There’s some elegant and tasteful piano magic on the 2013 CD release of Distant Sun by Eamonn Karran. Based in Derry, Northern Ireland, Eamonn’s CD was released on the Northern California-based Real Music label. Judging by the meditative musical magic on Distant Sun, subtitled Transcendental Piano, the CD should be yet another one of Real Music’s most popular titles well into 2014. Throughout the 11 track, 56 minute Distant Sun CD, Eamonn tailors his piano magic with an added light touch of synth keyboards which expand upon the music at critical moments. Amid the Celtic style keyboard instrumental tracks, there’s even touches of Gregorian chanting and Uilleann pipes which adds some haunting sonic imagery to the mix. As far as influences go, Eamonn cites Jean Michel Jarre, Mike Oldfield, Yanni and Phil Coulter among the major ones. Eamonn has an interesting story in that after 25 years playing keyboards for artists and bands, in 2011, after surviving a serious car accident, he then decided to dedicate his life to playing spiritual New Age instrumental music. Eamonn describes his music as soothing music consisting of soft piano compositions and relaxing rhythmic tracks backed up by his trademark piano. Distant Sun has an element of healing magic in the mix and to bolster the fact, there’s also an abundance of celestial, New Age sonics throughout the album. As far as enlightening Celtic instrumental piano goes, it doesn’t get much better than Distant Sun by Eamonn Karran.
mwe3: Where are you from originally and where do you live now and what do you like best about it? What other parts of the world to you like as well?
Eamonn Karran: I was born in Derry City, Northern Ireland and still live there with my wife and five kids. This is one of the most beautiful corners of the world and has had a huge impact on my compositions. Derry is known worldwide as a city of music... I never fail to be impressed by the sheer talent of its generations of musicians. Although I live in a city, it is quite small and we are fortunate to be surrounded by stunning countryside, I only have to travel a few miles to reach the unspoiled beaches and wilderness of Donegal.
Apart from Ireland, I have traveled to a few European countries and love France, in particular Paris. It’s an incredibly romantic city with wonderful architecture. In the near future I hope to travel to Iceland... I have long been fascinated by its volcanic terrain and hope to witness the Northern Lights in all their glory.
mwe3: I read you had a life altering accident in April 2011 and that afterwards inspired you to dedicate your life to making healing music. How do you feel that those harrowing episodes in someone’s life can make them stronger? Also, how do you define healing music and what would you like listeners to come away with after hearing your Distant Sun album?
Eamonn Karran: I genuinely know that if it wasn’t for that time in my life I would never have started recording my own material. It’s very hard to explain but I know that I walked away from that car crash for a reason; afterwards I had this voice constantly running through my head that I needed to do something positive with my life and for others. I was held safely by angels that day and they have since guided me on my path and directed me to other souls who have helped me on this incredible journey.
I believe that everything that happens in your life does so for a reason and sometimes that is impossible to understand but when I look back I wouldn’t change a thing as these experiences have molded who I am today.
Healing music is very hard to define. I think that each of us draws healing from different sources, for me it’s about connecting with your innermost emotions, finding that music that creates peace from within. Many people have contacted me and said that my music has helped them through difficult times, that is the most incredible compliment I could ever receive and makes everything I do worthwhile. I hope as time goes by I can connect with many more people in this way.
mwe3: What was your musical background like? When did you start playing music and how do you balance your piano playing and the practicing music aspects with your compositional approach? What part do you mostly devote yourself to?
Eamonn Karran: I began playing piano at the age of 7, firstly through a tutor and then by ear. I didn’t like the regimental aspect of being taught to read music but just loved playing the instrument so gradually I taught myself the basics. I have childhood memories of listening intently to various types of music and trying to work out the different structures within tracks, one vivid memory is of being a young kid and being confused how a lone singer on stage could do harmonies on their own. Of course over time I worked out they had backing but when I look back that was the early stages of developing my musical ear.
As I don’t read music, I have to practice constantly, like any skill it needs to be nourished and will go stale if you don’t rehearse. I spend most days listening to many genres of music from new-age to pop, rock and country as I find that I draw inspiration from many unlikely sources. I generally find that ideas for tracks come suddenly and I need to be near to my piano to put down quick recordings.
At the moment I don’t perform my own material live so it’s a pretty even balance between practice and composing.
mwe3: What are some of your favorite pianos and what pianos and other keyboards and instruments do you play on the Distant Sun album? What about advances in keyboard sounds, do you keep up with the fast changing technology of all the musical gear these days?
