When I call Angel Deradoorian, a few days in advance of the release of her debut solo LP The Expanding Flower Planet, she is staying in Virginia with her sister. She has recently decamped there from Los Angeles, where she lives and also wrote and recorded the album, to get practicing with her sibling to take the album on the road.

When I ask her how it's going she's seems unsatisfied with the current state, but confident that it will get to the level she's envisioning. She should be confident, as The Expanding Flower Planet's 10 tracks each showcase how far Deradoorian has come as a musician, a recording artist and as a person. I was keen to get into the details of the album's gestation with her, and she proved to be a very thoughtful subject.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

It's been 6 years since the Mind Raft EP, and you've been keeping busy. How much has changed between now and then, for you?

Oh wow, a lot. As a musician, when I left Dirty Projectors to start working on this I had to recalibrate in a way; start playing differently because I got in a mode of playing Dirty Projectors songs and touring a lot. So I was kind of focused on that more than exploring all the time musically because it was such a demanding project.

When I got out of that I had to learn what I liked to play on my own. That took a little while for me to get into that flow. And tons of changes as a person too, from being 23 to now being 29, so it's a pretty big change.

It's huge! So much happen in those years.

Yeah it's kinda unbelievable. I feel like I'm not even close to the person I was when I started this decade of my life.

When it came to releasing this album, did you consider releasing it under a different name?

Yeah, actually. I feel like this name is complicated for people to grasp. Regardless I knew it would be a solo thing and I'd attach it to Mind Raft, but there were moments when I was like "should I have a different name?" But it's a continuation of the project, no matter how different I am.

And it shows your pride in your Armenian heritage!

[Laughs] Yeah you too, right!?

Yeah! [Laughs] Your sister played on the album?

Yeah she played a little bit. She just sings on a few songs.

And she doesn't mind you using the name?

No! My brother and my sister have been in my band before. My dad is stoked that we're using this name from our family, because in our immediate family we're the only Deradoorians, so it's like a way of continuing the name. In case my brother doesn't have children...

Well fingers crossed that he does because it's a nice Armenian name. So who else plays on the album?

I got a couple of drummers to play. It's mostly drums by this guy Mike Lockwood. And then 'The Eye' is played by Jeremy Heimen from [Avey Tare's] Slasher Flicks. Then I play basically everything else. Oh, but Kenny Gilmore plays guitar on 'Kimodo' and maybe some keyboards and stuff on some other songs. And then Niki Randa does vocal appearances on certain songs as well. She appears on 'Kimodo' singing that really high operatic vocal part.

You met her when you moved to LA?

Before I even moved there we started corresponding on MySpace because we both sang on this Prefuse 73 album, and she'd really liked my track on there. And so we started talking and when I moved out there I got in touch with her and we became fast friends.

How long have you been in LA now? Has it influenced your music?

I've only been there 3 years. It's probably affected my music. In a way, it's the only thing I know for the process of Expanding Flower Planet, being in that city. I demoed out stuff in Baltimore when I was living there, but then I moved early on in making this record. It was really my first time getting to have a lot of control over the situation. So there was a lot to learn at the same time, as far as recording was concerned. Bringing in Kenny at the end to finish everything out was helpful. The whole thing was like a really fun adventure.

Some people say that it sounds like California music. I'm from California, but I'm not sure... It's hard to say, but I'm sure in many ways it has affected the outcome.

Do you still consider yourself first and foremost a bassist, or are you everything now?

I actually didn't start playing bass until I joined Dirty Projectors when I was 20. My first instrument is piano; my strongest one. I usually call myself a multi-instrumentalist, but I'm very drawn to playing bass and synthesizers right now.

Yeah the bass parts in this album are really strong, I wondered if that's often where you started writing the songs?

I really like writing on bass, but I don't usually start on bass, it's just fun to play, it feels really good. Every song started differently, I don't think any of these songs started on bass, though, on this record. But I wanna do that actually. For 'The Invisible Man', 'A Beautiful Woman' and 'Grow', those bass parts were really fun to write.

Are you going to play bass live? How's it going to work?

I'm going to play mostly synthesizers and bass, and then my sister plays drums and we both sing and we do some loops to add more layers. I didn't want to use computers or backing tracks on these tours.

That makes it more difficult...

[Laughs] Yeah that's why it's getting off to a rough start! But it's going good, it's a lot to think about and it's a lot to organise and get everything and all your levels sounding good, everything consistent.

You're going on tour Laetitia Sadier from Stereolab; do you know her? Are you a fan?

I don't know her personally; we've been emailing a bit. Yeah I'm a fan. My sister and I are actually going to sing some vocals on some of her songs on the tour. We're really excited to be out there with her because we really respect her musically and artistically.

Tell me about the Expanding Flower Planet, is that Earth?

[Laughs] No! It's more metaphorical. It basically comes from this Chinese tapestry that was up on the wall where I was working. I would look at it a lot and it was this awesome kind of vibrating mandala of flowers. It started to just kind of bleed into the idea of what I was trying to do for this record which was really expand myself and my mind and ideas. It works in many different contexts though, but mostly to do with heightened consciousness.

It's a very spiritual album and the imagery behind it is spiritual; are you a spiritual person?

