Songwriter/guitarist/producer JEP CRUZ is no stranger to getting things done – be it in a band setting, or extended sessions of furious creativity and songwriting in his home, alone. After his stint with his celebrated former group PLANE DIVIDES THE SKY, Cruz wasted no time diving headfirst into exploring more sonic landscapes and experimenting further outside the proverbial box with a project called CHILDREN OF THE PILGRIMAGE – which managed to release two full-length albums: 2013’s Archaic and 2020’s Des Demontres (with GRANDI OSO).
And just last year, Cruz – seemingly not quite done with the alter-egos and mystique-driven experimental music – officially unveiled his latest 11-song collection, now under the moniker MIRROR THE EYE – a veritable cornucopia of elements borrowed from psychedelic folk rock. A spin of the self-titled full-length (you can listen here: https://open.spotify.com/album/60M01pU5FG6HHQs7BZcWVz?si=Fb_I8TSKTPm6vSb7gaeUFA) is still probably the best way you can understand the method to his madness, but PULP.PH decided to fire-off a few questions to Jep nonetheless, who was game to tell us all about his new endeavor.
PULP: Forgive the rather basic opening question… but feel free to tell us about Mirror the Eye, and how it intertwines with Children of the Pilgrimage. What are the similarities and differences? And why the need for two entities?
JEP: Mirror the Eye was supposedly intended to be the album title of Children of the Pilgrimage’s sophomore release. However, during its mixing and mastering stage, I felt more inclined to use it as an artist name instead, as it suggests introspectiveness, which I highly relate to… As I did not want to entirely abandon COTP, the album was uploaded under two entities, at least in Spotify only, for convenience and continuity.
PULP: In relation, how did the ball get rolling for MTE and the collection of songs that make up the album?
JEP: “Lust Ritual” and “Ghost Opus” were already written before Archaic was released in April 2013; both their song structures served as guide for the development of the other song ideas on the album.
I almost booked studio time to record MTE during the first quarter of 2020, but the pandemic happened – so by mid 2021, I decided to record everything at home.
PULP: Needless to say, MTE seemingly is an exploration of vast musical styles under the more general umbrella of rock n’ roll. Is it a challenge trying to fuse all these together? Or are you basically just going gung-ho on what you feel like writing?
JEP: The songs on the album were selected from various voice memos and random song ideas I’ve collected throughout the years, hence, the disparity in styles. However, as early as 2019, I was able pre-select which ones fit together before further developing them into proper songs. I also assigned their respective titles and plotted the song sequence to mimic a more balanced arc.
PULP: Take us through the creative process… is it easy in a way like a kid being trapped in the candy store, or is it – opposingly – a tedious process since you’re basically wearing so many different hats?
JEP: It was a tedious process recording everything by myself during the different levels of community quarantine. Except for the drums, I had to record each instrument part by part just to complete the recording. It was equally hard to decide which takes to keep and which ones can still be improved. It was generally frustrating, but rewarding in the end, especially after Pat Tirano mixed and mastered my recordings in his Sagada studio.
PULP: It’s a rare thing to see a full body of work released these days – we live in a time where singles are king and attention spans are taking a hike. What’s the ultimate goal with MTE? Is playing these songs with a full band part of the plan?
JEP: Thanks for noticing! Although I have nothing against singles, Mirror the Eye was intended to be released as a full album drop. I highly value the format as an art form, even though listeners may have short attention spans. Fortunately, I have the creative autonomy to pursue this route.
And yes, I wish to perform the songs with a full band soon, when our schedules permit.
PULP: So what else do you have in store for the year?
JEP: Hopefully, a physical release so that the cover art, which was originally created by artist Jomari T’leon, may be experienced in print. PULP
Feel free to follow and/or dm @mirrortheeye on Instagram for updates.