Music has always been an important part of my life, I simply can't imagine my life without it. I started to learn to play the piano properly as a teenager after my parents made a big fuss because the school did not actually offer piano lessons, however, after only a handful of lessons I gave them up as I found them so boring. I wanted to be playing proper music not doing scales and playing pieces like "Snug as a Bug in a Rug" ! ! !
It's a decision to this day that I regret immensely but at the same time it allowed me to explore learning the instrument by playing by ear. I did have the advantage of having learnt to read music while learning to play the Descant and Treble Recorders which has helped immensely over the years.
I started exploring composing music in the '80's. Around 1987 I put a cassette tape together called "Fool or Hermit" which I have to confess is really quite poor. It sounds funny to be talking about cassette tapes, but at that time it was either vinyl or tape as CD was not the standard that it is now, in fact I don't think that CD was even readily availbable at that time. It was therefore cost effective for me to do it onto tape, I certainly couldn't afford to release it on vinyl, as much as I would have loved to. Anway, "Fool or Hermit" allowed me to start creating my own music. All the tracks were played "live" so there was no overdubbing or anything like that and it was all done on a JVC KB600 home keyboard and a Yamaha DX100 synthesizer. I guess the motto is you have to start somewhere and "Fool or Hermit" was my starting block. I have to confess that when I listen to it now (on the extremely rare occassions that I do) it makes me cringe !
Track listing for "Fool or Hermit" :-
1. Ritual Aura
I am also a firm believer that things happen for a reason. Nothing is accidental. And after having put this tape together I was fortunate enough to be introduced to a wonderul person called Sharon. We got on straight away and for some strange reason she liked "Fool or Hermit". Sharon was also extremely musical and has a beautiful earthy singing voice which is certainly ideal for folk songs which she sang with a passion. Sharon also happened to be a proud owner of a Roland JX3P synthesizer and offered to lend it to me for me to use on my next tape. Shortly after this offfer we were talking one day and we thought it would be a grerat idea of we teamed up and did the next tape together. Several months later we were in a recording studio (Making Tracks, London) recording the tape which ended up being called "Child of the Watchtowers". As this had been a joint venture we decided to put it together under the group name of Mystic Enchantment. The cassette cover had a picture of a deer. The photograph, if I remember correctly, was taken at Richmond Park by either myself or a friend of mine at the time, Mark. The tape cover was produced in black in white. I couldn't afford colour. This was actually a shame cause I had taken another picture at Richmond Park of another deer and somehow I had managed to take this really quite spooky looking picture that had a real depth of colour and the way the flash had caught in the deer's eyes had really made it really spooky. Anyway, money restrictions meant I was going to print the cassette cover in black and white and this picture would have looked awful in black and white so at the last minute I decided to change the picture that was used which is why in the cassette notes the photograph is actually acredited to the wrong person ! There was a limited number of what I called white cover promotional copies given away and then of course the sellable ones with the printed cover. Strangely I only have a copy of the white cover promotional copy and none of the others which is a bit of a shame cause it would have been nice to still have one with the actual printed cover. Maybe I will come across one at some point and buy it back !
Similar to "Fool or Hermit" the vast majority of the album is played live with only 1 overdub as I recall and the only bit that wasn't played live was a backing drum piece that I put together for a track called "Rivers of Crystal (part 3)". Although this tape sounds extremely raw there are some really nice melody lines tucked away in there in places.
"Child of the Watchtowers" was remastered in 2001 by Llewellyn (an artist on the New World Music label) and I may re-release it on CD as a limited edition or something in the future though I have to be honest and say that there are certainly no immediate plans. In my opinion the music is a bit old and very raw and underproduced by today's standards and my fear is that by making it available it would end up being a dissapointment to people as it would not sound like anything they might be expecting, therefore, if it is ever released it will probably be as a free bonus CD that comes as part of another release.
Track listing for "Child of the Watchtowers"
After "Child of the Watchtowers" I was able to extend my equipment by purchasing a Roland D50 synthesizer and a Korg DDD5 drum machine and in 1990 & 1991 started to put an album together.
Interestingly, for musicians anyway, it was at this time that I had started to experiment with sequencing, albeit in a very primitive format. I would have loved to have had an Atari ST500 at this time but no way could I afford one, however, I did manage to get my hands on a ZX Spectrum +3 computer. This was the version that contained a floppy disk drive ! ! At the time this was quite rare ! ! The Spectrum was quite special in that it had a port on the back which meant it could be connected by MIDI to a keyboard and so I was able to use the Spectrum for sequencing, however, you couldn't buy a sequencing program for the Spectrum (certainly not that I was aware of anyway) and therefore I had to program all the sequencing myself in a computer programming language. Trust me this was an extremely slow and tedious way of sequencing but it was certainly better than nothing. The other downside to this technically was that the Spectrum only allowed 8 notes to be transmitted at any one time and if you break that down that meant on a single point in a track you could have a bass drum, a hi hat sound, a percussion sound, 3 notes for a chord, a note that was part of the melody line and a note that was part of a counter melody and that was it ! ! ! ! ! Everything had to programmed in a way that for each note you had to specify the note, the octave and the duration of the note. Often you would have to string lots of bits of programming together just for one part of the track.
Sequencers today are just so much more easy to use that it is hard to imagine having had to do the manual programming and I think only those who went through the same things themselves will truly understand what a nightmare it was at the time.
