Bella Gaia is a project put together by Kenji Williams, using NASA images of Earth from Space, quotes from astronauts and and music from around the world. Williams has assembled a multi-media performance work that makes an environmental, philosophical and spiritual statement. We first heard of Kenji Williams when he was working as ABA Structure, making electronic trance music. He came by several years ago with a project called World Spirit that featured him playing his main instrument, the violin. At that time he was already talking about the grand vision he had for a project called Bella Gaia which would marry world music, images of earth from space and an environmental message. He's finally turned that vision into reality. We go into orbit with Kenji Williams and singer Kristin Hoffman.
You don't usually find academic composers making music that you might find on a dance floor or in a chillout room, but J. Anthony Allen breaks that convention. His compositions have been performed by the Minnesota Orchestra and he is a specialist in composing and performing with Ableton Live software. Unlike most academic composers who enter contemporary pop derived worlds, his music actually sounds like it belongs next to Bassnectar or Aphex Twin. J. Anthony Allen talks about his kinetic music and latest album, Anascorcia.
Emile is Emilie Kahn. Ogden is her harp. Together they create a chamber folk music featuring Kahn's winsome, childlike voice that still manages to find depth and authority. The Canadian singer came to a bit of renown for covering Taylor Swift's song "Style" but her own music is far from over-produced pop, tending towards a rough-hewn sound with rustic atmospheres and powerful rhythms. She has just released her debut album, 10,000.
Many singers have stacked their voices in choirs, from Meredith Monk to Enya. Briana Marela is from a younger generation creating ethereal pop from the sound of her multi-tracked voice. She talks about her eclectic roots and new CD, All Around Us.
Smoke Fairies have released the best seasonal album of 2015 with Wild Winter. They avoid all the usual sentimental traps and over-warmed chestnuts of Christmas music. Instead, this introspective and evocative English duo explores personal themes of the season: lost love, dysfunctional families, religious ambiguity and seasonal sadness. That sounds dark, but Wild Winter is actually incredibly beautiful. Smoke Fairies talk about their unique take on Christmas and how they've been together since age twelve.
The Mynabirds is the vehicle of singer Laura Burhenn. She is a widely traveled musician who started in Washington, DC as half of the Georgie James pop duo, before trekking to Omaha and touring as a backup singer with Bright Eyes and The Postal Service. Her new album moves from a country soul sound into a darker electronica direction. It comes on the heels of a break-up, a cross country trek and journey to South Africa. We talk to Laura Burhenn about her musical journey.
Laurie Anderson is a true icon of modern music, creating a sound that brings together cultural observations, acute humor and ambient textures. She is the poet laureate of the digital age, the first digital diva. In the 1970s she virtually defined the concept of performance art and her song, "O Superman", was a fluke hit in the UK in 1981. Her debut album, Big Science, remains a signature, and frequently referenced work. Following the death of her husband, rock musician Lou Reed, in 2013, Anderson is hitting a new period of creativity with large-scale works like Landfall, Habeas Corpus and her new album, and film, Heart of a Dog.
Iconic Irish singer Enya talks about her new album, Dark Sky Island. It's her first album of all-new material in 10 years. Enya played with the band Clannad briefly before going solo, and came to renown in 1989 with her second album, Watermark, which featured the hit single "Orinocco Flow." Notoriously reclusive, living in a castle outside of Dublin, Enya, along with producer Nicky Ryan, talk about the evolution of Enya's multilayered vocal approach, her fondness for synthesizers over symphony orchestras for her music, and the echo in her castle.
Guitarist Todd Tobias is best known for his work with alternative rock bands, Guided by Voices and Circus Devils. But on his own, he creates a more ambient, exotic sound, mixing his many guitar voices with manipulated samples. He's appeared on dozens of albums as a guitarist and producer and released six solo recordings including Tristes Tropiques and Moorea.
Imagine yourself in a smoke-filled bar, hazy saxophone billowing from the stage, surf guitars twang, and a drop-dead gorgeous singer seduces you into doing something bad. Could be a Raymond Chandler novel or in this case, a David Lynch film. With the revival of TV's Twin Peaks in the air, there couldn't be a better time for a band like Silencio. Named for a theater in David Lynch's film, "Mulholland Drive", the Pittsburgh-based band plays music from Lynch films and Angelo Badalamenti's scores for them. In fact, their two albums are called Music Inspired by the Works of David Lynch and Angelo Badalamenti and She's Bad: More Music Inspired by the Works of David Lynch and Angelo Badalamenti. The band creates a film noir soundtrack that traverses atmospheric instrumentals, surf guitar grooves and sultry torch songs. We talk to founding members, Kirk Salopek and David Jamison and singer Dessa Poljak about their evocative and haunting sound.