Inside the Mind of a Modern Classical Genius

Roger Rudenstein is one of the most prolific living classical composers. His output is matched only by his desire to push the genre to its very limits in terms of subject and content. Here, he explains what inspires him and where any newcomers to classical music should start their journey

What attracted you to the area of music you work in? Do you come from a musical family?

My parents were classical music lovers and had many recordings in their house that I discovered at a very early age. They took me to concerts in New Jersey and also to New York City to the Metropolitan Opera. I played violin in my grade school orchestra and attended Music Camp every year I was in high school. I wrote duets for me and my sister for violin and flute. Later I found “The Variety of Lute Lessons” at the Folklore Center in New York and played them on my guitar. I used to play guitar and fiddle in an ad hoc old time music band that performed in Washington Square and sometimes in the Greenwich Village coffee houses. During college I studied theatre and played in a bluegrass band called the Green River Boys. After graduating college with a degree in Drama I played in a jug band called Tiny Alice for several years in Cleveland, Ohio. After moving to New York City I went to a lot of opera, decided I wanted to compose opera and within a year my first opera, “Faustus”, debuted at Symphony Space. I was on my way as a composer.

What is your local music scene like? How do you think you fit in?

Here in Portsmouth, NH, I have gotten a very good reception by audiences for my modern classical music pieces. The workshop debut of my opera Ulysses was sold out for six performances and received a rave review in the local press. I was composer in residence for a year at the local Unitarian Church and my works were well received there also. However there is no new classical music scene as such here; on the contrary, the new music scene consists of a plethora of bands that hold forth every weekend at the numerous bars in the historic part of town. In light of this I have aimed to step up my presence on the Internet in order to meet a wider audience.

What artists influence you in general? What is it about the way they write, or their sound that is appealing to you?

I am greatly influenced by a number of European composers including Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Schubert, Schumann, Haydn, Vivaldi, Purcell, Dowland, Mahler, Richard Wagner and others. Twentieth Century influences include Stravinsky and Richard Strauss. Although this is a diverse group, their music has in common the qualities of depth, complexity and harmonic richness that result in works of great musical beauty and expressiveness. The richness of feeling in many of the works of these composers affects me greatly. My efforts, as a composer, have been to fit in with this outstanding community of musical works presenting my own spin based on my life and musical experiences which include both classical and popular music, especially blues, old timey and Bluegrass. Distilling the essence of our existence into music is difficult and even more difficult is to also make it entertaining to the listener. During the Twentieth Century many composers got hung up on theories that said, “This world is going to Hell in a hand basket so my music should reflect that by being as unpalatable to the listener as war, poverty and oppression are.” Unfortunately this resulted in honing their musical talents to a high standard of incoherence and extreme dissonance. While this garnered grants and even acclaim in some cases, it did not create an audience and actually instilled in the classical music audience an aversion to modern classical music. Many composers have learned from that mistake and I am one of them. I feel so strongly about this that I authored a series of short fiction on the subject called “Thought Experiments” which is about the misadventures of a certain cultural icon in the land of music thought. Although my music often does reflect the war, poverty and oppression of our times it presents itself in an accessible way and seek to create musical beauty of a high order.

Tell us about how you go about creating your music, from initial idea to completion. What equipment do you use and what instrument is your weapon of choice for composition?

My music flows from my id – or you can call it God or the World Spirit or you can say, like Mozart, “I’m spitting music”. I am very prolific. When I first started composing as a kid I composed on the guitar, as a young adult on the piano and now I compose on the computer, using Finale and the Vienna Symphonic patch library, mostly, on a Pro Mac. Oh, and earphones.

Tell us about what drove you to compose an opera based on Ulysses? Were there other literary works which you considered? How did you crystalise a full-length novel into only 2 and a half hours?

Ulysses was my favourite book in High School. I read it after my parents took me to see the play “Ulysses in night-town” in which Zero Mostel played Leopold Bloom, the Jewish everyman. I found the book much richer than the play which only deals with a fragment of one of the book’s chapters. Later in life, with a couple of operas under my belt, I reread the novel and thought “Wow this book could be a libretto”. Why? Because it’s written in poetic prose so I decided to use only Joyce’s own words in my adaptation. Also the book quotes a lot of music including “Don Giovanni” as well as popular music and even has the sheet music of a song written by Joyce within its pages. Joyce was a great lover of classical music, especially opera. He stopped writing for a while to take an opera singer he was championing around to get gigs. In addition to all that, he wrote into Ulysses verbal motifs similar to those used by composers to delineate feelings and ideas. One of the pleasures of creating the opera was to create my own musical motifs to track Joyce’s. Ulysses also deals with prejudice and alienation: his main character Leopold Bloom, a secular Jew, the wandering Ulysses of the title, is not accepted by Irish society due to religious bigotry and rejection of his modernism. Stephen, his Irish Catholic Telemachus is not accepted because of his striving for truth and hatred of hypocrisy. He is consistent to a fault. For example, an atheist, he refuses his dying mother’s request to kneel down and pray for her. One of the most amazing things about the novel is that it takes place in a single day: June 16, 1904, subsequently commemorated as Bloomsday during which the novel is celebrated in many cities around the world.

