Guitarist, bassist, Theremenist, keyboardist, drummer, producer, arranger, engineer, singer, and songwriter Fernando Perdomo is clearly a musical multi-threat — and thus his new album Dreaming in Stereo is an almost entirely self-made affair. Chock full of vintage keyboards and ’70s-inspired melodies, Perdomo describes his progressive pop as “Mahavishnu Orchestra meets Todd Rundgren and Aimee Mann.”
Inspired as a kid by Paul McCartney and his mother’s Michel Legrand records, Perdomo played the family’s Story and Clark upright and eventually got a Yamaha PSR keyboard, which he says had a great Rhodes sound. His mother was classically trained on piano so she soon got him lessons, though he switched to playing guitar. Once Perdomo realized that McCartney played piano too, though, he quickly got back into the instrument.
Nowadays, Perdomo plays mostly by ear, though he can sight-read a little. His practice regimen is as follows: “Wake up, turn on coffee machine, sit at piano. It’s always the piano because then I don’t have to look for a pick or tune up. It’s too early for tedium!”
Though he still cites the Beatles and Rundgren as a main influence, Perdomo is also inspired by all the Jellyfish guys, especially Jon Brion, plus Kate Bush, Aimee Mann and Pete Sinfeld (of King Crimson fame).
Recording process for new album Dreaming in Stereo: I commenced shortly after leaving a band that got signed in L.A. I went back home and started the process of recording alone in my studio and other studios. A handful of tracks date back to 2006; the rest were recorded from 2008 to 2009. The album is half piano and half guitar tunes. I recorded most of the instruments because I hate arguing in studios and I don’t usually get pissed at myself. Unless I’m cutting vocals; then I’ll get all Phil Spector, Ike Turner, and Murry Wilson on my ass!
Favorite keyboards on stage and in the studio: My fave keyboards are the Wurlitzer 200A and the Roland XP-50 with the vintage cards. That’s the sound of Dreaming in Stereo, so that’s what is being used live. The Wurlitzer is the first thing you hear on “Steal this Song,” “I’m Not Gonna Move to L.A.,” and “Half Dead.” I distort it, phase it, delay it, and it always sounds phat. The XP-50 is awesome for the Mellotron, Moog, and organ sounds. I found out the Cardigans used that same keyboard on tour and in the studio. This sold me! I want to get a Nord Electro to take on the road instead of the Wurly; they nailed it with that one. I’ve also become obsessed with keyboard apps for my iPod Touch. I use MiniPiano, Ellatron, and MiniSynth. They sound awesome and they represent the future, in my opinion.
Selected influential records growing up: All Todd Rundgren and all Beatles; Kate Bush’s The Kick Inside; King Crimson’s Court of the Crimson King; the Cardigans’ Life; Wings’ Wings over America; Tori Amos’ Songs from the Choirgirl Hotel; Genesis’ Trespass; Eddie Jobson’s The Green Album.
Favorite keyboard works: Erik Satie’s Trois Gymnopedies, Fred Lipsius’ “A Look to My Heart” (Blood Sweat and Tears), and Eddie Jobson’s “Prelude” from The Green Album.
Biggest gear disaster: I’ve been lucky. The biggest thing that I have to battle with is DJs in Miami. A DJ tried to run us off stage at our own CD release party. Another night we couldn’t play “Smile” because a DJ was playing in the other room of the club and that song is too pretty and acoustic to play with the boom boom boom going.
Words of wisdom: Go to thrift stores and flea markets and buy as many records as possible. You may acquire some sick gear in the process!
Top guilty pleasures: Major seventh chords, the music of The Price is Right TV show, the first Spyro Gyra album, and Gino Vannelli.
Favorite artist we’ve probably never heard of: Salem Al Fakir of Sweden, who is like Todd Rundgren meets Stevie Wonder meets Prince. Also Diane Birch — Carole King meets Daryl Hall — and Curved Air.
Best gig experience: Opening for Todd Rundgren solo earlier this year. I played for people that understood the music and I got to meet and talk shop with my idol. Todd is the man!
Most underrated keyboard players: Linda McCartney, Daryl Hall, Roger Manning, and the most underrated Gayle Moran — she had to replace Jan Hammer in Mahavishnu!