Gandalf is an internationally acclaimed composing musician and producer from Vienna Austria identified as a New Age, Contemporary Instrumental and World music artist. During the past 30 years of his career, his progressive music and global persona has helped neutralize the customary social borders in multicultural music for years.
Gandalf is currently planning a future orchestration to celebrate his 30 year Anniversary in 2011 and this composition will become the centerpiece to mark the celebrations.
There is a live performance in Vienna scheduled to accent the occasion of his milestone achievement. The Vienna concert and new release is the first topic of their interview conversation during this comprehensive 2010 interview published just prior to his 30 year anniversary.
The website hosts for NewAgeMusicWorld.Com & NewAgeMusic.nu are excited to bring our visitors the present day interview John Olsen has conducted with this global musician and invite all visitors and fans to learn even more on our respective website pages dedicated to Gandalf.
Interview with Gandalf
John : I wanted to first thank you myself Gandalf, and on behalf of our visitors for taking time away from your more creative endeavors. I feel certain our visitors and your fans do appreciate this present day opportunity to learn more about you and the outstanding music you produce.
Many are already anticipating your 30 year anniversary you have slated for 2011 which will be here before long, and currently you are planning a new orchestration project with live performance in Vienna to accent your milestone achievement. Is everything being kept a secret for now or can you provide some details about your next orchestration and the live concert event scheduled for 2011?
Gandalf : At this stage I don´t want to tell much in detail about the new project, this will all be presented due to the launch of the album and the concert in 2011.
The composition is meant to be the essence of my musical excerience and development in the past three decades. The leading instruments are guitars, piano and percussion, a small symphonic orchestra (woodwinds and strings) and a male choir.
The work is in good progress, a lot has already happened, but there is still much to do. Currently I am finishing the orchestral score, the recordings are planned in October. The album producton shall be finished until the end of this year.
John : Thank you for the insight you have provided. Your 20 year anniversary was quite extraordinary which included your first live performance in Vienna and the CD / DVD collection on the BSC Music label titled Live In Vienna. Would you describe what your first live concert had felt like on a personal level and was your first stage performance the positive experience you had imagined?
Gandalf : Actually, this DVD/CD is the first official release of recordings from a performance in Vienna, of course there have taken place a lot of performances prior to this one. My really first big performance in Vienna was in 1982, when the album Visions was released. I had just started my career a year before and the reponse from the audience was a real sensation, the concert was completely sold out (more than thousand people) and the album climbed up to #2 in the album charts over night. This was far beyond my imagination! It was just great and lifted my motivation to continue with my work.
John : In addition to your studio recordings you began venues of live solo concerts on acoustic guitar and piano in the United States, along with live concerts in Austria, the Netherlands, and during Woodroot Festival in Germany. With the increasing number of venues, are live performances more rewarding for you as a musician than studio recording, and if so why?
Gandalf : A live performance can not be compared to anything else, this is where the music happens in the very moment. Today performing live is more important for me than ever. If you record an album in the studio you spend much time to get your performance recorded as perfect as possible, on stage you only have this one chance and that is the fascination about it, no song sounds exactly the same twice, you never know what is going to happen every other night. And sometimes there is real magic and you can feel it from the first note you play and the audience can feel it. I would not want to miss this.
John : What was the early turning point where you decided to pursue music as a career and could you tell us about your music history throughout the years?
Gandalf : After having played in various Progressive-Rock lineups during the Seventies I found out that I had a musical vision which I could not realize with a conventional band so I started experimenting in a very simply equipped studio at home just on my own, playing and recording all instruments by myself. And this was the first time I really felt satisfied about my work so I recorded my first album Journes To An Imaginary Land and my friends were so enthusistic about the result, that I played the material to someone from a record-company and I got a contract.
That´s how it happened, I just followed my intuition and after some time I realized that I was able to make my living from making exactly the music I played out of my heart.
John : The Gates to Secret Realities was the transitional album during your move to World music influences. What was the defining moments or reasons for your decision to begin composing World influenced music?
Gandalf : My travels to India and other countries opened up my horizon and I found out more and more, that music is a universal language. It has the ability to dissolve borders between different cultures. There were so many elements in music from other parts of the world that inspired me and I wanted to integrate such influences and expand my personal style, trying to create some kind of a Global Music.
John : During your continental travels, what experiences and ethnic cultures have led you to discover and then recognize music as the unifying source that indeed helps abolish the boundaries in various musical styles and categories?
Gandalf : The first special encounters I had in India when I jammed with musicians there. We were not able to communicate much by words because of our different languages, but we had so much fun communicating through music.
Also on my Brazilian tour in 1995, I could not speak Portugese at all, but the music opened up the hearts of people and the feedback was amazing.
This was where I met Emily Burridge from England. She had lived with a Tribe of Indians for a while and was very inspired by there way af looking at the world and their rituals. So when we played together in Brazil, we decided to record an album together, and this was Gates …
John : You are referred to as The Painter of Musical Landscapes plus your music has a story to tell. What thoughts, images or message do you hope your listeners will acquire from your music and what are the ideal circumstances where you are most productive in composing music?
Gandalf : Nature is the most imortant source of inspiration for me, this is where I find my balance and open the channels of my creativity.
Over the years I found out, that the music already tells its story, whether I am aware of this or not. It reflects my inner landscapes and feelings. If you for example play it to children and let them paint, the pictures that come out show symbols of love, peace and hapiness, so there is not much else I need to tell people besides the music itself. Sometimes a story that accompanies the music is nice but not really necessary.
John : Your music has been featured in television and video media productions. I wondered if you find visual scores more challenging to produce than your more traditional album compositions, and how do they differ when you begin composing?
Gandalf : It is just, that your inspiration is initialized by a different source. If there is a certain story you want to express by your music, you first must get fully into the story and then, the pictures or the words will evoke musical ideas.
Sometimes books can be inspiring, I did project with lyrics from The Prophet by the Libanese writer Khalil Gibran, and also wrote a soundtrack to the book The Stones Of Wisdom by a friend of mine, Ronald P. Vaughan.
John : In the early years you were highly regarded mainly in Europe and other countries prior to your current widespread recognition and status in U.S. markets. Did acquiring a presence in broader international markets influence your music style to fit European or American tastes or was your transition to each country non apparent in your music identity?
Gandalf : I never really cared much about such matters, it happened more the other way round. When my musical style changed throughout the years it became more or less interesting for different markets. For example, back in the Eighties when I had some Spanish guitar on the opening track of the album The Universal Play it suddenly was released in Spain and South America.
Over all the years I tried to follow my musical vision as honest as possible and did not try to adjust to any market or trend-situation and I think this is one of the reasons, why I am still here. If you try to bend your personal way due to fast changing marketing situations, you may soon get lost.
John : Again, Thank You Gandalf. B.T. Fasmer and I do appreciate this present day opportunity to present our visitors this interview. We wish you well, and we will continue writing more about you in the future. Is there anything you would like to tell your fans or bring up before we close?
Gandalf : I just want to thank you and everyone who helps promoting my works and all my fans for purchasing my records and thus helping me to carry on with the music.
Photos are courtesy Klaus Rautenberg and gandalf.at.