The Space Between Us
Original Release Date
Feb. 24, 1998
Approximately June 1998
What is the memory you most associate with this title?
I remember playing this album on my computer CD-ROM drive instead of my stereo and hearing what would have been lush strings strangled through cheap, tinny computer speakers. It was the lowest point in the 14 years I spent in Austin. Even lower than losing my job two years later. Why was I playing this album on cheap speakers? Because my apartment had been burglarized.
What was happening in your life when it was released?
In February 1998, I had been living in Austin nine months, and I wasn’t having an easy time of it. I had a distracting crush on a co-worker, who was leaving the office. I was working a night shift and didn’t have much of a social life. And I was discovering that I really hated gay bars.
I was keeping an online journal at the time, which I now keep under authentication. Around that time, I had wanted to contribute to a Duran Duran tribute album, but I didn’t have the equipment to make a decent recording, nor did I know anyone who could sing it. It would be another 7 years before I could record it properly.
What was happening in your life when you bought it?
Someone broke into my apartment, stole my music equipment, stereo and a bunch of cassette tape cases. They had hit a neighbor’s apartment a few doors down about two weeks earlier, and that spurred me to get renter’s insurance.
The insult to injury in this ordeal was the fact those cassette tape cases didn’t have anything of commercial worth — just the masters of my 4-track demos. I had years of music in those cases, but just one cassette tape survived. It was in my car at the time of the burglary.
At the time, it felt catastrophic to lose so much creative work. I even broke down and cried in the office when the magnitude of the loss hit me.
The insurance settlement covered the cost of the music gear in terms of its current value, not its depreciation. That meant I could purchase entirely new gear for the price I had paid in 1991.
What I eventually discovered was that I was limiting myself creatively with outdated gear. I started to lose the desire to make music because what was in my head didn’t match what I was actually creating.
Since then, I’ve built a home studio and have kept it reasonably up to date. I also never live on a first floor apartment any more.
What do you think of it now?
This album monopolized my attention at the time I bought it, and that’s why I was listening to it on cheap, tinny speakers. Just because I didn’t have my stereo didn’t mean I was going to sit in a silent apartment.
Armstrong did the film score for Baz Lurhmann’s Romeo + Juliet, and The Space Between Us included an orchestral version of Des’ree’s “Kissing You.” I dug the mix of electronic beats and strings, and I’ll admit to ripping off a bit of that sound for one of my own tracks.
But I think the melancholy of the album suited my frame of mind at the time. I really wasn’t enjoying life all that much, and I let the sadness of the music wash over me.