Two and a Half Questions with Todd Chappell

Tell us about the transformation from Dream Dialogue to Window Seat in your approach towards production and composition.
When I first sat down and recorded Dream Dialogue, I felt like I was a baby trying to learn to walk. I knew what ambient music was, and how some ambient artists sounded, but I had no clue about how to approach it musically or how to put it together. A lot of what came out on Dream Dialogue was an accident. I basically came up melodies and chord progressions, and let the rest come out naturally. It felt like I took a stab in the dark. By the end of it however (having spent 4-5 months straight studying ambient music while recording and refining my own), I felt like I had a much better understanding of how to put together an ambient song/ambient record. Tracks like “For Once”, “Gestalt”, and “A Home of Walls” were some of the last I recorded for Dream Dialogue, and I felt like I was hitting the mark I had made for myself with those. By the time Dream Dialogue was actually released, I was well into recording Window Seat. I feel most if not all of Window Seat is better composition and production wise, because I felt I knew more of what I was doing (how to manipulate sounds better, as well as evolving each song individually in a way that made more sense).

What is the unifying theme of Window Seat as an album?
I think the theme for both Dream Dialogue and Window Seat can be up for interpretation to each person individually. What the music means to me may mean something completely different to someone else. The listener should know, however, that after hearing Window Seat in it’s entirety, there is a definite feel of hope and empowerment – something that may not have come across so clearly with Dream Dialogue.

You seem to be still exploring your own sound – who do you look up to musically?
I am most definitely still exploring my sound. I don’t want to be limited to anything just because I’m an “ambient artist”, but I think it will take me a few more well thought out records to actually settle down on a sound I can fully feel comfortable with. There is a huge variety of bands and artists I look up to musically. I think it varies between me as a person and me as The Ideal Setback. As an ambient artist, (the role I play as The Ideal Setback – and for Window Seat especially), I really enjoy and draw a lot of inspiration from bands and artists such as Sigur Ros, Stars Of The Lid, Pausal, Windy And Carl, Eluvium, Rachel’s, and Hammock, to name a few.

Look around! Tell us something about your studio in which you compose your music.
My “studio” is actually just my room in my house. I basically just use a MIDI keyboard set up to a few programs on my computer. When I look up, on the wall behind my desk, I see a Sigur Ros “Takk…” poster. I also have two other posters by a photographer that passed away this year, named Scott Mutter. He did some really cool surreal stuff, and I relate a lot to his pictures when I make music, to try to give it that “out of the normal” feel. Hopefully as time goes on I will be able to get my hands on some more of his work. For my style of ambient music, I feel like a picture that takes you a few times looking at it to understand makes for a better atmosphere than a hallmark-card-picture of a waterfall.