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Συνέντευξη με το Phideaux Xavier

 
   Η επαφή με τον «αστρικό» μουσικό Phideaux Xavier ξεκινάει με το “Web Of Lies” από το δίσκο «01011001» του/των Ayreon. Ιδιαίτερη η χροιά, όμορφο το δέσιμο με τη φωνή της μαγικής Simone Simons και ένα τραγούδι που σε λιγότερο από τρία λεπτά καταφέρνει να κάνει πολλά φρύδια να ανασηκωθούν και πολλά μυαλά να αναρωτηθούν. Από τότε έχουν περάσει πολλά χρόνια… Πριν λίγες μέρες πήρα ένα μήνυμα από τα φοβερά και τρομερά παιδιά του Progressive Room. Είχαν πραγματοποιήσει μία συνέντευξη-μαμούθ με τον Αμερικανό μουσικό και μου έκαναν την τιμή να μου επιτρέψουν να την παρουσιάσω και από δω, από το Noizy. Η συνέντευξη είναι στα αγγλικά και σας υπόσχομαι ότι θα κάνουμε ό,τι μπορούμε ώστε σύντομα να παρουσιαστεί και στα ελληνικά. Σεβόμενοι απόλυτα τον κόπο των παιδιών δεν αναπαράγαμε το μοτίβο στησίματος της συνέντευξης αρτιστικά, απλά σας δείχνουμε τι θα δείτε όταν επισκεφθείτε το Προοδευτικό Δωμάτιο. Πολλά πολλά ευχαριστώ στο Γιάννη και το Νίκο από το PM και καλή ανάγνωση! Progressive or Bust!

Κώστας Κούλης
 
xavier01
Phideaux Xavier is an American TV director and composer of modern technological music that he describes as "psychedelic progressive gothic rock", who grew up in New York City but now lives in Los Angeles.
He is a multi-instrumentalist, singer and songwriter,  in 1992, produced a small number of copies  of  a  CD  entitled  “Friction”.  Although  it  was  not  widely  distributed,  a  few music reviewers were able to hear it. Later, in 2002, Xavier started seriously mastering musical tracks. In 2003 he released his  first  CD  with  significant  distribution, Fiendish.  
The  year  2004  saw  his  second album Ghost  Story,  which  was  followed  up  quickly  in  2005  by  a  third album, Chupacabras, and then a fourth album,313, in March 2006. His fifth and sixth albums,
The Great Leap and Doomsday Afternoon (2007) are the first two albums of a planned trilogy. In 2009, he issued his seventh album, Number Seven. He had begun working on a related album called Seven and a 1/2, but this sequel was cancelled in favor of an all-new album entitled Snowtorch, set for release in late 2010. However, the release date of this album was postponed until March 21, 2011.

xavier02In your albums, we hear the instrument Moog, an instrument used much by bands of '70s. How did you decide to use it and what bands influenced your sound theme?
There was a song when I was a wee lad called "Popcorn" which was entirely performed on synthesizer.  That was the first "electro" song I loved.  Later on, when I was "discovering" music, I really loved the albums with heavy synthesizer because the sounds were so futuristic and unusual.  I'm thinking of Yes on Close To The Edge and ELP on Brain Salad Surgery.  But, even now as I have moved through listening to so many genres of music, I relish the Kraftwerk/Giorgio Moroder use of Moog for rich bass and bands like Stereolab which utilize the synth as a minimalist cold future sound.  So, I truly love the moog and will always want to see how it can add to the "otherness" of a track.
 
