For brothers Daniel and Joel Trzcinski of the atmospheric duo Bliss Nova, developing their second EP, Light & Shadow, was easier the second time around. “The songs on this EP were some of the first ones written after an important shift in my songwriting approach last year. I began writing with more confidence, intention, and a willingness to take risks,” says Daniel Trzcinkski. “I’ll always use synths, but this project is a small stepping stone out of the pigeonhole that a label like synthpop can often be. What’s coming next is even weirder and bolder.” With the help of the Ohio Recording Company, Bliss Nova was able to experiment, while still staying true to their sound. what came out of it was their sophomore release.
Light & Shadow is a carefully calculated collection of songs that not only complements their debut EP, but also showcases a perfected zeal.
But this EP might not have turned out as it did had there not been a little bit of creative intervention. As luck would have it, while getting ready to release Light & Shadow, the Trzcinski brothers were put in contact with Paul Meany of MUTEMATH through Twitter, where he starting coaching the duo on songwriting and preparing the EP. “He’s [Meany] become an amazing mentor and has really helped push us to write more songs, not settle for just any idea, and be patient with the whole process,” explains Joel Trzcinski. “It stopped us from rushing into a half-baked project and made us rethink our approach.”
It’s more sibling harmony than rivalry in this group.
“We each know what we’re good at and stick to that. Daniel does pretty much all of the songwriting, both music and lyrics. I help with giving constructive feedback, critiques and overall direction,” says Joel, who also focuses more on dealing with the business side of their group. “Daniel will demo out new ideas in complete isolation on his laptop and send them to me. It’s funny because we live right across the street from each other, yet we do most of our work separately via email.”
While only three songs long, “All That I’m Used To” stands out as a breezy synthpop daydream.
“The vocal track on ‘All That I’m Used To’ was right from the demo version. After recording new vocals, it just lost something, so we kept the original track,” says Joel. “We’re both very picky about everything, but it always comes down to overall feel, so if it sounds natural and fits the vibe that’s more important than it sounding perfect.”
While Bliss Nova already played their EP release show recently, you will still be able to catch them around Toledo. A fall tour is planned where they will also play previously unreleased songs.
Recording for EP versus playing the EP live are two separately worlds when it comes to Daniel and Joel’s preferences.
For Daniel, softsynths and samples are used for writing. Using a Fender Starcaster Strat electric guitar and a Japanese rip-off of a Fender Precision bass, parts are re-amped through guitar pedals. Tracking the song is what Daniel refers to as “DIY economical patchwork”. “[When playing live] I use a Roland SP-404SX to trigger samples and loops with one hand and with the other I play leads and pads on a Roland JD-Xi. I run my vocals through a BOSS VE-20 for compression, reverb, and delay.”
Joel follows a similar method, and uses a ‘67 Ludwig kit and supplements with a Roland SPD-SX with all of the samples when performing live. He also runs live visuals through a video synthesizer that he controls and feeds into a projector. “I thought when we first started Bliss Nova that there would be less gear and less to worry about as a 2-piece, but man was I wrong! Why the hell didn’t we start a punk band instead?!” he jokes.
What comes after Light & Shadow is uncertain, but rest assured Bliss Nova is mindfully plotting their next steps.
“Ultimately, we have our heart set on an LP for 2018, but we’ll see. It’s just a matter of getting it done exactly how we want and that takes time,” says Daniel.