Interview in 2013 with contemporary artist Diane Arkenstone.
New Age Music World interview host and publicist John P. Olsen had a recent opportunity to interview the popular, multi-platinum selling singer, songwriter, and contemporary instrumental recording artist Diane Arkenstone.
During this interview taking place near the spring of 2013 a variety of in-depth topics are covered. Included is a conversation about Diane Arkenstone’s soon to be released album titled Union Road, and the contributing artists who have helped transform her newest vocal and instrumental release into one of her most captivating albums produced to date.
Diane Arkenstone also replies to questions about her experiences as founder of the Neo Pacifica Recordings Label, and the meaning behind the formation of artist titles she has released in a variety of music styles.
Today I am pleased to present an informative and lighthearted conversation with one of today’s leading, and most beloved producers of contemporary music covering a wide variety of instrumental styles.
John P. Olsen: Thank you for accepting my interview invitation Diane! It’s a privilege to host your newest interview for fans and visitors in 2013, here at New Age Music World. I can honestly say I have been a fan and admirer of the music you create for years so our interview is especially rewarding to me!
Diane Arkenstone: Hi John! Thank you so much for your very kind words, I am smiling! And thank you for this wonderful opportunity to connect with everyone here!
John: Let’s begin our conversation with the topic of your brand new album Union Road, due for release next week on March 26, 2013. Earlier this year I wrote a pre-release review for Union Road, I believe it’s clear by what I wrote, I felt your newest release of contemporary Folk ballads is indeed special! Beautiful in every way, Union Road is a uniquely personal album with special meaning to you too, isn’t that right?
Diane Arkenstone: Yes, this is my most personal album yet because the lyrics I wrote are of stories and observations I have personally experienced. I am a story teller and have always loved to write about life which made this album a great joy to create. And a even greater catharsis.
John: Who are the instrumental artists performing with you, and what are their individual contributions which have helped make your release an exceptional album?
Diane Arkenstone: Mader, who is a wonderful film composer from France, and has scored two films for Ang Lee, among many others, produced most of the album with me, and played a wide and wonderful variety of instruments such as mandolin, bass, keyboards, accordion, various percussion instruments and guitar.
MB Gordy, who is a wonderful percussionist and studio musician, played beautiful and exotic percussion on quite a few of the songs as well. Chad Watson, who has played with many, many well-known artists, played bass, and I watched spellbound, as his hands danced all over his fretless bass on several songs.
Eric Rigler, who played the pipes in the film score, The Titanic, added magic with his penny whistle on the first song, Little Cup of Coffee.
David Arkenstone played guitar, bass, keyboards and percussion magnificently, and helped produce a couple of the songs with me for the album. Charlee Brooks and Jane George added beautiful background vocals on two of the songs.
And then, Bruce Watson played some amazing guitar on a couple of songs and has played with many well-known artists for quite a while himself. They are all truly unique and gifted artists in their own right and I am deeply grateful for each and every one of them.
John: Union Road is an instrumental and vocal album with lovely poetic lyrics. Would you like to tell us the point of view you are expressing by lyrical verses?
Diane Arkenstone: Very simply, thru lyric and song, I am telling the stories of situations that I have personally observed in life.
John: Album reviews from other sources and press commentaries are coming in, plus you have given a number of new interviews including Blog Talk Radio and KSBR 88.5 FM Jazz. How is the reception of your new release been so far?
Diane Arkenstone: Oh my gosh, it has been a huge happy welcoming committee! I wrote 77 songs for the album and truly just grabbed a handful of songs that seemed to fit well together and am pleased and elated by the reviews and press!
John: I am not surprised but that’s great news Diane! Union Road is a brilliant album in every way, unique to your earlier releases, and I read there is an earlier first album of contemporary folk songs too. Would you please tell us all about this earlier first album?
Diane Arkenstone: Thank you John for saying that about Union Road! And yes, I released an album in digital format called, Stories. It is a cross between my earlier releases and the Folk/Americana feel of Union Road. It also is an album that sings of stories of life’s observations.
John: In addition to the studio albums you also perform live concerts. This must be an exciting time for you since you are about to begin an extensive tour this spring. Would you give us the details like the concert venue locations and artists who will be performing with you?
Diane Arkenstone: Right now, I am finishing up a number of music projects, so touring may be a bit delayed.
John: Do you have a song set list selected, and in terms of atmosphere and setting, what can a concert attendee expect to experience during a live concert with Diane Arkenstone?
Diane Arkenstone: The songs will be from Union Road of course, plus a few unreleased songs where I play some interesting and exotic instruments and sing. And the band is a group of dear friends who are wonderful studio and touring musicians. Lots of beautiful music, good energy and love, will be present for every show!
John: The artist titles you have either founded or performed in are; Ah Nee Mah, Earth Trybe, Enaid, Adventure Cargo, Marquis Ensemble, Middle Earth Orchestra, and naturally as the duo with former husband David Arkenstone. What are the distinctions of these artist titles?