Yeah I am. I don't really wanna shy away from saying that either because it is important to me as a part of my life. I did want that to translate into the music because it feels like such an exchange; for me music feels like an exchange with other people, it feels like something you have to give. Part of that to me are the unknown aspects of life; things that you can't really always control or see or do anything about. It's just something you have to know is there and believe is taking care of you.

Is this something you always felt or something you've started to feel more as you've grown up?

It's really evolved over time. Ever since I was little I've always really been into, for some reason, kind of 'occult' studies... I wasn't going too far into them when I was younger, but I just liked astrology and religion and things like that. I was always trying out different religions and seeing what worked for me [laughs]. But ultimately I realised I'm not good at any kind of organised religion or practice. I had to create my own in a way, and just use the positive ideas from those other experiences and apply them to what I have now.

Which religions did you gravitate towards?

Since we're Armenian, we've always had religion from our parents. My mom's Catholic and my dad is Armenian Orthodox Apostilistic... whatever it is... so there was always kind of Christianity as the overruling religion. But our parents didn't really push us into it, so I went through a phase of seeing if that was what I liked.

I also studied these kind of East Indian meditational paths, not a particular religion, but something that was spiritual. There were aspects of that that I liked. I studied some others like Buddhism, but there's so much I don't know about religion, it's so complicated and detailed, but a lot of the basics and understandings of those religions were kind of absorbed.

There are a lot of simple lessons to be learned from Eastern religions, like mindfulness, meditation...

Yeah those are the kinds of things that I try to hang on to; mindfulness, awareness of yourself and others around you, just being a good person, not exaggerating your feelings or letting your ego get in the way. I'm not anti-ego but I'm not one to have it just override your feelings and push other people out. It's a very interesting and kind of weird way to be thinking or feeling all the time because it's so intense sometimes, to be constantly thinking about that.

When I listen to your album I feel like there's a sense of communion with nature in it somehow.

That's so funny, people keep saying that. It's really interesting. Because it's like the first full-on release that I've done - the most concentrated effort thus far - it seems that I've incorporated a lot of different elements. There are worldly and universal elements in it, because I had no boundary with it. It was such a free process for me, where I could draw from anything. I started writing some of that music when I was living in Baltimore in this wooded suburb area, so I was out with animals and plants a lot; maybe that influenced it a bit.

Would you go out amidst nature and think about lyrics?

[Laughs] Lyrics are like... they're just really weird to me. I maybe did that a little bit, but not totally. Lyrics are like a puzzle for me. They're definitely the last part to come, the hardest part. Maybe I just feel like there's only one answer sometimes, so when I do get the lyrics I barely change them, I'm like "that's the one that fits there. OK fine." I don't mull over them very much. When things come I'll pick one, I'll erase takes when I'm doing tracking because I don't want to have all these options all the time.

The album starts with 'A Beautiful Woman' and the second side starts with 'The Invisible Man', is there any connection between the two?

[Laughs] Yeah for sure! I was like "alright I'm doing this, making a pair between these song titles on both sides" when I was laying out the tracklisting for vinyl in my head. But conceptually, they do kind of represent this black and white. The second half of the record is pretty dark sounding and the first half is light sounding to me. I thought it was placing those two tracks to start either side was just funny to begin with, but it did work out to work with interlinking the different songs on the album in a way.

The beautiful woman and the invisible man, they're not the figures on the front cover are they?

Oh no, I guess not. I didn't think about it that way, but if you want to that's cool!

Tell me about the cover.

It's by Daniel Higgs. He's a musician and artist from the Baltimore/DC area. He's in this band called Lungfish who have been on Dischord since the 90s. He's just this amazing artist and I saw him and asked him if he wanted to contribute something to the cover because I really liked his art. I just gave him the record and asked if he thought there was a piece of his art that would go with it. That was the first image he sent over and I felt it was a great match for the concept behind it.

Have you had your hands on the physical vinyl release yet?

No! Because it's in California and I'm here in Virginia. But they're sending me the record soon and I'm really excited to see it. I think I'll probably cry when I am actually holding this thing in my hands. It's such a crazy process to have all that inside of you and then you go through this whole process of making it a physical reality. And then finally you're like "Wow, it's right here!"

Can you sum up your feelings about finally releasing it, some four years after first starting work on it?

It's pretty trippy! [Laughs] The whole time I was making it I had to be like reassuring myself, "it's gonna happen, it's just gonna happen when it does and you just have to believe that it will happen." So now that it's almost here it's still kind of unbelievable until release day happens.

Then you've got to start again if you want to do another one! How does that feel?

I'm actually really excited! Because now it's something that I understand on a much deeper level and I understand that I can keep going and going into these other realms with writing and making records. It's actually pretty awesome. I know there'll be some challenges, which I am very open to and accepting of. But there's so much more that I want to start doing. I feel really grateful for having had that breakthrough, because it was almost like writer's block for a little while in the beginning. I was like "oh man, I don't know if I have it..." But it switched on.

So you don't think the next one will take four years?

No, but I also didn't start thinking about making a new record until 2 years after Mind Raft was released. I don't think it'll take another four years, I hope not!


Deradoorian's debut album, The Expanding Flower Planet, is out now on Anticon Records. Listen to 'The Eye' below.