CD Focus


Justin Elswick
aka Sleepthief

Visit Sleepthief's websites

 Sleepthief's Home page
Sleepthief's Myspace
Neurodisc Records

CD Track Listing

If interviews with the vocalists are available click photo to read.  Please check back as more interviews with the vocalists will be added in the coming weeks.


1. Eurydice, 6. Tenuous,
11. Kiss to Savor
Jody Quine

2. Desire of Ages
Shelly Harland

3. You Did a Good Thing
Nicola Hitchcock

4. Just Say It
Kyoko Baertsoen

5. The Chauffeur
Kirsty Hawkshaw

7. Sublunar (Sweet Angel)
 Kristy Thirsk

8. Nightjar
Caroline Lavelle

9. Fire From Heaven
Roberta Carter Harrison

10. The Metro
Jerri Eckert

12. Afterthoughts
Lauren Edman

13. Entre Ciel et Mer


The Dawnseeker by Sleepthief


CEV:  Tell me about your love of music that began with a Fisher Price record player you got one Christmas and grew from there. 

JE:  Haha. is true.  As far back as I can remember I have always loved music.  One of my earliest memories was when my parents bought me that little record player with the multi-colored discs.  I was mesemerized by it.  I have been drawn to music my whole life and was a dj/record collector during my high school years.  I was the guy who made "mix tapes" for everyone!  I was always trying to play my grandmother's piano as a kid.  I think that if I would have gotten lessons, I would be a concert-level pianist.  That is how much I loved it.

But, when I was 19, I heard a kid playing the piano and that was when I decided to work harder at learning theory, etc.  I am still not the greatest player, but music just kind of flows out of me and I hear hooks and choruses and verses all the time--sometimes in dreams or while awake. 

CEV:  After reading some of your bio material I was dizzy with the  various directions that you have wandered in regards to your studies and your career. Would you say that you are a philosopher who writes music and is a lawyer on the side or would you classify yourself as a lawyer who delves into philosophy with side trips into the music business? <smile> Do you enjoy all of these fields equally or do you  have a preference as to what you would like to be doing the most? 

JE:  People often tease me about the variety of things I am interested in.  You know, I have never thought about "what" I am...I mean, I love reading and history, so it was inevitable that my interest in those areas would expand my interest in other disciplines.  I think a love a reading is the root of much of my studies...once you begin reading, doors are opened and some many different vistas appear.  Philosophy and religion have always interested me because they so greatly inform most civilizations.  I am deeply interested in understanding what makes humans tick and why people believe what they believe.  Many people think that politics and religion are the two things one should never bring up in polite conversation--I, however, happen to believe that those subjects are some of the most important things to discuss!  The law practice came mostly because I wanted a legitimate, income-earning job.  Sometimes the practice of law can be very emotionally and mentally exhausting...that is one of the drawbacks.  But, I have to say that legal reasoning and writing has great benefits as well.  

Music is my first and true love, however.   I would place that and reading as ranking especially high in my life's pursuits.  I guess I've always just viewed myself as a regular guy who is trying to do something positive in the world. 

CEV:  Tell me about the beginnings of The Dawnseeker. What was it that you wanted to do when you first started writing music for this project? Did you have an idea when you started what you wanted the finished  product to look like? 

JE:  Many of the songs for The Dawnseeker were formulated years ago.   When I really started composing about 7 years ago, I knew that I eventually wanted to get a final project completed.  I figured that the songs would include one or more female singers.  I also knew that I wanted the music to be emotional, cinematic and meaningful.  About 3 years ago, I spoke with Israel Curtis (co-producer and engineer) and we agreed that the songs should and could be translated into something more professional.  We started working in his studio, taking my songs that had been composed and fleshing them out.  I decided to use several female singers--I had names in mind, but no real certainty whether they would become involved.  Jody Quine was the first to be involved and the results were so fantastic, that it gave me great hope.  Through the course of working on the songs, the different vocalists came on board.  It was always a thrill and a surprise...I am still awed by the involvement of these singers and artists.  As a huge fan of singers like Kirsty Hawkshaw, Nicola Hitchcock, Caroline Lavelle, and Kristy Thirsk, and all of the others I never dreamed I would get to work with them. 

