Today's Artist is one of the few ambient producers to use an electric guitar as his main source of music. He started playing guitar in 1980, playing what he could from the radio. It was not until he took classical and jazz guitar classes that he was introduced to different forms of guitar playing. Mostly influenced by the early sounds of Brian Eno's Music for Airports, the now experienced guitarist found his niche in ambient music, or space rock. Using his guitar and a slew of distortion pedals, and even sometimes a knife to bow the strings, his work developed a strong fan base..... N'Joy
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Jeff Pearce is an Indiana-based ambient/new age musician. He has been called "one of the top two electronic guitarists of all time" by Allmusic, while reviewer John Diliberto wrote in Billboard magazine that Pearce is "one of the best" guitarists to follow the solo electric guitarist concept. Pearce started playing guitar at age 13 and discovered the music of Brian Eno and Harold Budd while in college
Since 1993, Jeff Pearce has been well known to the ambient/new age music community for his unique approach to the electric guitar. He has been called "one of the top two electronic guitarists of all time" by AllMusic while reviewer John Diliberto wrote in Billboard magazine that Pearce is "one of the best" guitarists to follow the solo electric guitarist concept. Whether playing intimate acoustic-based music or crafting deep-space ambient guitar drifts, Jeff composes music with equal parts melody and mystery.
Pearce's first album, Tenderness and Fatality, was released in 1993 and the following six albums saw Pearce focusing on creating music using only electric guitar. His albums To the Shores of Heaven and Bleed were picked as "album of the month" by the producers of NPR's Echoes radio program. For his eighth and ninth albums, Lingering Light and Rainshadow Sky, Pearce featured compositions written for the Chapman Stick.
Jeff is an active live performer, having played venues ranging from historic churches and concert halls to planetariums and dance clubs. His live performances are memorable events, mixing songs from his cd's with humorous storytelling and surprising musical improvisations. He has shared with stage with such performers as Will Ackerman, Stephan Micus, Steve Roach, Jonn Serrie, and Liz Story. Pearce's music can also be heard on the nationally syndicated weekly radio program Music from the Hearts of Space.
Jeff has also contributed his guitar and Stick playing to recordings by Kevin Keller, Paul Avgerinos, Jeff Oster, Robert Linton, and Vidna Obmana
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Released to commemorate Jeff's participation in the Summer Solstice Space Spectacular (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, USA - 22 June 2003).
The afternoon started out with Jeff Pearce warming up the day with a truly inspired performance. Jeff's guitars never sounded better. Opening his set with some beautifully melodic pieces, Jeff segued into the more ambient, atmospheric portion of his performance which featured new music from his "Summer Solstice" CD written especially for the afternoon's event. Jeff's relaxed stage presence and good humor (I especially loved his good natured ribbing at event host John Diliberto) had the audience laughing and made for a truly wonderful set. Jeff ended his performance with an improvisational number where he solicited help from John Diliberto and the audience by asking audience members to help choose the key signature for his final piece. Then to make his last number just that more challenging, he cut 5 of his 6 strings from his guitar using a pair of wire cutters leaving him with just 1 string to compose his final number on! It was amazing!
Jeff Pearce - Summer Solstice (flac 308mb)
01 The Longest Day 3:27
02 Cloud Rivers 20:01
03 Life In The Dusk Air 10:46
04 With Evening Above 4:28
05 Star Swimming 9:15
06 Slow Into Morning 13:29
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Known as a guitar innovator for quite a number of years, Pearce composed and recorded the music for "Lingering Light" exclusively on the Chapman Stick, an electric guitar-like instrument that is kind of a bridge between guitar and keyboard. The instrument has ten strings, and the strings are usually tapped. The playing position is different from a guitar, and both hands play the strings, allowing the player to play melody and accompaniment. The range is about 5 1/4 octaves. In Pearce's hands, the sound is ethereal and sooooooo relaxing. This is truly one of the most beautiful albums I've heard in a very long time. A bit on the melancholy side, the music is leisurely, open, and deeply emotional. The quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson in the liner notes really says it all: "What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us." All twelve tracks are gorgeous and create a mood of peaceful reflection. Give your ears, mind, and soul a real treat and check this out. Very highly recommended!
