|Updated: 22/01/13 | © 1999 - 2013 Cool Bunny Media | Da Cool Bunny sez 'Spank that Plank, Baby!'|
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Karda Estra & No Image Records
The Toy Musician
- Karda Estra Interview -
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LIVES AND TIMES:
A NEW IDEA OF HEAVEN - Debut CD release (with Eternal Energy) - 1992 (No Image - NICD1)
RATTLEBONES - Debut full L&T CD album - 1992 (NICD3)
THE PULL OF A TIDE - CD album - 1993 (NICD4)
WAITING FOR THE PARADE - CD album - 1994 (2 versions, one being a remaster, and first release for the SI label) (Simply43)
THE GREAT SAD HAPPY ENDING - CD album - 1994 (Simply57)
THERE AND BACK AGAIN LANE - CD album (Co-released on the Cyclops label) (CYCL029/NICD6)
HOARSE - CD album - 1997 (NICD9)
A WINTER IN SUMMER TIME - Debut CD mini album - 1998 (No Image - NICD12)
THIRTEEN FROM THE TWENTY FIRST - CD album - 2000 (No Image - NICD13)
THE LAND OF GHOSTS - compilation available through Peoplesound.Com (CD) or Music & Elsewhere (Tape)
EVE - new CD album - 2001 (Cyclops CYCL 104)
EQUILIBRIUM - a collaborative project with Artemiy Artemiev (Electroshock ELCD 031)
CONSTELLATIONS (Cyclops CYCL 130) - New album 2003
VOIVODE DRACULA (Cyclops CYCL 143) - New album 2004
ALTERNATE HISTORY (Cyclops CYL 146) - New compilation album
THE AGE OF SCIENCE & ENLIGHTENMENT (Cyclops CYCL 158) - New album 2006
THE LAST OF THE LIBERTINE (Cyclops CYCL 163) - New album 2007
There are times while listening to a new CD when you know from the very first bars of music that you are listening to something special. It could be that long cold shiver up the spine, or the fact that you stop in your tracks and you just listen to the music, oblivious to the world around you. That happened to me the first time I played Karda Estra's mini album A Winter in Summertime. I was listening to music that was damn near impossible to categorise in today's range of mediocre music marketing terminology. All I knew was that I liked this so much I wanted to hear more!
Mixing modern rock instrumentation and classical music arrangements has always been an overblown affair ripe for mockery [remember those awful Classic Rock albums that the London Symphony Orchestra released on K-Tel?], but the low-key and intimate music on all of the Karda Estra albums defies that convention and is worthy of exploration by buyers of both types of music.
Richard Wileman is the composer and multi-instrumentalist behind Karda Estra, and while he is the main force of the group his fellow collaborators all add their own magic to the music. This interview with Richard was conducted via e-mail, so apologies for the rigid structure of the questions. It is intended as an introduction to Karda Estra and an invitation to visit his own web site - and, of course, explore his music!
Borderland: When did you first become interested in music and decide to become a musician and a composer.
Richard Wileman: I always enjoyed listening to music when I was younger, but learning to play anything eluded me really until I was sixteen. My mum plays piano and tried to teach me basic keyboards on a Bontempi organ I had, but I didn't take to it at all. In fact, my music teachers at school suggested that I drop music - so I did. I had always loved art from a very small age, so that's where most of my creative energies were spent. Like most of my friends at school, I got into heavy rock in my teens and finally persuaded my parents to buy me an electric guitar for Xmas when I was sixteen. I was obsessed from that moment onwards, learning to play along with my favourite albums and jamming with friends. The composing bit went hand in hand, I was always coming up with my own little bits, and I tried to see if I could find my own voice - I'm still trying!!! My only 'proper' tuition happened when I was nineteen when I had some invaluable classical guitar lessons for around a year and a half.
From the '60's, I love The Beatles (obvious massive lessons to be learnt there for any musician), The Beach Boys (in particular Brian Wilson who despite an uneven output, when on form is/was capable of staggering musicality and beauty), Burt Bacharach and to a slightly lesser extent The Kinks.
From the '70's - huge Peter Gabriel (fave lyricist) and Steve Hackett (fave guitarist) fan, hence Genesis are also obviously in this list - if push came to shove, I think the 'Lamb Lies Down On Broadway' is my all time fave album. King Crimson, like the Beach Boys have a very questionable quality control, but Fripp is often interesting and when on form, a dazzling guitarist and original thinker. 10CC (very underrated), Kate Bush (especially first 3 albums), Rush (another superb guitarist - Alex Lifeson) and Black Sabbath (spent my time learning guitar to their riffs more than anyone else!).
The 80's - not much has stuck with me that started from this decade, despite being the one I started going to gigs in etc. (mainly new (then) prog/rock bands that I certainly don't listen to now!). There is one diamond in the dust however - the awesome Talk Talk. Forget the first two synth pop albums, the 3rd and 4th - 'Colour Of Spring' and 'Spirit Of Eden' are about as beautiful as music can get.
