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Introducing: Apollo Architect

posted January 8, 2016, 8:00 am by Kevin Sellers | Filed Under Introducing | comment Leave a Comment


Started in 2014, Apollo Architect is the visionary project of Ontario native Bipin Bobby Kumar. In 2015 the band, which features session musicians performing the material Kumar writes and orchestrates but is unable to perform directly due to a neurological condition, released two fantastic atmospheric EP’s, The Wanderer and The Cutting-Room Floor. The former was one of my 10 favorite albums of 2015, and the latter is almost as good. Dabbling in soundscapes that reflect the post-rock mentality of Godspeed You! Black Emperor and MONO , along with a host of other inspirations, Apollo Architect creates immersive and imaginative aural experiences. With his first two EPs finished, I had the opportunity to ask Kumar about his music, his condition and how it affects said music, digging further into the inspirations and aspirations of the talented young man.

Music Emissions’ Kevin Sellers: What exactly is your role within Apollo Architect, in terms of involvement you have in the songwriting and producing processes? Who would you say are your main collaborators in terms of musicians who help bring the music to life?

Apollo Architect’s Bipin Kumar: I am the writer and producer for the band. I am very auteur-like, which has led me to be a very deliberate part in the band’s sound, although how much later down the line will be a more collaborative effort.

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Sometime in 2013, I did a lot of demo recording with bands in Toronto, so a number of them agreed to record what I wrote, so it’s really just as long as you click. I do have a few friends from both my current music school and high school I’ve worked on on my Hip-Hop tracks, they haven’t yet been on with Apollo Architect.

KS: As I and others are introduced to Apollo Architect, we learn that you are creating music from a somewhat limited position due to a neurological condition. Without digging into that on a personal level (unless of course you feel comfortable sharing the specifics of the condition and how they limit your ability to produce music), how have you overcome or avoided such limitations when it comes to your music? And do you find that the condition has had any affect on your music in terms of inspiration or direction?

BK: Well the disease is Ataxia with Oculumotor Apraxia Type 2 (AOA2). Basically it impairs my nerves, muscles, walking, speech and memory; all of which are things that make performance on my end impossible, and somewhat taxing oh how I write Apollo Architect’s music, but more on that later. Besides my ability to perform and my ability to engineer (which wasn’t an issue with The Wanderer but became one while working on The Cutting-Room Floor), it doesn’t really affect my ability to write, save for spending most of my time in the past in hospitals, which affects the time it takes to do a song. There are things I wanted to be but now can’t (singer, guitarist, engineer), but my music is not something I just choose not to do, so I make exceptions until I achieve my desired sound.

KS: Perhaps the one question I want to hear the answer the most is why does Apollo Architect sound the way it does? I would label it post-rock, in the vein of Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Explosions In The Sky and bands of their ilk, but what has influenced you in making the shoe-gazy soundscapes we can hear on your first two EPs? Any specific bands, albums or non-musical influences that led to your sound?

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BK: The funny thing is I hadn’t heard either of those bands until after I wrote most of The Wanderer. I was a fan of MONO at the time, but I hadn’t heard too much more than Hymn to The Immortal Wind and For My Parents. My sound for the band was influenced at least in part by Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails. The way he writes his music follows the idea that everything has a place in a song, which includes things like atmosphere.

I started writing music when I was 12, and I was enamored with movies, and their soundtracks. A lot of music for Apollo Architect, and some of my older project ‘The ShatterGlass Project’, has been about telling a story, and I take the role of the musical equivalent of an auteur, making sure my creative vision is understood, even to the point where Apollo Architect as a band is very much a concept in and of itself.
Like I said, a lot of the music is very story or movie-like, so it has a lot of basis in Lovecraftian-based horror and sci-fi books that dealt with the existential fear of the unknown, and Arthouse film. Well Arthouse with a decent editor.

KS: I’d love to hear what you think of your music. It’s easy enough for the listener of such imaginative music to develop imagery and plots to go along with the instrumental sound, but what are your aims in creating it? What story or stories are you attempting to tell with it?

BK: Apollo Architect is actually the first full project I’ve done where I was a fan of my music. There were things I did in 2012-13 that I really liked, but never as much.

