Real Music continues on the leading edge of New Age music with the
2018 CD release of Eternal by composer Kevin Wood.
In contrast to other Real Music releases, Eternal combines
Neoclassical and New Age sounds with sacred and tribal chanting that
also borders on World Music. The 12-track, 55-minute album sounds
like a superstar jam with ten guest artists and musicians featuring
added contributions by two world renowned cellists, Jami Sieber
and South African native Francois le Roux. Speaking to mwe3.com
about the wealth of talent supporting his musical vision on Eternal,
Kevin explains, "Choosing the guest musicians on Eternal
started out easy. I knew Jami Sieber from various projects, including
her involvement with a charity compilation album we did called Music
That Matters Lovelight, which included 36 tracks from 36 great
artists. From there the album just evolved and the performers list
grew naturally. The inclusion of Francois le Roux was providence."
Various vocalists add in the chanting parts and New Age icon Paul
Avgerinos adds bass and percussion on a bonus track here. The
Gregorian meets World Music chanting effect borders on sacred and
in his liner notes, Kevin Wood speaks about his spiritual journey
of transformation and reexamining his quest through the practice of
prayer and meditation. The Eternal album packaging, featuring
track-by-track liner notes, is first rate and the sumptuous CD sound
superbly befits an album of this immense scope and sonic magnitude.
mwe3.com presents an interview with
Tell us about your growing up around Nashville. You started studying
piano and then drums at a very young age. What artists of the era
inspired you? Being in Nashville, was country music in your life and
also how would you compare Nashville with where you live now in Austin,
Kevin Wood: Growing up in a suburb of Nashville, Tennessee,
surrounded by musicians shaped my perception of music as work. Music
was at the heart of peoples livelihood in so many households.
It was a way of life. My friends parents were musicians that
played at the Grand Old Opry and a founding member of The Black Crowes
was a childhood friend. Among my earliest influences were The Police
and Styx. However, I didnt follow in their musical footsteps!
Two of my older brothers and I took piano lessons, but I really enjoyed
the composing aspect of it - getting lost in song. As a child who
was somewhat of a loner, I found connection and solace in creating
simple tunes on the piano that would move me.
It has been a long time since I have been to Nashville! But its
interesting that both cities, Nashville and Austin, have a rich culture
of music. I intend to revisit Nashville and my old neighborhood this
mwe3: You were interested in New Age music since you were in
college. Was New Age music always a main interest in music and what
New Age musicians inspired you most? How do you determine if music
has New Age qualities?
Kevin Wood: Some of my earliest influences in the New Age genre
were Tangerine Dream, George Winston, Vangelis, Chris Spheris and
later Enya and Deep Forest. In college, I hosted a New Age radio show
and recall spinning Mark Isham, Tanita Tikaram, Andreas Vollenwieder,
David Lanz and other Pure Moods artists as well. I enjoyed
the uplifting, mood-filled and relaxing tunes in the New Age genre
and began experimenting with my own work on keyboard synthesizers
at age 11 and our familys piano. My first synth was a Roland
Juno 106. Interestingly, I knew early on that I would one day write
music and release it to the world.
way I hear New Age music is that it typically has a conventional chord
structure and has the effect of altering our mood and/or uplifting
our spirit. It can make us feel really good, or can feel other-worldly
mwe3: Eternal is your 2018 CD and your first release
on Real Music. How did you meet up with Real Music? Eternal
sounds different from synth based instrumental music in that its
almost World Music flavored but after hearing it a number of times,
its clearly a good fit for Real Music. What kind of discussions
did you have with Terence Yallop about the directions of Eternal and
what did Clay Boykin bring to the recording? I see in addition to
working on the artwork and associate-production, Clay also played
guitar on Light Shines Through.
Kevin Wood: Its been such a blessing working with the
team at Real Music. We came in contact through Liz Doan, a dear friend
and former senior buyer for Music Design, the leading New Age Music
distributor at the time. Terence and I had several wonderful conversations
where it was clear that we could have a synergistic relationship in
Clay Boykin has been instrumental in so much of the process of creating
this album, its difficult to know even where to begin. Clay
is the leader of the Mens Fellowship Network, and through the
connection and healing that I found there, I was able to connect with
my heart space and become inspired to begin writing music again. As
Eternal began to unfold, I found myself turning to Clay for
feedback in the composition. Throughout the process, Clay has helped
shape the direction of the album. From editing the liner notes and
message, to inspiration and encouragement, to occasional producer-level
direction, he has done so much. In addition, he added his guitar talent
to the track Light Shines Through.
How did you choose and assemble the players on Eternal? With
cello being such an important part of the sound, how did you choose
the two cellists on Eternal?
