Indie electro artist Practice is set to release his debut solo album, Not A Game, on February 19. NYC-based artist Michael Tapper is developing his own sound under the moniker Practice. He combines synth usage with his deep vocals to illuminate the tone of his work.
Not A Game is Michael Tapper’s first solo project. Prior to this, he was a drummer for We Are Scientists, Bishop Allen, Fool’s Gold, and Yellow Ostrich. Going from a collaborative environment to working alone prompts many challenges. Practice faced this exact difficulty and shares it with NYS Music:
Usually when working with someone else, we can find the areas and directions where we agree or feel like we can each contribute the most to create something we both will love, and that will determine what we try to make. My interests are very broad, so I had a hard time narrowing down the focus of what I wanted to do. Eventually I came upon the idea of forming a band out of analog synthesizers, which gave me some framework for structure. Within that, I could explore different types of songs that worked within those artificial constraints.Michael Tapper
Having no collaborators to bounce ideas off was another obstacle Practice had to face, especially when working in unfamiliar capacities with many instruments. However, he found that his wife and friends were the solutions. The artist highlights, “I was surprised to learn that just listening to a song with someone else helped me to hear it differently than if it was just me listening to it in my studio. Somehow, you’re able to sort of hear it through someone else’s ears to some degree.”
The Power of the Synths
All the tracks in this album are unified by the instrumentation. The use of synthesizers is the main driving force behind Not A Game. The framework behind creating a solo project was to view it as a band, “with each band member being a specific synthesizer.” These “band members” consist of “a bass synth, a lead synth, a poly-synth that plays pads or rhythm parts, and a drum machine. Kind of like your typical rock band, but with synths.” In addition, Practice aimed to perform these songs live one day. So, he connected all the synths together to allow this.
The creative process behind utilizing these synths varied based on the arrangement. Creating new songs would sometimes start with a bass-line, a lead synth, a textural pad, or a drum machine beat. Practice utilized these “band members” as if it was an actual collaborative project with different sounds commencing each track’s development.
One result I liked about working with this framework was that in the end, the songs all shared a certain consistency in their sounds and textures because it was the same instruments on all the songs, even though the songs themselves might seem like they come from different worlds or genres.Michael Tapper
A few songs on Not A Game are inspired by the 28-day sailing trip that Practice undertook from Mexico to Hawaii. The idea to make an EP stemmed from the thoughts and feelings experienced on this voyage. “They deal with feelings of loneliness, fear, and uncertainty – sort of these universal feelings that are relevant even when you aren’t out in the middle of the ocean.”
The album kicks off with the catchy single “After Life,” introducing feelings of being separated from the world. While the closer, “I’ve Had Enough,” is a more laid-back song. Practice shared, “I like to take the listener on a journey. I ultimately decided to start the album with ‘The Afterlife’ because I thought it introduced a lot of the elements of the record musically, but in hindsight, it really works lyrically as well. I liked that it started with just the richness of the synthesizers and then kicked into a groove that’s definitely danceable.”
Leaving an Impact
I hope people can relate to and connect with what I’m saying according to their own experience…But also, I hope people can just listen to the music and think it sounds good! I don’t really feel a need to be heard, like personally, and I’d be very happy if people wanted to put it on at a party and dance or put it on in the background as they work or work out or whatever. I hope that people can enjoy it in whatever way they can and need, like a musical multipurpose saline solution.Michael Tapper
Keep an eye out for Not A Game, soon to be released on February 19. Get a sneak peek by checking out some released singles off of the album: “I Saw Love,” “Failure of Imagination,” and “I Don’t Need Love.”