 
How do you compose your songs? Do the lyrics written first and then the music? What affects you and what motivates you to write new ideas?
Normally, I sit down and play some music on guitar/bass or piano. I keep a recorder nearby and record every bloop and bleep in case something is coming through.  Rarely do I compose to schedule or for a purpose. However, it has been known to happen.  But, usually I am improvising music and lyrics and then I go back and pull out the acceptable ideas.  Often, there is a phrase or two from the improvised nonsense I sing that makes sense. Often, I follow those breadcrumbs to find out what the song "wants" to be about.  If I am writing a "conceptual" album and the songs are part of a story, I will often revise the lyrics until they fit in with the theme or fulfill the need for the story.  Usually the sculpture    speaks to me from inside the marble block.

xavier03Are you currently there on recordings throughout the process and how do you contribute to the orchestration and the final mix of the songs?
I am usually involved in every recording session, although there have been times when I couldn't attend - and that is often the most fun - to see what people come up with to overlay on the music.  However, I like to at least approve of what is going on, even if I don't come up with the original idea.  The final mix is very important because that sets the map for the listener.
 
If you had the chance to travel back in time, which of your favorite bands would you like to see playing live?
I would like to see Jethro Tull in 1972 and 1973 (even though I was lucky enough to see them then, but too young to really appreciate it).  The bands I wish I'd seen (and the era):  Roxy Music w/Eno on stage, Joy Division, Alice Cooper (after Killer), King Crimson 1974, Genesis w/Gabriel, Siouxsie & The Banshees with John McGeogh...  There are so many great bands.  But, I must admit I was lucky enough to see the bands I loved when I was a small kid, so the usual suspects of ELP, Zappa, Grateful Dead, Kansas, UK, Kraftwerk, Yes, Tull, Gong, Hillage, Kiss, Split Enz were all observed and consumed.
 
 
 
xavier04
We notice that you're a Songwriter undertaken to materialize his ideas through many good partnerships. Would you like to pick some of them?  And yet, in the near future or later are there artists with who you would like to collaborate on yours or their album?
I have had some great help in realizing my ambitions.  I am a limited "musician" so I appreciate what others can bring to the party.  By this point, I know what ideas I would have or how I would approach a musical situation, so it can be rewarding to ask someone else to weigh in.  It helps expand the musical world.  In terms of people in the future, I can't think of anyone, but I would love to keep working with new musicians and to keep moving forward.  At this point, I'm trying to finish several projects that have lagged behind, so I'm not really in the "new     music/future" mode.
 
xavier05What to expect in the Future of your albums on the type, style and music completion?  See you to experiment on trails you have not walked until today, perhaps more heavy, an element that you have now, but dressed more discreetly and balanced to your sound?
On the upcoming albums, I am working on two paths.  Path A is to utilize the Phideaux "band" as much as possible.  I'm trying to let the live sound of the band come through and to feature the blend of all our singing a lot more.  The next album is slightly shorter songs, but also has some longer bits as well.  It's not like Snowtorch in the sense of being all one song, but more  like Doomsday Afternoon, with recurring themes.  The album, long overdue, is called "Infernal" and I think it strikes a balance between the longer bits of Doomsday and the shorter songs of Great Leap.  Path B is to remove the Phideaux "band" as much as possible and to work as more of a solo creator.  Path B will emerge through the side project Mogon - which is a new band of sorts, it's just that the members can change from album to album.  That will be a bit more minimal in approach.  Instead of soaring orchestral overlays, it will be more about the texture of the sound.  It's also a bit more 80s vs. the love for 70s music that infuses so much of my prior work.
 
xavier00
 
What would you say to a listener who asked you to give 2 to three good reasons to ''get close '' and listen Progressive Rock? If you had the choice to give 2-3 Albums to convince someone, which ones would you choose?
I would explain that music can be very powerful when you have to pay close attention and make it the important experience, not just background noise for a party.  I would say that sometimes, we can be transported to places deep in our minds and hearts that we can not go through ordinary means and that progressive and psychedelic rock music can be a way to explore those inner mind regions.  I would say that I love to listen to music that is dynamic and has several levels going on, more like a film than a quick pop 3 minute ditty (some of which are perfect and great).  The albums I would choose to convince someone would be Jethro Tull "Thick As A Brick", Yes "Fragile" and probably Genesis "Nursery Cryme".  I think those albums run the gamut between epic, musicianly, mysterious, heavy and melodic.