What would be your ultimate aim in the industry?
My professional aim is to reach as wide an audience as I can via the Internet and to have my music played by numerous performing organizations. Currently I am working on getting an established opera company to stage my Ulysses opera…anyone interested in this should contact me at roger@rogerrudenstein.com. I also think my four-opera cycle based on Trump as a modern American Faust should stir some interest now that he has been elected President of the United States…an outcome I never anticipated when I picked a well-known con man and crook as the subject of my opera cycle back in the 1980’s.

What should new listeners to your music expect from you? How do you see yourself as a composer in 21st Century America?

New listeners should expect to hear music unlike any other. It is not an imitation of any particular composer’s music or even very similar. If you don’t like classical music then you might not like my music but it’s worth a try, especially if you have never been exposed to classical music before. Right now I’m working to complete my four-opera cycle based loosely on the life of Donald Trump, seeing him as a modern day American Faust. I’m also working on more purely instrumental music including a trio for viola, clarinet and piano which I hope to release shortly. Also I have a short Trump satire called “Ronald Glumpf, part two” about to debut on the net. Look for it at my website or on Soundcloud.

Some have argued that classical music is dead. That modern composers in this idiom will never surpass the dead composers of the past centuries so why bother. And anyway, the famous composers of today are all in the popular music sphere, propelled by millions of dollars in commercial investment, so why listen to such notes as mine. My advice is this: If you can’t get to my music because the style is not like the music you ordinarily listen to then take a chance and expand your horizons. If you are a classical music lover who looks forward only to the ninety millionth interpretation of Beethoven’s sonatas then you are contributing to the demise of the music you love so much which is in danger of becoming pickled in a jar in a museum. My music will not bore you and is not esoteric so take a listen and you will not regret it. Believe me.

One of the difficulties of being a classical music composer in America is the incredible commercialization of popular music to the exclusion of all else. Early in America’s history, although there was always such a thing (Tin Pan Alley and Big Band music) but there was also a great deal of classical music in American culture. Even with the initial rise of television in the 1950’s classical music was still a factor with opera programs and the NBC Symphony Orchestra led by Toscanini. However, with the rise of American post WW II prosperity teenagers became the owners of large amounts of cash; once this was noticed by the large corporations popular music because a juggernaut, not just another form of music. With huge investments on the line, it quickly eclipsed classical music as a money-maker and things only got worse for classical after that as the immigrant population died off and their progeny called the musical shots. This, paired with the decline in school music programs and a traditionally low amount of government funding of the arts – made worse by the ascension to the throne of Donald Trump and his cronies — is where things stand now in America. I am looking to Europe with its higher cultural standards and greater appreciation of classical music, including modern classical musi,c to be a port in the current storm in the States.

Is there anything you would like people to know about your music?
I think music has a two-fold mission: to entertain and to elevate the lives of those who listen. All music does this to some degree, however I believe classical music’s depth and complexity creates the ability to go beyond mere entertainment and become life changing. This is hinted at by the “Mozart Effect” that some researchers discovered several years ago. So that’s why I’m in the game. In addition to entertaining and elevating music can also serve the cause of opposing the injustice of our times. Many composers of the past have done this: Beethoven, Mahler, Wagner (his anti-Semitism aside), Shostakovitch, Prokfiev, Bernstein…the list goes on. I position myself squarely in this camp. My first recording for MMC was called “State of the Union” and dealt with the Bush administration’s use of torture and invasion to prosecute its war on terror. A work entitled “We do not torture” is on my website rogerrudensteinmusic.com which is based on the CIA’s attempts to justify its attack on human rights and quotes its own words to that effect. My short opera entitled “The Rise and Fall of Ronald P. Glumpf” has been streamed by over 100,000 people on Soundcloud. While some of my music is abstract, not topical, it still reflects the tumultuous times we live in. How could it not?

 

In Conversation With…Mihail Doman

What attracted you to the specific area of classical music you work in?

I grew up listening to Jean Michel Jarre, Vangelis and Klaus Schulze – I’ve always liked the electronic music of those times (70s and 80s). And I wanted to write some music in that vein, but as it turns out things changed, and so did the aesthetics. Today that sort of music would seem a bit too simplistic or outdated. I
felt that this kind of “modern” classical music – the kind Neoclassical artists like Olafur Arnalds write – is today’s equivalent to, you know, the “medditative” electronic music that I was listening to. And today’s Soundtrack music is getting even closer to that. So it all kind of pulled me in this direction, naturally.

What is your local music scene like in Romania? How do you think you fit in?

The local scene in Romania is almost non-existent for the kind of music I write. There’s a pretty good Rock music scene, but Classical meets Electronic is something very rare. I actually don’t know anyone who plays this kind of music.
I think it’s a bit early to tell you how I fit in. Ask me in a year’s time 😛

You’ve got a huge concert lined up – what would be your dream venue?