CEV:   I was reading that originally you had plans to record the project with only one vocalist. What was it that changed your mind and shifted the project into a multi vocalist motif?

JE:  Actually, Jerri Eckert (who sings The Metro) has been a close friend of mine for years.  When I started, I talked with her and she was wanting to do a project together.  However, she had various things occur in her life that did not allow the time for her to be involved with a full album.  She is a wonderful person and very talented.  However, once it became clear that she would not be able to be fully involved, I opted to contact the other vocalists.  Jerri is still one of my closest friends, and we plan on working together in the future.

CEV:  Did you forsee any problems with using several vocalists in being able to create/maintain an homogenous feel for the project as a whole? 

JE:  It never occured to me to be worried.  I believed that if the material was strong enough, and the vocalists paired with the right music, it would work out.  In fact, I really wanted to create an album that shifted through different moods and styles.  Using different singers actually helped this process.  Funny enough I felt that each of the singers ended up being perfectly matched to the right song.

CEV:  The next step for creating a project like this featuring a bevy of  multi talented vocalists was to come up with the vocalists. Tell me about how you decided who you wanted on board for this project and why these particular vocalists were on your list.

JE:  I must first say that all of the singers on the album have been at the top of my list as far as female singers go.  I cannot tell you how big a fan I am of these singers.  I own all of their work.  I remember hearing Caroline Lavelle (for example) in 1996 when I bought her album Spirit.  I was an obssessive fan for years.  Same with Kristy Thirsk and Kirsty Hawkshaw.

Kyoko of Lunascape has been a favorite of mine for several years now.  I even reviewed their albums for I guess I hoped, but never actually fully believed that these amazing talents would end up wanting to work on the project.  Jody Quine was the first and when I actually heard her in the studio recording with my music going in the background, I had to pinch myself.  It just seemed unreal.  From there, it just blossomed.  Jody and I hit it off extremely well and had loads of fun.  Eventually, I contacted Harland to sing Desire of Ages, and she was a joy to talk with.

Progressively, as the singers came on board and committed, I found that they were extremely kind and easy to work with.  There were no problems, egos, or attitudes...just openess and loads of talent.  It is almost strange that I consider "the ladies" (as I call them) to be friends more than anything at this point. 

CEV:  Tell me about some of the contacts you made and some of the reactions these artists had when you presented them with the idea you  had in mind for The Dawnseeker. 

JE:  Well, I think that the reactions were all very positive.  I can tell you that it is mighty strange and highly exciting when someone like Kirsty Hawkshaw says that she really likes what you've done and wants to be involved...Then, with Roberta and Ken of the Wild Strawberries:  they were just really sweet and easy and focused.  It was like chatting with family about the project.  This happened across the board.

Lauren Edman came out to Utah and we had a very nice time and a good laugh.  This is the way the album developed.   As for contacts, it has been very good to get to know these singers with so much experience.  They've seen the ups and downs and are very saavy.  Furthermore, it is fun to be able to connect with their connections. I have found everyone to be professional and kind. 

CEV:  Once you had everyone on board how did you proceed with collaborating with this wide variety of talent? Was it all done via the internet and if so what challenges did working this way present to you and to the artists you were working with?

JE:  It just depended on the singer.  Jody recorded all of her vocals at Somatic Studios in Provo.  Lauren and Jerri also recorded here.  With the rest of the singers, they recorded in their own studios and just uploaded their files!!  Amazing, really.  When we received the data, we would plug in the vocals, and mix down.

CEV:  Were all of the songs on The Dawnseeker your own compositions or  were some of the songs contributed by the artists you were working with? 

JE:  Obviously, the two covers are not my compositions.

Also Desire of Ages came from music that Israel had written--when we discussed it, we agreed that it would situate well on the album.  Afterthoughts was a song musically and lyrically written by Lauren.  Same with Nightjar.  I wrote the balance of the underlying music of the remainder of the songs.  On tracks like Tenuous and Just Say It, I wrote the main vocal melody and lyrics.  On other tracks like Eurydice and Sublunar, the singers wrote lyrics and melodic content.  The results were very exciting!

On the next album, I will be writing all of the music except for one cover song, and also more of the lyrics and melody.  I want to stretch myself a bit. 

