements of progressive and experimental music, and to show us just how it’s done, he’s released his first-ever song and playthrough under this project entitled “Digital Conversation”. Check it and prog out, only right here, on Gear Gods!
If you’re a progressive rock or metal fan in any capacity, you’re gonna dig this tune. In classic prog fashion, it’s got a little bit of everything; from open, clean sections to melodic soloing and angular chord changes. It’s definitely a track that’s worth multiple listens, as you’ll get something new and fresh out of it with every pass.
In addition to the playthrough, check out the Q&A Estrada did below, where he talks about the creative process behind the song, the gear used, and what the future holds for Death Of An Astronaut! Lastly, be sure to follow his project on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, and download “Digital Conversation” on his Bandcamp.
“Digital Conversation” is your first song with Death of an Astronomer ever. What was it like working on it? Where did you find inspiration for this one?
Working on this song was amazing. It was the first time writing a song for myself in this context. I’ve written songs alone in the past but this was the first time that I felt I was writing something that was more unique to me. I reworked some of the riffs and cut out or shortened certain sections to fit the song more overall. I was very objective with myself that allowed for a lot of experimentation and finding my own voice within this style of music.
I found inspiration just by playing the main verse riff over and over. That was the first section of the song that I wrote and I fell in love with the way it sounded and how it made me feel that I wanted it to play a big role in this track rather than just be a cool riff that doesn’t repeat at all.
What was the creative process like? Give us some theory about what it takes to write and arrange this piece.
I loved the creative process for this song. I found that I wanted to combine technical and simple ideas and come up with something that felt more like me personally. Once I had the main verse riff down as I just mentioned, I began messing with some other ideas that complimented the melody and didn’t sound like a different song, keep the main idea under the surface. I didn’t want to write anything heavy if the song didn’t call for it but I while I was playing guitar and wondering what to write, the heavy riffs that made it in the song just felt like they felt so I expanded on them and they helped push the song into a whole new realm that I wasn’t thinking about when I first began writing this song. As far as the arrangement goes, I could hear this song sort of moving in a direction where it would slowly progress into something heavy which is why I think the breakdown at the end hits so hard. I added some dissonance to it which made me headbang and then I came up with the tapping part on top of that which made me grind my teeth in excitement. I think for me, once I reach a point where I’m smiling and feel overwhelmingly excited, I have found what makes this song so fun for me and where the song has been completed.
What gear did you use for recording? What was the signal chain?
For this song, I used my Ibanez Prestige S 5427 for all of the heavy rhythm parts and an Ibanez RG 7421 for the clean intro/ first verse section. Since I recorded this track as well as another track I recorded in two different places. I recorded all of the heavy rhythm guitar parts with my friend Ryan Williams. We basically went from the guitar to a DI and to his Kemper Profiler. It was so fun mess with different tones really narrow down something that would complement the song. For the other sections of the song I recorded in a full-on studio with my friend Ryan Johnston and we used a totally different setup. For guitar, we went straight into my Line 6 HD500 footswitch to my Orange Dual Terror Head to my Marshall 4X12 cab and into his studio console. For bass, we used an Ibanez Soundgear and into a Tech 21 Sansamp Programmable Bass Driver DI which gave it some more growl and helped it stand out next to the guitar tones. I have only played bass a few times but I got to really dig into it and figure out what fits best alongside the guitar riffs which was both challenging and very fun. Drums we programmed using Logic Pro X and set the velocities accordingly. I know it may sound like we used Superior Drummer or any other drum programming software but we used what we had and I feel like it came out best for this song.
What comes next for DOOA?
Next, I plan on releasing another single which was recorded at the same time as ‘Digital Conversation’ which I am very excited about. After that, I have a couple of songs that I have been working that I will be recording which I may put out as an EP or full length sometime next year. Playing shows and touring are definitely on the horizon and I can’t wait to bring the songs to the stage in cities everywhere. So, if you enjoy “Digital Conversation” you will be sing Death Of An Astronomer in a city near you very soon.