Jeff Pearce - Lingering Light (flac 181mb)
01 A Secret To Hide 4:34
02 In The Quiet Days Before 3:38
03 Jasmine In Lingering Light 5:35
04 Gentle Lessons 3:07
05 First Wounding 3:40
06 First Healing 4:07
07 These Things Unspoken 2:42
08 Everything In Time 2:01
09 From The Mountain's Dark Side 4:15
10 Almost The Moon 3:06
11 Her Heart Holds Winter, Unforgiven 2:57
12 In The Silent Years To Come 4:37
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Rainshadow Sky", released in 2008, is 10th solo album of highly treasured ambient guitarist, based in West Point, Indiana, Jeff Pearce. Keeping on the path taken on his previous "Lingering Light" album, Jeff, who is known for his unique approach to the guitar, explores with his filigree playing Chapman Stick highly evocative, intimate and serene realms. A highly relaxed sonic experience is guaranteed!!! "Rainshadow Sky" consists of 12 rather shorter tracks clocking between 2 and 5 minutes, which were live recorded at house concerts in late 2007 and first half of 2008. Compositions are ranging in mood, from more joyful and euphoric pieces like "Rainshadow Sky", "Ashes Of Grace" or the most lively piece "Deluge" through emotionally driven like "Sorrow In Spring", "A Secret To Hide", "Autumn Clouds" and "Night Path" to gorgeously dreamy and serene arrangements like "And We Prayed For Rain", "The Last Warm Day In October", "Through Tears" and "Hope's Last Whisper". Among the highlights on this album is certainly also deeper droning "Harvest Storms" that recalls the darker drifting atmospheric era of Jeff's career. Yes, I must say the overall quality of each track is top notch, you won't hear on this album any fillers, so it's very difficult to point another standout pieces. But most likely I would go for the opening title track "Rainshadow Sky" that immediately sets the magically beautiful and intimate atmosphere with delicately balanced melody, melancholy and mystery. Highly expressive "A Secret To Hide", fragile "Night Path" and melodious "Deluge" get my votes too. Extra points are awarded also for astonishingly looking front cover image (art by Sandra Dittfeld). If you like highly relaxing ambient tunes performed by a truly gifted and inventive musician, "Rainshadow Sky" is highly recommended choice!!! And don't miss Jeff's (and his wife Anastasia's) newest activity, a project entitled "Provision Series", in which from July 2011 to July 2012 Jeff will release every month one mp3 single with donations to monthly chosen charity and local homeless shelter and food bank. Show your respect to this great musician and person!!!
Jeff Pearce - Rainshadow Sky (flac 189mb)
01 Rainshadow Sky 2:43
02 Sorrow In Spring 2:45
03 A Secret To Hide 5:05
04 Autumn Clouds 3:20
05 And We Prayed For Rain 2:39
06 The Last Warm Day In October 4:27
07 Night Path 4:29
08 Through Tears 2:18
09 Harvest Storms 6:38
10 Ashes Of Grace 4:28
11 Deluge 6:03
12 Hope's Last Whisper 3:44
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Quite long time has passed since Jeff Pearce's last album "Rainshadow Sky", released back in 2008. But this doesn't mean this ambient guitar virtuoso from West Point, Indiana, was inactive since that. In July 2011 Jeff Pearce has created together with his wife Anastasia a year-long project entitled "Provision Series". During this period Jeff was releasing each month one digital download single with donations to a different charity each month. A truly applauded project of this wonderful person and musician, and his family!!! "In The Season Of Fading Light" CD, packaged in beautiful 4-panel disc eco wallet, was released at the beginning of September Graced with a startlingly gorgeous cover by Teodora Chinde (as beautiful, if not more so, than 2008's Rainshadow Sky), flawless mastering by Corin Nelsen, and graphic design by Hypnos label founder Mike Griffin, In the Season of Fading Light displays three distinct "personas" to Pearce's composing and piano playing. One of these is no doubt due to the influence of noted pianist Philip Aaberg (whose online piano lessons Pearce is taking). This style is reflected in pieces such as "Autumn and Regret II," "The Road and the Wind" and "Into Spring." These songs are less melancholic and possess a more defined melody, although could still be classified as tone poems. The second type of music on the album (which I would describe as vintage Pearce) may be best exemplified on the opening title track, featuring plaintive piano accented by Pearce's always emotive ambient guitar which sighs softly underneath the sparse, intimate moody shadows of the piano. "After the Frost" could also fall into this category, especially if one imagines Jeff playing the same forlorn melody on either Chapman stick or guitar. The heartrending sad beauty of "Words from the Rain" (with an expertly applied backdrop of falling rain) is indicative of the third type of music on the album, one that bears a strong resemblance to the minimalist chamber style of Tim Story (note the deeply echoed piano on this track, a device that Story uses on many of his solo works).