Kevin Wood: Choosing the guest musicians on Eternal
started out easy. I knew Jami Sieber from various projects, including
her involvement with a charity compilation album we did called Music
That Matters Lovelight, which included 36 tracks from 36
great artists. From there the album just evolved and the performers
list grew naturally. The inclusion of Francois le Roux was providence.
He was doing a concert in Austin and I heard through the grapevine
that he was staying with friends, of which I knew. I then heard his
lodging plans fell through, so I offered my home and he accepted.
After his concert, we recorded in my home studio where I had been
working on two tracks, and he recorded on both of them, Grace
Eternal (Pachelbels Cannon) and Light Shines Through.
His voice on the latter was amazing. Hes a musicians musician.
So very talented
For the track Time for Change,
I wanted some epic-sounding drums. My good friend, Kelly Andrew composes
epic and New Age style music, so he was the perfect fit to add the
drums track, and he did incredible work. Kelly had to free hand it,
and the timing was right on, and the drum selections used were just
perfect and exactly what I had in mind.
mwe3: You have said youre influenced by inspiration from
meditation. How long have you meditated and what technique do use.
TM or Zen meditation for example are still quite popular and what
other meditation techniques do you like?
Kevin Wood: Well, Im not up on the various types of meditation,
so Ill have to stick with telling you how meditation works for
me. Meditation for me started several years back. Like most beginners,
the intention was to focus on the breath and then roll back the mind,
so that you clear the mind of mind chatter and the tapes it runs.
Thats where it ends for some, and thats a great start.
That alone has benefits, to be sure. But then I was able to go to
the third eye. I could ascend and focus in the darkness of closed
eyes from one single point. And yet, whats interesting to me
is that I can either see darkness or bright light, depending upon
what and how I choose to see.
great benefit here is that I was able to sit with myself for an extended
amount of time and learn that I enjoyed just being myself in the silence,
that I wasnt at my most truest essence the identities and the
attachments that we take on in life. I was consciousness and light
in the stillness, and realizing that is profound.
And where it became truly transformative for me was when I invited
the Spirit of God, the Christ nature into my heart space. I would
first cleanse by asking for forgiveness and offering forgiveness to
any and all. Then, upon inviting Spirit I felt the beautiful presence
of the Eternal. It was pure and Eternal love and grace and peace.
I get emotional whenever I talk about it. Struggling with faith, like
I had been, and then being graced with this beautiful experience is
Later, I began to ask indwelling Spirit for guidance, and I would
hear the small still voice inside, which gave me messages that often
did not make sense at the time. I would write them down, and they
truly feel like divine messages. I even asked for my beloved mother
to visit me, and I had an all-encompassing presence of love envelop
me that is nothing like Ive ever felt or sensed before.
mwe3: How did you become interested in chanting? You feature
different types of chanting on the Eternal album but the key
thing is you combine these different types of chanting in the same
Kevin Wood: Ive always been drawn to the sound of chant.
This led me to the Sacred album project that involved an interplay
between Gregorian chant and Native American singing woven with my
musical compositions. It felt like two beautiful forms of prayer that
somehow flowed together, and musically it worked. The feedback I get
from listeners for that album is profound and deep.
Austin is home to the largest Native American Pow wow in the U.S.,
and I was blessed to have a number of singers at the yearly event
record with me using a high-end portable recording device. Ive
also felt that my 1/16 Iroquois blood may be small part of a heartfelt
or spiritual connection to these events.
You also feature a new version of Pachelbels Canon
as your Grace Eternal track. You give the track a World
Beat groove to it and also a beat, which makes it unique. What kind
of chanting are you using on that and how many vocal tracks are there
on that track? How did you recreate the Gregorian chanting
it done digitally? What is the significance of Pachelbels track
in your estimation?
Kevin Wood: Let me speak to the reason I selected this classic
song. First, I have loved the song, Pachelbels Canon
since I was a child, just as my father did, who was an avid listener
of classical music and had a gigantic vinyl collection of Beethoven,
Bach, Hayden, Mussorsgky, etc
Secondly, Pachelbels Canon uses a repetitive round,
which is why it is a canon. So, like the Eternal Return theory, it
represents an endless cycle
eternity. So, it felt right for
the song to represent the sense of Eternal Grace that I felt in meditation.
It is a beautiful, graceful, eternal song, and one I had always wanted
to create a rendition of, along with the incorporation of world vocals,
so that it would also be a oneness, or one-world song,
as it were.
mwe3: I didnt know you had produced / co-produced 55
digital only albums. What can you tell the readers about those albums?
Thats a pretty impressive number. Were there collaborations
in those albums too?
Kevin Wood: I partnered with several artists and performers
and nature sounds recordists, primarily Mike Wall, for those projects.
