Read Tom Eaton’s new Q&A talking about his albums Abendromen and most recent one indesterren!
What inspired you to become a composer and who are your early influences?
I started playing piano in high school around 1987 and got into synthesizers at the same time. Mostly I was listening to the pop music of the time, Peter Gabriel, Eurythmics, Thomas Dolby, but also Tangerine Dream, Vangelis and Jean Michel Jarre. Through a friend I was led to Windham Hill…Will Ackerman, Michael Hedges and George Winston, and those more acoustic albums balanced the music coming from the Private Music label that was releasing amazing electronic work. So my piano playing was being influenced by the sequences of electronic music and people like Winston, and my electronic work was being influenced by the ambiance and sparseness of the Windham Hill records, which was similar in use of space to what Patrick O’ Hearn was doing at the time. Probably the deepest and most lasting influences were Tangerine Dream and Tim Story.
Tell us a little about how you write, how do the songs come? What gets you going creatively?
Both of my albums that were released in 2017 came from a huge emotional upheaval and life change I was going through. “Abendromen” was a way to process the deep sadness and loss I was feeling, and “Indesterren” was more about me finding my footing in a new chapter of my life. My music frequently starts at the piano, even if the piano doesn’t play a huge part in the finished material. For much of what I doing these days, the first thing I do is create an ambient electric guitar loop as a textural landscape for the piece and then work the melody over that shifting drone. Once I have the bones of melody, usually drawn from one of the piano improvs I’ve got stashed away on video, I start weaving electric guitars, bass, percussion and synthesizers in and around the melody until things seem to find a sense of cohesion.
Your bio mentions that you’ve been a recording engineer since 1993. Tell us more about that?
I opened my first commercial studio in 1993, catering mostly to the folk and singer-songwriter scene around Boston/Cambridge, MA. For seventeen years I produced albums in that genre before a chance opportunity led me to Will Ackerman’s Imaginary Road studio in Vermont when Will was in search of an engineer. We hit it off and in the last six years, we’ve produced more than fifty albums together for clients from all over the world. We record at Will’s studio in the mountains of Vermont and then I mix and master at my own studio where I am usually working on some of my own music in addition to the Imaginary Road albums.
What is the first record you bought and why?
I was dj-ing friends parties starting in sixth grade, with my own 45 collections, so it must have been some pop hits of the time. Prince, or Men Without Hats or Hall and Oates, maybe. I definitely remember the first three CDs I bought: Tangerine Dream-Tyger, U2-The Joshua Tree, The Police- Every Breath You Take, The Singles.
What current Australian(or Local) acts inspire you? Ditto for international acts?
I’ve done a bunch of work now with Fiona Joy, both on her Signature Synchronicity album and in her capacity as a member of the FLOW group with Will Ackerman, Jeff Oster and Lawrence Blatt. Working with Fiona is a blast…she is fearless and completely committed in the studio. I adore Damon Albarn’s recent work…his “Everyday Robots” album is brilliant. There’s a rock band from the states called House of Heroes that is amazing, their newest album “Colors” is getting a lot of play here these days!
Tell us a little about your music and what a crowd can expect at a live show?
My music sits somewhere between “pretty” new age, full on electronic music and ambient music…with some electric guitars thrown in for good measure. I wander in and out of using rhythm parts…some songs are percussion driven and others float on those beds of swirling electric guitar. When I’ve played live in the past few years it has been solo piano… the albums are too textural for me to pull them off in concert by myself, so sitting at the piano seems like a direct and familiar way to introduce at least part of my voice to an audience.
Favourite artists of all time?
David Sylvian, The Blue Nile, Tim Story, Tangerine Dream, Cocteau Twins, Kate Bush, Kate Rusby and Will Ackerman!
Where do you see artist careers heading?
Well, it’s hard to see the financial return side of the business improving anytime soon, but for those that want to be out on the road playing there is still a living to be made. It’s a different music industry model now that the internet allows music to be moved nearly instantly all over the world. I still love making albums that are collections of songs circling around a central theme or feeling, but the world seems to have returned to a more singles-based model, though of course vinyl is coming back to some degree, so there are music listeners who do want to immerse themselves in a longer experience, which is a good thing. I hope that somehow the streaming world comes around to a more artist friendly system, where fans can listen without spending too much money and musicians can get more than fractions of pennies per spin.
