Read an interview and preview exclusive tracks from Travelers composer Adam Lastiwka’s all new electronic album Come Back to Earth With Me.
Television composer Adam Lastiwka has scored over 500 episodes of television. Best known for his work on Netflix’s Travelers and the Emmy-nominated CBS series Interrupt this Program, Lastiwka has also worked on a variety of series on History, Discovery, Syfy, NatGeo, and more.
Now, Adam Lastiwka is releasing an all-new electronic, science fiction-inspired album, titled Come Back to Earth With Me. The 13-track album will be released on Monday, October 1, 2018.
Listen to the three exclusive tracks “Fatty Patty,” “I’m Dopplin'” and the titular “Come Back to Earth With Me” below:
Come Back to Earth With Me is an electronic album developed around a romantic, science-fiction adventure narrative, inviting the listener on a journey of their own design.
“There is obviously massive room for listener interpretation in this, and my intent when I’m creating it may never actually be known to them,” Lastiwka tells Hypable. “But it’s like in mythology: to understand the story you have to see yourself as the hero. The experience of your own life projected on that can change your interpretation of the intended meaning, but subjectively experiencing it that way is how you get absorbed into it.”
Listening to Come Back to Earth With Me is an act of what Lastiwka calls “purposeful listening,” where audiences are inspired by the movements of the music and the implied narrative arc to pay attention from start to finish.
“When was the last time you sat down and listened to a full album start to finish without being distracted by another activity?” asks Lastiwka. “I think modern projects of this scale are becoming few and far between, because there just isn’t a demand for it. It takes practice to learn how to listen, and what to listen for, and it’s something I see fewer and fewer people trained to do, so we are losing the richness of that experience.”
The album has been a year in the making, inspired by Lastiwka’s decision to take a break from social media, which in his experience had started to affect his energy levels and ability to focus.
“When there are thousands of things in a day we are inundated by that are intended to distract us; feed us just a tiny bit of easily digestible garbage, then spew it out for the next thing, how can we be expected to add any depth and enrichment to our experience?” says Lastiwka. “It forms a habit of thinking things of depth aren’t worth exploring, because it will take too much time.”
Come Back to Earth With Me is released October 1, 2018. Read on for our full exclusive interview with composer Adam Lastiwka:
Interview: Adam Lastiwka talks ‘Come Back to Earth With Me’ with Hypable
Hypable: What inspired you to begin working on this album?
Adam Lastiwka: Scoring for television is such a different creative process than anything else. You’re always working on a tight turnaround and towards a collaborative, creative vision, so there isn’t always time to regenerate or explore tangential paths.
Whenever I’m in between projects or have spare time, working on these somewhat liberal (or maybe just bigger concept) projects like this can fire up parts of my creative brain that sometimes have to go dormant in order to stay on schedule.
I use these projects as growth exploration and technical experimentation to see how far I can push myself. With each one I learn something very valuable that I can take back to my scoring work. It’s a bit insane to do between everything, but I also feel like I’d go a bit insane if I didn’t do them.
I understand that taking a social media break was what enabled you to dive fully into this creative project. Do you find being on social media hinders your creativity, or creativity in general?
I think it does. […] Most of what is online is just a fractured version of the full experience, and you really have to take your time in absorbing these things. By withdrawing from all of this I think it enabled me to look inward with more focus and energy and create something around a scale that I think is important to preserve.
I would regularly upload short videos and ideas that I was playing around with to Instagram or wherever, and it got me in a habit of just letting the idea go there to die. I wouldn’t really let it simmer and develop into a full idea worth recording.
Since cutting that off, I believe, to use an analogy, I went from writing a thousand emails, to writing a novel. I ended up finishing three full albums in a fairly short span in between writing for quite a few different TV shows. The energy drain from social media and the internet feels like a real thing.
How is the process of working on an independent project like this different from your work scoring TV shows?
The first challenge is finding a concept and building yourself some constraints and barriers so you’re not just reaching at anything. This is sort of implicitly done on a TV series already, so creating your own constraints can prove to be a bit of a challenge.
I’m definitely able to be far more open-ended on these explorations, which is both enjoyable and necessary at the beginning of a project, but the concept has to kick in at a certain point so you can focus enough to actually finish it.
Having more time to delve into each element of the musical process feels like a real luxury. It can for sure also become an existential burden as well as what an artist faces when they are creating a project from “nothing” and having “all the time” to do it is fairly crippling.
Could you explain the concept of an “adventure narrative”? What is the adventure that you take your listeners on with this album?
Instrumental music is a very different experience than vocal music. Your ear and mind work in a different way that is more abstract, emotional, and internalized. With electronic music it’s very easy to get caught up in the production and the energy of the music and forget what makes a piece interesting, which is the feeling that there is a narrative, purpose, or meaning behind the music. When you’re not using words to literally explain a story, you have to get creative in how you want to convey it.
I feel like instrumental music can get the short end of the attention stick as the average listener will just let it float into the environmental noise. This album [Come Back to Earth with Me] is really a single-minded, focused listening experience. If it’s on in the background it may be too much and get annoying, or just distract you from what you’re trying to focus on.
Did you have a particular narrative in mind when you were working on this, or do you leave that up to the listener’s interpretation?
I definitely worked on most of these pieces with a bit of a “story” in mind as well as an overarching framework. I wanted the whole thing to have a science/science fiction narrative, meaning there is some outer space, fantasy stuff going on, but a few pieces about more real stories.
As an example, the single entitled “Semmelweisin” was built around the story of Ignaz Semmelweis who discovered antiseptic procedures and tried to turn the discourse of the day to easily prevent mothers from dying of infections during childbirth, but I guess he didn’t really follow the strict scientific rigor at the time and had a more heuristic approach to it.
Despite being absolutely correct, no one listened to him and he eventually went mad and was institutionalized and beaten to death within a couple of weeks. My idea behind “Semmelweisin” was to make a piece of music that felt like you’re witnessing someone’s dark descent into madness with little vocal parts breaking through representing the “voice of reason,” and then being cut off and stifled by the chaotic elements before eventually just falling apart.
Another single from the album Somnium was based around a book by Johannes Keppler that is said to be the first official work of science fiction. I wanted the track to have a strange, dreamy kind of groove and feel. “Cosanti” is inspired from the architecture of Paolo Soleri, which just made me feel like it was some other world colony on another planet.
There are lots of other little stories that kept me motivated and focused, but in the end, I just wanted to album to feel like it takes you on a bit of a journey through really real and weirdly imagined places and stories. I look at the listeners’ interpretation with an analogy. If you’re listening to a language you don’t understand, you can sort of understand what’s going on with inflection and observation of other characteristics and deduce some sort of meaning, but grasping a full conversation when you comprehend the language can give you a totally different understanding.
I suppose with opera, most commonly written in a non-English language, if you don’t have a bit of a guidebook to interpret the libretto, sure you can piece it together, but your brain is going to sort of tune out and it might not give the work the credit it’s due. I think it’s a smart idea to share your intended narrative with listeners, so you can create more of a connection. Of course, this isn’t a “rule” in any way, I just feel that for a certain type of music it can really enrich the experience.
Has Come Back to Earth with Me inspired you to do more similar independent creative projects in the future?
I’ve been making albums nonstop for the last 15 years, so this is just par for the course. This is the first one I’ve made that I can say I’m actually really happy with how it turned out.
I think I’m learning the importance of the concept, sticking to a sound, defining a voice, and having a good structure. I think this album is proof to myself that I can do all that and improve on it and grow for the next one.