Mike is an incredible talent and dear friend. He was a top nature
sounds recordist, a recording artist, a producer and could do the
mastering, so along with my contributions of music, creative ideas,
direction and promotion, we created something special a whole
catalog of digital albums. The synergy was undeniable. It was literally
1 plus 1 equals 10,000. Our talents matched up perfectly, and we were
able to release albums that have even reached Billboard charts and
best sellers on some of the retail stores. We worked on this for 5
or so years really diligently, and it has done very well for us.
mwe3: So how would you compare Eternal with your earlier
solo albums Kindred and Sacred? Is there a continuity
and contrast between your early albums and Eternal?
Wood: The most important evolution in recording Eternal
was the inclusion of more recording artists. Secondly, I recorded
everything differently this time. I took all of the tracks out of
the digital realm and multi-tracked them in the analog world using
high end compressors, converters and tube gear, which helped give
the sound more glue and more warmth and ultimately more magic.
Lastly, I used less synthesizer sounds on Eternal, so it feels
a bit more organic, but it is still a hybrid between studio recordings
and sample-based sounds. Having both, to me, broadens the possibilities
of what can be created. Like a painter, the more colors and hues and
brushes one uses, the more expressive and creative the end product
is a very special album for me, as it represents a spiritual awakening
that both inspired the album and made the music possible after struggling
with a crisis in faith and a lack of motivation to write new music.
After 5 plus years, through hard work, late nights, a lot of laughter
and even tears and life challenges at times, it has arrived, and I
am so grateful. Eternal is my most meaningful and inspired
work ever truly from the heart and soul.
mwe3: What can you tell us about the cover art design of Eternal?
Who designed it? Its very ethereal and comforting as well. What
does the word eternal mean in this or other context?
Kevin Wood: Claudia Wennberg designed the cover. She has designed
all four of my covers. Shes incredible. Shes a professional
at design and can always hit it out of the park. She first
wants to know everything about the project, its intention, its purpose,
its message, and hear some tracks, etc., and then she goes to the
drawing board and works with various images that call to her and finds
a way to blend them so that they offer, visually, the essence and
underlying message of the album and the music.
The cover for Eternal is sublime. It is from the heart space
that I became open to meditation, where I have experienced the light
and presence of God and Spirit. So, the cover - the light shining
through the heart, through space and time is both a work of art and
a perfect visual expression of the message and inspiration behind
mwe3: How long have you been involved with promoting New Age
and instrumental music? Sounds like you have an extensive background
in the music world to draw on. What is the major challenge in getting
exposure for your music?
Kevin Wood: When I started out, I had more time and less money.
Before I released my first album, I traveled to California and made
some phone calls and met some people to start learning the industry.
After I released my first album, I then did more research and hired
a radio promoter. This promoter left the business, so I decided to
take everything I learned and do much of the promotion for my second
album, released in 2005. That year I also started to offer radio and
retail promotion for other artists, and clients came in slowly for
6 months, but then with word of mouth, we picked up clients with ease.
This allowed me to be in music just about full time, which was a great
feeling and a dream come true.
all that I did as an independent artist and as a promoter helped pave
the way for me to sign a one-album licensing deal with Real Music.
I had a sizable fan base and the experience in promotion to bring
to the table, in addition the new music and artwork, which they really
loved. The synergy has been great.. Eternal is a featured album
on iTunes, reached #1 on Amazon Digital New Age on its release date,
and this week reached #4 on the Billboard New Age chart. What a blessing!
mwe3: What do you like best about the internet and what do
you like least about it?
Kevin Wood: The best part of the internet is that artists can
take tasks and promotion into their own hands. Artists dont
require record labels for distribution anymore. The internet changed
that. Consequently, there are less gatekeepers
all music can
get its chance.
The negative part of the internet is the prevalance of free file sharing
in situations where artists would have made the sale, but for their
music being on a torrent site, they lost sales when a few of their
fans went there instead.
Also, many artists feel that streaming services should pay more, but
in the age of the internet, the new streaming business model cannibalizes
the music to some degree to gain the customers. Music is literally
free with ads. All you want, a la carte, on demand, for free. The
artists under this model get paid around a half a cent per listen,
which is a far cry from a fan spending 15 dollars on your album. It
takes around 3000 song streams to make 15 dollars. Thats the
equivalent of 15,000 listening minutes, which equals 250 listening
hours. So, in todays paradigm, an artist has to get a fan to
stream their new album for 250 hours to equal what they would earn
if they sold a $15 CD at a show. Thats a tough gig.
mwe3: With everything else going on, and considering your wide
range of skills in music, what other activities are you planning for
Kevin Wood: I just applied to become a voting member of NARAS
and well see where that leads. I also want to talk about my
story of awakening and renewed inspiration that spawned from it, and
I feel some talk radio shows where they have conversations about spirituality
will be a good place to explore. Beyond that, I am considering building
a completely new digital studio setup that will actually give me more
tools to draw upon and allow me to have a top professional mixing
engineer take my sound to an even higher level.