Keyboard virtuoso and New Age music trendsetter Chuck Wild is the man responsible for critically acclaimed Liquid Mind series of instrumental music releases on Real Music. Especially in the age of the internet and media saturation, people are continually looking for ways to chill out and beat the stress of life so if that’s your mission, look no further than the thirteen Liquid Mind CD releases on Real Music. The concept behind the thirteenth Liquid Mind album, the 2014 release of Relaxing Rain & Ocean Mixes is simple. To take some highlights from the Liquid Mind catalog, and remix while adding in nature sounds of the ocean and rain. The peaceful essence of Relaxing Rain & Ocean Mixes makes the album quite easy on the ears and rates up there with the best titles yet from Chuck Wild and Liquid Mind. Commenting on the idea of the CD, Chuck explains, “Terence Yallop and Karen Kael, owners of the wonderful Real Music label, suggested I consider doing a remix album using some nature sounds. Though I hadn't done a similar project before, the idea resonated with me immediately, because Liquid Mind was, in a sense, borne out of the sound of the ocean in the late 1980's, when I was healing from an anxiety/panic disorder. As I started work on this album, Terence and I decided to devote three tracks to ocean and three to rain, mixing the new sound effects with six previously released Liquid Mind tracks.” One of the key characteristics of Liquid Mind music is the wide application of healing New Age sounds and tempos. Listening actively can be an interesting sonic experience while listening in the background will enhance all types of environments — from meditation to studying to working. If you choose the latter, this music will not get in your way and is the closest thing there is to pure human music. During production, Chuck emphasizes the lower frequencies in many tracks, which have been shown in music therapy research to be especially relaxing, harking back to our time in the womb. Mixing Liquid Mind music with natural sounds of the ocean and rain makes for a truly a calming and enlightening experience. Superbly mixed and mastered and capped off with stunning CD artwork, Relaxing Rain & Ocean Mixes is the ultimate New Age / healing music album yet from Liquid Mind. www.LiquidMindMusic.com / www.RealMusic.com www.ChuckWild.com
mwe3.com presents an interview with
Chuck Wild of LIQUID MIND®
mwe3: The latest Liquid Mind CD, Relaxing Rain & Ocean Mixes, was released by Real Music on September 30, 2014. How did you originally become interested in sedative music, and how did this new collection take shape? Were all the nature sounds on the original tracks or was there any editing done to synchronize the release?
Chuck Wild: As regards the overall concept of combining rain & ocean sounds with Liquid Mind, late last year Terence Yallop and Karen Kael, owners of the wonderful Real Music label, suggested I consider doing a remix album using some nature sounds. Though I hadn't done a similar project before, the idea resonated with me immediately, because Liquid Mind was, in a sense, borne out of the sound of the ocean in the late 1980's, when I was healing from anxiety/panic disorder. In the fall of 1987, after working 20 hour days for three months scoring the Max Headroom® TV series for ABC-TV, I began having persistent panic attacks. Not only sleep deprivation from the extremely long hours, but also the grief of losing more than 50 friends to the AIDs/HIV crisis in the 1980's, created a perfect storm in my life.
In early 1988, as I sought to put my life back together, a dear friend, composer, inventor and recording artist J. S. Kingfisher, suggested I visit a counselor friend. That counselor suggested I compose the kind of music that represented the way I wanted to feel ... deeply relaxed. I was so anxious I couldn't bring myself to write slow music at the time, so my therapist suggested taking a mini-vacation in Laguna Beach, California, about an hour's drive from my home.
One day, while in Laguna, I sat for many hours on the rocks at the beach, just listening to the ocean, and found that, for the first time in many months, I felt a deep sense of calm and relaxation, but only while I was in earshot of the ocean's sound. I realized that the constant, sonically rich and relaxing sound of the "liquid" (Pacific Ocean) was calming my "mind", and I made the decision to create music which emulated the sound of the ocean, and decided that day to call it "Liquid Mind®".
Fast forward to late 2013: As I started work on this album, Terence and I decided to devote three tracks to ocean and three to rain, mixing the new sound effects with six previously released Liquid Mind tracks. Though I considered recording the rain & ocean sounds myself, I made the decision to instead use the highest quality professional samples I could find, so I set about auditioning more than 1,000 rain and ocean samples, and ended up licensing about 90 tracks of various sounds for use on this album.
Since Liquid Mind tracks are very slow, and ebb and fall in a non-rhythmic fashion, it was a real challenge to combine and edit ocean and rain tracks that did not compete with, but rather complemented, the music, and to introduce subtle but constant variety into those effects tracks, by using multiple layers of sound.
