Sipo began working behind the scenes in recording studios and within two years became head engineer at a top facility, shaping sound for big name artists scoring platinum selling albums. The average person of this status might become too addicted to success and lucrative opportunities to leave this position, but Sipo had bigger creative plans all along. While helping other artists fulfill their creative dreams, he was hard at work writing his own songs and laying the foundation for his breakout as an indie/alternative rocker with Year Of The White Rose.
The title of Sipo's first solo effort is rife with symbolism. The white rose is symbolic of death and rebirth, as in the shedding of his former self to pave the way for the emergence of his artistic debut. He previously recorded a three song EP (The Black Hills) that included the hypnotic and pulsating "In Skin," a track that finds new life on Year Of The White Rose. The creative fulfillment of those sessions inspired Sipo to leave his lucrative job, move outside Los Angeles to set up a studio on the ocean, and "go underground" where he wrote and recorded the nine powerful and compelling tracks that round out the collection. "Many people thought I was crazy to turn down the work," he says, "but I thought I was crazy not to. I look at it like I purchased my own liberation instead of accumulating material things."
Finances became a struggle at one point during this intensely creative period, but in true risk-taking indie artist fashion, Sipo resisted the temptation to get back into studio life. He turned down several offers to engineer albums that ultimately became massive hits in order to focus on making his own music. "These gigs were hard to resist given the state I was in," he says, "but I knew they would consume all of my time. I made the decision to continue mining my own creative depths instead. Something transformative was taking place in my life and it was more powerful than I had control of. I was casting off everyone and everything that had their claws in me, including my own self, and a new level of consciousness was revealing itself."
Once the songs were written, he brought them to life with a powerful, organically driven rhythm section featuring Drew Moss on bass and two drummers, Max Cuzor and Robi Gonzalez, who call themselves Rawbeats. The duo custom built their own drum kit dubbed "The Mono" and play different beats on it at the same time creating polyrhythms throughout the album. Sipo explains, "Drew is an old friend that is an amazing bass player, so I naturally went to him first when I began recording the album. Then I began searching myspace for drummers who could bring to life what I had in mind rhythmically, and that's when I came across Max and Robi. I wrote a song to one of their beats and emailed it to them. They loved it and played on the whole album." That song ended up being "Dare You" on Year Of The White Rose. He continues, "I tried to expand the album by using an extensive effects setup, a custom made fretless guitar, and the polyrhythmic drummers. So while the songs only use the traditional rock instruments of drums, bass, and guitar, we could tap into the soundscapes that any synths or drum machines could make, leaving the album 100% rock'n'roll."
As for the vocals, Year Of The White Rose has provocative lyrics that tie directly into the themes of self-realization and transcendence. The hard driving, explosive, and otherworldly opener "He Who Has Ears Let Him Hear..." cuts the confusion of the external world and turns the ear inwards. "White Light," centered around a dream Sipo had, deals with suffering and purgation. The darker edged "See Change" finds him searching the shadows for greater consciousness. The final track "Rise" documents his own disintegration and reconstruction. "I had the whole album written and halfway recorded when Rise came to me. I had the feeling for several months up to that point that the album wasn't complete yet. After that song came out of me I knew it was."
Sipo continues, "The songs were inspired by the truth that we can only find our authentic selves if we overcome the roles, expectations, and limits placed on us. They are about the conflict I found myself in when I awoke to the divide between my external realities and who I was internally. Writing and recording Year Of The White Rose was the first time in my life I had the chance to throw off all the things that were keeping me from being my true creative self. My ears finally, and wholly, turned to the voice and vision inside, beyond the noise, distraction, and self-alienation of externals. I was sick, literally, of being marketed to, told who to be, what to value, what to think, what to do, what to consume, what to give my energy to; sick of having my head filled with disempowering junk stealing my autonomy and peace. Year Of The White Rose is my attempt at inner redemption and union through music."