xavier03It is known, that ‘quality” Music exalts soul and spirit... Through this blessed process of creating and sharing, what have you earned and what have you left behind? Do you feel that this whole way from conception of an idea to the realization of finally poised what for you is a target for the ideal, or brings you against it?
The music comes into me, and slowly emerges.  Often I get a little piece of it, but I have to stay open minded to figure out the full reason or purpose of the music in question.  That's why I say the songs are "discovered" by Phideaux Xavier.  I feel they come from somewhere that isn't my conscious mind.  Sometimes I write consciously, but it's usually not as good as the surprising stuff that comes without my planning.  I do feel connected to our universe in those moments, and naturally then I feel blessed.  The goal for me is the end product.  I do not mind the process, but I love when I have the finished work that I can share with people.  Then, I feel like I am talking to the human race and a part of life.  It's fantastic to hear from listeners and to have people tell me that they have enjoyed my music.  A true honour to be in people's ears, minds and hearts.
 
xavier07
 
Many creators quoting as they saying '' I can’t pick out an album, because all my works are as my children ''. What album of yours will you separate for your own personal reason?
-The good albums:  Ghost Story, Doomsday Afternoon, Snowtorch and Chupacabras (the song) - these albums had help from the mysterious pixies and from forces behind the veil.  I can not claim full authorship, something magical     happened...
-The difficult albums:  Number Seven, Chupacabras (the album) - these albums, though possessing many breakthrough ideas (for me) are somewhat unbalanced and perhaps overlong.  Something about them doesn't sit right 4     me.
-The misunderstood, possibly misguided albums:  Fiendish, The Great Leap - many lovely bits, people haven't embraced them, but I do love them - as I love all my work as the children they became.
-The anomaly:  313 - started as an album in 24 hours, with minimal pre preparation, several songs created on the spot (or from barely sketched out ideas).  I think it's a curiosity that can be refreshing.

xavier08There are rumors that it will be remastered / reissued of your old albums,  whether these rumors are in force, shall we wait for some unreleased, bonus tracks etc?
I am trying to upgrade my albums and reprint so they can sound as good as possible, which in some cases will be a very good difference, but I haven't had time to do that because of my regular day job work. But, this is on my list of things to do after getting some new music out. There are definitely alternate bits and bonus material that would be part of this effort. Stay tuned.

Do you see that the progressive musical fixation evolving or being stagnant? Do you separate some new bands with a lot of interesting ideas or orientation?
Unfortunately for me, I don't get to listen to a lot of new music while I'm working on my own stuff.  I don't want to be swayed or influenced by what others are doing.  When I am not making music, I absorb all I can and really love music.  But, for the past few years, I have not had that pleasure.  So, I can't really state a thought on new Progressive music.  However, I love any music that is made from the heart, whether with old templates and genres or new unthought of methods.  Progression is both linear and internal, so I think one can make "regressive" sounding music that progresses in texture or lyric or methodology.  I don't see that music has to startle and shock in order to be relevant.    

xavier09In so many years of your music career, you have surely heard too many  marvelous comments or not, could you recall one that touched you?
Well, a friend sent some of my music to an artist who I really loved and that artist contacted me to say he liked what I had done.  That was quite meaningful.  On another level, when I get comments from people who live in other countries that are quite different from mine, I am humbled that they are listening to my stuff.  Iran, Egypt, Russia are a few of the places that I've heard from listeners and it's heartening to know that people from all walks of life can enjoy what I do.  I love to make music because it allows me to communicate with the greater world.  It's definitely a privilege to be on someone's playlist and when someone takes the time to send a note, it is very meaningful.  I loved music so much as a teenager, so it's great to be able to make my own and have people actually listen to it!
 
 

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