Having released four albums on Real Music, France-based New Age maestro Thierry David returns with his fifth for the venerable label. The 2014 CD release of Hypnosis marks the latest and greatest Real Music release to date from Thierry and, start to finish, it’s a real winner of an album. Although clearly adept in a number of musical genres, for the 2014 CD release of Hypnosis, Thierry puts his musical wisdom to work on an album that can be described as one of the most adventurous New Age instrumental albums of the year. The Hypnosis album is kind of similar in scope to Group 87 founder Patrick O’Hearn’s albums—cutting edge and atmospheric, complete with dreamlike electronica blending with romantic melodies and a myriad of musical moves. Thierry handles all the synths, sampling, percussion, piano and all forms of programming, while additional percussion is handled by Steve Shehan and there’s also guitar sounds here from Claude Samard. Speakaing to mwe3.com about Hypnosis, Thierry explains,“For the Hypnosis project, most of the tunes were built on ancient percussion sessions I did with Steve Shehan a few years ago. These rhythmic patterns served as the basis of my work, adding on bass, synths layers, guitars and atmospheres without forgetting some piano interventions. I did the mixing like for the other albums but I did the final mastering with Pierre Jacquot, a French engineer I am used to working with and who has a long experience with many French artists and among them Deep Forest.” Although Real Music excels in meditative and therapeutic sounding albums that contain elements of healing music, Thierry’s Hypnosis album sounds more like a soundtrack to an imaginary movie that also blends in chill-out and groove sounds, complete with ambient music overtones. In other words, Thierry David’s latest Real Music adventure is literally all over the map and it’s all the better for being so adventurous musically. Thierry David’s Hypnosis is a masterful, progressive album of exotic sounding New Age listening pleasure that gets better with each spin.
mwe3.com presents an interview with THIERRY DAVID
mwe3: Where are you from originally and where do you live now and what do you like best about it?
Thierry David: I was born in Paris, France and I currently live there. After graduating from a prestigious business school in France in 1978, I spent some time in Latin America (Peru, Brazil, Mexico) and also studied at the Berklee College of Music in Boston (1980/1981). Since then I’ve made several trips to India and the Middle East (Syria, Oman). All these experiences naturally fed my creativity and imagination.
mwe3: What music were you first introduced to when you were young and what musicians, artists and composers would you consider to be among your musical influences? I know you were born in 1955 so you must have lived through the Beatles rock era too.
Thierry David: I began with the piano at the age of five studying classical music by Chopin, Bach and Beethoven. As a teenager I began trying to reproduce on the piano by myself songs I heard at that time, among them many French singers of course but my first thunderbolt was for Elton John. Listening to his music, I perceived that a fusion between classical and modern music was possible. I was particularly influenced by his album Blue Moves which is still one of my favorite recordings.
Then I discovered progressive rock bands like Pink Floyd, YES and Genesis. Sometime later Peter Gabriel became one of my heroes, especially when he created his own label Real World. That opened my ears to music from different continents and new musical modes and harmonies. At that time I did listen a lot to music from Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, the Pakistanese master and more particularly his album Mustt Mustt.
At the same time I began to get interested in jazz and mainly, Brazilian composers like Antonio Carlos Jobim. Jazz naturally led me to black and funk music with people like Quincy Jones, Earth Wind & Fire, Barry White and above all Michael Jackson.
Much later one of my main influence I guess was to discover the music of Robert Rich and Steve Roach from whom I got inspired for creating my own sound spaces.
As you can see my musical background is quite large and eclectic and I love many kind of music going from classical (Chopin, Mahler, Bartok) to contemporary (Varese, Ligeti), traditional jazz (pianists like Oscar Peterson) to jazz fusion (Miles Davis, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock) as well as modern electronic music (Brian Eno, Marconi Union, etc..) All these composers influence my work and I am sure I did forget many on this list.
mwe3: How did you become a Real Music artist and when did you start releasing albums on Real Music? How many albums have you released on Real Music and how would you compare them musically and compositionally? You seem to be in tune with the Real Music label philosophy.