My dream venue would actually be a public square. Something like what Jean Michel Jarre did with the “Concert Pour La Tolerance” or “Houston – A City In Concert”. Something big with lights, fireworks, a lot of extras (dancers etc), a big orchestra and a lot of people.
You know, the kind of concert you organize only once a few years, but people remember for a few years too.

https://mihaildoman.com/

Tell us about how you go about creating your music, from initial idea to completion.

I first create the theme on the piano. For Arhythmology it was a very basic thing in Em, which you can hear all-through-out the album.
After that, I create a rough draft in Reaper, so I have something to prepare the strings to.

Then comes the sound design part – probably the best part. There’s a lot of Native Instruments (Absynth, Reaktor, Massive), but more recently I’ve been using U-HE plugins (Hive and Dark Zebra). Very easy to use and light weight 🙂

I usually like to do my own sounds, so a lot of times I start with an empty sound, like just a basic Sine or Saw wave.

Next is the string orchestra. Hopefully on the next albums I’ll be able to use a live orchestra, but for now it was Native Instruments’ Session Strings, along with a really old East West Quantum Leap Library that I had lying around, to give it a bigger size 🙂 Programming the strings is a super tedious work, because you basically have to write every note manually for every individual voice. And afterwards you have to tweak the velocity and the sample sounds until you have something that sounds natural. And this is not mentioning that you have to respect some basic rules of musical harmony – although working in E minor is not that hard. Playing the bass for a few years certainly helped me with this.

The last part I’m involved is mixing. I use almost exclusively only Waves plugins. There’s nothing better on the market. And their analog emulations are great. There’s a lot of CLA compressors on every track (especially LA-2A), API eqs, Vcomps and some tape saturation from the Kramer series. But I also use their modern plugins like the C1 and C4 Compressor, their really good sounding IR-L Convolution Reverb, or the H-Delay.

And after this, I export some basic stems and it’s off to mastering, where Marian Nica – the engineer I worked with on Arhythmology – also did some basic mixing first, to get it to sound just right.

Tell us about the inspiration and making of the video which accompanies the album

The video was inspired by Boticelli’s “Birth of Venus”, but with a modern twist – if you wish. I didn’t really want to make a video of me playing the piano – because who would watch that, really!

I thought of creating something like a painting, you know, something which will express my ideas and would be another complex creative endeavour.
I don’t want to get too much into the details of what the story means, because that would ruin the fun, but I can say there’s an underlying esoteric element to the film. To some people it will probably be obvious.

But I only had a concept to work with – I needed someone with an artistic vision. And this is where the director and producer – Matei Sopterean – stepped in. He’s a young guy, but he’s been working in the film industry in Romania for some years and he does know his stuff. He came up with the idea that we should have a choreography, and the different stances fo the main character. And he’s the one who also beautifully shot the scenes.

Now, the choreography was done by Stefan Lupu – an actor working at The Little Theatre in Bucharest. He had a very special chemistry with the actress – Alina Petrica, and they put together something really good.

It was quite the project – with a team of around 15 people, shot with a 5k Red Pro camera, in a studio, with cranes and everything else needed.
My role was more that of a consultant, but most of the merit goes to the director who put together a fantastic team of artists.

What would be your ultimate aim in the industry?

Well, I don’t really aspire to be part of the industry. I would like to flirt with it a bit, but ultimately, my goal is to do something like what Jean Michel Jarre did. My approach to all of this is probably closer to someone working for the United Nation, than to that of a musician.
What I want to do is to write “humanitarian” music. It sounds kind of funny, but I guess this is the term I would use. I want my music to change people, touch people and why not, help to create a New World.
I know I’m an idealist, but I think in life one should be idealistic. There are too many cynics around these days.

Is there anything you would like people to know about your current release?

I think I’ve said it all in the description of the album: https://mihaildoman.com/press-kit/

 

In Conversation with…Nej!Las

What attracted you to the techno/electro/house scene?

The ability (and even the requirement) to make, not only harmonic melodies and bass lines, but to additionally have percussion and drums that could, by themselves, carry a song. Techno/electro/house pushes the envelope by requiring and allowing for creativity in all areas of a song. It requires one to constantly innovate and come up with new, original, creations and techniques applied to the production.

What is your local music scene like? How do you think you fit in?

The Detroit Techno scene is so prominent; it created its own genre. The Detroit Techno Militia shows the attitude of techno producers that reside in Detroit – independent, proud and original. Detroit allows for producers to have creativity, to not necessarily fit inside the box of what “techno” is supposed to be, but to continuously push the boundaries of the genre. Detroit Techno is innovative. The innovative and original style shines through my music.

You’ve got a huge gig lined up – what would be your dream venue?

An intimate venue where I could feed off of the audiences’ energy and they could be up close and personal to my live production. A symbiotic relationship between me and the crowd.

