“Filled with mysterious, mesmerizing powers” (D-Side magazine, France)
Australian ethereal-pop singer Louisa John-Krol has released 4 albums:
Ancient myths, poetry, faerielore, sufism, wicca, music and life itself inspire me.
Has music helped you through a difficult or traumatic time in your life?
Yes, when my father died. But I would not limit music to this purpose. I am attracted to the ideas of Ficino, a Renaissance alchemist and musicologist. He believed music is an energy enabling a soul to travail states of consciousness: emotion, intellect, senses and imagination. He cautioned against remaining in any of them too long.
Discuss your feelings about the powerful or life-changing effects that music can have on a person –
Anthropologist Joseph Campbell distinguished between Kinetic and Static art. Kinetic is didactic and seeks to change you, whereas Static exists for itself in timeless being: this is the kind I prefer. I never assume the role of social preacher. I simply express the magic within or in other people, books, nature, Dreaming. If my music opens doors in a soul (as some claim), then that is a fortunate by-product.
The music industry?
As Pepper Mcgowan (on your site) wrote: “The industry really does want you to be this nymphette/priestess/sage thing”. Yes, I’m fed up with that stereotype. Pepper, do write that song about peeing black light!!!! Then there is the issue of finance. My first label (in Germany) ripped me off. My current one (in France) pays royalties – for several pressings of each title - but after studio costs, postage and airfares, I make no profit. It’s tough for labels and distributors too. Listeners should take more responsibility. It’s ok to burn compilations of various artists on recommendation, but copying entire albums is unethical. Most musicians, even with a following, label representation and critical acclaim, do other jobs to pay our bills. If you want something don’t steal it, buy it. I also suggest we all release less CDs. Glutting the market degrades our craft. Perhaps there is wisdom in restraint?
Any meaningful albums / artists?
Mentors include Kate Bush, Dead-Can-Dance, Led Zep, Bjork, my collaborators Stoa, Gor and others, also bands I’ve met on tour such as Ataraxia and Arcana. Especially for this interview I recommend Keltia, a Belgian singer/harpist embarking on her musical voyage: www.keltia.info email@example.com
Warm wishes, Louisa John-Krol
How has music inspired you? Your musical inspirations?
I think I am influenced by a vast range of different musics, at least I listen to different musics a lot, ranging from classical composers such as Mahler or Stockhausen to French and Italian Chanson as well as 'pop' and 'wave' music. A formative influence for me clearly was "Music for 18 Musicians" by Steve Reich. The steady repetitions and the very basic harmonies that were nevertheless always changing immediately transported me into a kind of mild trance when I first heard it. I think that the influence of Steve Reich and minimalism in general is still quite audible in some Cinnamonia pieces today, although of course what we are doing is 'pop' music. Really important for me, too, was "Music for Airports" by Brian Eno, one of the very first ambient records. Very beautiful and unobtrusive, I still prefer Eno when I want to relax and simply 'come down'. I wouldn't say that we're consciously trying to do something similar in our own music, but at least these were important experiences, still inspiring me to retain an open ear today.
But much more obvious influences on Cinnamonia are from 'wave' and 'progressive' music, and also from folk and 'world' music. I like the clarity of the modal scales employed in it, and folk music often thematises very basic and deep human experiences as well. I think I try to retain a certain 'sincerity' with my own music, and in a rather oblique way this is inspired by the approach of some of the great folk singers I admire, such as Martin Carthy or June Tabor.
Has music helped you through a difficult period in your life?
It helped me a lot in my adolescence, when it at first served as a means of identification, and later – when I started doing music myself- as an outlet for all sorts of pent-up emotions (mostly anger, at first). I was a rather insecure youth then, but pretty much annoyed with the people in my environment (school peers especially), and music was helpful in finding a different group of people apart from what I considered to be the 'mainstream squares'. Me and my friends listened a lot to 'gloomy', 'new wave' sort of things then, but this surely helped me to confront and integrate the 'darker' aspects of myself.
Any meaningful CDs or songs?
Apart from the ones mentioned above, I'd like to name:
David Sylvian – "Secrets of the Beehive". Wonderfully subtle music, at the same time very melancholic and very uplifting, and such an incredible voice. Sandra and myself are huge Sylvian fans.
