What inspires you to write? All songs that I have created have a meaning of what was going on in my life at that time, I would say that everything around me inspires me, love, sadness, the world, people, the way I view the world. For instance the song “Tears of Love” was inspired because I have these tulips that bloom every year in front of my house, well one year we had a bad blizzard which ended up causing them to not bloom. I then wrote the instrumental about a girl who was a beautiful rose and the cold winds came and destroyed her soul, or trust. So she then created thorns, or a wall to protect herself from having that ever happen again. “Christina’s Home” was a song about a friend who invited me to his sister’s birthday party. The closeness of family and friends inspired me to write that song about family love. So everything around me inspires me.
What style would you categorize your music? When I first was signed in 2000 the music label had a hard time defining which category I should fit into. We started with New Age, however my style goes into Latin, Blues and classical. So the label categorized me under World Fusion. At the time I felt that there wasn’t a lot of World Fusion listeners so I pushed for Jazz or Modal Jazz. Recently I have been under both Jazz and New Age.
How did you come up with your style? I feel that my style has changed through the years. At first I was heavy influenced by Latin and new age and now I feel that I have moved into a more modern urban jazz. I don’t think there is another artist that is doing what I am doing with instrumental music. When I first came out I was composing more of a safe sound that I knew people would enjoy listening to, meaning staying in key and composing around that key. Every once in a while I would go into jazz. As I became more noticed I started to write outside the box. I started to expand the envelope of key and theory to come up with an urban sound that would be very original. Theoretically speaking, I base all of my writing on the modal system which is used a lot in composing music. I do at times go into modulation when I want to get out of the key. Lately I have been pushing the envelope with sounds and manipulating those sounds. I studied atonal music or the 12 tone system and I feel there is a lot of undiscovered territory there. I just don’t’ think the human ears are ready for it.
Who is your favorite guitarist? Well I have several, 3 to be exact, I would say my favorite is Steve Vai, ever since he came out in crossroads I knew that he was going to change the way we play the guitar. I feel he is ahead of his time and is very original. My second would have to be Al Dimeola, I have always loved his music, the way he composes and they styles he plays. My last favorite has been dead for a long time. Francisco Tarrega who was a classical guitarist in the 18th century. His technique is amazing. If I had to pick composers I would say Beethoven, I love the way he wrote and his passion. I do like Mozart but at times his compositions where hard to understand.
Do you perform a lot? I use to when I first started out. However I found that I was getting more reach with radio stations. The music has been aired all over the world. Shades of Classic in Winnipeg Canada had my music on their active playlist and have always supported my music. I was also featured on Rum radio in Portugal which they did an article on their Jazz magazine. Even station in South Korea have aired the music and most of my sales have come from around the world. I perform about 3 shows a year and most of the time the shows are sold out. I have been asked to perform more but I usually rely on radio stations to push the music. I was once on a NPR show called, “just plain folk music” which featured Send Angels. I use the radio more than I do performing,
Do you play most of the instruments? I do, in college I studied the guitar, of course, bass, piano, strings, and percussion. Only the CD Creation did I use other musicians in the songs. It is so much easier just to have me do all the instruments because I know what I like and I know what the end product is in my head is. When you add other musicians they tend to put a little bit of them in the music, which is nice but sometimes it isn’t what you had as an idea. However, sometimes the artist blends really well with you and not only do they feel the same thing you feel, they take it over the top, I felt “Sonata for flute and guitar” did just that, Jessica did an amazing job making that song so great! The nice thing about that song is that is uses both classical and jazz chording however it sounds classical. I use singers that I have sampled in the new songs and sometimes percussions. But most all instruments are me.
So how do you compose a song from start to finish? This is a good question because I usually always have melodies running in my head, the great thing about music is the possibilities are endless. Sometimes I will have an idea of what I want the song to sound like. So I start with creating the rhythm first which means writing drums, percussions and maybe even a bass line. Then I build the movement with the chords. Sometimes the song is mostly melodic and not so much chordal. So after that I start building the song from the ground up. The last part that I put in is the melody. There are times when I have built up the song and feel I need to change something in the rhythm section so I will have to start all over. What most people don’t understand is that there are two parts to writing a song. One is the actual composing of the music and the second is the production and recording of it. You can dramatically change a song by how you record it. For instance using acoustic verses electric instruments. Strong drums or soft drums. Now days you can manipulate sound so much that it will not sound like the original sound you recorded. This can both be good or bad. One of the toughest things for me is not getting too overwhelmed in the recording process which is easy to do when you have a creative mind. Over all it does take a lot of work and skill. My records from Send Angels to now are so much better, even though I always recorded in a digital realm, the technology has advanced so much in the last 20 years.