What are your future plans for 2017/2018?
I have three albums of my own in the works right now, and the constant cycle of albums that Will and I are working on. So my plans are to sit right here in front of my mixing console and make some music!
Want to listen to Tom’s latest album? Find it here:
Interested in what else Tom Eaton is up to? Check out his socials!
Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, Rebecca Harrold has spent many years working as a pianist and singer. Since moving to the Boston area she worked extensively with The Company Theater, the Voice Studio of Robert Honeysucker, and recently with Burklyn Ballet of Vermont. A true collaborative musician her abilities and willingness to play and sing diverse styles has taken her to Europe, primarily Italy and Greece. Rebecca recently completed production on ‘The River of Life‘ with Windham Hills founder and producer, Will Ackerman. Available everywhere.
Watch the video for her song ‘We Belong Together‘ here: youtube.com/watch?v=XgP6CGxc2DU
Find the album here:
New Album ‘Dividing The Darkness’ available NOW on iTunes
At this point in his ever evolving career, pianist and composer, Steve has taken it to the next level with the release of his stunning new album, “Dividing The Darkness,” To fulfill his creative vision for this project, Steve chose to work with one of the premier new age and contemporary instrumental producers in the world; the Grammy winning founder of the legendary Windham Hill Records, Mr. Will Ackerman. Along with Will’s roster of world-class studio musicians at Imaginary Road Studios, Steve has created an album that has garnered critical acclaim from highly regarded reviewers in the genre, who have described it as having “an astonishing level of sophistication, intensity, and heartfelt emotional expressivity,” In fact, the maestro Ackerman himself refers to the emotional range heard in Steve’s recording as: “a testament to the resilience of the human soul and the power of hope,” And in Steve’s own words: “When one’s talent is realized and pursued in a positive way, its limits may be nonexistent,”
QnA with Foghorn Media
Foghorn Media: What inspired you to become a pianist/composer? Who are your early influences?
Steve Rivera: I have always had a passion for music. I grew up with music in the home. My musical interests comes from several places. My family was and is very musical. My dad plays piano and sings, my older brother Robert (who passed away 6 years ago) was active playing piano, and one of my younger brothers plays piano and is a proficient guitar player. I first started playing music at a very young age. My dad often tells of a story that when I was about 5 years old he came home from work and I was really excited to show him a new song that I wrote.
FM: Tell us a little about how you write. How do the songs come? What gets you going creatively?
SR: Well in regards to how I write songs, it all depends on why I sit down and what I am trying to write. Other times I will just have a tune rattling around in my head and then I will sit down and work on it. I may just be moved by some emotion (happiness, peacefulness, anger or disappointment) and sit down and want to express those emotions through music.
FM: Your bio mentions “you took a break from music to work for a professional ice hockey team” us what went on there and more?
SR: Well back in the mid 90’s I had went to my first ice hockey game and fell in love with it. Growing up in Southern California I surfed and skated my whole life, but I had never ice skated before, let alone play ice-hockey. I started playing ice-hockey and shortly after that I had the opportunity to work for the Los Angeles Kings Hockey team as one of the assistant equipment managers. It was during the Wayne Gretzky years.
FM: What is the first record you bought and why?
SR: Oh wow. If my memory serves me correctly it was Iron Maiden’s ‘Number of the Beast,’ I really liked the album cover.
FM: What current Australian acts inspire you?
SR: Well obviously my current favorite Oz artist has to be Fiona Joy.
FM: Tell us a little about your music and what a crowd can expect at a live show ?
SR: I describe ‘Dividing The Darkness’ as “retrained simplicity that is emotionally moving,” Being that I was classically trained I can easily move up and down the piano to “show off” how good I am. But with ‘Dividing The Darkness’ I wanted to create music that was moving, flowing, and open. Knowing that I was going to have award winning musicians included on the album, I really wanted to leave them room too. So while my album is definitely piano driven, I have always thought of ‘Dividing The Darkness’ as a musical whole, so much more than just piano.
FM: Favourite artists of all time?
FM: Favourite film?
SR: Wow. There are so many. A wide variety from, ‘The Usual Suspects’ to ‘Blazzing Saddles’ and ‘The Princess Bride’ to ‘Awakenings’ and ‘As Good As it Gets,’
FM: Favourite book?
