Are you looking for a way to feel inspired, chill, and energetic in the New Year? Get your head into the clouds, stars, and cosmos, and take a listen to the musical solution: The Cosmic Duck, an adventure through a newly defined genre of music, Journey House.
A Musical Journey
What in the world is Journey House music? According to Will Ireland, the mastermind behind The Cosmic Duck, Journey House is electronic music designed to take the listener on a musical journey, from beginning to end… with each song and throughout an album. The music of The Cosmic Duck is “primarily house music, with some downtempo, techno, trance, and ambient elements in the mix,” says Will. In his younger years, this up-and-coming artist first began to hear the individual sounds of music via video games that taught him to deconstruct the music. Then, with that deconstruction, a passion for construction and creation of music was born. Having recently released his latest album, First Quacklings, Will uses Ableton Live 9 software, a Push controller (similar to a keyboard), and a microKorg hardware synth to create his cosmic, melodic, engaging music that can nearly take you out of this world.
A Cosmic Sound
The Cosmic Duck is the kind of music that allows itself to be whatever the listener wants it to be. To enlighten, First Quacklings, gives listeners music that will evoke a range of thoughts and emotions from beautiful, engaging, and positive (with Dreaming Life or Fwirling Balloons) to upbeat, dreamlike, and inspirational (as in Don’t Let the Light Go Out). When listening to this music, one might be inspired to explore, travel, or even take a hot air balloon ride. (Interesting side note: Possibly unintentionally infused into the music is Will Ireland’s adventurous heart and soul, as he has lived and traveled all over the United States, taking several cross-country journeys by car, bus, and even bicycle.)
The music of The Cosmic Duck can work just as well in the forefront or the background, too. You can dance to the music at a house party, or you can play the music in the background at a cocktail gathering. Both situations work. The music is very audibly appealing and easy on the ears. And, the best news of all? Will Ireland’s next album, Virgo’s Eclipse, is set to release in early 2018!
Back Down to Earth: The Q & A
What is Will Ireland’s story behind The Cosmic Duck? How does he create the music? Find out in the following chat with Will.
What is the origin of the name The Cosmic Duck?
It’s hard to pinpoint the exact coining of the name, but it has stuck. In part, ducks are my spirit animal because I like how they are migratory. And, I’ve always loved outer space. Star Wars is still my favorite Sci-Fi movie series.
What is your background in music?
My dad introduced me to music when I was really young; probably at age 5 or 6 is when I started getting into it. He had a very nice stereo system. I would put on headphones and play the different CDs that he had while looking at picture books and maps. My favorites at the time were the Cranberries and Tears for Fears.
I didn’t get into electronic music until I was about 12 or 13 when Daft Punk’s Discovery came out. I heard Daft Punk’s One More Time in 2001, and I just really, really liked that song. They use a vocoder on the vocal track that makes it sound like a synth and I like that effect. So, I tried to find more music like that, and it took me into the genre of electronic music where I was introduced to a whole new world.
What made you decide to start creating the music yourself?
Amplitude was a competitive PlayStation game that split the tracks, and you play the notes on your controller buttons. I really liked the game and got into the Top 20 in the country in the game’s online multiplayer. This was the first time I saw a song split up into separate tracks, and I liked the way the songs were deconstructed. I got really good at discerning the sounds, and decided to buy some cheap music software to try making my own rudimentary songs. Then, when I graduated from college in 2009, I bought a higher level of music editing software. Nowadays with Ableton, there are so many tutorial videos available online, but I’m mostly self-taught. I experiment and play around. I’m still learning.
Describe the concept of Journey House music.
Journey House is a genre name that I use to describe my music because I couldn’t fit it into a preexisting box. It’s house music (4-4 rhythm), acceptable dance music rhythmically, but instead of being dance or background music the whole time, I try to make it so that it takes you on a journey. Each track starts slow and ambient, then gradually builds and goes through different phases and sections, and then there is a finale at the end, like a typical mythological narrative or storyline. The music has dance sections, but also has background music. My music is meant to be listened to from front to back, ideally.
What feelings do you want to evoke in people when listening? How do you want people to feel?