All of the thirteen tracks on In the Season… are winners, as the mood crisscrosses various moods and sensations: the subtle liveliness of "Autumn and Regret II," the somber yet slowly rolling fluidity of "Where the Rivers Begin," a faint whisper of hope (with a hint of church hymn music contained in the melody) in "Harvest Prayer," a dash of jazz amidst the sepia tones of "Newfallen," and the deep (almost funereal) drama of "Where All Rivers End," on which the cries of ambient guitar form a subdued wailing of sorrow amidst the stark darkness of the piano, accented by other ambient textures underneath.
*Twelve of the thirteen tracks on In the Season of Fading Light were originally released as the Provision Series, digital-download-only singles which were released monthly beginning in July 2011. Jeff Pearce donated a part of each sale to a different charity each month, taking particular care to select charities which were (according to the artist's website "… run through the databases of a few organizations that monitor a charity's activities." Now with the release of In the Season of Fading Light, Jeff Pearce is donating one dollar from the sale of each album to the charity Feeding America.
Jeff Pearce - Season Of Fading Light (flac 150mb)
01 In The Season Of Fading Light 3:18
02 Autumn And Regret II 3:23
03 A Secret For The Moon 5:36
04 Where All Rivers Begin 3:17
05 Harvest Prayer 3:06
06 After The Frost 4:01
07 Newfallen 4:12
08 Winter Waltz 5:05
09 Almost The Moon II 3:31
10 Into Spring 4:23
11 Words From The Rain 3:31
12 The Road And The Wind 3:58
13 Where All Rivers End 5:01
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As the bio above is rather limited i thought to share here an excellent interview by Ambient Visions with Jeff Pearce in 2001
Talks With Jeff Pearce
AV: When was it that you first realized that music was going to be an important component of your life?
JP: Music always moved me as a listener, so, in that respect, I knew that music would always be an important part of my life. But my OWN music? That happened when I strummed my first guitar chord at the age of 13. To just feel those strings vibrate under my fingers, to hear the sounds change as I moved my hand around- I knew right then that I wanted this instrument to be the main outlet for my musical expressions.
AV: Were guitars always your instrument of choice when it came time to write music?
JP: No. I started out my musical life as a drummer. Before that, I was the victim of a few piano lessons! (laughs) Unfortunately, I didn't quite "take" to that instrument when I was seven years old. To this day, I have a lot of instruments around the house that I'm constantly playing- a piano, a synth, a zither- and they all inspire the creative process, but I really don't see myself ever recording my music with them. I respect my audience- and my own music- too much to subject either one to the noodlings I make on these other instruments! (laughs) There's a "freshness" that DOES come from experimenting with other instruments, but that freshness can be taken back to your "main" instrument, with a little bit of creativity.
AV: Who were some of your early influences in the ambient music field that helped to shape the sound of your music?
JP: It was all basically Brian Eno and Harold Budd. I came across a cassette copy of "Music for Airports" at my college bookstore in late 1985, and it was an incredibly "mind-altering" experience. I heard elements of chance and randomness introduced into music, yet without all the chaos and atonalism that I head in modern classical music. Then, about a week later, I picked up a copy of "The Pearl" by Budd and Eno. This time, I heard a more structured approach, but it STILL was in that wonderfully reflective place that I heard in "Airports". A week after THAT, I picked up Eno's "Music for Films". To this day, I still think that this ambient genre of ours can be best represented by these three recordings. There was no "ego" in any of these, Eno and Budd weren't out to loudly proclaim their greatness to all who would hear. They were simply making the music for themselves, on their own terms, and were patiently awaiting to see what shape the music would take. That patience, sadly, is absent from so much of today's ambient music, at least to my ears.
AV: Did you ever have any formal training as far as your music goes or was it mostly pick it up as you go along? Do you see any advantages or disadvantages to having or not having formal musical training as opposed to teaching yourself?
