The Making of Dark Star

Origins & Inspiration

Dark Star started as an idea I had in my sophomore year of college, back when I was deep into prog rock & sci-fi. It’s a concept EP, a visual world, and a story.

Visually, I was heavily inspired by Mad Max Fury Road, Dune (both Frank Herbert’s book and Jorodowsky’s failed adaptation), and the actual Dark Star cave system in Uzbekistan. To create the visual world of the album, I combined digital painting, macro photography, photo-editing, and programs written in the Processing coding language.

Sonically, I drew inspiration from operatic prog rock bands like King Crimson & the Devin Townshend Project, and progressive metal bands like Animals as Leaders.

Process

I tried to incorporate all of my artistic mediums into the final product – a selection of songs and concept art that describe some of the most important plot points in the story.

I wrote full scores using Musescore for every song on the album except for the title track, which emerged while tracking guitar in the studio. I then imported the MIDI data into my digital audio workstation. Composing before recording helped me focus on instrumentation and sound design.

Guitar features prominently in the album because it is my primary instrument. I combined my guitar playing with different synthetic textures, and used the production knowledge I gained in the ICAM program to realize my final mixes. I learned a lot more about myself and my artistic process while producing this project. While I was initially disappointed that I couldn’t make more progress on the EP given the time I had to work on it, I am now excited and inspired by what it could become.

Looking Forward

My long term goal for Dark Star is to record and produce the rest of the songs with support from fellow musicians, then release a full album. I would then like to adapt the album and its visual components into an animated short, a movie, or a series.

Thank you for checking out my project! If you like what you’ve seen/heard and would like to be a part of future projects like Dark Star, please send me an email (mxenja@ucsd.edu). Us creatives need to stick together.

– Martine

Scores are available for download – Please email xenja.productions@gmail.com for password.