New Age music composer Bill Wren returns in fine form with
his 2016 CD Road To Chiang Mai. For those who
dont know, Chiang Mai is a major city in Thailand, and fittingly,
the music here is quite adventurous and quite exotic sounding. The
album was recorded at the studio of Hans Zimmer so the sound is quite
dramatic and first rate. The music borders on soundtrack sounds and
while, theres no movie yet, the musical scenary of Road To
Chiang Mai makes for a fine imaginary soundtrack. Speaking about
his sonic mission on the album, Bill tells mwe.com, "The production
approach to Road To Chiang Mai was similar to that of a film or television
soundtrack. There is usually a demo that is recorded, then an arrangement
is written and scored, followed by the creation of an orchestral mock-up.
Finally, live musicians replace or enhance parts of the mock-up. All
musicians on this record are highly accomplished. I would encourage
you to Google their names as many of them have a a big digital footprint."
The music on Road To Chiang Mai was composed by Bill Wren and
his collaborator Frank Rallswith
the latter also adding in drums, keyboards and orchestral programming.
Also on hand are a range of players including Micah Gilliam (guitars)
and John Gibson (bass). Topped off with first rate CD mastering
by renowned studio expert Bernie Grundman, Bill Wrens
Road To Chiang Mai is a masterpiece of cinematic
Age music. www.BillWrenMusic.com
mwe3.com presents an interview with
Tell us where youre from originally, where you live now and
what you like about it. What other cities and countries do you like
to visit or travel to?
Bill Wren: I was born in Corpus Christi, Texas 1951. I live
in Rockport, Texas. Rockport is a coastal town we recently built a
house right on the bay. The thing I like about where I live is it's
close to the ocean. I visited most of the Caribbean countries from
Mexico to Panama and Canada, Japan, Thailand, and Cambodia.
mwe3: Its interesting that you call your new CD The
Road To Chiang Mai. Did you always have a desire to travel to
exotic Thailand and have the interest to record an equally exotic
sounding New Age album with Asian overtones? What were your impressions
of Thailand and how easy was it to put those images and memories into
Bill Wren: My future wife signed on to volunteer at an elephant
sanctuary in Chiang Mai, Thailand. I was intrigued and signed on as
well. So we embarked on a whirlwind trip to Thailand and Cambodia,
the latter where we also visited the ancient temples at Ankor Wat.
It did not take me long to fall in love with the sights, sounds and
most of all the people of Thailand. I was totally impressed with their
kind and gentle spirit and the simplicity of their manner of life.
It was very easy to put my experience and memories to music
it came quite naturally.
mwe3: What are your earlier albums and how does The Road
To Chiang Mai further your musical mission so to speak? Are your
early albums still in print? Many listeners are finally getting a
chance to hear your music thanks to your new album.
Bill Wren: In 2007, I began composing my first award-winning
album, One Day In A life, which was released in 2009. The recording
hit #1 on FM New Age radio stations worldwide and I was nominated
for Best New Artist Of The Year. Additionally, several songs from
this album received airplay on Sirius XM satellite radio, Dish Network
and Direct TV.
My second album, Journey Around the Sun- A Mayan Odyssey was
released in 2011. It also went to #1 on the Zone Music Reporter (www.zonemusicreporter.com)
radio charts and was also nominated in the categories of Best Album
Of The Year, Best Contemporary Instrumental Album of the Year and
Best Cover Art Of The Year. Both albums are still in print and are
being sold. All 3 albums are very different but I like each one of
them. I have no favorites. Each one is a part of me and a window into
my life events.
Tell us about your working with Frank Ralls, who adds drums and keyboards.
How do you and Frank collaborate when making music together? Are you
playing instruments too or did you mostly compose and orchestrate
the music on The Road To Chiang Mai album? How did you meet
Frank, where does he live and would you consider more music with him
in the future?
Bill Wren: Frank is indispensable to the success of music.
He is one of the most talented people I know. I send him my compositions
in a demo form and let him know my thoughts on direction and we work
together until the song is finished. I do not play any instruments
on the finished product. We have become good friends over the ten
plus years we have worked together. We have also started a publishing
company called Ponder Dust Publishing, LLC based here in Texas. When
we met, Frank lived in Florida and he now resides in California. We
are a team and plan on working together in the future.
mwe3: I know youre a big Beatles fans so who else would
you consider to be among your early music influences and when did
you venture into soundtrack and New Age instrumental music? Was progressive
rock and jazz a big influence on your music? Do you feel New Age instrumental
music is finally getting the full attention it deserves?
Bill Wren: In 1972 I went to a Moody Blues concert and that
is when my music direction changed. I fell in love with the way they
fused rock/blues and orchestra music together. Because I love those
genres, I strive to bring my music more into a contemporary instrumental
format. I also love the music of other countries so a World Music
genre sometimes is in the mix.
New age music needs to be broke up into different categories in my
opinion. Smooth jazz, easy listening, instrumental, and others is
not the same as New Age meditation or Zen music. When it is all lumped
together I believe some of the genres I just listed suffer. Because
a lot of people think New Age is woo woo and never listen
to New Age channels.
mwe3: How was the music on The Road To Chiang Mai built
in the studio? Were there a lot of overdubs? Tell us about some of
the other players and string musicians on the album.
Wren: The production approach to Road To Chiang Mai was
similar to that of a film or television soundtrack. There is usually
a demo that is recorded, then an arrangement is written and scored,
followed by the creation of an orchestral mock-up. Finally, live musicians
replace or enhance parts of the mock-up. All musicians on this record
are highly accomplished. I would encourage you to Google their names
as many of them have a a big digital footprint.
mwe3: I also read that you recorded the album in the studio
of Hans Zimmer. What was that like and do you consider Zimmer an influence
on your own music? Its also interesting that Bernie Grundman
did such a fine job on the album mastering.
Bill Wren: Recording at Hans Zimmers studio was a privilege
to say the least. The atmosphere is quite electric and inspirational.
His style and sound have had a huge influence on so many of us. Mastering
is an art form in and of itself. There is no substitute for a good
mastering engineer. Each mastering engineer is like a musician - no
two are alike.
mwe3: How were the strings recorded on The Road To Chiang
Mai? They really add some amazing touches, especially on track
6, Harmonia. I think youve created a new musical
genre all on that one track. Are orchestral strings more challenging
to work with compared with synth strings and vintage keyboards sounds?
Wren: The strings were recorded as a section of 6 players. We
recorded numerous takes for each song. Once we found that take we
liked, we doubled those takes 2 or 3 times. While there are incredible
options out there for sampled strings, theres nothing like the
real thing. However, there are times when one might desire a specific
unique sound that can only be achieved by manipulating layers of vintage
synth and sampled strings. This is where you cross over into sound
design and production. Road To Chiang Mai certainly has a lot
of that from start to finish. We like to keep things unique, original
mwe3: Whats been the reaction to The Road To Chiang
Mai among the press and critics are you happy with the response
from the public? How can you make further inroads into having your
music heard by the music audience in general? Have you been thinking
of other new directions to go in next regarding your upcoming music
Bill Wren: The new album is doing rather well. You can see
some of the reviews at this link.
There are also other reviews and they have all been positive. I have
done 3 radio campaigns and two press releases so far. I'm also very
active with the Grammy awards, where I'm also a voting member. The
album, the video Enchanted Kingdom and Frank Ralls as
a producer have been submitted this year for nominations. To be honest,
I don't have any thoughts on what's next. I just wait and see where
life takes me...