We named each track with the original title from previous albums, plus the words "Ocean Mix" or "Rain Mix", so as to differentiate from the original "music-only" recordings.
mwe3: What is it about the sound of rain and the ocean that lends itself so readily to New Age and meditation music? Are nature sounds really the original form of New Age music and do we not pay enough attention to all the wonderful natural sounds, from the ocean and rain to animals and birds, etc.
Chuck Wild: I think there's a deep connection for each of us with the sounds of nature, it's something that's in our DNA, and is not peculiar to New Age or any other form of music, though New Age artists have long embraced the use of nature sound audio. Especially in our e-world, where there are so many distractions and competitions for our time, I think folks just don't get outside enough, and music or sound effects that we associate with more relaxed times can be very healing. From a sonic standpoint, in the story above from 1988, I didn't go to the ocean expecting to be so deeply relaxed by the sound, it just happened unexpectedly. The constancy and deep sonic resonance of the ocean was and is comforting. I think rain sounds can be relaxing for many of the same reasons.
mwe3: How do you feel your music helps people’s health? Is it simply a matter of calming the brain and reducing blood pressure in the body or does it go deeper? Is musical therapy something anyone can tune in to and benefit from? I know the Chinese have the 5 healing sounds and there’s actually a series of music, played by Chinese orchestras that’s supposed to work with that, so every color and sound helps an organ respond.
Chuck Wild: My friend and Grammy winning recording artist Armen Chakmakian is fond of saying that all music is healing to someone. I agree that all styles of music can be enriching and inspiriting to those who love and enjoy listening to a particular style. That said, there have been a number of medical research studies showing the capability of sedative slow music to relax the human body. Especially the use of lower frequencies, which mimic the perception of sound we hear while in the womb, has been shown to be calming. Music therapists (MT's) are trained healthcare professionals who use all different styles of music. The American Music Therapy Association is a wonderful advocacy organization for MT's if any of your readers are interested in this area of study or professional work.
Based upon feedback from dozens of practitioners, including doctors, the Liquid Mind music is now used in many healthcare settings: Anxiety/panic management, anger management, cancer chemotherapy centers, psychotherapy, hypnotherapy, yoga, massage, addiction recovery, prisoner rehabilitation, guided imagery, PTSD recovery, acupuncture, pain management, veterinary post-surgical recovery, hospital surgical recovery, and sleep disorder clinics. Dr. William Dement, the father of sleep medicine and founder of Stanford's famed sleep program, recommended Liquid Mind as part of a pre-sleep regimen for those who have trouble falling asleep.
mwe3: Do certain Liquid Mind albums work with different aspects of health and well being? There are several tracks on Relaxing Rain & Ocean Mixes from your album Liquid Mind X: Meditation, while other albums of yours work on aspects like dreaming, sleep and relaxation. How would you compare your approach on your different albums and is there another area of health or well being that you’d like to apply your Liquid Mind philosophy to in the future? What other areas of health can your music be applied to psychological illness?
Chuck Wild: The album titles in the Liquid Mind series are of two types... Focused collections of previously released material (Relax, Dream, Rain & Ocean Mixes) and studio albums, which are numbered Roman numeral I thru X. The studio album titles (Ambience Minimus, Slow World, Balance, Unity, Serenity, Spirit, Reflection, Sleep, Lullaby, and Meditation) are a reflection of my own life's journey. All the Liquid Mind albums are musically similar and quite slow, using frequency restriction to be comforting to the human ear, having an absence of dominant rhythm, and including subtle ultra slow melodies. My approach to sedative music is to use a blanket of sound, with very little space, and gradual changes using the tempo of my own breathing. I also record and blend in quiet vocal sounds, which we humans associate with comfort, from being in the womb.
mwe3: What was the first music you became interested in when you were young? Did you express a lot of interest in The Beatles and other pop music of the 1960s? Who were your musical mentors growing up?
Chuck Wild: My first musical exposure as a child was a combination of 1940's and 50's jazz and church music. As a 4 year old, I was confined to bed and a wheelchair for two years with a congenital hip disorder that was fully resolved by age 8. My parents, who both loved music, arranged to have a caregiver for me who played piano, and she used to carry me down to the piano and teach me to play. Once I was back on my feet, I joined a church kids' choir at age 6, and always loved hearing the sound of the pipe organ. I begged my parents to let me sit behind the organist, which I did for several years. I especially liked the slow meditational music she'd play, which was my first exposure to quiet peaceful music. As a teen in the 1950's and 60's, I was of course fond of The Beatles and other pop groups, but was much more influenced by the classical music I was learning to play on the piano, and performing in school and church choirs.
mwe3: How did you make the leap from your early influences to listening to Eno and the other early electronic music composers? You also mentioned you were influenced by classical masters such as Beethoven and Bartok. When did you start thinking about or trying to apply the healing aspects of electronic and meditation music?
