KEVIN KENDLE
Deep Skies 5: Illumination
(Eventide Music)

 

Ambient electronic music continues its impressive ascent towards the heart of the 21st century. Artists from all over the planet continue taking part in this sonic evolution and you can add the name Kevin Kendle to that list. Based in the U.K., Kevin has released a number of tranquil, healing and atmospheric CDs of state of the art electronic music. Kevin’s 2015 album, Illumination is actually the fifth release in his critically acclaimed “Deep Skies” series of space music albums. As you can tell from listening and even by gazing at the CD cover of Illumination, Kevin’s specialty is translating the wonders of the universe into music. Specifically, Illumination is inspired by the constellation known as Virgo. As he notes on his website, these constellations give off light and his approach to Illumination takes into consideration a kind of personal illumination as well as a kind of evolution of universal awareness, which when you think about it, is kind of the same thing. The CD cover art for Illumination is provided courtesy of NASA and the famed Hubble Heritage Team. Even though this is considered electronic space music, the space is really the space within, making Illumination perfect for any kind of meditation or health related activity such as yoga or massage therapy, meaning don’t put this on and start driving on the freeway! With Kevin’s synthesizers, keyboards, vocoder, sequencers, piano and moog at the forefront, he also receives some stellar backing from other musicians including Brian Abbott (glissando guitar, guitar FX) as well as Nigel Shaw (synth bubbles). Kevin Kendle’s organic approach to creating magical electronic music is front and center on the meditative and supremely relaxing sound of Illumination. www.KevinKendle.com





mwe3.com presents an interview with
KEVIN KENDLE


mwe3
: What inspired the Deep Skies 5 release of Illumination and how does it compare with the other albums in the “Deep Skies” CD series? Seems like the concept of your 5th Deep Skies album is a perfect way to explore state of the art instrumental electronic sounds.

Kevin Kendle: The Deep Skies series of albums is music inspired by space and the beautiful celestial objects found throughout the cosmos. The style of music is very formless and floating, creating a vast, timeless soundscape that the listener can immerse themselves in. I always say that with my space music, atmosphere and sonic textures come to the fore, and take the place of melody to a large extent. The series started in 2003, when synthesizer technology had evolved to the point where I could start to manifest the sounds I had always heard in my head, which I couldn’t achieve prior to that point. As this new style of music was a little different to my other album releases, I called the series “Deep Skies” to distinguish it from the other albums, although experience has shown that most people seem to enjoy both styles!

The fifth, and latest release in the series, Illumination was born from a desire to return to the space music, and the initial inspiration for it was the amazing galaxy field in the constellation of Virgo. With the earlier Deep Skies albums, the tracks are named after stars, or the deep sky objects themselves, but this proved difficult with Illumination, as the galaxies in Virgo are mostly named after their Messier catalogue numbers, such as M84, M98, M99 and so on. Not very inspiring track titles! But I found myself increasingly amazed at how beautiful everything was, and took inspiration from the divine magnificence of the Universe generally, so there’s a more metaphysical angle to this album than the previous Deep Skies releases. The title Illumination therefore reflects not only light from the celestial objects themselves, but also a personal illumination, or spiritual awakening.

You're right in that the "Deep Skies" series is indeed the perfect way to experiment with new instruments, sound sources and effects! They are wonderful projects to work on, and experimentation is always encouraged – I’m always attempting to create something new, that hasn’t been heard before.

mwe3: Illumination was inspired by the constellation of Virgo. Tell us about the constellations and what they inspire in terms of your approach to music?

Kevin Kendle: I’ve always been fascinated by the night sky, right from when I was a child. My parents taught me some of the basic constellations, and I’ve discovered many more for myself. One of the first pieces of inspiration for the Deep Skies series, apart from the compulsion to materialize the sounds I’d been wanting to create for a long time, was the Travis Rector photograph of the Horsehead Nebula which I came across around the time I started work on the music, and which forms the cover image of Deep Skies 1, Light from Orion. I was captivated by it, and couldn’t believe it was a photograph and not a computer generated image. Further research revealed that it was located close to the left-hand belt star, Alnitak, in the constellation of Orion. I soon discovered a wealth of similar wonders in the Orion constellation alone, more than enough to inspire a complete album, so that’s how it all started, in terms of the space music. The first space album was successful, and so I started thinking about recording a second. For the next album, Lagoon of Eternity, it all started with a Hubble Telescope image of the center of the Lagoon Nebula, located in the constellation of Sagittarius. Once again, more research uncovered lots of inspirational things in that constellation, so the whole of that album is based on those. With the third album, the Pleiades cluster, sometimes called the Seven Sisters, was the inspiration, and with Deep Skies 4, it was the incredibly beautiful Andromeda galaxy.

mwe3: I read that you were originally influenced by rock music, so when did you decide to become a New Age or electronic music artist? What artists from both musical genres, New Age and rock, had the biggest impact your musical upbringing so to speak? I was reading that Vangelis and Mike Oldfield are two of your favorite musicians. What are you favorite Oldfield and Vangelis albums and have you followed their careers through all their changes?