Tell us about how you go about creating your music, from initial idea to completion

I create two different live sets.
The first live set – the “progressive, melodic set” focuses on the harmonic elements. This set, by itself, would be categorized as “progressive” music. I spend days creating and manipulating analogs, wavetables, and filters in order to find a unique synth sound. I tend to favour an almost guitar-like synth – overdriven and raw. I then, likewise, formulate an “opposite” synth that is sweet and melodic – as if it could lead a progressive/chill-out song. This synth tends to be a string or rubber instrument. I then spend additional days writing, rewriting, and rearranging midi data and appreciations. With all the variations of synths and midi, I usually have enough sounds and tracks to form an entire arrangement. This is the next step, to formulate all the melodies into an arrangement of a harmonic song from an intro to an outro.

The second set – the “techno” set focuses solely on drums and percussion. I likewise arrange a very heavy techno arrangement from an intro to an outro. Hardware, like the Alesis SamplePad 4, is very useful to continue to create original midi data, or even audio samples, for percussion. I want this second set to be able to stand alone as a song without bass or melodies.

In the end, I combine the two sets, which could, by themselves, be sufficient for a song, into one set that has movement and free flowing segments. I arrange the set to make it play as if I were playing it live. I even record all the modulations and envelopes from a MIDI controller (the AKAI MPC40) as if I were performing it live. This “live performance” of the song becomes the final track.

What would be your ultimate aim in the industry?

To continue to innovate and bring original music into the traditional “techno” genre. I want to create a niche of original, harmonic, progressive, techno songs that play, and sound, like a live set.

Is there anything you would like people to know about your current release?

Songs like “Fini” play like a live set, except it allows one to listen to it anywhere. That is the style of my production – to have harmonic synths that could stand by themselves as a progressive song, but on top of the harmonies, to have percussion and drums that could also be sufficient for a song. The music is “alive”, always changing and morphing into something new and creative.

Check out Nej!Las here:

https://soundcloud.com/nejlasproducing

http://nejlas.com

 

In conversation with: Temper Cartel

We’ve been having a chat with with the boys from indie-rock four-piece Temper Cartel, who are looking to make a name for themselves with their new single ‘Babysitter’, for which the video is out 9th August! Check it out here:

 

When did you first get into music? What or who Inspired you?

Josh Alden – ” I think that I got into music through film, probably. I was obsessed with the TV from a very, very young age. My mum and dad were both working so I would get dropped off at my Grandparents (on my mum’s side) and we would watch old westerns and lots of 50’s and 60’s films etc. The music is just great in those films, and a lot of them just turn into musicals half way through or stick a song in! I think that was probably the first introduction to the power of music whether I knew it or not.”

Sam Alden – “Our Grandad was a drummer in a couple of different jazz bands, he sung too. We used to go and watch him play a lot and it influenced Josh to pick up the sticks and start playing drums but later he switched to guitar. Josh is older than me so by the time I was his age I had got into drums because of our granddad too. But I stuck with it, so now I play drums in the band.”

 

Who did you grow up listening to, and does that impact on what you create now?

Josh Alden – “If I’m honest… Chas n’ Dave, Michael Jackson and Roy Orbison! Haha my grandparents used to take me to Somerset a lot, on the drive I would sit in the back and sing along to Roy Orbison. They just had a tape player in the car and we used to take a pile with us, I was always asking my grandma to change it to the next song, so she was taking tapes out and putting new ones in for the whole journey! It would go from Roy Orbison ‘working for the man’ to Chas n’ Dave ‘London Girls’ then finish on Michael Jackson  ‘Man in the mirror’ then I’d ask for Roy Orbison again. I think everything you’ve seen and heard has to play a part in how you write songs but I couldn’t pin point what music and when has made me write how I write or what I write.

 

How long have you been playing/writing?

Danny Fisher – “I think all of us have been playing instruments since we were kids, I started at 6.”

Josh Alden – ” I started writing songs in the styles of people I liked around 12 years old. So I would listen to the pattern of a Nirvana song and then try and write my own. That’s how I started writing. Then you realise that you can’t write them as well as those people so you move on to another style and learn that. Gradually you mature and grow as a songwriter and before you know it you’ve studied lots of styles and in the process, found your own.”

 

How often do you play live?

Sam Alden – “we started out playing every week to get the experience. Now we play once every 2 or 3 weeks. We’ve been enjoying gigs in London, Oxford and Brighton. We want to venture out and go up North but for now this is where we are building a fan base. Our next gig is in London at –

 

What has been your favourite moment in music?

Everton Barbato – I think for all of us our highlights have been recording with Mark Gardener, finishing the album and supporting The Strypes. They’re nice guys, great musicians and really good at what they do.”

 

Where is the best place to find you online?

Danny Fisher – ” it depends on what you prefer to use I guess, you can catch us on Instagram (@tempercartel) which we use for more silly stuff, messing around in rehearsal etc.”

Sam Alden – “Or Twitter (@tempercartel) for links to articles or radio shows we’ve been on. But if you want a bit of everything including gig info, vids and pics, then Facebook @Tempercartel or our website www.tempercartel.com will have everything you need.”

Josh Alden – “We will be posting links to our new video Babysitter on Wednesday 9th August across all of these platforms!”