I want them to feel engaged. I want them to feel whatever the music calls within them. For me, some of the songs are sad and bring me to tears (as in Endless or Windsdays); some are joyous and celebratory anthems that make me smile; some songs have this sense of longing; and some make you feel like you are floating on a cloud or flying in the sky or zipping through space (like Incoming Love Missile or Halos Ascent).
What is your inspiration for creating the songs?
How much I love the music, and the process of making the music, fuels my soul. Because I’m crafting sound in a novel way, after each day of creating music, I have a new set of sounds I can add to the music playing in my head. I always have music playing in my head, previously from other artists, but now it’s my music. I get to enjoy this all day. The enjoyment comes from listening to it, reflecting on what I did, and then, seeing how I can modify and make it better. It’s an art form that is its own language. Music is its own language. My music describes me – who I am as a person – more than I can with words.
How do you write or create the songs?
I have an Ableton push controller, a 64-pad MIDI controller, which is different from the traditional keyboard because you have four octaves available to you in a very small space. It’s easy to play anything… chords, notes. And, it’s an intuitive way for me to play, as someone who is not a skilled pianist. I’ll play whatever comes through me, and I’ll riff on what I’ve just played. Then I’ll throw in some samples, and I’ll build tracks that way. It’s different every time. Sometimes I start with a drum beat, sometimes a piano chord, or an external sample. The possibilities are infinite [like the cosmos].
What makes my music unique is: the sounds I use, the way I arrange those sounds, and a certain melodic structure that I tend to gravitate towards. Whatever comes through me is what comes into the music. The strokes on the keyboard are my signature.
Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night with new music in your head?
Yes, multiple times. I’ll wake up with an actual melody in my head, so I have to get it down. It’s playing so loudly in my head, it has to get out of there or I won’t be able to go back to sleep.
What was the first concert you ever attended?
It was Moby in Birmingham, AL at the Oak Mountain Amphitheater when I was a teenager. My dad took me.
Do you ever see concerts now?
I do. Mostly in nightclubs or festivals. The last festival was the Eclipse Music Festival in Oregon for the solar eclipse. There were at least five stages and lots of variety.
What do you like to do for fun or adventure outside of music?
I’m a daytime gym rat. I go to the gym every day. I value physical fitness and overall wellness very highly. There was a period in my 20s where I wasn’t making music. I was spending all of my time focusing on my health. I was an endurance athlete, so I ran in ultramarathons and did long distance bike rides. I like playing basketball, ultimate Frisbee, video games, and actual games. I like competing, although I’m not a competitive person. I just like sports.
Tell me about your huge cross-country adventure.
In 2012, I was living in Charlottesville, VA and got accepted into Bastyr University in Washington State. Instead of driving or flying, I gave away most of my belongings and kept what I could fit in a backpack. I left on a bus and bunny hopped my way across the country, making stops in Memphis, the Ozarks in Arkansas, Austin, Boulder, Flagstaff, etc. I hurt my foot in Austin on a trail run, which impeded my ability to move around well. So, being with a backpack was not fun. When I made it to Santa Barbara, I decided to ditch the backpack, and purchase a bike with a BOB trailer (similar to the one seen here).
From there, I set out on the bike and followed the Pacific Coast Bicycle Route north to Washington. My most cherished memory is completing that. It was very spontaneous. I succeeded in a way I didn’t even know I could succeed. I’ve always admired the spirit of Chris McCandless from Into the Wild. Whatever he had, I’ve had the flavor of that spirit, so I lived it out. At that point in my life, I wasn’t going to feel settled until I had done some sort of adventure like that. I needed it.
You would be the perfect person to go on tour! Wouldn’t that be fun?
Oh yeah! I think I have it in my blood.
Me too! What else would you like to share with current or new fans?
Regarding inspiration for other aspiring artists… The value of having this creative outlet in my life has been transformative. We all have something that wants to come through us into this world, in whatever kind of medium that is. The level of self-reward, self-gratification, and self-efficacy that you get from doing that is unlike everything else. I highly recommend everyone to find that muse for themselves. It makes you happier and ultimately makes you a better person.