Eyeless In Gaza – "Drumming the Beating Heart", and everything else by the band and their singer Martyn Bates, who has got one of the most emotionally compelling and beautiful voices I ever heard.
Anything from Belgian composer Wim Mertens and from Dead Can Dance.
Discuss the creative or songwriting process:
A pre-condition for writing music is a certain inner balance that makes 'inspiration' possible. It is not always easy to achieve that balance, there are always the demands of having to earn one's living (as we cannot live from our music) and various other distractions. I also seem to need some positive response from other people in order to keep me going on(either from Sandra, or from people outside Cinnamonia). So, often writing music for me is a slow and not always easy process. But once it happens, it's very rewarding, and somehow I know very quickly if something I have just composed is good and worth developing.
Normally I start writing a piece with a certain sound or phrase, and then slowly build the whole piece around it in a rough form. Then I play it to Sandra who then develops the lyrics and the vocal lines, which we then record. And now comes a long period of refining the song, adding or taking away tracks etc. Normally what you hear on a Cinnamonia record is the result of a lengthy process of (hopefully) perfecting more and more what we have done.
Discuss your feelings about the powerful or life-changing effects that music can have on a person:
I think music can have very powerful and even cathartic effects. It can help you to focus inner difficulties, acting as a kind of catalyst for you. This is why even seemingly dark or aggressive music (industrial, heavy metal, you name it) has its place in many instances. But in general, music is helpful to center myself, to uplift me, and for me this is most often done by rather quiet and 'beautiful' music.
A few years ago, I was involved in a therapeutic/ scientific project based on the idea that every person has an 'individual tone' (like, say, F#), and that listening for awhile to that tone can have a positive therapeutic effect. The project failed commercially and personally for a number of reasons, but I still think there is something to that theory. Sound waves probably interact directly with your body, causing it to resonate in a certain way, and that can be a helpful means to coming back to yourself or getting you out of an illness. But normally I quite intuitively pick the music that will be helpful and enjoyable to me in a certain situation.
* How has music inspired you? / Your musical inspirations --
Music is truly the universal language. It moves me, it makes me cry, it makes me dance and sing. Music can transform me. It is everything to me.
* Has music helped you through a difficult or traumatic time in your life?
Music has mostly been the central focus of difficult or traumatic times in my life. As much as I've got the passion for writing, singing and listening to music, it's been very painful. It's very difficult, if not impossible, for me to listen to certain songs now.
* Any meaningful CDs or songs?
Elvis in Memphis
Plastic Ono Band The White Album - Beatles
The Dreaming - Kate Bush
Ray of Light - Madonna
So - Peter Gabriel
Dreamboat Annie - Heart
Phantom of the Paradise (soundtrack)
* Discuss the creative or songwriting process --
"I really believe artists are channels for a higher and much purer force which we have no choice but to bring out of ourselves. It took me experiencing a lot of disappointments before I could begin to live truer to myself. I write music to survive and I've actually LIVED each and every word of my songs."
One group of songwriters, The Moody Blues, were in touch with not only universal consciousness ("understand the voice within") but also nature's rhythms ("listen to the tide slowly turning"). They were inspired by great forces, the source of which they could never understand. I heard Justin Hayward say (as the camera scanned the handwritten lyrics of Nights in White Satin - one of the greatest rock songs ever written):
"Songwriting, for me, is one of those things that is such a magic moment. The time when you write a song, when it comes to you; I tend not to analyze it too much because I just don't know where it comes from. But it's the most beautiful feeling and it's something from nothing... something that didn't exist a few minutes before... and it's a wonderful thing."
* Discuss your feelings about the powerful or life-changing effects that music can have on a person --
Music alone is not enough these days. Visuals are very important and can convey every mood and emotion of anyone any age any day at any moment. In American culture, we tend to place singers and performers on a pedestal, which is wrong... however, when someone sings, performs, interprets a song, wonderful things can happen. But also terrible things can happen. Music has the ability to change and transform a people in ways most of us are not aware of as we are being moved.
Barry Green has offered an exerpt from his book- The Mastery of Music
How has music inspired you? Your musical inspirations
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