Photo taken at The Magic Happens Here
This week's featured artist is Randal Prater, a multi-instrumentalist who plays dreamy and cinematic indie pop in both RL and SL. You may also know him as Linus Radford, his original SL persona, as he's been a Resident for about 14 years! He just released a new album called Solo Seasons, so please check out his music on Spotify and YouTube.
Q: When/how did you hear about Second Life?
A: This would have been January of 2007. I had just finished being the frontman for The Pagan States, and before that, Creeping Myrtle. I was just starting to record my first solo album, 'Falling to Pisces.' I didn't want to fall into the rut of losing my live chops and get rusty while in the recording studio. So, I was looking for a way to play solo acoustic shows while also making progress on my new album since it would be the first time I'd be playing all the instruments myself instead of relying on bandmates.
My wife discovered an article about a virtual world where you could be yourself and be seen by only your pixels (an avatar). She saw that musicians were playing shows in there and that I should have a look. So, once I dove in and did my own research, I discovered that there were lots of singer-songwriters out there in the exact boat I was in, or at least in the same proverbial harbor. Juel Resistance (Suzen Juel) was the first artist I discovered and then it snowballed from there. My second album (Second Tuesday of Never) actually features a lot of other Second Life artists, including Suzen. Anyway, I started playing shows in SL and did so until 2010 when it became too painful to play guitar anymore. So, I reinvented myself as a part-time piano player just so I could keep writing and recording songs.
Q: What instruments do you play, and how did music come into your life?
A: Back when I had fewer physical limitations, I'd play whatever instrument in the studio that needed playing. I don't think I got proficient at any of them since I'm completely self-taught. But, I did a passable job on most things I tried. That said, it is quite painful to my ears and ego whenever I listen back to myself on drums or harmonica.
My origin story starts in the womb when my mom played nonstop early Beatles records for nine months. It was a foregone conclusion that I'd end up being some kind of musician or artist. When I was a little kid, I wanted to be George Harrison. Then once I got to high school, I wanted to be John Lennon. Unfortunately for myself and the whole world, that's when he was cruelly taken away from us. But, if there's one singer-songwriter that ever existed that sums up most of what I'm trying to say through my own songs, it's definitely John.
Q: How do you decide what visuals to go for in music videos, and how does the music inform it?
A: I love that question and already feel like my answer will fall short. But, here goes... This was the first album where I decided I wanted a video for every song and not just one or two. I did the videos by following the track order. So, track one was done first and the final track was done last. I think I got better at video editing by the end. Anyway, the one thread that tied the videos together was that each one had a cameo by one or more crows. Sometimes, it only lasts for a split second, so the viewer has to pay attention. I remember Alfred Hitchcock always made a similar cameo in his old films, and he had a film called The Birds. So, that's likely where I got my idea to tie it all together that way. Of course, it also helps that the final track is called 'Full Crow Moon.'
Q: Who are some cool musicians that you've discovered over the last year?
A: If you'd said the past decade, that would be much easier. I tend to stick with a songwriter for a while. So, if they come out with an album one year that speaks to me, chances are good that I'll also be interested in their fifth album. Since nothing I've discovered in the past twelve months rivals what I've discovered in the past five to ten years, I'll say that my favorite current singer-songwriter is Angus Stone, who mostly records and performs with his sister Julia. My favorite band is Doves. Their album The Universal Want is hands down my favorite from 2020. Since Wolf Alice is finally putting out a new album in 2021, I predict that will be my favorite for this year. Stay tuned. I'd be remiss in leaving out my dear friend, and sometime collaborator, Bruce Lash. He's got albums in both years and they're fab.
Q: Describe the creation of your album Solo Seasons and your creative vision for your music in general.
A: Thank you for specifically mentioning my latest album. It was my first one in six years, and the first one that I played all the parts myself, since the first solo record. This time everything was played on keys, even the drum parts, so it was easy to just write and record the whole thing by myself in the crypt (my basement studio). As with every solo album, the theme was dictated by the number. This was the fourth record, so ‘four seasons' seemed like a decent theme. That meant two songs for every season, eight in total. I just mapped it out like that. So, the first two songs on the album are about springtime and the final two tracks are about winter. I'm very methodical when it comes to details and making sure everything is in its proper place (even when usually I'm the only one who will notice).
Q: What is the most meaningful aspect of the SL music community to you?
A: While it's admittedly been a minute since I was playing shows myself, I'll say from a fan's perspective that it's a great world to be a part of. Especially during this era where most of us are spending even more time in the house than before, it's my current way of providing some semblance of normalcy to my weirdly wired brain. I can just walk around in SL and catch a show and be shoulder to shoulder with other concertgoers without wearing a mask or worrying about anything other than which show I am going to see when there are at least three good ones going during any given hour. So, it's easy to be grateful to the virtual world of Second Life and all the tireless work and creation of the music community, and all artists in general.
Thank you, Randal! If you or somebody you know would like to submit content for Music Mondays, please fill out this form.