The '90's - Blur and Radiohead - way better than the other bands they're usually lumped with. 'The Great Escape' and 'The Bends' especially.
I have many 'fads' where I like something, but after a few months, the albums will go to the charity shop. It takes great staying power to stay in my CD collection (then, when I officially say 'Yes', I generally end up collecting everything that musician has done, even the rubbish stuff, so I can get a perspective on them as a whole!). My current fad is Air, although I think they may stick, as I'm playing them a lot.
Classical music - my favourite - Ralph Vaughan Williams - the most beautiful chord sequences I've ever heard, Eric Satie, Malcolm Arnold, Samuel Barber, Aaron Copland, Jean Sibelius, Arvo Part, all wonderful stuff.
Soundtracks - Danny Elfman - especially 'Edward Scissorhands', such amazing and haunting music - a big influence on A Winter In Summertime, John Barry (especially Bond and 'Midnight Cowboy'), James Horner (especially 'Field Of Dreams') and Jerry Goldsmith. Oh yes, of course the fantastic James Bernard (of Hammer Horror fame).
Also thought I'd mention some people I know. Chris Brown, Nick Weaver and Rob Beckinsale are all Swindon based songwriters/multi instrumentalists, and are producing some excellent stuff. I certainly would be chuffed to have written some of the songs they've each come up with.
Did the ability to write music and lyrics come as a surprise to you, and why did you shift from the more conventional rock type music to a more instrumental/orchestral style.
Writing music and lyrics just evolved as I became more confident and started to learn other instruments. I must admit though that I find lyrics tough and I'm usually happy these days to let someone else do the job! The instrumental/orchestral style evolved during the development of Lives And Times. As I started to get into orchestral and soundtrack music, this was obviously reflected in the albums that would often include ambient pieces on synths/sequencers alongside the songs. With Karda Estra, I now try and push the inclusion of live orchestral instruments. The beauty of their sounds are very inspiring to me and often tend to relegate their poor old synth counterparts to second place.
What prompted the radical change in style between Lives & Times and Karda Estra. Was new collaborator Ileesha Bailey a catalyst for the new style of music.
Essentially, the original Lives And Times ran it's course from 1988 - 95. I was starting a new project in 1996. When Ileesha eventually became part of it and it was clear she could sing my old material too, it seemed a good idea at the time to restart L&T. Sadly, this was not to be the case and due to many band problems that plagued 'Hoarse', I decided to completely change my way of working.
Karda Estra is more the product of me having my own home studio gear and the accompanying time to experiment and indulge without worrying about money, rehearsals, other bloody minded musicians etc...! L&T albums always had their fair share of experimentation with probably the exception of 'Hoarse'. At that time, due as much to personal changes in my life, I just wanted to play guitar in a band and not have the hassle taking sequencers/keys out live too. In fact at the start of 1996, I didn't care if I did music ever again, so it's a miracle 'Hoarse' got made at all !
You have your own label, No Image, was this a deliberate decision or an act of desperation to get your music 'out there' where it could find an audience.
It's always a bit of both I think when a band sets up it's own label, because I'm sure most would rather just get on with their music without the hassle and cost of releasing their own stuff. I have released stuff on a Dutch label called SI and co-released with UK based Cyclops too.
Recording studio or live performance on stage - which do you prefer.
Definitely studio! I find the whole writing and recording process very inspirational. I must have recorded getting on for 200 tracks over the years, but the buzz is always with me when it's time for something new. Each track always feels like a fresh start.
I've played a fair few gigs all over the country through the years, but it doesn't have the same appeal. In many ways, it can be more extreme - because of adrenaline etc. it can be very thrilling or really horrible - obviously depends on my own performance, audience reaction etc. I feel I shine more in the studio, whilst live I'm doing my best to try and give an approximation of what it should soundlike. As time goes on, I definitely feel more of a writer than a performer. That being said, however, it really is a great buzz when a gig goes well.
KE hasn't currently played live, but I certainly don't rule it out for the future. The recordings are pretty complex however and staging them would take more resources than I certainly have at the moment.
Do you write in the studio or do you have the music ready for recording before you go in. How much is improvised during the sessions.
In the days of L&T, stuff was rehearsed before going into a studio with a bit of time for experimentation if there was some money left over in the kitty. Now, writing and recording for KE goes almost hand in hand as I don't have that money worry of the clock ticking and obviously I much prefer this way of working. With the session musicians however, I do have the music prepared and a clear idea of what I want.
What sort of audience do you aim your music at, or does that not concern you.
I aim it at myself. When a piece is completed, I try and imagine if I heard this by chance, would it jump out and grab me? This is obviously tricky at this stage, because I've heard it so much!
Where will your music go in the future.
I always tend to have several projects on the go. We're currently working on songs again. Ileesha wanted to get back into more lyric based stuff, and I'm very interested in seeing how songs evolve in the KE way of working. I still want to do more soundtrack work, and I've also started some 'ambient chamber' pieces called 'Four Elements', which are very mellow and quite sparse. It would be nice to push as many areas as possible, both with technology and orchestral stuff. As usual, only time, resources and luck will tell.