JP: I took roughly three years of classical and jazz guitar lessons in high school, and played in jazz bands and studied percussion in college. I can only speak for me, but I'm glad that I know how to read music and know music theory. Being able to do this not only gives me the potential to connect with musicians from all over the world, but it also gives me a chance to connect with music that was written hundreds of years before I was born. I don't see an advantage or a disadvantage to reading music/knowing theory in the world of music composing; Brian Eno picked up things as he went along, but Harold Budd was a very schooled musician. It's often a romanticized notion, especially in this genre of music, of the musician who proudly proclaims "I don't know anything about music theory- I play from the soul!". Unfortunately, this has lead to something of a form of "reverse discrimination" in certain circles- musicians quietly viewed as being "soul-less" just because they know how to read music, or know music theory.
AV: I think I've asked this question of other musicians that I've talked to but I'm always curious as to how your environment affects the kind of music that you create. How did your environment (geographic/emotional) affect your writing and the style of music that you chose to pursue?
JP: I consider the enviroment I'm in to COMPLETELY affect my kind of music. At the moment, my wife, daughter, and I live on five secluded acres of forest in Indiana. We have a nice stream that goes through the property, and a lot of wildlife around us. I love looking out the window and seeing the seasons progress. It's beautiful, to my eyes, to see things slowy change every day.
For what I do, I can't imagine a more boring place than somewhere that doesn't have seasonal changes- where it's always hot or always cold all the time. I like the element of progression in music. In MY music, that's probably the reason that I DON'T use "static" loops- where the same thing just repeats over and over and over. I like to always have something new going into the delay line, at the same time that something old goes away. And the seasons are like this- every day, something new arrives as something old dies off.
AV: About when was it that you started to think of music in terms of a career and something that you could actually do for a living?
JP: I haven't done this yet, but I probably will soon! (laughs) Really, I DON'T view this whole process as a "career", because I know that, at least for the moment, this genre is way too small to sustain my approach to what I do.
There are a handful of guys out there "making a living" with this music and nothing else. God bless them, I say. But they are often working at a pace that I personally would feel uncomfortable working at. If I were cranking out a lot of cd projects a year, the quality of my music would suffer. I know this. Maybe these other people's music doesn't suffer from this pace, but mine would. My views of my music are such that I see what I do musically to be a piece- a very important piece- of the overall puzzle known as my life. Right now, I feel like there's a balance in the puzzle- at least at the moment! The other pieces of the puzzle are my family, my friends, my health, spirituality- the whole big picture. And yes- once all the pieces fit, life often scrambles up the pieces again, and you start all over. That's how it should be. But I know that if I were to make my music the biggest piece of the puzzle, my "life" would be poorer for it. Then, ironically, that neglected life would start to feed bad energy back into the music, diminishing THAT as well.
AV: Is there a conflict between you as an artist who creates the music for the joy of expressing himself and you as a businessman who must view the created music as a product that you have to bring to market? How is it that you balance these seemingly opposite ends of the spectrum to > achieve something that is satisfying to you as artist but allows you to make money from your creations?
JP: That part of the question is easy- I DON'T make money from my music! (laughs) Well, not very much at least.
I'm blessed that I work with a guy like Mike Griffin and the Hypnos label. Mike has a very business-like approach to Hypnos, don't get me wrong. But it's BECAUSE he has such a good business head that he can put out cd's that personally move and inspire him. I'm honored to be among that group of musicians. Mike doesn't get caught up in the "unimportant things" surrounding this music; if there was ever a "zen record label head", that would be Mike Griffin! (laughs)
Regarding the release of my own music, I'm afraid that I don't have any pained or tortured insights on the process; I simply release the absolute best music that I can with every cd I put out. Not a very exciting answer, right? "Trust" is the most important thing between an artist and an audience, in my opinion. And I want those who have blessed me by listening to my music to know that whenever they listen to a Jeff Pearce cd, they are hearing the absolute best that Jeff Pearce could do- it wasn't rushed, it wasn't an after-thought, it wasn't an attempt to further my catalog or my "presence" in the "music scene". It was simply my music, and the best of my music that I could create at that time.
AV: Looking back on some of your sophomore recordings are there any that stand out as favorites even now? What was it that makes them shine even after their time has passed?
JP: I still like my first cd "Tenderness and Fatality" from 1993. I took some heat from some ambient folks on that one, because that release was mostly recognizeable guitar sounds, and those sounds appeared in structured SONGS! (laughs) There were three cuts on there that forshadowed my more "processed" leanings- cuts that I did with a trusty Electro-Harmonix delay box, creating long infinite repeat delay lines and such.