Kevin Kendle: I wouldn’t say that I was originally influenced by rock music. That’s not the case. I’ve always enjoyed rock, but my main influences have always been of a more gentle nature. It was hearing Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells aged around 11 that really turned me on to music. Had I not heard that album when I did, I know that I wouldn’t be here today doing what I’m doing. Mike Oldfield’s first four albums were very inspirational for me, and I loved the idea that he played all the instruments himself, which was still pretty unusual at that time. You’re right that Vangelis was also a big influence, and it was through his music that I learned what a synthesizer was. My favorite albums of his are the earlier ones recorded at Nemo Studios in London – Albedo 0.39, Spiral and China. With both these artists, I prefer their earlier work, and haven’t really followed their later careers, as I personally didn’t feel the magic in the music that followed these albums. I was also influenced by Tangerine Dream, Jean Michel Jarre, Tomita, YES, Steve Hillage and Brian Eno, to name a few!

mwe3: What were some of your first experiences with music and tell us about your musical studies and what instruments did you play or want to play early on? I heard you were moved to tears by your mom singing to you. Did music always have an emotional connection for you? Music is the one thing that never gets old.

Kevin Kendle: I started learning the piano aged 8, as my parents had spotted some kind of musical ability in me, and I remember singing harmony lines to nursery rhymes and hymns at school, as it felt totally natural to me to do that. I have always had a very strong connection to music, and remember hearing hypnotic, trancelike repeating music in my dreams at a very young age, maybe 3 or 4 years old. You’re right that I remember feeling tearful when my Mum used to sing lullabies to me, and was already very aware of the emotional power of music. I didn’t really enjoy learning the piano very much in those early years, and was almost on the point of giving it up after about three years, until I heard Tubular Bells, which saved the day! I’ve not looked back since! I went on to learn classical guitar, oboe and church organ, to various standards of competency, at the high school I went to. It had a great music department and a very inspirational head of music at the time. Before long, I concentrated on the synthesizer, which by then was my instrument of choice, as you can create sounds of great beauty, never heard before, which for me was all-important.

mwe3: You seem to be very aware about the solar system and different galaxies surrounding the Earth. What’s your opinion on people saying we’re all alone in this vast, unknown universe? I mean, does it seem possible, in light of all these galaxies, stars, planets, etc... or don’t they (the aliens) seem to care about us? We’ve been imagining Aliens since the cave man days! (lol) Why don’t people spend more time thinking about these things?

Kevin Kendle: I think it’s incredibly arrogant to suggest that we are alone in the universe! To me that’s totally impossible – even just on our own, physical plane. When you consider the existence of other dimensions and realms of a higher vibrational frequency, then it becomes even more unlikely that we are alone! I’m sure there are beings out there who care deeply about us, most probably from higher realms, but who are limited by the law of karma as to what they can do. In other words, we have to raise our own vibration as humans, start to think more globally and change our selfish, aggressive tribal outlook on things. We’re a planet full of the same species, all linked to the same life force, after all! Over the years, we’ve managed to segregate and isolate ourselves by every possible means - country, religion, creed, politics – it’s just nuts... and it must change!

mwe3: Tell us about the musicians you record with on Illumination. What’s the connection and chemistry like and what musicians have you worked with on your other albums?

Kevin Kendle: The two musicians who also play on Illumination are the same two who have appeared on all 5 space albums – Nigel Shaw and Brian Abbott. I’ve known Nigel for 23 years, and he’s a great friend. Back in 2003, I asked his opinion on the experimental demo of what eventually became the Deep Skies 1 album, Light From Orion, and he was very encouraging about it. It was Nigel who suggested that I meet his friend and band-mate from the group Global, Brian Abbott, who was one of the UK’s leading exponents of glissando guitar, having been taught the technique by Daevid Allen of Gong. I was aware of glissando guitar, having been a big fan of Steve Hillage’s solo work, but had never seen how it was played. It was during a visit to Dartmoor in Devon, in the Southwest of the UK shortly afterwards, that Nigel introduced me to Brian at a Global gig. All three of us met up in Nigel’s Seventh Wave studio later that week, and Brian improvised some glissando guitar live over the demo I’d recorded. It sounded incredible! From that point on, Brian’s gliss guitar has been an integral part of the Deep Skies sound, and I can’t imagine a Deep Skies album without it. Nigel records the gliss parts at his studio, adding various treatments to Brian’s guitar lines, and adds additional synthesizer and synth bubble effects.

The fourth Deep Skies album, Light From Andromeda, saw Tom Brooks add effects from his vintage EMS Synthi A synthesizer, which has a very unique sound. Tom is an expert user of this particular synthesizer and Nigel has also played alongside him in his band Dubblehead. He’s a former member of Ozric Tentacles, and is the brother of Basil Brooks from Zorch and the Steve Hillage band.

