Trevor Peterson is something of a staple in the Brooklyn music community, as founder and operator of Fire Talk Records, playing in experimental trio Woodsman, and working on his ambient solo project, Gem Trails, whose debut record, Apartment for Lucy, is out July 14 on Fire Talk. His newest single, titled “Smoking Resin” is a microcosm for the entire emotive objective and universal force of the ambient genre.
Smoky, breathy tones start the track, with innocuous stabs of light guitar resonating in the background, immediately creating an aura of uncertainty mixed with curiosity. Seemingly randomized, effectually distant sounding percussion enters in a combination of haunting cackles and grounding thumps, layering onto the euphoric feel of an inebriated walk through a foggy forest in an ever dwindling dusk light. The fog thickens as the main body of sound builds in intensity, bass tones covering more solid ground than air, and the encompassing grey pleasantly overwhelms the scene. It fades out calmly to a euphoric awakening, as when people try to describe the clouds of heaven after being resuscitated from a flat-lining coma, or just come down from a really good trip.
How and when did you decide to do this project?
I started the project in 2010 between Woodsman tours as a home recording outlet. I had been making tracks in my bedroom for a long time prior without much direction so I gave it a name.
When approaching a project like this, what’s the first step in your creative process?
Often times it starts with with one cingular idea and builds from that place. I build things up and take things away — it’s very much about the recording process in the beginning.
Where does ambient music fall in the grand spectrum of artists, for you, or for listeners in general? Where does your music fall in the grand spectrum of ambient music?
For me I guess I listen to a lot of ambient / sound artists but as far as where my music falls in the spectrum I’m not sure—I will say that contemporary artists like Kevin Drumm and Jefre Cantu inspire me but there’s a deep history that conceptually spans many schools of thought so it’s pretty hard to quantify that kind of thing.
What would you say the end goal of ambient music is? Does Gem Trails line up with it?
I think that’s different for every artist—to me it’s a complex thing because its experiential music not to be confused with experimental music—as a listener and a creator it’s all about creating environments. There’s the concept of the sound bath and more important works out there like La Monte Young’s ‘Dream House’ in New York that when experienced become more about the listener and ‘experiencer’ than the person who conceptualized it.
How do you find splitting your time between Gem Trails, running Fire Talk, and playing in Woodsman?
I don’t really look at it like splitting time, it’s all one! It all comes from the same creative instinct. I use Calendars!
What does the future of Gem Trails look like after the release of your debut record in a couple of weeks?
I’m playing out a bit this summer and always working on new things—I started a series of ‘Environmental’ recordings using field recordings from different places I’ve been around the world and releasing those digitally—the first one is up now, two or three more in the works currently. It’s the type of thing that I plan on continuing for a long time.