Wednesday, 1 February 2012

The Curse of the New Age

Every time I try to engage in conversation with someone new about my music, the first question that inevitably crops up is "What type of music do you make then?" and I'm always at a loss as to how to sum it up in one word or phrase. The usual answer I stammer out is something like "Well, it's mainly instrumental." But this doesn't really help much and so I give them my website details and hope they can figure it out for themselves.

This basically sums up my problem. There are a number of defined musical categories in this world and I find it hard to fit exactly into any one of them. To use established labels, I do a bit of "rock", "electronic", "folk", "world", "ambient", "soundtrack", "classical" and probably a few more.  It is an issue I share with my all time musical hero, Mike Oldfield, who like myself has always produced music that he felt like doing and to hell with the genre. Hasn't stopped him having a huge and intensely loyal army of fans, however.

So when navigating the menus of music stores and review sites, I tend to share with him that most unfortunate of categories, "New Age". This epithet was invented, as far as I can make out, to describe the otherwise indescribable and as a result does not do the musicians concerned much justice. It also has connotations of appealing to people who like to hang out at Stonehenge on midsummers day, worry about their energy lines  and use the word "karma" a lot. Now I have absolutely nothing against such individuals, I admire their selfless philosophy, but that is not me, nor Mike. I suspect that even the great all powerful god of "New Age" music, Yanni, would make some attempt to avoid being stuffed into that pigeon-hole as well. You are more likely to find this particular "New Age" artist at the pub downing some real ale and engaged in bawdy conversation on midsummers day, and the only energy lines I worry about are powering this computer and need to be paid for somehow. I am a pretty average guy in most respects.

I make the kind of music that I do, not because I wish to promote a lifestyle or any political ideas, but because I love the way it sounds. It pleases my ear, and I hope it does yours as well. There are many other kinds of music that please my ear as well. I am a massive fan of AC/DC and Claude Debussy amongst many others. Go figure.

I really love making music that evokes images and atmospheres. That is why so many of my pieces are unashamedly themed, and indeed why I called my last album "Soundscapes". But unlike the more restrained traditional "New Age" artists, I am not afraid to throw in a raucous guitar solo or a thumping dance beat either. But that is the beauty of making music, there really are no boundaries, unless you choose to create them.

Therefore I am calling for a new category to be internationally recognised, and I have absolutely no idea what to call it, and I can't promise I shall be able to fit into it either. But it may help me in my conversations.

Suggestions on a postcard, please....

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