Chuck Wild: After graduating from college and serving four years as a Navy officer, I decided it was time to pursue music, and read an interview with the legendary Edgar Winter, who suggested all musicians should go on the road to pay some dues and get musical experience in the quickest possible way... good advice, by the way. So, I went on the road for seven years, playing in almost 20 groups... blues, classical rock, hard rock, and R & B, and enjoying the process of growing and learning. Synths were becoming mainstream in the 1970's, so I naturally started using them and including them as part of my keyboard arsenal. At one point, I had more than 20 keyboards on the road with me... seems crazy these days, where nearly every synth is just a virtual instrument within the computer.
In 1979 I realized that to move up the scale, so to speak, I needed to be in NYC or LA for pop music, so I moved to Los Angeles. After a year of searching for a great band to work with, I was hired in 1980 as combination keyboardist and bassist in the group Missing Persons, who weren't yet signed to a label.
mwe3: What was it like working with Frank Zappa earlier in your career? I know Terry Bozzio, a band mate of yours from Missing Persons, worked with Frank too. I also read you learned a lot about sound from engineering great Ken Scott, who worked at Abbey Road. What was it like working with Ken? He’s such a legend. Who else can you cite as being important in your career?
Chuck Wild: Working with Terry Bozzio, Warren Cuccurullo, Dale Bozzio, and later Patrick O’Hearn, was an amazing experience. The group was signed to Capitol Records around 1982. Though the others were alumnae of the Zappa band, I only did a couple of sessions with Frank, who was quite brilliant in the studio, and of course live as well. Ken Scott was the first high profile producer I’d worked with, and he was quite humble, considering he'd produced Ziggy Stardust, Crime Of The Century, and worked on the Beatles “White Album”. I sat behind Ken and watched whenever possible, observing and sometimes asking him questions about how he recorded and mixed. It was very illuminating and enjoyable.
Missing Persons' third release, Rhyme and Reason, was co-produced and engineered by another legend, Bruce Swedien, who is a lifelong friend and became my mentor. Bruce, a five-time Grammy-winning engineer/producer, is perhaps best known for his work with Michael Jackson, but has also worked with many many legends in the business, from Ella Fitzgerald to J-Lo. Bruce is a natural teacher, and taught me how to balance the sound of Liquid Mind by sonically comparing it to classical recordings while I was mixing. Listening to reference material from beautiful recordings of orchestras has helped me create more listenable albums. Bruce encouraged me all along the way, and introduced me to Michael Jackson, for whom I worked off and on for four years. I invested one hundred percent of the money I earned from working with Michael to bring the Liquid Mind healing music series to market in the 1990's.
mwe3: What were some of your most memorable studio sessions and how did your early soundtrack work influence the Liquid Mind sound? Would you say Liquid Mind’s music is cinematic?
Chuck Wild: Liquid Mind's music has been used here and there in films and TV episodes, though it's designed to be healing, rather than cinematic in nature. Scoring for film/TV is a very different skill, one that I studied at UCLA for several years, but chose not to pursue, beyond doing a few TV episodes. The hours were just too long, and I was focusing in those days on maintaining my health. Instead, I focused on being a staff songwriter for Lorimar Telepictures, and then Warner/Chappell music. While at UCLA, I studied orchestration with the wonderful composer Mark Watters, and the arranging skills I learned, especially voicing, have been helpful to me in arranging Liquid Mind, and many other tracks.
Many studio sessions over the years were memorable. Working on albums for Michael Jackson, Missing Persons, the Pointer Sisters, and others was both amazing and educational at the same time. But I'd say my most memorable session was in 1979 for Eddie Money. I had moved to LA two weeks earlier, and met a session drummer by the name of Glen Simmons. I'd just joined Glen's band at the time, and one Sunday morning Eddie called Glen to ask if he knew a band who could do a last-minute film session that day. So Glen and I went to United Western studios and recorded the song "Get A Move On" for the film Americathon, starring John Ritter. Because the double scale session lasted six hours, was on a Sunday, another double, and was for both phonograph and film release, I was actually paid for 16 union sessions, enough money for me to live for six months from those six hours work. Such weekend sessions are mostly nonexistent now due to budget cutbacks, but that was a very warm welcome to LA!
mwe3: Are you a gear head of sorts? Is it challenging to keep up with all the technological developments in music making? What are your favorite keyboards and other devices you use to create your Liquid Mind releases? Is your studio state of the art?