A lot of these "spacy textures" I was experimenting with ended up appearing on my cd "Daylight Slowly" in 1998, which is another release of mine that is a nice nostalgiac listen for me. And I truly enjoy "To the Shores of Heaven", because, with that release, I was experiementing with textures and sounds that were different than what I had previously done, and different than what is the norm for "ambient guitar". But I also took the time to make sure that these sounds were worked into some good songs. Sounds are great, songs are better! (laughs)
AV: Do you have a certain way that you approach composing music when inspiration strikes you? Or is there some way that you start the process simply by sitting down with your guitar and beginning to play?
JP: Again, this is another not-so-exciting answer, but I really just let the "muse" or inspiration or whatever it is dictate the composing. I really DON'T try to force things out. I've always felt that if I wanted my music to feel smooth and effortless and flowing, then I'm not going to achieve that feel if I try to "force" the creation of the music. Sometimes inspiration strikes me while I have a guitar in my lap. But very rarely. Most of the time, inspiration strikes me while I'm just living my life-talking with friends, spending time with my daughter, cooking, doing yardwork. Oh, and sleeping- and I'm not crazy about inspiration striking at 2:00 am! (laughs)
AV: What kind of equipment do you have around the house to set down your inspirations in a permanent form for later manipulation?
JP: I'm fortunate that I have a very small yet intuitive set up in my basement studio. I have a Roland VM3100pro digital mixer hooked into my computer, and all my effects units and guitars hooked into the mixer. When inspiration strikes, I can quickly call up my Sound Forge program on my computer and record my "musical thoughts". Sometimes the whole thing comes out. Other times, it just a piece to a puzzle that will present itself at a later date. Regardless, I am always thankful for whatever arrives because of inspiration.
AV: How has technology changed the way that you as a musician take your creative idea from inspiration to final mix, ready for duplication and distribution?
JP: I've only recently gotten into the more technical/computer end of music making, and it's been a pretty steep learning curve! I've been very happy to embrace this technology, though, because it means total freedom for the musician. Or total chaos if you have a computer crash! (laughs) It's been useful to have all the songs on my hard drive, and be able to tweak them to my heart's content before burning a cd-r of them and sending it to the pressing plant.
AV: What was the first CD that you created and saw pressed and distributed by a record label? How does that feel as an artist to see your work moving beyond just you and out into the world?
JP: My first cd, "Tenderness and Fatality" was a self release project in 1993. It was a really odd feeling when it was sitting in front of me in physical form; I felt a little like I was at the end, and also the beginning, of a journey.
AV: I don't always think of a guitar as being a real subtle instrument but you seem to bring forth some wonderful sounds from your guitar...how is it that you process these signals to achieve such a flowing sound?
JP: I tend to approach my guitar in the same way as I cook- I throw everything at it, and examine the final results. If it tastes bad, well, I've eliminated one "recipe" from my library!
In recent years, I've found it far more liberating to focus on a few pieces of gear that really speak to me, as opposed to trying out a lot of different things. For example, the "mainstay" of my guitar set-up is the Roland GP-100 pre-amp. It's just a very deep and powerful processor, and I'm always discovering new things on it. I might not be discovering those new things if I were to buy a new piece of gear as soon as it came out and spend time with that- until a new piece of gear comes out!
What I REALLY like doing is taking effects that other musicians ignore for whatever reasons, and combine them with OTHER effects that musicians tend to overlook or underuse. Sometimes the result is disappointing. Ok, a LOT of times the results are disappointing! (laughs) But the times that it DOES work- it's great. Again, though- I've had more fun hooking my good old gear up in the "wrong" order than I've had with pieces of "ambient musician approved" gear.
AV: Tell me about how you hooked up with Mike Griffin and Hypnos records and what kind of relationship as an artist that you have with him. What kind of input does Mike have in regards to your music before you reach a final mix?
JP: Mike Griffin e-mailed me out of the blue in mid-1997 saying that he bought a cd of mine and really liked it. He mentioned that he had a web site, and gave me the address for it. I was completely blown away by his artwork. As we started corresponding, we developed a friendship- one which I cherish to this day. If anything, that's the most important aspect of our relationship- we both know that we can phone/e-mail each other if we want to rant and rave about AC/DC or Rush or Cheap Trick, or have deep philosophical discussions about the importance of videogames in our lives!
Mike and I sort of have an unspoken agreement regarding my music- he doesn't tell me what to play, and I don't deliver him a hip-hop cd! Seriously, he has such trust in me for what I do musically, that I don't want to deliver him anything short of my best. I value that trust he has placed in me.