Diane Arkenstone: ‘Ah Nee Mah’ is our Native American music, inspired by my Cherokee heritage and our love of playing Native flutes and percussion. David and I lived in the Southwest for a few years, next to several reservations and lived a very interesting and beautiful life there.
We wrote several ‘Ah Nee Mah’ albums during that time, which are still selling quite well. And ‘Earth Trybe’ is beautiful world music where we had fun writing and playing many unusual and interesting instruments from around the world. And ‘Enaid’ is Celtic music, and I came up with that name by reversing my first name and then surprised to find out that is means, life/soul in old Celtic/Irish.
‘Adventure Cargo’ is more world music, with more wild instruments, and beautiful songs. The last album for ‘Adventure Cargo’ is called, Following The Equator and it has songs on it that represent the countries along the Equator. It was great fun for me learning about all the countries along the Equator then writing songs for a special place or landmark in each country.
‘Marquis Ensemble’ is lovely, sweet piano music. Reflections from the Wine Country was the first album under the alias, ‘Marquise Ensemble’ and was inspired by my family’s winery. And ‘Middle Earth Orchestra’, is music inspired by the book, The Hobbit.
John: In the 1990’s you founded Neo Pacifica Recordings Label. Would you tell us some aspects of owning your own record label, including the advantages and obstacles to this business venture?
Diane Arkenstone: It has been a great advantage for me, to have my own record company; it is a lot of work but stretched me to new heights in terms of experience and knowledge.
I appreciate the work the major labels do, which is tremendous, but I navigate these waters quite successfully, and prefer knowing what the expenses are and what is going on with manufacturing, distribution, licensing, marketing, publicity, publishing and especially royalties. It is a great sense of accomplishment and freedom, to truly own your music, and do with it as you wish.
John: On the subject of record labels, I read your biography at the Eversound Music Label website where it states; “Diane Arkenstone wrote her first song at the age of three, played piano at five and picked up her first guitar at the tender age of seven.” I am curious to know if you aspired to become a musician at a young age too, or in other words, what were the circumstances surrounding your decision to pursue a career in music?
Diane Arkenstone: I loved writing music at a very young age, but also had a great desire to be an Olympic runner. I worked extremely hard at running but could not keep up with anyone. Music came much easier, and I learned that if you have to force something, it is not right to begin with.
As it turned out, after I kept passing out, we discovered I was born with a ‘special heart’ that required a lot of surgeries to fix things. And along the way since childhood, I have had six pacemakers. The seventh pacemaker and more surgeries are due in a few years. Life is precious.
John: I didn’t realize the challenges you face Diane, and we all wish you well. The music industry as a whole has greatly changed since you began producing music early on to the present. What observations have you made over the years, and what changes in the music industry have affected you most?
Diane Arkenstone: My observations come from a unique vantage point. Having my own label and releasing dozens of albums under different aliases and different genres, I created a lot of niche markets for the music in the mainstream and alternative markets, and it is all still going strong today. And for me, the digital world has been a great success for so many reasons.
John: You have enjoyed a wonderful and successful music career for many years Diane. You are a source of admiration for millions of fans and even colleagues in the music industry alike. What would you say is the best part of being a highly successful, contemporary artist?
Diane Arkenstone: You are so sweet John to say that, thank you! Truly though, I am unaware of such a thing because every day I put one foot in front of the other and focus and do my very best with whatever project is at hand.
John: Well Diane, fans truly adore you, plus you are a role model for many artists. Knowing artists at varying stages of their music careers will read our interview; do you have any words of advice to artists just beginning their music careers?
Diane Arkenstone: If you have a dream, follow it! Be prepared for long hours and depend on yourself as much as possible, and then all that energy you put into your career, will reward you greatly in countless ways. When you are passionate about something, every door you need to walk thru will open, even the ones you have no clue about.
John: Being a prolific artist Diane you have an extensive collection of excellent albums to choose from. I have my favorite albums and songs, and your fans likewise have their favorite albums.
I realize this is a never an easy question for an artist, but for persons new to your music, what 3 albums other than Union Road is a starting point to begin sampling your many outstanding releases?
Diane Arkenstone: Oh my goodness, I love them all! Let’s see, Jewel In The Sun, The Healing Spirit & Aquaria: A Liquid Blue Trancescape, which are all so very different from each other.
John: I would like to thank you again for your generosity by giving fans and myself this opportunity to find out more about you, and your newest projects Diane.
I hope we can get together by another interview someday. Before we close our conversation for now, is there anything you would like to express to the fans that have supported you over the years?
Diane Arkenstone: First of all, thank you again from my heart, John, for this wonderful opportunity to connect and share with everyone, it means the world to me. And I very much look forward to more interviews with you!
And to every beautiful soul who has supported my music, I am deeply grateful beyond words. A million thanks, and a million blessings. And please always be compassionate and loving towards yourself and towards others, it is our most valuable currency and reason for being, for truly, we are all one.
Visit DianeArkenstone.com and discover a great selection of albums in her store download section. Sample and purchase albums and songs by Diane Arkenstone at Amazon.com & iTunes.com. Photos & artwork courtesy dianearkenstone.com.