By 1992 I had got most of the tracks together in demo format and was starting to think about recording them when financial hard times struck with a vengance which resulted in me having to sell all my equipment. By the end of 1992 everything was gone. Just before this happened though I was able to release a cassette single which featured 2 of the tracks that would have been included on the new album.
Track Listing for the Cassette Single
1. The Message (extended remix)
I was actually quite proud of the cassette single and in particular with the 2 main tracks, "The Message" and "Mother and Calf", the latter was also to find it's way onto the "Dolphin Ascension" album later on.
Musically that was the end.
It is no exageration to say that after that I felt that a part of my very being had been destroyed. Whilst I really had had no choice in the matter I really did resent the fact that I had had to make that decision. Over the coming years I had all but given up on restarting it all simply because of the financial implication in buying new equipment which I really couldn't afford.
Then, around 1999, things started picking up again for me and I suddenly found myself in a position where I could afford to buy a synthesizer. One Saturday morning, and purely on imulse, I visited a local shop and in there they had a Korg N5. After about half an hour playing on it I bought it. Probably one of the most impulsive things I have ever done. I now had a keyboard and now I wanted to start composing again.
Over the coming months I was fortunate enough to have an Alesis SR16 drum machine given to me. I then bought a computer, a mixer and some other bits and slowly the studio was building up. Over 2000 and 2001 I became extremely creative. It would be very unfair of me not to make a couple of acknowledgements at this point. Firstly to Medwyn Goodall (also on the New World Music label) who, during an incredibly fascinating online chat one evening, told me a lot about Lightworkers and the belief of the Ascension. By the time I woke up in the morning the title "Dolphin Ascension" was in my head and the album concept was born. Over the coming months I was also blessed with the friendship of Llewellyn (who I mentioned earlier) who proved to be a major sounding board and an incredible source of help as the album started to come together. I can say with my hand on my heart that there are 3 people in this world, whom without, "Dolphin Ascension" would never have happed, they are Tony, James & Julie. And from the very essence of my soul I thank the 3 of them for their individual contributions to making the album what it is.
Dolphin Ascension has given me the opportunity to realise a long time dream. It has enabled me to compose an album of music that tells a story involving animals that are so inspiring and which are very close to my heart. The album is, for me at least, very spiritual. It has also given me the confidence in myself that I have always lacked as a musician. I firmly believe that this album is special in so many ways and one that over the years I know I shall look back on with extreme pride. It is the first step on my new musical, and spiritual, journey and has inspired me more than I had ever imagined.
Track listing for "Dolphin Ascension"
1. Dolphin Ascension
The release of "Dolphin Ascension" was at first a little on the quiet side. I had had a 1,000 copies of the CD pressed and now I had them in my house, all I had to do now was to try and start selling them ! Sounds easier than it actually is but slowly I began to get people aware of the album and sales started to build up.
There are moments in our lives which are quite pivotal for one reason or another. Often these pivotal moments don't even appear to be those kind of moments until later on when you look back. Towards the middle of 2002 I was confirmed that I would be playing at the Web of Life festival in Wendover. This was a really exciting time for me as the organisers were confident that this was going to be a huge festival with attendance figures expected to be around the 20,000 mark. This was potentially the break I had been waiting for and it had come quite soon really considering "Dolphin Ascension" had only been out for about 6 months.
However, the festival was a huge disastter. I think in total they only had around 200 people turn up throughout the whole weekend and people who had paid money to have stalls there, including me, lost money. I remember driving back home on the Sunday (most people left by lunchtime Sunday) thinking what a terrible waste it had been. However, unbeknown to me at the time it was to have far reaching consequences.
It was at this festival that I first met Richard Churchyard. I remember at the time he was such a genuine and friendly person though I had no idea that our friendship was to build and grow over the coming months. Also at the festival I first met Andy and Lucinda of Bliss. These 3 people are truly wonderful people and it has been a real pleasure getting to know them since. Anyway, at this festival, as I mentioned, we had a stand where we were selling the CDs and while I was doing my walkabouts during the show (which I do a lot, even now) 2 people left contact numbers on the stand for me to ring them. They turned out to be other show organisers and both asked me to come along and play at their shows. These were Julie Saunders (who organises the Mind Body and Soul shows) and Kim Major who organises the Luton Body and Soul show. These turned out to be really good shows for me and very quickly helped me build my profile. Ironically everything I am doing now can be traced back one way or another to the Web of Life festival, so although at the time it was a complete disaster it ended up being a major turning point in my musical career.
As I did more and more shows I got to meet Richard Churchyard more often and we became very good friends, then in early 2003 I suggested that maybe he and I do an album together. We both thought it was a fantastic idea and by the end of June we had composed and recorded the whole album and in July "Spiritual Oasis" was released.
Track listing for "Spiritual Oasis"
"Spiritual Oasis" is a very chilled album and has been extremely well received and is on course to outsell "Dolphin Ascension" which is a complete surprise as I thought it would just sell a few copies here and there !
I am now busy working on my new album which will be the follow up to "Dolphin Ascension". The new album is called "While Angels Dream" and I am so excited by it. Both musically and visually. The artwork is almost finished for the album and it looks absolutely incredible and I can't wait for you to see it and once we are closer to the album being released we will be talking a lot more about the album artwork is there is another story to be told there as well ...............................