Ventura County, California based progressive metalcore act The Image You Claim has put out their debut EP ‘Painted Visions‘ back in October, and in a new interview for Prog Sphere singer Justin Olsen tells us about the creative process, influences, and more.
Define the mission of The Image You Claim.
We set out to pursue our passion for music, expanding our horizons and hopefully sharing our music with as many people as possible to inspire, or even just invoke a feeling. Moving forward, all of us will grow musically and just as people as we make connections with fans and strengthen creative ties in the band.
Tell me about the creative process that informed your debut album Painted Visions and the themes it captures.
A lot of the music we wrote was pretty off the cuff as far as lyrics go. Chris had a whole library of instrumentals he had been working on, so Julian and I would constantly be just listening, waiting for that right moment that sparked an idea. We would then send the lyrics, peer edit and review, then we would record a shitty little demo, and see what was missing: whether it was the music itself, or the lyrics we did quite a bit of editing before heading into the studio.
What is the message you are trying to give with Painted Visions?
This album was very angry as Julian would say. I agree. It’s a lot of songs about lost love, betrayal, and going insane. We didn’t go for an overarching theme but we did hit some of the same themes and we actually have some connections between songs. Most of them were written about events as they happened so we kinda see different facets of the same time span or event. In this album we just tell a lot of stories and hope the listener can relate.
How did you document the music while it was being formulated?
Mostly in untitled ableton projects and crumpled up notebook paper. [laughs] But in all seriousness the amount of drafting and revising we did definitely accounted for some of the long creation time. We probably each have at least four or five renditions of the same song in different stages of completeness. As far as to the public, we kept them (relatively) up to date with all the exciting stuff via social media, but in hindsight we would have liked to have done some kind of studio log.
Is the dynamic flow of the pieces carefully architected?
Not carefully, but we also didn’t just throw them together in whatever order, we did a lot of careful listening and rearranging as the days went on. “Rose Interlude” was Julian’s idea to dial it back for the emotional finale that is “Transmute.”
Describe the approach to recording the album.
Our guitarist, Chris Banuelos, recorded all the instrumentals by himself, we went into the studio for vocals only, we got them processed and we mixed them down into the track ourselves while making changes to guitar and drum tone, re-tracking some stuff, and making structural edits too. I think we are going to keep to that model, and use everything that we learned to make our next project so much better.
How long Painted Visions was in the making?
From start to release… I want to say it was something like two years? It wasn’t all album related work of course. We planned to come out swinging with a tight live show, lyric videos, merch, the whole nine yards, so that took quite a bit of time. It seemed like even longer because we didn’t have a lot going on in the public eye, but we were running around like mad men behind the scenes, making sure everything was just right.
Which bands or artists influenced your work on the release?
Periphery was a huge one, Misha Mansoor in particular. The riff structure was kinda informed by that kind of writing, however I find it hard to say that we “sound” like anyone else. We took a lot of care to develop our own spot in the prog camp, and I have to say we did a good job. Both tonally and structurally our songs are kinda their own thing, and I think that’s what made everyone so excited to work on it. From the beginning we saw the potential, and we knew that these songs were unlike anything else we really heard before.
What is your view on technology in music?
Personally, I think technology is almost 100% a positive thing. With ableton, an interface and a few instruments (physical or otherwise) one can reach far beyond what they might have had access to before such software existed. It’s an amazing tool that just makes music more accessible giving more people the ability to tap their creative potential. Tech in live sound is incredible as well, giving us amp sims and automations. I’m not against analogue stuff, and I’ll agree that in some cases, it serves the sound to be colored by old circuitry or hot tubes.
With live sound, it’s finicky though because your whole sound comes down to a little laptop sitting onstage. If something goes wrong there, it’s hard to fix in the heat of the moment.
Do you see your music as serving a purpose beyond music?
Yes. It’s still surreal to me that people listen to our music and it makes them happy. People I don’t even know or people that wouldn’t even be into our kind of stuff. For me, just the connections you make with people and the feeling they get when they listen is awesome. I hope it inspires others after us to do the same. Julian is super passionate about making a difference to people. We all looked up to bands when we were young and going though our hardships and music is still there for us today. He hopes he can pay it forward by doing the same.
What are your plans for the future?
We are currently in the process of planning and shooting a music video (which is a whole endeavor in of itself) and we are writing all new music as well. This time our talented sextet is working together to make an even better record. All of our updates on shows and new material will be posted on Instagram.