 

 

A conversation with: Neethusa

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Unsigned Interviews have been having a chat with Indian singer- songwriter (and computer science graduate) Neethusha about her origins in music and where she is now with her new single ‘Why Did I Lose You’.

 

When did you first get into music? What or who Inspired you?

I started writing songs in English and Hindi when I was 14 years old. At that point I didn’t know that I would be taking up music as a full time profession at a later point in my life although I was always fascinated by the idea of being a music artist. After I moved to Bangalore from my home state for work, I found opportunities to record my songs, start singing at coffee shops and restro-bars. It began from there, around 7 years ago. I started performing with bands around 4 years ago.

Celine Dion and Savage Garden songs were the first ones that really caught my attention- my God, their voices! Darren Hayes voice was so magical! I wanted to sing like them, emote the same way through my voice too. Bathroom singing started just around then! Other artists who influenced me are Shania Twain, Phil Collins and Roxette.

 

Who did you grow up listening to, and does that impact on what you create now?

Again, Celine Dion, Shania Twain, Bryan Adams, Backstreet Boys, Ronan Ketaing, Phil Collins, Abba, Roxette- I grew up listening to them and they have had tremendous influence on my singing styles and my songwriting.

 

How long have you been playing/writing?

I have been writing songs for over a decade now. Both in English and Hindi; although singing and writing in English is my forte. I have taken to it much more seriously in the last 4 years after quitting my job as a consultant with Deloitte.

 

How often do you play live?

I play at restrobars and coffee shops around town Wednesdays through Sundays. I play at 1522 and Gillys on New BEL Road, Bangalore on Wednesdays and Thursdays respectively( both great venues!), at the Shangri-La on Friday/Saturday; Marriot Courtyard for Sunday Brunches & The Big Pitcher, Domlur on Sunday evenings ( another great pub).  Apart from this I do trio/fully live band gigs for corporate, private and wedding functions 5-6 times a month.

What has been your favourite moment in music?

There have been several times that I have played my original music for public gigs and people have hummed to the song and requested for it to be played again. Those were the first times they were listening to it; I had this sense of accomplishment then; a beautiful feeling!

Where is the best place to find you online?

My facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/neethusha

My YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/neethushavc

Get to Know: Voldo Blanka

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Electro-pop connoisseur and craftsman Voldo Blanka kindly had a little chat with us to tell us where his unique brand of music comes from. You can listen to ‘Go Your Way’ here:

 

When did you first get into music? What or who Inspired you?

I’ve been playing music since diapers, and playing in bands since I had terribly filthy long dyed black hair in jr. high, but it wasn’t till later I knew this would be what I was going to do with my life.

I went to coachella alone in 2007. First time I’d ever been to a festival like that. Rage Against the Machine reunited and I really dug into electronic music. From that day I knew there was ONLY one thing I’d do with my life. And that is to make records and play live.

I had a few projects on the go but the one that broke was my last band Head of the Herd. We were the first band in our country to have a #1 song without a label and that taught me everything I know – making the music YOU want to make, and standing by that.

Who did you grow up listening to, and does that impact on what you create now?

I grew up in a house with a lot of jazz, classical and rock n roll. And while the latter took over my life, you can’t discount how everything you hear creeps into your own creations.

So I’ve been making rock n roll since I was a boy and film scores for the past few years. The combination of those two makes up Voldo Blanka and the record ‘nuns enjoy a madman.’

 

How often do you play live?

I’m keeping off the road for the moment. Few videos and films being worked on. But when I hit the road, it’ll get announced on the Voldo Blanka Facebook page.

 

What has been your favourite moment in music?

There’s no feeling on earth like when people sing along to your songs live. It’s surprising, beautiful, uplifting, and terrifying every time. Fuck, I just love it.

 

Where is the best place to find you online?

Go to www.voldoblanka.com and sign up for the email list but Facebook and Instagram are where most of the updates come from.

Soundcloud: https://tinyurl.com/yczk5ewq

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/voldoblanka/?hc_ref=SEARCH&fref=nf

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/voldoblanka/?hl=en

Thanks for having me out. Now play that record as loud as you can!

In conversation with: Short Sharp Scratch

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This week, we’ve been lucky enough to have a chat with long time producer/songwriter, Jak Chantler, of Short Sharp Scratch who is currently releasing his latest soul-funk hybrid single ‘Shell Suit’. Here’s what he had to say:

 

When did you first get into music? What or who Inspired you?

My earliest musical memory is my mum making deliveries in her pickup truck for the family business, my sister and I strapped in together in the front seat (it was the 80s!), with Appetite for Destruction blaring out the truck stereo.  Mum always used to turn the volume down at the sweary bits!

When I was about 10 I rediscovered this record and it inspired me to start playing guitar.

 

Who did you grow up listening to, and does that impact on what you create now?

I was obsessed with rock growing up, back then you were not allowed to enjoy other stuff too as it was seen as soft, so for many years I also had a secret pop and disco flirtation.  Thank goodness when you reach the age where you can proudly enjoy all music! I’m not sure if it’s like that for rock kids today, I think people can listen to whatever they like peer pressure free!

