more than just an album of meditative, acoustic guitar based music,
Falling Water Shimmering Strings by Chris Haugen
blends the sounds of acoustic and electric guitar with a range
of electronic sounds including mellotron. For example, track 2, Smooth
As Glass blends guitars, electronica and even sitar like sounds
for a truly genre expanding moment. With the 2015 CD release of Falling
Water Shimmering Strings, Chris Haugen has created a masterpiece
of World Music guitar sounds. Haugens grasp of various guitar
styles flows through each of these tracks which features him performing
a range of fretboard instruments, including Weissenborn guitar, acoustic
guitar, lap steel guitar, various keyboards and even drum loops. Speaking
to mwe3.com about the oceanic feel of his new CD, Chris
explains, The ocean is definitely an integral part of my
personal legend. So the tides and waves and colors of the sea are
always present in the music. The concept of the album was literally
to create a space musically that would allow people
to go inward. Backing up Haugens vision here are some
gifted musicians including Ben Leinbach (bass, ambient sounds),
Mark Degli Antoni (keys) and Hans Christian (sarangi,
drones, udu). Some tracks fare better than others but fans of the
acoustic guitar, electronica and World Music sounds are strongly urged
to give a listen to Chris Haugen and his 2015 masterpiece Falling
Water Shimmering Strings. www.ChrisHaugen.net
an interview with
Can you tell us where youre from originally and where you live
now and what do you like best about it?
Chris Haugen: I was born in Southern California. Some of my
earliest memories are going to Newport or Laguna Beach. We moved on
when I was in grade school and I actually spent most of my growing
up years in Eugene, Oregon. Fast forward several years, I landed in
San Francisco, and now just across the bridge in Sausalito. I have
access to everything here. The city, a great music community, nature,
Its a good place to be.
mwe3: Your new album on Real Music is called Falling Water
Shimmering Strings. How did you meet up with Real Music and whats
the inside story on how the new album came together?
Chris Haugen: I had just moved to Sausalito and I took a walk
along the water one day and saw a sign for Real Music.
I had just done a demo of solo acoustic yoga music, and
when I looked up the label, I thought it might be a good match, and
it was. Synchronicity.
mwe3: Is there a kind of oceanic vibe to the new album? Youre
pictured on the front of the CD playing a rather unique looking guitar.
Tell us about the concept of Falling Water Shimmering Strings
and something about that guitar on the CD cover?
Chris Haugen: The ocean is definitely an integral part of my
personal legend. So the tides and waves and colors of
the sea are always present in the music. The concept of the album
was literally to heal
to create a space musically that would
allow people to go inward. Terence Yallop of Real Music, picked up
on the vibe and came with a great title.
The guitar is a Weissenborn, which is a lap steel with a hollow neck.
It has very warm, comforting sound, which is perfect for this style
Who else plays with you on Falling Water Shimmering Strings?
When was the music written and recorded and was the album recorded
live or was there a lot of overdubbing and other studio wizardry to
Chris Haugen: Studio wizardry! Thank you. There were a few
guests: Ben Leinbach on Reef, Hans Christian on Western
Yogi, and Mark Degli Antoni on Nautilus. Otherwise
it is all me. A process that worked really well for me was to record
a long improvisation with a theme, then go back and find the gems,
and edit it into an arranged piece. I added swelling, layered guitars,
and eventually got a midi keyboard to help with the ambient sounds.
So it is not at all like I started with completed songs. I tried that,
but working alone it was a bother to try to engineer at the same time,
so improvising a concept as a jumping off point was key on this one.
mwe3: What guitars did you use on Falling Water Shimmering
Strings and tell us about your other favorite guitars? How does
the Weissenborn guitar compare with the sound of your other acoustic
guitars and also the lap steel guitars that you play throughout the
Chris Haugen: I played a lot of lap steel
Weissenborn style, Superior and Asher electric. The acoustic steels
played all the melodies, and I used the electric for ambient sounds.
They are all my favorites really. Each one has a distinct personality.
One sounds great in D, another in Db, or C, etc. I also played my
Tell us how Falling Water Shimmering Strings compares with
your other albums? How many albums have you made thus far and are
they still in print on CD?
Chris Haugen: I have three albums in my back catalog. Beg
Borrow Steel (2002), Seahorse Rodeo (2008), Chris Haugen
(2012). I like them all. Each has different mood, and you can hear
me throughout. Seahorse Rodeo has been my most popular.
Falling Water Shimmering Strings is more stylized than my previous
works. Working with a label, I wanted to create something that was
honest artistically and also resonated with Real Music, so I worked
with Terence to create an album with strong continuity and fluid dynamics.
It came out really well, I cant wait to share it.
mwe3: What about some of your favorite session work? What was
it like working with Ken Kesey and Sean Penn, as well?
Chris Haugen: What I love about session work is getting in
on a project with a new group of musicians and having it gel. There
is guarantee of that, so when it happens it is really cool. I like
it when the music plays itself, when you dont have to spend
a lot of time talking about it.
Back in the day I was in a band and we got close with Ken Kesey. We
stayed at his farm in Oregon, and used to rehearse a play he had written
in the Bus Barn. Yes, the bus Further. Ken let me do some
writing in his study, where he wrote some of his great works. Fun,
crazy times. Eventually I went to the UK with the Pranksters, on the
bus, in search of Merlin. A story for another time.
Sean Penn lived in Marin for a while, and I was lucky to be involved
in a group of musicians who knew him and worked with him. Mostly on
those sessions we would get a video and try to score it on the spot.
What guitarists, musicians and albums have had the greatest influence
on your own guitar playing and compositional style?
Chris Haugen: It is constantly evolving and updating. Just
recently I discovered Gabor Szabo, from the 60s, and I am like,
How did I miss this? I have studied many of the masters
at one point or another, some favorites
Steve Howe, Ry Cooder,
Jerry Garcia, Wes, Django, Bill Frisell. The list goes on. I am attracted
to touch and texture, timbre.
mwe3: What can you tell us about your surfing interests? How
long have you been surfing and where do you like surfing most?
Chris Haugen: I was born on a surfboard. Well not quite, but
I was swimming before I could walk. My dad lives on the central coast.
As a youngster I would visit during the long summer days, and not
really knowing any other kids in town, I got a board and wet suit
and spent hours in the slop summer surf. And then one day, pow, I
stood up and rode the face. I was hooked. It is something I love,
so I try to stay close to it.
mwe3: What are you hoping listeners will come away with after
listening to and enjoying your Falling Water Shimmering Strings
album? What plans do you have for 2016 as far as writing and recording
new music and other music and non-music related projects?
Haugen: The music is an opportunity to slow down and let it go.
One critic described the album as serene, so yeah, I hope
to create a sense of serenity for the listener. That would be good.
I would like to expand on yoga lifestyle music in the next year, and
perhaps play some trance and dance music in the genre, collaborate