“Pitch black, sleepless dreams,
And muses singing
The harmonies envelop me”
— From the song 2:41 by Counterfeit i
Counterfeit i is the solo musical effort of Derek Allen, whose latest album Search Party is where our featured song 2:41 is from. This song blends together many styles wonderfully, with an eclectic ethereal energy throughout. This spooky sublime nature plays well with the experimental, industrial core of the whole album.
His music, and indeed the name of the band, represent a search for identity while sloughing off pretense. “Counterfeit i kind of started from the question: what is real? We all spend our days covering up who we are and pretending to be someone that we aren’t and don’t even want to be,” said Derek. The name of the album, Search Party, exemplifies this search, and even the titles of the other songs represent things humanity has sought, like Atlantis and Holy Grail.
I asked Derek about 2:41 and what it means to him. He said, “I feel this song is a good representation of our last EP Search Party in that it covers most of the styles present on the EP. Thematically, this song is about seeking some kind of fulfillment in this life through an obsession. 2:41 compares the blindness of obsessions to the absurd waking dreams that one has while awake for long periods of time. It’s very influenced by insomnia.”
When gigs are played live, Derek is joined by bassist/keyboardist Hank, and Bryan who runs all of their electronics and plays keys. “Both of them just seem to get the music real well and they definitely add their own individual styles to enhance the live shows,” added Derek. Counterfeit i is based out of Wheaton, Illinois near Chicago, but they’ve played in venues up and down the East Coast and the South. He said, “We’d love to get over to the West Coast sometime soon.” For myself, I’d love to catch them live if they make their way to Arizona.
Playing experimental electronic music gives an artist a great deal of freedom. Now, when I think of Chicago I immediately think of Jazz and Blues. Well, that and the band Chicago, but that’s another story. I wouldn’t have figured it for a place to catch Electronic/Industrial. However, when you realize that these are all very experimental and improvisational, then it becomes obvious that one could influence and embrace the other.
In fact, Derek told me that some of his favorite bands are “Portishead, NIN, Thrice, Project 86, and John Coltrane.” He’s also a fan of the Incoming Fire podcast, produced by our friends at Grave Concerns ezine. On his influences, though, he told me, “I think everything you hear influences you in some way, so even bands/artists that I don’t like can make me think in a different way. I really don’t care about genres. If it’s real and honest, then chances are, I’ll like it.” He also added, “to be honest, when I first started listening to electronic/industrial music, I had no idea that Chicago was, in the past, a big place for it. You don’t really see too much of it here anymore.”
Derek has been involved in music for about 12 years. When it comes to playing music he said, “some people appreciate what we’re doing and some people just don’t get it at all, which I totally understand. But I love it when people can connect to the music. My favorite shows have been the ones where I can sense that the audience, or even just one person, have a connection to what we’re conveying through sound.”
Of his own work, his favorite album is his recent EP, Search Party. He really enjoyed composing it, saying, “it was very layered and focused on sounds. I spent almost a year working and re-working the sounds and layering them. Also, I focused more on dynamics and rhythms. Although, it took much, much longer than our last releases, the creation of Search Party just seemed to flow.”
When I asked him what advice he would give to new bands, he offered some sage wisdom: “the only advice I can give is to be and always stay true to yourself, no matter your amount of ‘success’.” That seems to be the ultimate message of his music as well.
Derek is working on new music which I am looking forward to. If you have the chance, check them out at one of their upcoming summer tour dates.
You can find Counterfeit i on iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, etc. They also have a bandcamp page with free high-quality downloads at counterfeiti.bandcamp.com as well as a special edition version at the same website. Finally, beyond their homepage at www.counterfeiti.com, you can friend and follow them at their Facebook, MySpace, and YouTube pages.