Eamonn Karran: I would love to have access to a studio with a Yamaha C7 grand but unfortunately that isn’t possible right now. I have played one briefly in a hotel lobby and fell in love with its sound and feel, so maybe one day I’ll get the chance record an entire solo album on one of these.
The entire album Distant Sun was recorded using a Yamaha P105 stage piano, Yamaha MO6 synth and a Yamaha Tyros 4. Everything you hear on this album was played and recorded live. I don’t use midi sequencing or quantizing for any of my music as I like to keep that original feel within the track. As for advances in music technology I am a little old fashioned. I come from a background of recording with bands live onto reel to reel tape and always ensured that anything I recorded could be duplicated in a live performance. I agree that technology today is fantastic and allows musicians to be creative in ways never possible 20 years ago but on the flip side it means that basically anyone with access to software can create “music” without actually being able to play an instrument, so I rarely use any VST instruments and tend to program the keyboards I have to create the sounds, textures and rhythms for each track.
If I had the choice of upgrading my gear, I would go for a Mac and invest in a few higher end synths so that I could broaden my sound library and have a set up that could eventually be used in live performances.
mwe3: How did you become involved with Real Music and what do you like best about working with them? It seems you’re in very good company on Real Music. What other Real Music artists do you like to listen to?
Eamonn Karran: I am in fantastic company on Real Music, they are a label that I have followed for quite a few years. When I first started producing my own material I had my sights set on sending demos to Real Music as I was already a fan of their artists such as Omar Akram, Bernward Koch, Kevin Kern and Danny Wright to name a few. I gradually worked on perfecting my compositions and sound and kept in touch with them sending demo CD’s each time I had a selection of tracks ready. Early 2013 I got the exciting news that they would sign me for a 5 album deal. I could never wish to work with any other label as their passion for creating peace and harmony in people’s lives through the medium of music is something I can instantly connect with and it is a pleasure to be added to their roster of fine artists.
mwe3: What artists and/or recordings influenced you mostly to become a musician and specifically a pianist and what musicians do you feel are breaking new ground for the piano today?
Eamonn Karran: In my teens I discovered Jean Michel Jarre and he changed my perspective of music forever. Back then I was a huge fan of 1980’s electronic music and loved the emotion that he conveyed in his compositions, his ability to compose huge complex tracks using keyboards inspired me to delve deep into the world of analogue synth programming. I also loved listening to the music of Bruce Hornsby, I always felt that there was a certain Celtic flavor to many of his recordings and this certainly has had an influence on my own style of playing. As for pianists I love the music of modern players such as Ludovico Einaudi, Danny Wright, Yiruma, David Nevue and Bernward Koch. Each of these composers has their own style, something I always strive to do with each recording.
I think in particular Ludovico Einaudi is one of the most influential modern day pianists. His minimalistic style is incredibly beautiful and the music he creates is straight from the soul. For me he is a modern day master and will influence generations of future composers.
mwe3: Tell us about your working with the Spa Sound label and what do they do with New Age and other forms of healing music?
Eamonn Karran: When I first started recording my own material I approached a few companies with demos, one of these was Spa Sounds. At that time I was seeking to get my material some exposure and they certainly had an impressive list of fine musicians. I was offered a publishing deal for a selection of tracks which was eventually released through their label as part of a series of spa albums and was called “Awaken”.
Spa Sounds have a vast selection of music that caters for every style within the New Age genre, so I was delighted to be able to have a link to a major company were people could purchase my music.
mwe3: What are you doing to further promote the Distant Sun album and what have you planned for 2014?
Eamonn Karran: It’s all systems go in 2014 and I will be actively promoting the album through every medium possible. I have already done a Skype interview with a station called Nutmeg TV in America, it will be broadcast sometime in February and I will be approaching many radio stations throughout Ireland and beyond regarding interviews and promoting the album. Thankfully we live in a time when it is relatively easy to promote music online so I will be busy working though many social media sites to drum up as much interest as possible.
I haven’t planned any gigs as composing original material is something I am fairly new to so that is an avenue I will have to explore. Definitely get some support gigs, as my dream is to be able to take my music to the stage. It going to be a very busy year and I look forward to working through Real Music with this and future projects.
Thanks to Eamonn Karran @ www.EamonnKarran.co.uk
Purchase and listen to sample tracks from Distant Sun