country of Estonia might not be very well known in North America,
yet it continues to amaze music lovers with some mighty fine progressive
rock albums. Both instrumental rock styles and more traditional progressive
rock are two clear elements in play on the release of Thank
And Share, the 2015 CD by Estonian singer-songwriter
and band leader Indrek Patte. The eight track CD release of
Thank And Share features Indrek in the studio, backed up by
some of Estonias finest guitarists, including guitarist Kalle
Vilpuu, who has released several fine albums. Both Indrek and
Kalle are master musicians who seem to thrive in the high tech arena
of progressive rock. And also of note, both musicians are truly recording
perfectionists, equally at home in the music-making atmosphere of
the recording studio. Kalle Vilpuu is just one of the key musicians
on Thank And Share, which features a range of players. Musically,
Thank And Share is all over the musical map. Some have compared
Indrek to singer-songwriter Neil Morse. Both excel in progressive
rock formats and both hold to their Christian beliefs and sometimes
bring it out in their music. Indreks voice is high pitched and
is slightly reminiscent of Jon Anderson of YES. Thank And Share
rocks when it has to and is also highly meditative as well, most
notably on track six, The Servant Soul, which blends New
Age progressive rock with a more direct Christan rock blend of sounds
that offers a truly heavenly musical moment worthy of repeat plays,
while Kalle Vilppus guitar solo enhances the track. Also of
note is the instrumental track here In Memories. Clearly,
instrumental prog-rock is another field that the Estonian composers
seem to thrive in. The CD closes out with Share
another monumental sounding and sweeping prog-rock opus that Indrek
seems to excel in. Indreks Estonian accent sometimes makes it
challenging to follow the lyrics, but they are thankfully reprinted
in the CD booklet and the overall CD packaging and studio sound are
also first rate. Estonian musicians have been greatly influenced by
the amazing prog-rock music from England and Finland over the years,
yet, with incredible sounding breakthrough artists such as Indrek
Patte making music as intriguing as Thank And Share, Estonia
is well on its way to finding an even more unique musical voice of
its own. Among the rising, 21st century Estonian prog-rockers, Indrek
Patte breaks down musical borders with Thank And Share. www.IndrekPatte.com
mwe3.com presents an interview
Not much is known about the country of Estonia, at least in the US.
Could you tell us where youre from in Estonia and what makes
Estonia such a special place for music?
Indrek Patte: First of all I want to thank you! Im glad
to give this interview to mwe3. I was born in Antsla, a small town
in southern Estonia. After graduating high school
I went on to university, since then I live in Tallinn.
Estonia is a little country, but its a great place to live and
make the music. There is beautiful nature and friendly, kind people.
We have long traditions of song festivals for 150 years, well-known
choirs and directors like Neeme Järvi, also composers like Arvo
Pärt. The good news is that Estonian music, including Estonian
progressive rock music keeps spreading more and more, day by day all
over the world. Its a joy to share our culture and music with
people in other countries, its riches include a world of music that
keeps people happy.
mwe3: What kind of music did you grow up listening to and who
were your favorite artists as you were growing up? I was reading that
the YES album, Close To The Edge made a big impression on you
when you were just seven. When did rock music finally open up and
take hold in Estonia? As I recall that the country was under communist
rule for a while.
Indrek Patte: Early on, at around seven, I began to listen
to a lot of pop and rock music in English. My first favorites were
The Beatles and a little later, Led Zeppelin. In the 1960s and 70s,
when Estonia was occupied by Soviet Union, it was hard to get hold
of new music at the time because foreign records were not sold in
stores. There were rock music fans, who had friends and relations
in western countries and got new albums in different ways. It was
still possible to obtain records from abroad, which then circulated
among friends. In 1972 I had the luck to listen to a brand-new album
Close To The Edge by YES. I was instantly memerized by that
it is still one of my favourite albums. In the
70s, besides YES, a lot of wonderful progressive rock music was composed
and many fantastic bands were recording, such as Genesis, Gentle Giant,
ELP etc., to mention some of the groups I used to listen to back then.
At those times rock music in Estonia took its first steps. In the
1960s there were mostly bands that were inspired by the music
of The Beatles. The first rock bands in Estonia were formed at the
beginning of 1970s. The most well known among them was Ruja.
In the 1980s there were about twenty Estonian rock bands who
toured in the Soviet Union. In 1987, when I was a singer in Ruja,
I had a great experience of touring with the rock band. Sometimes
we gave two concerts in a day. I think that Estonian rock music finally
opened up in the beginning of the 1990s, after the singing revolution,
when some Estonian bands started touring in West Europe and America.