 

How long have you been playing/writing?

I started out writing guitar parts for my old band Kingskin.  As we got busier with gigs our singer was less interested in writing lyrics so I started doing that just as it had to get done in order to finish anything.  Then at some point I discovered Prince and saw that he would write, play and record everything!  I’m not on that level as he is a God as far as I’m concerned, but it definitely helped me.

 

How often do you play live?

I am very busy live performer, it’s often private events.  However there are some live opportunities coming up, watch this space…

What has been your favourite moment in music?

My best experience has been either recording with Steve Albini in Chicago or recently I got to record my new single Shell Suit at Abbey Road

Where is the best place to find you online?

https://m.facebook.com/shortsharpscratchmusic/

‘Shell Suit’ is set for release 15th September.

Introducing: Luna Blue

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Brighton’s latest musical sensation has emerged in the form of recent University of Chichester graduates, Luna Blue, and they’re making their mark on the scene with their unique brand of funky indie-pop. Here’s what they had to say:

When did you first get into music? What or who Inspired you?

Ryan: I first fell in love with music at about the age of 5/6 where I would listen to a huge amount of AC/DC and Guns n Roses, when I got to about 15 I discovered Jimi Hendrix and this man alone gave me a huge drive to become a guitarist.

Seb: My brother got me really into music when he came home with CDs from the likes of Limp Bizkit, Linkin Park and Korn. I was always fascinated with the powerful drumming in these tracks after I picked up the drums at a young age. But my real inspiration came from two albums in particular. The first was Dream Theater’s Train of Thought. Some of Mike Portnoy’s drumming in songs like Honor Thy Father opened me up to what real powerful, fast and complex drumming sounded like, whereas Danny Carey’s drumming throughout Tool’s Lateralus made me realise just how creative and musical you could really be behind a drum kit.

Tom: I was classically trained on the piano from the young age of seven, being inspired by artists such as Ludovico Einaudi and Chopin with a deep-rooted passion for composing film scores. Later on in my youth I began to self teach guitar which led me onto songwriting taking influences from Ben Howard, Newton Faulkner and the Frey. Towards the end of my first year at the University of Chichester, after meeting the band, my motivation to bring out the best in my voice picked up and I trained my voice for several hours a day with a minimum of 1 hour vocal coaching a week. I continue to keep up the daily practise as I am constantly looking for ways to push my voice and so that I can maintain it for the duration of my musical career.

Nick: My dad is a music teacher so I’ve been playing music from a very young age on the trumpet and piano, so I have a strong background in classical and jazz. I took up the guitar when I was 12, the drums at 13 and I first picked up a bass guitar when I was 15 after being asked to play in a wind band. My dad has always been my biggest inspiration, making me aspire to be the greatest musician I can possibly be. But Progressive Metal band Tool were the first band I started listening to that wasn’t my dads music, and that was what inspired me to pick up and learn to play the guitar.

Who did you grow up listening to, and does that impact on what you create now?

Ryan: AC/DC, Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin. These where the big bands that I used to listen to all the time. These days I listen to more Jazz Fusion such as the Aristocrats, Greg Howe, Allan Holdsworth.

Seb: I grew up listening to Rock and Metal primarily, before shifting more towards Prog Metal and more recently into the quirky realms of Jazz Fusion. Personally, I like to try and put in a little bit of the complexities of Prog Metal and Jazz Fusion into my playing. I get bored if I’m not spicing up my drum grooves just a little. We’re always trying to toe the line between keeping our music accessible to everyone, but also keeping a hint of subtle complexity…mainly for our own amusement!

Tom: I grew up listening to a wide range of genres from classical and jazz to pop punk and rock. A major inspiration of mine is Jeff Buckley this is due to his effortless vocals and emotive language which is something that I aim to achieve through dedication and practise. My inspiration to pick up guitar comes from the funk rock and indie sounds of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Foals.

I use a lot of metaphors in my music as I love songs which don’t go straight to the point. Every individual who listens to the music can interpret it totally differently, which for me, makes the music timeless due to its endless possibilities. This realisation came to me from listening to Jeff Buckley and the Arctic Monkeys vocalist, Alex Turner.

Nick: I spent the first decade of my life listening to my dad’s music (Chuck Mangione, Tower of Power, Haydn, Shostakovich) which has had a massive impact on the range of music styles I listen to today as most of it is a mixture of classical, jazz and funk. But after I started listening to Tool, I started listening to more and various contemporary styles of pop, rock and metal such as Muse, Bullet for my Valentine, Toto, Megadeth and Avenged Sevenfold. Later in my teenage years I got more into the progressive side of music such as Pink Floyd, TesseracT, Periphery, Animals As Leaders and Karnivool. All of these bands and styles have had a huge impact on my playing and musicianship. The Classical side helping me to read music and gain skills such as arranging and composing, and the Contemporary and Jazz for my feel, memory and technical side to my playing.

