David Wahler was a relatively new name in the New Age music industry a year ago, only to become a quickly rising star by his first album’s success, and the direction he took. David did in fact win an album award for his first album receiving the Best New Artist Award at ZMR in 2009. The initial reactions to his second album A Star Danced looks just as promising.
David Wahler’s Antiquus album officially released June 1 2009, has some unique qualities not heard in projects from musicians established before him. With this goal in mind David Wahler has managed to produce a debut album that appears to stand alone in personal style and form, creating a model as an artisan would create a grand sculpture adorned with touches of gold, and crafted entirely out of sound.
NewAgeMusicWorld.com & NewAgeMusic.nu have written much about David these past months. Today we are excited to present our visitors an informal interview with David Wahler and New Age Music World interview host John Olsen.
Interview with David Wahler;
John Olsen : Thank You for allowing us this interview and congratulations on your recent win for Best New Artist of the Year in the March ZMR music awards. It was welcomed news to B.T. Fasmer and I when we heard of your recent win and recognition by the Best New Artist award. You are also a recipient of our own NewAgeMusic.nu Best Albums of 2009 awards prior to your second award, so you have been in the music news quite a bit recently, now recognized and firmly established as a highly regarded composing musician.
You must still be pretty excited about receiving high recognition as an artist following your debut album. I am just wondering, did you aim high and set out to achieve this high level of success as a new artist, or did everything just fall right into place while composing Antiquus?
David Wahler : Thanks John for your congratulations. You and B.T. Fasmer have been great supporters since the release of ANTIQUUS. I really appreciate that. The Best New Artist Award was a wonderful surprise, capping off some ‘best of’ lists and several favorable reviews. I did aim high with my first album, as I am aware of all the superb artists who are creating in this genre right now. Putting together ANTIQUUS, however, did seem to flow rather easily, almost like writing a song that ‘releases’ almost effortlessly as opposed to one that one labors over for days and days! The music, concept, titles and art came together fairly quickly and with very little hesitation.
John Olsen : After writing reviews for both Antiquus & A Star Danced, I honestly felt you were poised for much recognition from the very beginning like many others. After final completion of Antiquus, did you feel confident you had a winning first album and have high expectations yourself, or did you have some reservations about the reception of your first album?
David Wahler : My co-producer and partner, Rick Stevens, and I had no idea how the album would be received. I don’t know if any artist knows how their music is going to resonate with their listeners. I just heard an interview with David Arkenstone where he said that he still has second thoughts and reservations when he releases a new album….. so there you go, and from a great artist with many years of proven success. It’s one of the ‘great unknowns’ I guess, that I will always be burdened with!
John Olsen : These reservations among great musicians could be universal then I suppose. David your early success as a musician is quite impressive, and your formal educational studies in music are equally impressive. Would you describe your formal music and educational achievements for our readers?
David Wahler : I was a ‘piano kid’ in my little farm town of Belvidere, Illinois growing up. My first piano teacher, Nellie Canfield, was almost 90, and instilled in me a love of classical music. I remember her driving three of her students (including me!) on a cold winter night to hear the Chicago Symphony Orchestra play a concert of Ravel, including the Piano Concerto in G and the beautiful Daphnes and Chloe Suite. I was 9 years old and had never heard a live musical concert. You can just imagine what an impression that made on a young musical kid’s mind!
From there I dedicated myself to learning the piano. I attended Lawrence University Conservatory of Music in Appleton, Wisconsin as a piano major. After a couple years there I felt the tug of the big city and I transferred to Mannes College of Music in New York City. My teacher, Mme. Olga Stroumillo, was a great friend of Vladimir Horowitz from their youth in Russia. She introduced me to the great music of the world, and indeed, the great musicians and pianists, from Alicia DeLarocha to Nadia Reisenberg.
I began playing for vocalists as a professional accompanist in debut recitals. It was there that I learned the song or ‘leider’ repertoire and gained a real appreciation for the melody. I gravitated to the theatre world in New York and became Musical Director in productions off Broadway. After a couple decades of non-music, making a living in the corporate world, I decided that I wanted to learn to produce my own music. I enrolled in Berklee College of Music’s Electronic Music Production program. I knew I had the music in me, but mastering the electronic part was the big question. I’m definitely not one of the ‘gear geeks’ I studied with at Berklee, but little by little I came to understand (and love) the technical side of what I do.
John Olsen : I am guessing your earlier music background has helped ease your transition to New Age/Electronic music. Did you find the change in genre style more challenging than you had imagined, and since the term New Age leaves room for interpretation, how would you best describe your unique compositions?
David Wahler : Really John, it’s been an easy transition from my classical music background to the music I produce now. With all the wonderful virtual instrumental sounds available now I’m able to incorporate many of the orchestral instruments into my music, from flutes to oboe, harp, strings and on and on. I also love to design new synthesized sounds to compliment these traditional elements. Yes, the term New Age conjures up different interpretations with people and it covers such a very wide spectrum so I refer to my music and genre as ‘Contemporary Electronic Instrumental’.
John Olsen : I am curious why you didn’t begin composing in more mainstream genre’s like Classical, Concert, or Jazz?
