Interview Brainvoyager by Jacqueline Jax
Host Jacqueline Jax of A.V.A. Live Radio interviews Brainvoyager for her radio show ‘Behind the music with Jacqueline Jax’, May 2015
How did you get your start in music?
I am an electronic music lover for quite some decades now – maybe ‘electronic music addict’ is a much better name for what I am. I love German artists like Klaus Schulze, Robert Schroeder, Bernd Kistenmacher and the German band Tangerine Dream. I love the Dutch artist Ron Boots. And I love the American artists Steve Roach, Robert Rich and the late Michael Garrison. I love the Greek composer and performer Vangelis and the old work from the French artist Jean Michel Jarre. Except Vangelis and Michael Garrison I have seen them all at work during their concerts in the last three and a half decades. I own all their albums. But all these years I was merely a true listener. I have been reading a lot about the art of music making though. But years ago equipment was very, very expensive. I couldn’t afford that kind of gear.
But now, in our contemporary era, computers, keyboards and software have become pretty affordable and came within reach of many people. You can see that all around you. And, of course, the Internet has become an extremely important and convenient place to share what you do and, just as important, to get feedback. In that respect we are living in a wonderful era right now.
So that’s why I took my chance a couple of years ago and started making my own music. My vast experience as a true listener was and is tremendously helpful as to how I want to compose, to play and to arrange. I invested some money and got started in February 2012.
Tell me the story behind your latest track ‘A Touch by Oblivion’? What’s it about? Is there a back story about how it was written or recorded? Did anything sad or funny happen during the process?
I want my music to be like mental journeys. I want to take my listeners by their hands and take them with me to wherever they want to go. The listeners always decide for themselves where they want to go and what they want to see or experience. I only try to give them the means to do so. That’s why I simply cannot make a track that lasts only a couple of minutes. I simply do not want that. I am aware that I may be asking a lot from my listeners, but again, they decide for themselves whether they want to put their efforts in my music or not. But if they do and if they can, I promise them a nice trip. That’s my goal. The only thing I try to do is setting a mood throughout my track. But that too is entirely up to my listeners.
‘A Touch Of Oblivion’ has been given the ‘task’ to let the listeners drift away from their sometimes stressful daily life for a little while, and to let them relive some happy and memorable moments. If you speak of a back story about this piece, it is probably the story of my own life. Indeed it’s true that I have not always had a happy life and maybe this shines somewhat through every now and then. This is what I wrote at the release of ‘A Touch Of Oblivion’:
“I am looking for a peaceful place and a touch of oblivion. I would like to slip away from this world for a while or so. Can you make that happen?”
“Oh, I can get you into oblivion easily. Just sit down, close your eyes and let me play my song for you.”
Where do you live and what is the music scene like in your town? Places to go? Tell me about one fun thing you like to do that can be music or non-music related?
I am living in the Netherlands, 28 miles north of our capital Amsterdam and 3 miles east of the city Alkmaar. The town I live in is Heerhugowaard. One fun thing that I like to do is visiting trance parties. You know the kind of parties that begin at 10 pm and run nonstop until the end at 7 am? I mean that kind of parties. I didn’t mention trance music before. But the music of e.g. Armin van Buuren and Tiësto is 100% electronic too! Their genre in trance music is very melodic and euphoric. I simply love it. Although I am 52 years old, I attend Sensation White in the Amsterdam ArenA (yes, a capital A at the end) every year. And I attend the kickoff of the global annual event of Armin van Buuren’s ‘A State Of Trance Tour’ every year as well. Together with 40.000 people I am enjoying the music of all the deejays, the laser shows, smoke and fire all night long.
Of course here in The Netherlands are many places to go to when you want to attend concerts, drama and movies. We have museums and many other things that are worth visiting. And since we are living in a small country, everything is close at hand. The town I live in doesn’t have much to offer as to the music scene. But like I told you, our capital is only 28 miles away from my town and can be reached very easily. Our capital has it all. You name it, Amsterdam has it.
Another nice thing is that when you drive 940 miles south from here, you drive through 3 or 4 different countries. I know American people that find that pretty amazing. Before we had the Euro here, you also had to change your cash into all these other currencies. That was nice back then. It always felt like being far away from home on a holiday. But Germany is only a two hours’ drive from my place. Same goes for Belgium. Too bad in that respect we have the Euro now.
Who is your favorite artist? Why do they influence you? Do you have any firsthand experience with these artists such as a meeting, concert or special event you can tell me about?
I told you a bit about other artists in my first answer. But my all-time most favorite artist is Klaus Schulze. I bought my first album of Klaus Schulze in 1978. I attended many of his concerts in The Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. For many years my second most favorite artist is Steve Roach (he is from the Tucson area in Arizona). 15 years ago I attended a concert of Steve Roach here in The Netherlands. Their music is not only relaxing; it’s cosmic and sometimes hypnotic as well. Sometimes it’s called ‘floating music’. They too often make long tracks; tracks that can easily last 50 or 60 minutes. Especially Steve Roach is well known for this.
Many years ago this kind of music was not very common and the scene was very small globally. Most of the people in my family and among my friends in these years didn’t or simply couldn’t understand why on Earth I was into that kind of music. Well, they didn’t even call it ‘music’. But I endured all their criticism; I always laughed at them and kept buying this kind of music and above all, I kept listening to this kind of music.
Nowadays electronic music has become very common. Even the old masters like Klaus Schulze and Steve Roach do not shock many people anymore. Put yourself back in the 70s of the last century and listen to ‘Bayreuth Return’ from ‘Timewind’ (released in 1975) of Klaus Schulze. Or imagine the 80s of the last century and listen to ‘Structures From Silence’ (released in 1984) of Steve Roach. That was just weird music for the masses in these days.
Sometimes I miss these years because appreciating this kind of music always felt very special and intimate. Of course I knew some people who had the same interest in music as I had. But they were not in my neighborhood and we met only a couple of times a year. I’ve never been a sheep in a big herd; I never wanted to be a sheep in a big herd. And I am a dreamer. Hence my love for electronic music I guess. And yes, Klaus Schulze, Steve Roach and the likes of them do influence me.
Do you find that there is too much emphasis on being current and trendy or is there a balance that you have found helpful in your artistic decisions?
I must admit that I do not care much about this. I just sit and try to conceive, compose, play and arrange what I like most myself. I don’t know if I sound arrogant when I say that I create my music for myself in the first place and that I am delighted if others, my listeners, like what I do? And if they do, my listeners have arrived at the point I told you about earlier; the point that I can take them with me.
I have a good job and I do not have to earn money with my music as a means for my daily bread. That makes it a lot easier I guess. I feel no pressure whatsoever. Sure, earning money is always nice – it would be nice to get break-even – but it is not a necessity. I guess you could say that this is a perfect balance. For me it is though.
What is your personal definition of success?
That depends on what your goal would be. Do you want to generate enough income out of your music to live from, or not? For me my definition of my success is: being fully satisfied with the music I make and getting recognition from my audience as a consequence of this. And I like my audience to be big!
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