AV: Is performing live as an ambient artist any different than putting on a concert within any other genre? Are there the same expectations or is there another mindset present within the ambient listener?
JP: I'm not the person to ask about live performances! (laughs) I've only done three of them. However, I do my best to present a "live" performance, as opposed to using cd-r backing tracks or pre-recorded sequences. I really don't know why so many live performers in this genre are using these things to "fill in" their performances. It's almost to the point where, sadly, the audience is ok with this. Maybe I just want to see musicians "suffer" when they play live! (laughs)
My attitude is that a live musical experience is supposed to be just that- a LIVE musical experience. If a musician is going to use extensive backing tracks, I'd prefer just to stay at home and listen to a cd of theirs. It's funny how some musicians enjoy talking about how their live performances are "on the edge", and yet they use such "safety nets" as cd-r's and the like.
Of course, I'm sure that using cd-r's has it's advantages in that you don't have to worry about creating as many things "on the fly". But I've liked that feeling at the end of my few live gigs- the feeling that I went out there, created something from nothing, and did my best at it. It might not have been as polished as using backing tracks, but the music created was created in that very moment, and was "real".
AV: How do your live performances influence the creative process once you get back home and start creating again?
JP: Actually, I've found that there's a bit of a "recovery" period from when I've played live. This is because I generally feel "musically spent" after performing live. Of course, it COULD also be that I'm a big wimp, too! (laughs)
My experience has been that playing live can bring some focus to what I'm doing musically. There's not a lot of difference in my "live" sound and my "studio" sound, since all my records since Vestiges have been recorded "live" to DAT or computer. It's musically satisfying for my to deal with all those layers of sound "live"- not because of any attitude of "look what I can do!" but because I enjoy the immediacy of what constructing everything live can do. There have been times where, through a "wrong" note or a "wrong" equipment setting, I end up in a great new place musically that I never would have thought of had I been overdubbing layers of sound.
However, sometimes that "wrong" note really IS a "wrong note", and then it's a matter of deleting that sound file and starting over.
AV: As a listener of ambient music it always seems to me to have a component of spirituality to it...do you find that your own spirituality influences your music during its creation?
JP: I believe that one's "spirituality", however THAT is defined, influences everything a person does- including writing music. To apply this to myself, my "spirituality" is often one of questions, not answers, and this, I feel, reflects itself in my music; what I do musically isn't exactly filled with that "I've got a lot of testosterone, I'm going to lead you by the nose to the exact place I want you to go!" type of thing! My spirituality tends to lean towards fragility and comfort, as opposed to strength and domination, and I believe that my music reflects this.
AV: As you look back on your releases for Hypnos, do you see your music growing and maturing as you go along?
JP: It seems so to me. Even if I weren't on Hypnos, I think my music would still be progressing, but I am so grateful to have a great and honest label like Hypnos "behind" my music, because just knowing that there is a place that will take great care of my music means that there's one less thing I have to worry about.
AV: Lets talk about The Light Beyond. Tell me about what the Gathering is and how you originally made contact with Chuck van Zyl.
JP: The Gatherings are a series of concerts in Philidelphia that are organized by Chuck van Zyl and Jeff Towne. These guys do an INCREDIBLE job of putting on shows featuring music in the electronic/space/ambient genre- I've been blessed to have played two Gatherings so far. Chuck has played my music on his radio show Star's End ever since the first cd came out, so I was more than glad to hear from him when he approached me about doing a Gathering. I had heard from other musicians that the Gatherings were incredible things, and they are. The audiences at the shows I played at have really blessed my heart- it was SO nice to be able to meet and talk with people who have sort of followed what I've done musically. At both Gatherings I've played, I've come away with some great experiences, and some new friends. I couldn't really ask for more than that.
AV: You had gone there with the idea of presenting a "sneak preview" of your upcoming musical project to the audience of Stars End. Tell me about the concert itself and what you found when you reviewed the live tapes that you made during the event.
JP: The Star's End "concert" was basically a "live on the air" concert at the radio station that airs Star's End. It was late at night/early in the morning (around 2 am!!), and I set my gear up and thought I'd give the Star's End audience a "sneak preview" of what direction my next project would take. I started to play, then Jeff Towne and Chuck van Zyl politely asked if they could just sit in the same room with me and watch and listen to what I was doing. I said "of course!" It was nice of them to ask, because I know that a lot of musicians like to be very alone and focused in that moment of creation, and I respect that. But I wanted the good energy of those two guys to be around me as I created the music, so it was good to have them there as I was creating. They talked, and laughed, and offered support.