David Wahler : That’s an easy question to answer. Because I absolutely love the ‘world’ of New Age music. From George Winston and Will Ackerman to Vangelis and Tangerine Dream and Francis Lai.
Like in the early days I remember thinking to myself, “finally someone is writing music for me!” I also include wonderful film composers like Ennio Morricone and Hans Zimmer, and current New Age masters Paul Avgerinos, Jonn Serrie, Bernward Koch, Thierry David, and David Arkenstone as huge influences in my musical style.
John Olsen : When you first begin a new project, do you already have a structured outline of ideas in mind for what you plan to produce or do you primarily compose everything as you progress in the project?
David Wahler : For ANTIQUUS my focus was pretty clear that I wanted to produce an album dealing with ancient myths and distant places. I wanted the music to have a structured, yet dreamy and somewhat mysterious quality. So yes, that album was fairly structured from the beginning. A STAR DANCED was much a much different story. It consists of songs that have a very personal meaning to me, and I didn’t have a structured theme, other than the theme of everyone’s human experiences and how we each live under our ‘dancing star.’
John Olsen : Knowing the success and fine reception with Antiquus, and first initial reactions to A Star Danced have been very positive, do you feel A Star Danced will achieve the same highly regarded recognition, and do you feel your current release is of a higher caliber than Antiquus?
David Wahler : Wow, now that’s a tough question John! One of the pitfalls of early success is that everything is compared to the original. I can only hope that people listen to A STAR DANCED with an open mind and not compare the two. While I feel that I have a recognizable style to my writing, I do feel that the two albums are very different. I tried some new things with STAR like collaborating with guitarist Brent Gunter and writing in more of a cinematic style on some tracks, like ‘Peaseblossom’ and ‘Come Gentle Night’. I also added my arrangements of two classical pieces, Debussy’s ‘Reverie’ and Faure’s ‘Pie Jesu’. It was a challenge to revise these two pieces in a way that would honor the original compositions and yet add a new, fresh perspective. I believe that I was able to achieve those objectives.
John Olsen : Yes, I see your point and agree both of your albums have their individual merits, and happy that both are held in high regard. Your current album is dedicated to family members past and present and wondered if you don’t mind telling our readers a little about the life circumstances surrounding the dedication of A Star Danced?
David Wahler : ‘Missing You’ was written while my father was lying in his bed in a coma, dying of Parkinson’s disease. I thought how poignant to be missing him already before he had died. ‘Yvonne’ was written for a family member currently waging her battle against breast cancer. It is a tribute to her beautiful spirit and her unspoken ability to teach others the beauty of life. But I ultimately added these tracks to the album for everyone who has a ‘Yvonne’ in their lives, and everyone who is missing someone – parent, lover, friend, child, pet, relative- who is no longer in their life.
John Olsen : I believe everyone can see the significance to your tribute now. In my review of A Star Danced, I wrote much about the first song Quest and the final song Quest (Revisit) What was the sentiment or dedication behind this song?
David Wahler : ‘Quest’ was written for those people in the world who are facing challenges right now. And who doesn’t that include? We are living in perilous, difficult times. Most everyone is dealing with those obstacles that beat them down, obstacles that keep them from reaching their full potential. ‘Quest’ is an anthem, a herald that calls to everyone with setbacks (illness, money problems, death, injury, loss, etc.) to forge ahead and reclaim the spirit of joy and happiness that is our birthright.
John Olsen : Your song dedications are significant to you on a personal level, yet these circumstances remain pretty much universal to everyone. David, there are many hoping you will continue producing music. Do you have current plans for a future album, and what can you tell us about your next project?
David Wahler : I love writing in different styles; in fact, I have been working on a meditation/relaxation album that I would like to produce someday. And I love writing music about ancient and distant lands and worlds. ANTIQUUS was perhaps just a beginning……
John Olsen : I like to leave this last question open ended David since we can’t possibly cover everything in this single interview or even this final question. Is there anything you would like to bring up we haven’t talked about yet?
David Wahler : John, a year ago I was sitting and listening to some of my favorite music on Music Choice’s Soundscapes and thinking, “how wonderful it would be to have the world listening to my music, to perhaps touch someone with the sounds that come from my creations.” That was my personal ‘quest’, and now that wish has been fulfilled. I believe, that as Abraham says, ‘just ask and you will receive’. I urge everyone to ‘just ask’.
John Olsen : Thank You again for leaving us with your insightful words and allowing us this interview David. It’s clear that B.T. Fasmer and I both enjoy your music here at NewAgeMusicWorld.Com & NewAgeMusic.nu. We plan on writing even more about you to present to our readers, so let’s keep in touch. We wish you and your family the very best.
David Wahler : Thanks again John and B.T. for your support of my music. And, I’d like to thank my new found fans and your readers, and those fellow artists, broadcasters, reviewers, and industry insiders in the New Age community who have reached out so warmly to me in the past year!
We invite you to visit davidwahler.com to sample / purchase or his CDBaby.com page. You may read reviews and news about his recent awards on our page dedicated to David Wahler. Photos courtesy davidwahler.com & Bigstockphoto.com.