Thierry David: In 2005 I released Zen Pause on the French label Vox Terrae. The people at this label wished to get international exposure and they were in contact with Terence Yallop from Real Music. Through this connection Zen Pause was released on Real Music in 2007. Since then came Zen World in 2008, The Veil Of Whispers in 2011, Stellar Connection in 2012 and finally Hypnosis in 2014.
Zen Pause and Zen World have both been inspired by what we call here in France, “Lounge Music” but even if there is obviously a personal and common style in all these projects, I think I did make an amazing musical shift with the two last releases with a transition to more ambient and groovy tribal atmospheres balancing between accessibility and experimentation.
mwe3: Your 2014 CD release on Real Music, Hypnosis is being called by some, your best album yet. Where and when was the music written and recorded and who else plays with you on the Hypnosis album? Did you set out to make a truly special album with Hypnosis and what was your musical approach like this time around?
Thierry David: I have always worked the same way for thirty years now and I will try to explain here my working method. In fact, I don’t have any specific project in my head or any strategy concerning the future album that will be the result of a long process. The final product may be probably the interacting of the daily musical work with my past, present and even future emotions and intuitions. Thus, little by little within this process some tunes are emerging and the unity of the future album is building by itself simultaneously. Regarding Hypnosis, the method of creation was the same and lasted around two years, led by my intuition and moved by the wish of creating a unique groovy but relaxing and hypnotic ambience.
mwe3: Is Hypnosis best described as New Age / meditation music or is that term too well defined? I hear a lot of Eno inspired soundscapes in your music and I know, in the spirit of Eno, that you were influenced by all forms of guitar music that you sometimes blend into your sound. Is that a fair assessment and is New Age music the 21st century classical music?
Thierry David: By definition, I’ve always thought that any term to categorize any music style is reducing and restrictive. Unfortunately, it is often necessary to find words to describe a record in order to sell it and reach the maximum of people. For instance when I released my first solo album Tales Of Sand in 1992, the record shops here in France decided to sell it in the New Age category, although I thought this project was more a crossing of world music with jazz/fusion colors. After that when one of my tunes was selected for one Buddha Bar compilation, my music began to be associated with lounge music. Moreover when I produced Stellar Connection we talked of ambient and space music, and so on. As you can see I don’t feel very comfortable with all these terms and classifications and I try anyway not to be influenced by this marketing point of view when I compose in order to stay focused on my creative goals.
I should say that my cooperation with Real Music works perfectly in that sense as I feel free to compose exactly what I feel while respecting the label philosophy, that is making good music for meditation and relaxation.
Concerning my musical influences, I agree with what you suggest about the Eno spirit, but we can also evoke others inspiration sources like Pink Floyd, Robert Rich, Steve Roach and many others.
mwe3: On Hypnosis you worked with a producer called K-Vox. What is involved in working with a producer and how does a producer help shape the sound of your recording process and sound in your estimation?
Thierry David: K-Vox is my own production company that I created in 1986 when I started to be fully involved in the music business. One of the main objectives I had to achieve at that time was to make my own home studio in order to fully control the production of my work. Then I began to produce several records for one of the biggest French music library Koka Media.
During all these years I worked with several composers and in 1991 I decided to get my own label K-Vox Records. The first release was a collaboration with another composer and the album was entitled Humaninhuman. Then I produced, under the label name, other musicians like Steve Shehan (Indigo Dreams, Amok) as well as my own projects.
Having one’s own label means taking charge of every step of the musical process, including composing, recording, mixing and also all the cover art work. I personally designed every cover, without forgetting the promoting and commercial aspects.
This was very heavy work, so I decided to find a label in order to concentrate exclusively on my own compositions. Finally I signed with the French label Vox Terrae in 2002 and released our first collaboration Moksha, with them the same year.
I am at the same time the artist and the producer. That means that most of the time I am working alone in my home studio and maybe it is one of the reasons I do take time between two releases in order to get enough time out after composing and before mixing. Taking time may be my secret weapon in order to adjust sounds, blending them and refining the arrangements of my compositions.
mwe3: You’ve released a number of other albums that weren’t released on Real Music. Can you tell us something about your other albums and what styles of music are covered on your other album releases? Is your other music in print on CD or just as downloads and will there be a Thierry David CD compilation of your early music? How about DVD titles?
