Robert, please introduce yourself a bit. How did you end up in music, what triggered you to start composing electronic music, and who do you consider you biggest influences?
Well, I have been creating music since I was 13. My original influences for music in general were bands like YES, Genesis, The Strawbs…mainly the progressive bands. I began by playing the guitar and later, after I heard Klaus Schulze, Vangelis, Tomita, and Kitaro, I became interested in electronic music. I picked up a Roland String Organ synthesizer and began composing electronic music.As far as I know, the first batch of of privately released album all featured handmade covers and paintings. Did you have any reason for that?
No, not really, I always drew and painted when I was younger. Actually, use to listen to the music as I did this and evidentially became more interested in the music. But after I began working with computers and some of the art programs for them, y art moved in a different direction. Now I find myself trying to learn more of the animation programs which allow for some great results.
The earlier hand paintings and such made it easy for me to create the art for the cds nd I suppose it gave each cd personal stamp. The list of releases you’ve put out until know is extensive. Can you give a description of the style and approaches you took for them, and the evolution of your music through the years?
Well, I began first with more organized music. Tangerine Dream style comes to mind. It had a more rock sound to it. Then later, or always maybe, I was trying to create an hour of music with certain influences. Native American or Tibetan, or East Indian, Aborigine, etc…
I started using flutes, shakers, didgeridoos and voice tones. Then the music evolved into a more loose format. Sound Oceans is what comes to my mind. The analogy of swimming in the ocean with schools of sounds passing by, an occasional whale of melody, plankton sparkles. I guess the music becomes more of an environment than “music” for entertain reasons.
Although most of your releases are solo exercises, there are also a few collaborations among them as well. What can you tell about them? Are there any other musicians you like to work with sometime?
Yes, my first collaboration was with Brannan Lane. We have done two cds together: “Climatic Infusion” (deep, dreamy music that reflects the changing atmospheres of our planet) and “Dreamswirl” (deep, crisp sonic swirling vibrations of dream atmospheres). Basically, he sent me an email and asked if I would be interested in doing some music together. He sent me some basic ground work (tracks), and we built them up from there.
And my other collaboration is with the artist Sylken (Eric Hopper). Our cd is called “The Endless Vista”, deep sonic tapestries for the mind and spirit. This one was done different from the previous mentioned ones. I had sent some ground tracks to Eric and he then added and built them up. I enjoy both of Brannan’s and Eric’s music so it was easy to collaborate. There are so many artist whose music I enjoy, that I would be open for collaboration with most anyone.
Robert, can you tell about the way you compose your music, and where you draw your inspiration from?
When I start working on a project, I usually have an idea of what vein I am trying to achieve. Lots of flutes or groove oriented etc… Then it becomes a very hands-on approach. I find the sounds themselves can inspire the music very much, kind of guide it. From there, it usually takes over on a subconscious level. I can’t say that I plan out what chords or notes to use. I am very aware of the keys the music is in but as I play, melodies and structures begin to form, it becomes more improvised than anything else.
My inspiration basically comes from everything. I’m a real nature person and love to hike and camp etc…living out here in the West I can get to some ancient places relatively easy and this inspires life itself.
For instance, with my most recent releases (“Starlight” Volume 1 & 2) which are based on nights of star gazing. It can be life changing being out in a quiet dark place and you look up and see thousands of stars with your naked eye. You begin to feel small and yet part of something immense.
What does your studio look like, what gear do you use, is there anything on your wish-list?
My studio is actually very modest. For gear I am using some old synthesizers by today’s standards: 2 Korg DW8000’s, 2 Korg M3R’s, Roland Juno, D110, D-5, Ensonic Asrxpro, E-Mu World Proteus, PK6, a couple Alesis quadraverbs, Harmony processor, flutes, didgeridoos.
As for my wish-list…what’s the newest stuff out there? Ha! I can see a Korg Karma or Triton very soon, but there’s probably something even better out there now. To be honest, I find it too hard to keep up with all of the new gear constantly coming out. I find the key is to create your own unique sounds with whatever gear you have and this puts you in your own category.
Do you consider your music a studio project, or do your also take it outdoors by ways of live performances?
Both. When I write and create the music, I always have it in the back of my mind to be able to make it so I can go out and perform it.
Have you ever considered composing for planetaria, as the music on both volumes of your most recent release “Starlight” seems very appropriate for that?
Yes. Actually, I have been speaking with a local planetarium about possibly performing there. Nothing has been set though.
Eric Meece, host of the Mystic Music radio program, is also an avid, longtime fan and promoter of your music. What’s your relationship?
Eric has been a great friend and great supporter of the music. I had sent some music to Eric, and he enjoyed it and really inspired me to get it out there. He does wonders for space music in general.
He surprised me by putting up a website with a kind of discography theme to the cds I have released. He had sent me a list of tracks from various cds that he really enjoyed and so I thought “I’ll create a sampler cd with these tracks”. Kind of a small way to say thanks for all he has done. That cd is called “The Mystic Choice”. But I feel Eric is a main driving force for space music and its many artist as well as for the fans.
Several years ago, you also met New Zealand-based musician Rudy Adrian. Did you two ever consider working together one way or the other, as the styles of ambient music have some overlap?
Yes, when Rudy came to the US for a tour I was given the opportunity to let him stay with my wife and I for a few days. First I love Rudy’s music. It’s pure magic. We had talked about me sending him some flute tracks but I never got around to doing it. Things were pretty busy at the time. We still chat from time to time. Who knows maybe something in the future….
What are your thoughts about the electronic/ambient music community around the globe, and in the US in particular?
Well, I try to keep up with it, but I’ve always kind of done my own thing. It seems to me that it has shrunk a little but maybe it’s just me. It seems that more and more people are being exposed to this type of music through commercials, movies, tv shows and video games. We seem to have so many things that try to get our attention with cell phones, computer media, cell phone media etc, so it would be great to see it grow.
We are becoming a online connected society, so with all of the influences out there it could take off like wildfire or stay as it has always been a slow smoldering burn. I don’t see it ever going away, just evolving. Our imaginations are becoming more free and we are developing better tools to express ourselves in all aspects of life. Likewise we have more pressing problems that we have to face and solve, which can fuel the imagination as well. This puts us outside the box, and this music has always been outside the box.
Soulscape (1990), Atmospheres (1991), Natural Wonder (1992), Skyhearts (1994), High Meditations (1996), Sky Reaching (1996), Horizon’s Call (1996), Silent Dreams (1997), Deep Spirit (1997), Flowing (1997), Earth Ground (1997), Spanish Spaces (1997), Life Rhythms (1997), Spectrums (1997), The Magical Life (1997), Essence (1997), Source (1998), Waterspirit (1998, The Living (1998), Light Dreaming (1998), Moving Spaces (1998), Cleansing Fire (1998), Darklight (1998), Energy (1999), Himalayan Dreams (1999), Cloud Pull (1999), Serotonin Ashram (2000), The Inexplicable (2000), Plateaus of Ether (2001), Midnight Rainbows (2001), Sonic Magic (2002), Dreaming Earth, Water Memories (2002), Oceanic Space (2005), Suntales (2006), The Endless Vista (2007), Starlight Volume 1 (2009), Starlight Volume 2 (2009)