Chuck Wild: I'm an unwilling gear head. Honestly, there are so many products available now. I have about 25 virtual instruments and over 300 state of the art plugins, that I've just about overdosed on tech. However, it's amazing to have such an array of possibilities. At the other end of the spectrum, I'm focusing now on writing classical piano music. I’ve just about finished with an 18-minute piano sonata, which only enters the electronic arena when making the score in Sibelius.
To answer your question, I don’t really have a favorite keyboard for Liquid Mind, I use about a dozen synths/VI's, plus a combination of very quiet live vocal tracks, 20 or 30 tracks from four singers and a flautist, along with some proprietary samples, all of which help to create the Liquid Mind textures. The music sounds simple, but it's ever-changing and a bit more complex under the surface. It takes me about seven months to write, arrange, record, mix, and master 60 minutes of music. Because this is healing music, I monitor, at different times, thru 8 sets of speakers while mixing, at low, medium, and high volume. Though the music doesn't sound the same thru all different speaker systems, I do want it to sound good on all those systems. Somehow, that process smoothes the rough edges, and makes Liquid Mind® what it is.
mwe3: These days what artists do you listen to mostly or do you spend most of your time conceptualizing and composing music? Where do you feel music will be in 50 years or 100 years?
Chuck Wild: To be honest, I don't listen much, except to classical music. I love Brahms, Arvo Part, Bach, Beethoven, Durufle, Britten, Dvorak, violinist Jashca Heifitz, Sibelius, Poulenc, Prokofiev, Rachmaninoff, Tchaikovsky, Samuel Barber, Aaron Copland, Debussy, Gabriel Fauré, to name a few. I suppose my strongest influences are Brahms, Bach, Beethoven and Rachmaninoff.
I think it's difficult to say where musical styles will be in 50 or 100 years. Pop music is a reflection of the culture of a particular time, but some music can become timeless and classic, and transcends the trends of the times. So I think there will always be pop music that speaks to the needs and politics of each new generation, while at the same time, there will always be music that is "classic" in nature, that survives from times past.
mwe3: What else do you find helps you relax and stay focused on your work? What do you like to do to help clear the mental clutter out of your brain and stimulate your musical creativity?
Chuck Wild: I'm fortunate in that I've never had to do anything to stimulate my creativity. I think that's for two reasons: (1) I'm hyperactive by nature — no caffeine or stimulants in my body for 26 years now, and at age 68 I still have high energy from being a vegan and 30 minutes exercise on a stationery bike every day.... and also (2) When I taught music for 10 years in the 1980's and early 90's, I used to make students do an improv exercise I'd learned while on the road in a blues band. The exercise is quite simple: Play constant notes without stopping for 30 minutes. Don't plan, don't think, let it be nonsense or good sense! Just observe and enjoy the unexpected. After a few months of doing that every day, my creativity has always flowed without effort.
When I was younger, I'd sit for four or five hours just doing that exercise, with only an occasional break. That exercise is designed to remove the stigma of making a mistake during the creative process. I never edit while I'm writing instrumental music, rather I just compose, and save the editing/revising of my first sketch for another day. Sometimes I hear the music in my head and write it out in notation or into Digital Performer or Sibelius. Other times, I just record my improvisations and go back later to extract the best ideas.
With so much e-stimulation these days, I think we all have a need to clean out mental clutter and focus. What works for me is doing a few minutes each day of a simple breathing meditation, and by having fun with friends and family away from work. Living in Hollywood, it's easy to become distracted and even obsessed by all the activity and possibilities, so the ability to shut that off and focus on the work at hand is essential for me. That's where meditation is especially effective for me.
mwe3: What other plans do you have for new music and recording in 2014 into 2015? What kind of music would you like to make next and what about other musical challenges you might delve into in the future?
Chuck Wild: I'm currently finishing an 18 minute sonata for solo piano, and just started working on a new instrumental album with my good friend Seven Whitfield, who is producing and also co-composing this project. I do eventually plan to release another Liquid Mind CD, that would be the 11th studio album, though the timing is unclear at the moment. I'm an active investor in parallel with my musical pursuits, so life is quite full these days, often 12-14 hour work days, six days a week. Sunday is always a day of rest, and that's important to helping me to maintain perspective.
I hope you'll check out Liquid Mind's music on Pandora, or at the label's website, www.RealMusic.com. Some free mp3's are also available at my website LiquidMindMusic.com and of course the music is available at iTunes, Amazon.com, Spotify, and just about every digital outlet in the world. Thanks again, Robert, for this opportunity! Peace.Thanks to Chuck Wild @ Liquid Music Music