Thierry David: As I said before, I released my first solo commercial album in 1992, Tales Of Sand, then came Khora (1994), Yoma (1996), Fantasia (1998), Ajanta (2000), Ayodhya (2001), Moksha (2002), Mosaïques (2003), Zen Pause (2005), Zen World (2006), Evasions (2007), Ocean Rhapsody (2008), The Veil Of Whispers (2011), Stellar Connection (2012) and Hypnosis (2014).
In addition, I’ve released some compilations like Tones & Colours (1993), Explorator 1995, Les Voyages Imaginaires (1998) Passage (1998), and more recently Ambient Tales, Chill & Lounge Tales and World Fusion Tales.
It’s highly unlikely to find these projects on printed CDs, except maybe on Amazon but all are available as downloads on iTunes or on my own website (www.thierrydavid.com)
Concerning the musical styles covered, as I told you earlier in this interview, the more ancient CDs are closer to world fusion music, evolving progressively to New Age, chill and ambient electronic.
mwe3: What are your main musical instruments and how many instruments do you play? Are you into gear and collecting unique sounding instruments and effects?
Thierry David: My main instrument is the piano and I also play some percussion, but what I prefer above all is to be in my studio managing sounds and mixing them like a painter preparing his own palette of colors.
When I was very young I bought a Revox tape recorder and began to record everything that came in my mind without knowing a lot of harmony but just putting sounds together. That way I became a self-made engineer and producer being obliged to learn how to use all my electronic equipment.
Since then you can imagine that my gear became more and more professional using computers, synthesizers, virtual synths and effects as well as analog material.
Sometimes in my music, I also introduce sounds from ethnic instruments using either samples or real instruments as duduk, bansouri, saz, tablas, gembre, sitar and so on...
And of course I also worked with wonderful musicians like Steve Shehan (bass and percussion), Nguyen Le (guitar), Claude Samard (guitars, oud).
mwe3: What instruments are you playing on the Hypnosis album and what was the recording sessions like? For instance were there a lot of overdubs during the final mixes?
Thierry David: For the Hypnosis project, most of the tunes were built on ancient percussion sessions I did with Steve Shehan a few years ago. These rhythmic patterns served as the basis of my work, adding on bass, synths layers, guitars and atmospheres without forgetting some piano interventions.
I did the mixing like for the other albums but I did the final mastering with Pierre Jacquot, a French engineer I am used to working with and who has a long experience with many French artists and among them Deep Forest.
mwe3: France has a long history of progressive music. What is the scene like in 2014 for New Age, rock, classical and other electronic music in France? Most international listeners know about Jean-Michel Jarre but he’s just the tip of the iceberg so to speak as far as French electronic music. What about other types of music in the electronic / New Age synth genres that interest you and is there a French sound?
Thierry David: As you say there is a long history of French progressive music beginning with Pierre Henry followed years later by Jean-Michel Jarre and more recently by people like Air.
But what to say about the English and German electronic scene with people like Brian Eno, Klaus Schulze, Kraftwerk, Marconi Union, William Orbit, etc... I don’t think that we can talk of a French sound. Nationality has nothing to do with creativity which is universal. As far as I am concerned I just enjoy hearing and learning from all these talented creators whatever their origin might be.
I do take as much pleasure listening to the string quartet of Béla Bartok as music from Coldplay or ambient atmospheres from Steve Roach. That is the magic of music which is so vast and diversified with such a few notes.
mwe3: What other plans do you have for 2014 into 2015 as far as promoting Hypnosis as well as writing, recording and producing new music for future release?
Thierry David: As long as ideas will flow, I will keep on writing and producing new music. The permanent evolution of digital gear allows me to constantly create new sounds. Every new created sound can be an inspiration, the same way as you discover a new instrument. It is like playing with a new orchestra. As far as what is possible, my aim is to keep on my musical path with passion and creativity.
Thanks to Thierry David @ www.ThierryDavid.com