SR: Les Miserable by Victor Hugo
FM: What are your future plans for 2016/2017?
SR: That is a really hard question that I don’t think I can give a knowledgeable answer too. I would really like to see my music move forward, but I realize that while I will do everything in my power to be present and do what I can to move things forward at the end of the day it is really not up to me. There are so many things that happen in life that I have learned no matter how much I plan or prepare life can and does take turns of its own. I am just really excited about finding out what the future has in store.
UPDATE: Fiona’s previous album “Signature – Solo” has won the ZMR Award for Best Solo Piano Album! To get a copy of the album click the link below: https://itunes.apple.com/signature-solo
Fiona Joy’s much anticipated new album “Signature – Synchronicity” is now available!
Signature – Synchronicity is the perfect bookend to Fiona Joy’s 2015 project ‘Signature-Solo’, which spent several months in the coveted #1 spot on the ZMR Airplay Charts and released in numerous formats via Blue Coast Records, a pioneering audiophile label. Along with the new album, Fiona presents several high-quality videos, visual memes, and pre-order perks all accessible via her website at www.FionaJoy.com.
Fiona originally imagined the project as a personal expression of how the deteriorating “signature” bone in her left hand was affecting her ability to share her life’s work. This evolved into modern fairytales that feature magic, imagination and the world we escape into.
“It’s interesting to grow up through your own music,” Fiona Joy says. “The early albums are about my own life, drawing on the past. Mostly this album is looking outside myself and exploring other subjects – in this case, fairy tale themes – and yet somehow they all come back to my own experience. It’s a circular thing…truly Synchronicity.”
This album was recorded and produced with the team at Imaginary Road Studios in Vermont and many of Fiona’s favorite instrumentalists; some recording was also done at Crash Symphony Productions in Sydney. One of the many highlights of the recording process for Fiona was the opportunity to record on an Australian-made Stuart & Sons piano. A few people Fiona found herself lucky enough to work with include producer Will Ackerman (Founder Windham Hill), Tom Eaton, and James Englund. Additionally, the album features artists such as Tony Levin (Peter Gabriel), Rebecca Daniel (Ex ACO), Marc Shulman (Suzanne Vega), Eugene Friesen (Paul Winter Consort), Jeff Haynes (Pat Metheny), Jeff Oster, Paul Jarmin, Premik Tubbs, Borbala Bodonyi, her son Nick Hawkins, and many others.
Fiona Joy Hawkins is poised to move into stardom and we have only to watch to see it happen”
- Will Ackerman (Founder Windham Hill Records)
And upcoming Launches to include –
This April sees a unique concert and film viewing for the official album release of Signature – Synchronicity by Fiona Joy at Burwood Music Centre in Melbourne for both the public and media. BMC is a recording studio that also has a small state of the art film theatre. Meet members of the production team involved in the project, the film-makers, the piano maker, and the piano producer. Award winning Australian artist Fiona Joy will perform tracks from her new album Signature – Synchronicity.
Along with three performances across the action packed weekend, the album reveal also features videos of six of the songs made by four different filmmakers. Of the filmmakers is a retired NASA Senior Flight Engineer who used NASA footage to bring Fiona’s song ‘Calling Earth’ to life. The event also includes a meet and greet with Wayne Stuart of world renown Australian Stuart & Sons pianos – the inventors of a revolutionary new piano design used in classical concerts all over the world.
1. Saturday April 30th - Early afternoon. Watch the video clips, chat with the piano maker (Wayne Stuart), the producer (James Englund), the film-makers (four companies) Including NASA and ISS Footage, and a private concert opportunity with Fiona Joy.
2. Saturday April 30th - Evening cocktail event. Watch the videos, meet the filmmakers, the piano maker, and the piano producer.
3. Sunday May 1st – Mid-afternoon Matinee concert and video viewing. Additionally, there will be a fundraiser for Motor Neuron Disease.
Media are invited to all of the above but specifically to the Saturday afternoon
Please contact below if you would like to attend as seating is limited.
“Fiona Joy is a TRUE artist, constantly growing, Signature – Synchronicity is the latest expression of her prodigious talent, I urge you to check it out.”
- Bob Ludwig, Gateway Mastering