Ryan Guitar photo

How long have you been playing/writing?

Ryan: I first started playing at the age of 5 and ever since then I’ve had guitar lessons where I learnt classical and rock guitar. As for writing I was in a band with the same name (Luna Blue) in college where I met our drummer, Seb. This is where I properly started to write my own music.

Seb: I’ve been playing for far too long now. I think I started at the age of 10? Since then my taste in music has grown and changed. I’ve gone from AC/DC covers to playing along to Prog Metal artists like Meshuggah and Tool. During that time, I’ve been in countless bands, from terrible Nirvana tribute bands who played exclusively in the local village hall, to jazz and function bands playing in bars and pubs. I started writing music with my brother (who plays guitar) when I was very young, and joined a few rock and metal bands in my teenage years. But when I met Ryan and formed (an albeit quite different) Luna Blue, I wanted to stick with it and continue writing more seriously.

Tom: I have been playing piano since the age of seven but prior to that music was still a huge part of my life. I can recall always singing along to 70’s and 80’s hits that I would often hear in the house or on car journeys.
I have been improvising and composing music for piano since I was around the age of 12. This then led me to want to compose and improvise on my dad’s 12 string guitar which is what lead me to learn the standard 6 string guitar. After knowing how to play chords and messing around with different sounds, the vocal melodies came naturally to me and the lyrics were my internal thoughts and emotions.

Nick: I have been playing for as long as I can remember, and I have been writing and arranging since I was 15 in terms of Classical and Jazz. I wrote a lot of contemporary music back then as well but the first time I started writing more accessible contemporary music was when I joined Luna Blue on Bass. Before then I experimented more with Heavy Metal and Prog.

How often do you play live (include details and links for any upcoming gigs)?

We try to gig as regularly as we possibly can. Whenever there is an opportunity to play, we will always try to take it! Below are some of our upcoming dates, but this is always being updated and filled, so check our website for a more extensive list!

Jul 29

Lambs Steyne

Bognor Regis, United Kingdom

 

Aug 10

Watson’s General Telegraph

London, United Kingdom

 

Aug 12

The London Stone

Staines, United Kingdom

 

Aug 25

Hope & Ruin

Brighton, United Kingdom

 

Sep 09

Fishstock

Brixham, United Kingdom

 

Sep 29

The Buff Club

Glasgow, United Kingdom

 

Sep 30

Pi Bar

Leicester, United Kingdom

 

Oct 04

New Cross Inn

London, United Kingdom

 

Oct 28

Pavlov’s Dog

Reading, United Kingdom

Seb photo

 

What has been your favorite moment in music?

In March of 2017 we held our own two-hour long concert back by a 30 piece orchestra on the University of Chichester’s Bishop Otter Campus. This concert took months of hard work, practice, composing and endless rehearsals and organization, but came together to become the favorite moment in our musical career for all four of us. The venue reached full capacity and over £120 for Nordoff-Robbins, a charity chosen to commemorate one of Nick’s closest friends who was hit and killed by a drunk driver the year prior. Bryony aspired to work for the charity, so we dedicated the night to her memory. Luna Blue will be repeating the event with a bigger and better orchestra, new songs and further orchestration in the hopes of raising even more money for Nordoff-Robbins. For more info and updates, please visit our website!

Where is the best place to find you online?

You can find us pretty much everywhere online! Our social media links can be found below:

Youtubehttps://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVkV54sLs9_A9tc93CzIx9A

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/weareLunaBlue/

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/weareLunaBlue

Instagramhttps://www.instagram.com/lunablueofficial/

Itunes & Spotify – (Just search for Luna Blue!)

Websitehttps://www.lunablueofficial.com/

An interview with: Gulf

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Liverpool has spawned many a quality bands over the years, the latest of which comes in the form of psychedelic dream-pop duo Gulf. We had a chat with them about their latest material and their influences in music.

When did you first get into music? What or who Inspired you?

Disco has been a staple from as far back as we can remember, some jazz, some psych and some hip-hop influences blended together and that’s us. We were both born into families with great vinyl collections and when there’s a copy of MJ’s Thriller lying around, everyone’s having a good time and we’re getting an understanding of what great music sounds like.

Who did you grow up listening to, and does that impact on what you create now?

We grew up listening to Michael Jackson, Chic, Stevie Wonder, Earth Wind and Fire. Then we discovered bands like Daft Punk, the Wu-Tang Clan, Jamiroquai and Dungen. They definitely have an effect on our songwriting approach.

How long have you been playing/writing?

We’ve been writing together for around six years now.

How often do you play live?

After playing a gig every other week last year, we took some time off to record our album. Over the next few months we’ll be back at it again with some new material and we’re really excited about that.

What has been your favourite moment in music?

We’ve got a few of these, sharing a stage with The Flaming Lips at Liverpool Sound City, supporting Echo and the Bunnymen and TOPS, who we’re huge fans of. Our Maida Vale live session for Radio 1 with Huw Stephens was pretty special too.

Where is the best place to find you online?