CEV:  Why was it that you decided to do a couple of cover songs on this CD instead of more original material and what was it about the cover songs that made you want to take a crack at putting your own spin on them?  

JE:  Since I have been a music-lover my whole life, I thought it would be fun to do a new take on an older track or two.  Since there are 11 original songs, adding the 2 was more a way of just exploring and seeing if we could get something fun from the covers.

The Chauffeur is possibly one of my favorite songs of all time, so it was foremost in my mind for a cover. I've always been mesmerized by the music and lyrics.

The Metro is also another fave, and it has a certain intensity and sleek quality to it.  So, I thought both would translate very well into modern electronic tracks!  Plus, I think they both gave the album a little variation and energy that would not be there without them.

CEV:  When it came down to the final mix were you the last word on the subject? Or were there changes even after you thought it was final in regards to input from the individual artists who collaborated with you?

JE:  I was the final word.  However, out of respect, I made sure the singers were comfortable with the songs.  If there were any suggestions, they were usually very minor such as adjusting volume levels.  No one complained about instrumentation or composition.  It was a very smooth process. 

CEV:  Were you pleased with the overall blending of vocals and music in the sense that the CD felt like a unified whole instead of a compilation CD with lots of individual artists on it? Was that something you had to work on achieving or when all was said and done did it just fall into place? 

JE:  I think that is one of the nicest aspects of this album.  Although the styles and vocalists are different, there is a feeling of consistency and unity.  My biggest problem with many electronic projects is the lack of inspiration and variety in the music.  The difference in the timbre, style and range of the singers is actually a welcome thing to me. Plus, the music has the Sleepthief quality that keeps it coherent.

CEV:  Tell me about Israel Curtis, your co-producer and engineer, and how  the two of you hooked up in the first place. What was Israel's role in getting this project completed?

JE:  Israel Curtis is a mad genuis tech-god!! haha.  I met him through some mutual friends about 7 years ago.  He is very adept at music programming, engineering and mixing.  I was actually in the process of getting a new studio and really getting my bearings for doing The Dawnseeker.  However, I realized that the learning curve for me might add a year to the project's release time.  Israel had the tech and musical skill to really assist with getting the album done quicker.

Essentially, when I wrote the tracks, I did so on a 16 track sequencer.  I wrote the songs usually with a piano melody and then added my own percussion, strings, etc.  When I finished the songs, I took them to Israel's studio, and we dumped the data.  From there, we essentially ferreted through millions of sounds and basically reconstructed the tracks.  So, Israel was very key in putting the shine on the album.

CEV:  How would you classify the music that has come to be recorded on The Dawnseeker CD?

JE:  I would guess it would be called "electronica."

However, like most artists, I find it hard to accept a single defining genre term.  I would say that the music culls from classical, celtic, world, jazz, trip-hop, folk, and new age music! 

CEV:  You've chosen the moniker of Sleepthief as your working name for this project. Was there any significance in that choice of names for you? I would guess that the name The Dawnseeker is tied into the  concept of Sleepthief as well is it not?

JE:  Absolutely.  Sleepthief refers to the night some years ago when I was writing a song and realized I had been sitting there until early morning without recognizing the passage of time.  I realized that the music was stealing my sleep.  But, when I thought about the name, I felt it had a deeper meaning that accurately described the music and the effect and ambience it had overall. 

The Dawnseeker has an obvious association to the name Sleepthief.  Both terms related to the night and sleep and waking.  Also, I think it is a mysterious title that embodies a lot of symbolism and hope and desire.

CEV:  So what are you going to do for an encore to this project? The Dawnseeker II with a new group of vocalists maybe? 

JE:  There will definitely be follow-up albums.  In fact, I have already written six new tracks for the next album.  I am SO happy with what is happening with these new songs.  Without giving too much away, I would tell folks to expect something emotionally similar, but even more epic...and, yes...several of the vocalists will make a return and some new ones will appear.  Expect possibly a guest male vocalist.  Cannot wait!!! 

I am just honored and blessed to have such great fans and support.  My thanks to everyone.

CEV:  Thanks for taking the time out to talk to CEV. With The Dawnseeker available on June 27, 2006 folks don't have long to wait to hear what you've accomplished with the project. Keep up the good work and lots of kudos to all "the ladies" who helped you realize this release.

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