What is your background in music? Did you go through formal training
and musical studies in schools or are you self taught?
Indrek Patte: I am very lucky that in my childhood I was encouraged
to be creative. My parents loved music and sang in choirs. Since we
had the piano at home I started practising by myself, so Im
self taught. At the age of 15 I started to play keyboards in a local
band. That was like a miracle and was so exiting for me. At the same
time I wrote my first songs. Though I can read and write notes, I
much more prefer to make music naturally. The creation is a counterpart
of my life.
mwe3: How popular is rock and progressive rock in Estonia these
days? When did Estonia become a hot area of progressive rock activity?
Indrek Patte: Unfortunately, progressive rock is not very widespread
in Estonia although there have been positive developments in that
regard in the recent years. It is mostly the progressive metal bands
that are dominating the scene here, with some neo-prog and ethno-prog
bands. Recently, Estonian guitarists Toomas Vanem and Kalle Vilpuu
have gained an international attention with their solo projects. There
is a quite well known prog band called X-panda and a very original
guitarist, named Robert Jürjendal, who just released his second
solo album. I like some Estonian progressive rock bands from the 70s
like Ruja, Sven Grünbergs group Mess and In Spe, which
was led by Erkki-Sven Tüür, who is now a famous academic
composer. There are many capable musicians in Estonia, who participate
in various projects and could make interesting music, but theres
no output, because the audience is too small and we have only few
mwe3: What was your musical mission or goal with your latest
CD, Thank And Share and how would you compare it sound wise
and musical with your earlier album release Celebration? How
has your music progressed or changed over the years? What are some
of your proudest moments as a recording artist?
Indrek Patte: My musical mission is just to make the music
that I like and be happy when it touches somebody. In the spiritual
concept, what that means to me is spreading the message of love and
salvation. Years ago the lyrics werent so important for me,
but since that point I have progressed and now I write lyrics that
carry the message and mean something to me. Comparing my two albums,
I can say that the material for Celebration has been accumulated
over many years and it became a unified whole in 2010, when I wrote
the musical arrangements. Thank And Share includes the music
that was created during a 3 year (2011-2014), except The Servant
Soul. If Celebration sounds more like classic symphonic
prog of 70s, then Thank And Share sounds more like a
modern neoprog. As a recording artist, I have released 9 albums with
various bands and projects, but my solo albums are the most precious
What instruments do you play on the Thank And Share album and
what are your favorite instruments that you use to compose music?
Keyboards are obviously your forte but how about guitars and other
Indrek Patte: The main instruments that I use to compose music,
are keyboards, 12 string and acoustic guitars, the ones I play also
on Thank And Share, in addition a mandolin on one track and
the drum composing, also I sing all vocal parts on the album. Though
I can play little an electric guitar as well as a bass guitar, it
is easier for me to record the demo versions for these instruments
on the synthesizer. I get a lot of help from the computer and virtual
instruments to compose my music. New ideas may come every time and
in different places: at home, on the street and so on. For storing
them, I use my mobile phone recorder. When the instrument is ready
at hand I play and record, if not, then I sing to store the ideas.
Years ago I used to write notes on the paper, now high tech has made
it all much easier.
mwe3: How important are your religious beliefs in your life
and how do you apply those beliefs to your songs and song writing
and to life overall? What are your ideas on religion as it applies
to the afterlife? What do you think happens to our souls or the thing
that keeps us alive, after the body gives out and dies?
I was thinking about your great track The Servant Soul
for references there and your line For its in the dying
that the soul is born to eternal being
Indrek Patte: Religious beliefs are very important to me
they help me on focusing to do right things and decisions in my life.
I became a Christian over ten years ago and I have to say that since
then I found peace in my heart. Every day surprises me with the wonders
of God, who is a source of inspiration to make the music. He is the
creator of everything. During a lifetime a man gathers good deeds
and mistakes, after turning into eternity, the soul has the baggage
to reach the deserved place. Fortunately Jesus has paid for our mistakes,
so we can reach home, the best place for us. The lyrics on both of
my albums convey a spiritual message. For me Celebration is,
indeed, a concept album, portraying mans spiritual journey from
resurrection to celebration in the Christian sense. On the whole,
it means the celebration of the coming of the kingdom of heaven. Thank
And Share continues with the message to glorify and worship God,
thanks to whom human beings have the opportunity to share love in
this earthly space and time.
How did you choose and then put together the band you feature on the
Thank And Share CD? Its very impressive that there are
so many talented Estonian musicians such as guitarist Kalle Vilpuu
who also plays guitar on the Thank And Share CD. Did you pick
and choose the crew on Thank And Share from the best and brightest
musicians in Estonia?