You can find us on Soundcloud and Spotify, just search for ‘Gulfmusic’

Links:

https://en-gb.facebook.com/gulfmusicuk/

https://twitter.com/gulfmusicuk

In conversation with: John Dylan

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Unsigned Interviews were lucky enough to be in conversation with dream-pop artist, John Dylan, who talks about his influences, his earliest memories of music and his song writing. Check out the the new video for ‘Get Beyond’ at the bottom!

When did you first get into music? What or who Inspired you?

I don’t remember when I first got into music. I have tapes from when I was 4 or so where I am hosting a “radio show” (i.e. recording into a tape deck). I play records from the likes of The Police, Michael Jackson, The Specials, The Ramones, Marshall Crenshaw, and Sesame Street. I also go from there to playing songs I made up this portable little harmonium, and playing my toy drum set along to the records. My parents both play a little guitar and liked to put on Austin City Limits and VHS tapes of concerts and play records around the house. I just don’t remember it not being that way. 

 

Who did you grow up listening to, and does that impact on what you create now?

I was too young to enjoy the grunge explosion in person, really… I was in 6th grade or so when Nevermind came out and was underage for the entire 90s. And where I was, which was Tulsa, Oklahoma, was pretty musically desolate. But that kicked things off, I suppose. From there I fell into this rabbit hole as a teenager… Starting with the cooler music blocks on MTV (Alternative Nation, 120 Minutes, Yo! MTV Raps), then into music press (Spin, Alternative Press, Flipside, Maximumrockandroll), then writing for music press (reviewing records for Foxy Digitalis and Punk Planet) and getting into the tape labels (like Shrimper, Catsup Plate, Union Pole, Sing Eunuchs, and Cactus Gum, which I helped out at). At that low of a level, getting a compilation from one of those labels was like MTV — a great sampler of what that label was about. Then you’d send concealed cash and a note and get a handmade tape and a note back. It was wonderful, and personal, and interactive.

I suppose when you vacillate between writing about music and putting other people’s music out, conversing and working with musicians, and then making your own music, it all seems very accessible and like the artifice of pop and the barriers between performer and audience are really stifling and silly. I had very good exposure to people who both took music seriously and took the music industry very unseriously, and who weren’t afraid to do it themselves. I really want to live in that space; in my heart of hearts the democratization of music is really my goal. My hope is that by recording the album at home with me playing all the instruments, self-releasing it, and making the multi-track stems open source, that I am living up to the ethos of DIY and the conversation between artist and listener being 2-way. I want so much to connect with people through this music. In part because in other parts of my life I feel sort of isolated, but also because I genuinely believe that personal contact with the musician makes the healing power of music much more effective. 

 

How long have you been playing/writing?

As “b-sides” for my first single, I made this 60-track montage of my entire life in recordings. I count that time, which starts in 1993, as the beginning. At the beginning of the montage my guitar playing is very feeble and it progresses from there. Since I got started with drums much earlier, that was always more solid. But whatever might have been going on beforehand, I wasn’t writing any songs until ’93, ’94.  

 

How often do you play live (include details and links for any upcoming gigs)?

I actually just finished assembling the lineup for our live band so you’ll have to stay tuned. Shows will always be on the front page of john.audio.

 

What has been your favourite moment in music?

I like the beginnings of new ideas. The birth of Rock N’ Roll with Chuck Berry. The British invasion and The Beatles. Early reggae tracks, early punk tracks, early new wave, early alternative, early g-funk rap, the ascendance of instrumental post-rock. If you grow up with music at a young age you start to get a little numb to ideas that you’ve heard before. I can’t really choose a favourite from all of these, but if we want to talk “formative,” I can say that if you watch the documentary 1991 the Year Punk Broke, try to imagine a 12-year-old me taking all that in and having my mind blown.

I am also very attracted to heavily political music, particularly when that music is offering higher critiques than some contemporary statement on a current event. With something like Bob Dylan’s “It’s Alright Ma, I’m Only Bleeding,” I feel like the better nature of man is being revealed — that a moral universe can exist where we have moved on from our cynical political leadership and we care about getting things right. Also John Lennon’s “Imagine,” and Operation Ivy’s “Here We Go Again.” Not accidentally, I am working with Klaus Voormann, who played bass on “Imagine,” and Jesse Michaels, who was the singer/lyricist of Operation Ivy, on my project as well (they are contributing album and single artwork). I was honored when they agreed. I really see them as complete packages — multimedia talents who worked on music that had the clearest vision of the human condition that I know about — people that are heroes to me. I’m trying to do this all in the best and most meaningful way I know how. I can’t pinpoint that to a moment so much as people through which the right ideals shined.

 

Where is the best place to find you online?

john.audio is my site and links to all my social media. Look for John Dylan on IndabaMusic.com and start remixing my music. Or John Dylan on pretty much anything (Bandcamp, YouTube, etc). 

Links

https://www.facebook.com/johndylanaudio/

https://twitter.com/johndylanaudio

https://www.instagram.com/johndylanaudio/

https://johndylanaudio.tumblr.com/

http://john.audio/