Tammy Sue Everett and Gregory T. Biribauer make up the US-based Alternative Electronica duo, NAVASA.
Everett: “We released two 5-song instrumental EPs called Sensurreal and On And On through Ralenteer Records & Rights Management NYC in 2014 and 2015. We also released a full album of instrumentals through the UK label Nodeski/Datablender in 2015. We like doing instrumental tracks where we get to explore our downtempo and chillout influences like Boards Of Canada and KLF. But then again, we also like the impact of vocals, so we concentrated on that aspect of our sound while making the album Cataprysm.”
Biribauer: “We were also lucky enough to get 2 vocal-oriented singles out through Nikita Digital/Tiefhaus Records in 2015 called Lazy Dayz and Escape From You. Those tracks started featuring Tammy’s beautiful voice.”
NAVASA’s main influences are Radiohead, Massive Attack and Pink Floyd.
Biribauer: “We listen to Radiohead endlessly. Radiohead’s newest album A Moon Shaped Pool never loses impact. It was a huge influence on how we approached our newest vocal-oriented album Cataprysm. We also love driving around listening to KLF’s Chillout.”
“Our musical training came from listening to all kinds of music from jazz to alternative to rock to electronica,” they say. “We are basically self-taught musicians practicing our crafts since we were teenagers.”
Tammy Sue Everett has been a life-long musician, concentrating mainly on drums, due to her father’s part time work as a jobbing drummer around eastern Pennsylvania. Her father, Everett says, “…would have me sit on his lap behind his 1958 Slingerland kit, showing me various techniques, mainly jazz, instilling a love for classic drummers like Gene Krupa and Art Blakey, a love that lives on to this day. Later on, he got me a cheap acoustic guitar and being a bit of an introvert, I banged away on the instrument for years. Later in life, I moved on to piano and keyboards and eventually got myself a Korg synthesizer to play along to my favorite songs at the time by bands like Ministry and Radiohead.” This eventually lead to her playing live beside DJs and the like.
Gregory T. Biribauer had a few bass guitar lessons when he was 16 years old. Biribauer says, “My mother’s family was heavily musical with almost everyone in the entire family playing piano. Also, one of my uncles sang in local quartet as a professional for many years. I picked up an old guitar of my father’s that was lying around for years and started my musical journey with some fellow Boy Scouts who had formed a band.”
On describing the way they create their music, Biribauer explains, “We use Propellerhead’s Reason software for creation. One of us will start a song with a basic rhythm or melody, then leave it to the other to fill in the gaps with more musical constructions. We have always found that when we are both involved, the music seems to gain a life of it’s own. This will go back and forth between us for awhile as the piece gets hammered into shape. Occasionally we will add live guitar, drums and/or vocals, depending on what we feel fits. As this process evolves, mixing gets underway with Propellerhead’s “Record” software. Record features SSL (Solid State Logic) emulation, a popular recall mixing desk that has been used extensively by professionals all over the world over the last 30 years. I do most of the initial tweaking of levels, frequencies and other technical issues like automation, filters and gain structure, using his experience as a professional audio engineer (The Vines, Queens Of The Stone Age and Scott Weiland, among others). Tammy will bring in fresh ears to set levels and select certain edits to help finalize the overall vision of the music.”
Biribauer mentions, “We used to use Pro Tools and other DAWs, but REASON & RECORD provided us with a streamlined approach to our music creation, all the way through to mastering. We were finally unburdened by all those external hard-drives, did not have to battle any latency issues, and stopped suffering from all those crazy audio card crashes we experienced in the past.”
Everett also adds, “The limitless creation potential of REASON, the ease of mixing automation, plus the punch and clarity of RECORD’s SSL emulation, (especially that mix-buss compressor!), was a real breakthrough in our home studio recordings, and it showed when we got signed so quickly.”
“We create everything in our home studio,” they say. When asked to describe (in detail) about their personal studio set-up, “Our software is contained on an Apple iMac. We monitor everything through a pair of Yamaha NS-A60X speakers powered by an old JVC amplifier. The NS-A60X speakers are a one-of-a-kind prototype designed by Yamaha to augment their popular NS-10 series with a 3-way system that included sub-woofers. We also spend endless hours driving around listening to mixes and taking notes in our car, since it is a less forgiving system than our home studio.”
Their newest album Cataprysm was created over a 6-month period in 2016. Everett explains, “We put everything we had into this record. I believe we started with approximately 100 song ideas. We also combed through our catalog and proceeded to re-invent, re-mix and re-calibrate some of the more interesting tracks to wind up with the 10 songs you hear on Cataprysm.”
Biribauer elaborates, “Once we whittled everything down to the 10 songs we felt best about, we really focused in on finding the best potential for each track. This involved an amazing amount of re-writes and different versions. Some songs had as much as 15 different mix sessions before we started zeroing in on the ultimate version that winds up on Cataprysm. It all got a little heady at a certain point, but you could hear the incremental improvements over time. By November 2016 we started feeling really good about everything, especially when we compared the mixes to other artists we really liked. We feel this album stands up to anything out there in this genre.”
Cataprysm also marks a breakthrough for a NAVASA release. Everett describes the process by saying, “We felt it was time to take matters into our own hands and release Cataprysm through our own label called Abraca Pocus. We felt this gave us more flexibility and control over the release. It was really great to get signed to the labels as quick as we did in the past, but this time around has been a super-exciting process.”
Excerpts from an interview with Tiefhaus Records:
What has been a seminal experience with your music?
“We got signed 6 hours after submitting our first demos to labels in March 2014. We were blown away.”
What has been your scariest experience with music?
“It gets a little scary when you think you’ve made the most bad-ass piece of music ever, only to wake up the next day and realize it’s a total piece of shyte.”
What memorable responses have you had about your music?
“One of our fans wrote that NAVASA’s music, ‘…makes me feel happy and on top of the world.’ That was truly inspiring.”
In an alternate reality, not doing or pursuing music, what would you be doing?
“We would be running a music school for children. Oh, that’s still music, isn’t it? Well, we would love to help people somehow. Maybe run a mission and feed the homeless.”
So what embarrassing songs would any of your friends or family find on your MP3 player?
“Ring My Bell by Anita Ward, Eastbound and Down by Jerry Reed and Macho Man by the Village People.”
What is your dream musical project?
“To do what we’re doing now, but to have Thom Yorke and Nigel Godrich produce it for us. Then maybe have Brian Eno pop by for a listen.”
How did you come up with the name NAVASA?
“The concept was to make timeless music that could let a listener “travel without moving”, something that could be absorbed endlessly if stranded on a deserted island. This guided us to the moniker NAVASA, fashioned after Navassa Island, located near Haiti in the Caribbean Sea, combining that with the U.S. space administration’s acronym NASA.”