I had started my music following a sort of "road map" as to what I would play. It's hard to describe, but I just kind of make "notes" to myself regarding where I would like the music to head. This way, I'm not locked into any certain pre-set musical expressions, but I have enough of a "plan" that I can keep in mind where the music was going. The idea was that, after this "sneak preview" on Star's End, I'd head home and sort of "re-create" what I had done. However, Chuck sent me a cd-r of the music, and I knew, the first time I listened to it, that I wouldn't be able to create anything that "spoke" what I wanted to say any clearer than the live on air performance. So I loaded that cd-r into my computer, put a fade at the beginning and end of the piece, and it was done.
AV: Do you ever do any collaborative work with other artists? If so what do you take away from such experiences and how does it add to your own style of performing and composing?
JP: I tend to "contribute" to other musician's music rather than collaborate. I've only done one "proper" collaboration, in the sense of the word, and that was with Vidna Obmana on True Stories. I've contributed parts to a lot of musician's existing songs, including Alpha Wave Movement, Jon Jenkins, Kevin Keller, Ruben Garcia, and some recent contributions to some songs by Paul Avgerinos for some tracks for his upcoming cd.
Whenever I am faced with contributing something of mine to someone else's music, I always try to find a good "space" for it. I never want anything I do to overwhelm what the other person contributed.
I think that any good collaboration should be like any good relationship; each persons brings what is unique about themselves into it in hopes of creating something beautiful. The worst thing that can happen is if one collaborator "dominates" or the other acquiesces. I don't necessarily think that the definition of a good collaboration is that "both parties agree on everything". If both parties of a collaboration agree on everything, then one of those parties is unnecessary. There should be an atmosphere of openess and honesty, where either party can express what they like or dislike about a certain piece of music/etc... without fear of angering the other person. The end result should be music that is something completely new and different from both collaborators- the old cliche about the whole being greater than the sum of the parts.
AV: What are your views on where the genre of ambient music is headed in the years ahead? Will it ever grow beyond its current niche or is it better off being a small and intimate form of music? (big business tends to rip the soul out of many artists and the music that they compose and I was just curious as to your ideas on why ambient music has stayed pretty much the same size)
JP: In my opinion, any time you're dealing with instrumental music, you will generally have a pretty small scene. We are so used to having lyrics with our songs, that we really don't know what to do with instrumental music of ANY kind, since it starts by asking us to fill in the blanks- to bring our OWN stories to the music.
You're right- "big business" CAN rip the soul out of many artists. I know of more than a few people who, sadly, have had some pretty bad experiences with the "business end" of this genre. That's why I believe that it is SO important as musicians to gaurd and nurture our love for simply creating the music. I have told people before that when I stop releasing music on cd's, it will be completely because of the business/political end of this industry. I will always love to create music, it's just pure joy for me.
But whether or not anyone ever hears that music- well, that's another story altogether.
If this "scene" becomes a very popular thing overnight- well, that would be great. But it wouldn't "add" one thing to that wonderfully fulfilling sense I have today when I create a piece of music- that experience is already "full" for me.
AV: What kinds of projects do you have in the works that we might be looking for from you in the next few months or even next year?
JP: I'm working on my next solo cd, which (hopefully!) will be finished by the time the new baby arrives. Yes- my wife and I are expecting again! After that, there's a collaboration in the works, but it's a bit of a secret at the moment.
AV: In closing, what is it that you would want listeners to take away from your music be it a live concert or playing your CDs in their players at home?
JP: First of all, I'm grateful to anyone who takes the time to listen to my music. If anything, I hope that someone would get that from my music: that I am grateful to them, I am grateful to the Universe, to be able to be playing this music and having someone take time out of their life to listen to it. Time is our most precious treasure as people, so anytime someone spends it with my music, it's an honor.
I hope that the listeners would be able to sense that they are getting the best of what I have to offer musically. I would hope that the listeners would hear that I am simply a "searcher", just like they are. I have my own questions and puzzles to work through, just as they do. Music helps me do this- whether it be music I write or music that others write. And any time someone "invites" my music into their own personal space where their own questions and puzzles live- I am humbled and grateful.
AV: Many thanks to you Jeff for taking the time to talk to us here at Ambient Visions and of course the best of luck with any and all of your future projects.
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