The story of Apollo was one about him finding out who he was, despite everything that happened. It was basically a retelling what made the me way I am, from my life experiences down to my philosophies on art or in general.

Apollo Architect’s music has always been conveying emotion, whatever that ends up being, so as long as the story does that, and works with me, I’d be good.

KS: If you wouldn’t mind fleshing out a little bit more about yourself. Can you give some basic details like where you’re from, how old you are, high and/or low points of your life, just a little bio of yourself in your own words?

BK: I’m 23 and have lived in Brampton, Ontario for almost my whole life. I’m a lover of just about everything art. Besides the music, I’m very much into storytelling and cinematography, and a degree in comedy. While I can’t draw or take photos, I’m a pretty good graphic designer, having varying degrees of work put in to the covers for the EP and the singles.

 I couldn’t really tell you the high point because most of my life after starting to feel effects of my condition has been a constant onslaught of high and low points right after the other, and most of it has been important in some way, good or bad. That being said, I’ve had low points, oftentimes adhering to my health in some way.

KS: What would you say is your primary goal with Apollo Architect? Do you see yourself making similar music in the future or do you foresee a bigger sound, live performances, perhaps collaborations with more musicians or anything of that nature?

BK: Being disabled in the industry makes it hard to get work; work is very seldom so no one knows what I can do. Apollo Architect was my way to circumvent all this. Basically, I needed a reason and name to something. My endgame is working in TV, film, and video-games, and Apollo Architect is my launching pad.

That said, I want Apollo Architect as a real band, as a collaborative thing, but with me as a foundation. I’m planning on getting one together for live shows, working with other bands in Brampton, and possibly redoing The Wanderer EP live with an orchestra. (Editor note: I can’ imagine how explosive this EP would be with an orchestra behind it…but it’s fun to try)

KS: Tell us a little about what went into making ‘The Wanderer’ and ‘The Cutting Room Floor’, from early ideas to the actual writing and recording stages.

BK: In mid-2013 when I was doing engineering, I had done my first 12-hour session and the stress got to me. This is when I realized I needed to remind myself how I got to that point in life. Now, the idea of making music like Apollo Architect was in me since I was in high school, but the ‘how’ was never there. Over the next months, I worked on bands in Toronto doing demos until March of 2014, when the idea of “Stargazer” came to me (monotony and insanity). I started writing in June, when Apollo’s story finally was set. The recording started late the next month and lasted until September. There were songs on the EP (“Runner” for one) I was writing in the morning and recording later that day.

The Wanderer was actually going to be out last December, but I had a bad fall in November that left me with a brain injury and less feeling in my limbs . Don’t get me wrong, The Cutting-Room Floor was still on my plate, but I barely even wanted to think about it. With some motivation, I ended up writing “Idea”, “A Mixup”, and a few other tracks for a different project entirely. Events in early May led me to write “This Is Not For You”, even though later that month it led me into a deep depression (brain injuries mess with your mind quite a lot) and led me to halt on the project for some months. After getting back on track, I wrote “Lights In The Sky”, “Quiet”, and had everything recorded that month (August), mostly at home studios as I still can’t walk too much.

KS: Did you ever have a specific audience in mind for your music? I’d say it definitely has appeal to the post-rock and shoegaze fans out there, but was that your target audience and did you ever really have one? I like to think that this music is almost equally about your own experience with it as it is anyone else’s. It does feel that personal at times.

BK: When I was initially writing the music not so much. MONO‘s Taka Goto once said something along the lines of music not needing a genre to be meaningful and I know from my musicology professor, Rob Bowman that one the most important that music is catharsis, so I had very little doubt I wouldn’t have an audience, because I can’t be the only one who believes those things. Post-Rock and Shoegaze became more apparent to me as time went on, but I more so wanted to like it.

Apollo and I are quite similar people, so the music was bound to be; tracks like “Stargazer”, “Deep Breaths”, “Piercing The Heavens”, and “This Is Not For You” are all recounting things I had to go through or am trying to get to.

You can check out Apollo Architect at their official website, www.apolloarcitect.com which links to their music, Facebook and various other accounts and provides additional information. For fans of atmospheric and adventurous shoegazy rock, you do NOT want to sleep on this.

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