Indrek Patte: I am very thankful to all the musicians who have
helped me record my albums. Most of them I know a long time and we
have the same musical tastes
thats why I made that kind
of choice. We have performed together in various projects. On the
Celebration album I have one of the best Estonian guitarists,
Toomas Vanem, who is my long time band mate from Linnu Tee. Also on
the Thank And Share are several talented guitarists: Raul Jaanson,
also in Linnu Tee since 1988, Kalle Vilpuu and Robert Jürjendal
plus, they all are also very interesting composers.
On bass guitar on the album is Vladislav Reinfeld, who was my band
mate in Ruja. He is a great multi-instrumentalist and composer. Hopefully
he will release his interesting solo album next year. Certainly I
have to mention an excellent drummer Andrus Lillepea, who plays in
several prog projects. Linnu Tee drummer Jüri Masurtshak plays
on The Servant Soul, and his very talented son Oliver
Masurtshak plays guitar in my live band. Classically trained Soon
brothers are also very talented and can play many different instruments.
Im very blessed having such a great crew!
mwe3: I was discussing this with two Estonian guitarists, Kalle
Vilpuu and Toomas Vanem, who both told me they were influenced by
Finnish composer Pekka Pohjola who worked with Wigwam and Mike Oldfield
back in the 1970s. Was Pohjola an influence on you and would you say,
Finnish music is / was an influence on other Estonian jazz-rock musicians?
Indrek Patte: I know that several Estonian jazz-rock musicians,
especially bass guitar players are influenced by Pekka Pohjola. I
like his music and some of Finnish prog as well, but more interesting
for me is Swedish progressive rock, bands like Kaipa and Flower Kings.
Though my biggest influence is British progressive rock of the 1970s,
because it is a keyboard-based music with various synthesizer sounds
and catchy parts. Rick Wakeman, Tony Banks and Keith Emerson are genius
I cant imagine a progressive rock music
without them. They have influenced most of todays prog rock
mwe3: Tell us something about your studio work and productions
with other artists in Estonia and also about your film soundtrack
composing career and how would you compare that with your work as
a progressive rock artist?
Indrek Patte: I have worked as a sound engineer and producer
in a audio recording studio called Matrix Studios in Tallinn for over
30 years. During this time I recorded, mixed and produced approximately
200 CDs by well-known and lesser known Estonian singers and ensembles.
In 1996, I was awarded the Estonian cultural prize Suur Vanker
for best sound engineer and arranger. In the 1990s I had a chance
to compose film soundtrack music for several films. That was new and
refreshing and offered a variety of experiences. It was very
exciting to express the emotions in film with music while designing
various soundscapes. I have recorded and mixed a wide range of styles
from folk, jazz and rock to classical music etc., but progressive
rock has remained my favorite one. When you work in the studio with
different styles, it is hard to reorient and focus on the next one.
You just cant do everything. In last years I have taken more
time for my own music, because so much is still undone.
What do you think of the increased popularity of progressive rock
all around the planet? That immense popularity of this early genre
must give you some hope as the world connects through the magic of
Indrek Patte: Progressive rock music is a great medium for
my generation. I think it is like a good art or wine that gets better
year by year. Recently, there have been many signs that among the
new generation we can notice a growth of interest towards prog. Many
new and original bands have been founded and the mastery of the musicians
playing their instruments is on a very high level.
Progressive rock is the music that carries a high intellect and a
genuine emotion, as well as good and a positive, timeless message
that magically connects to its audience. Though there were the short
periods of time when progressive rock was not doing
very well, I believe and hope that it has a bright future, because
its made with love and it withstands the test of time like a
classical academic music has done.
mwe3: Now that youve made a kind of international breakthrough
with Thank And Share, what are you planning next as we approach
2016 and beyond? Are you planning new writing, recordings, productions
and possible live shows in 2016 and beyond?
Indrek Patte: It is wonderful that Thank And Share has
earned a lot of international attention and positive feedback from
fans of progressive rock over the world. I am very happy and thankful
for that. Actually, I like composing more... the creative process
and studio work rather than giving concerts, but sometimes it is necessary
to keep in contact with the audience and give live shows. After all,
creation is a gift from God and it is good to share it with others.
At the moment Im having a lot of fresh ideas. Im working
on new material, but it is hard to say when it will be finished. Being
a vocalist in some other bands as well as Linnu Tee, Led R and being
a producer in a recording studio it is sometimes tricky to find time
for all the different projects, but I hope that we will have some
concerts with my solo project in the next year and maybe even outside
of Estonia as well.