I’ve also worked with a number of other musicians on some of my other albums. James Asher co-produced and played on my 1995 album First Light, which was recorded on analogue tape at his Starfield Studios, then in London. Also appearing on that album was Andy Hamilton, the sax player who I played alongside in Noel McCalla’s band McCALLA in the 90s.

Australian guitarist Ian Cameron Smith appeared on my Flowers and Butterflies albums, which we managed to achieve, in the days before the internet was up to handling larger audio files, by sending DAT tapes back and forth between England and Australia!

James also played hammered dulcimer on my Winter album, released in 2006, which had the most diverse group of additional musicians of all my albums. Winter also featured Nigel and Brian on wood flutes and glissando guitar respectively, the very talented multi-instrumentalist Chris Conway on high and low Irish whistles, and my son Sam on acoustic guitar, who was only 10 years old at the time! I also worked with New Age artist Llewellyn on the album Journey To Atlantis around that time too, for the Paradise Music label, where I contributed 6 of the 8 tracks on the album.

2010 saw the release of an oriental-inspired album based on some original piano pieces I had written in 1979, when I was 13 years old, and Chris Conway added some wonderful wood flute parts to the track called "Windchimes".

mwe3: How has your choice of instruments changed or evolved over the years? What are your favorite synth keyboards and what is your keyboards setup on the Illumination CD?

Kevin Kendle: The range of synthesizers I have at my disposal has gradually increased over the years. I’ve never sold a single instrument and still have my very first synthesizer, an original KORG MS-20. I have 10 hardware synthesizers, including several original analogue instruments, such as the Sequential Circuits PRO-ONE and Moog Voyager. I’ve just added the rereleased ARP Odyssey to the setup too, which sounds exactly the same as the original to my ears!

I used the Roland JV-1080 on a lot of my albums, and still do, as it’s a great workhorse instrument that’s very versatile. The KORG Karma is another useful instrument for certain sounds, as it tends to do its own thing, and often produces very unexpected, beautiful sounds.

I guess the biggest change has been the progress of “virtual” synthesizers and virtual instruments generally, which exist as software on the computer, played from a MIDI keyboard. These now sound amazing, and allow reasonably priced, fully working, accurate software versions of very expensive original synths such as the Moog modular systems, the Yamaha CS-80 and ARP 2600, which I couldn’t possibly afford!

The setup I used for Illumination is a complete mix of all the above, as are all my albums... I don’t limit myself to a particular sound set or a particular group of synthesizers, I use whichever instrument I feel inspired to, or whichever is best at producing the sound I’m after, as they all have their own strengths, weaknesses and idiosyncrasies.

mwe3: Tell us about your career as a pilot and how does that interest in flying influence your career as an electronic musician? How long have you been a pilot?

Kevin Kendle: I’ve always loved clouds and the sky, and shared an interest in aeroplanes with my Dad. He used to take me to various air shows as a boy, and we continued these visits later in life too. It was when I turned 40 and thought about one thing I might regret not doing later in life, that I made the decision to learn to fly. It was also the year I lost my Dad, so it seemed like a fitting tribute to him too. So I started taking lessons in 2006, learning to fly a single engine Piper PA28 aircraft at a flying school with a grass runway on a remote farm in the countryside! It’s a wonderful privilege to be able to take to the air as and when I feel like it, and the weather allows, which isn’t that often in England! I’ll never lose that sense of wonder, looking down on clouds and landscapes from up above... I’m very lucky to have been able to do it. It’s also very inspirational for the music too, a lot of which has an airborne theme to it. I’ve done two albums describing clouds in music, Clouds and Clouds 2, plus an album depicting views from the air in music, Aerial Vistas. The first Clouds album was recorded before learning to fly, but the second one was recorded in 2013, when I had been flying for 7 years.

mwe3: What about soundtracks and your work with the BBC? Clearly your music lends itself to all kinds of film music, documentary music.

Kevin Kendle: The way it works for me is that all my albums are published as library music with my publishing company, Panama Music. That way they’re automatically sent out to carefully researched contacts in the broadcasting world, and find their way into the music libraries. Consequently they get used pretty regularly in various TV and radio productions, as well as being made available on numerous official music download sites.

When I was still at school, I had a great opportunity of composing and recording music for a pilot program for a BBC series called The Sea Of Faith. This came about through a math teacher at the school who knew of my musical activities, and whose husband was a BBC program director. That was great experience, and I even received royalties and repeat fees when the program was broadcast!

mwe3: Are you still doing album mastering for other artists? Can you explain something about how the album mastering process can impact or affect the sound of a finished product? I wanted to compliment you on the sound of Illumination. It’s got a fantastic sound! It’s hard to get that balance between vintage sounding and ultra high tech but you seem to have nailed it!

Kevin Kendle: Mastering is something that I place great importance on, but sadly it seems that proper mastering is something that gets increasingly overlooked these days, perhaps as a result of tighter budgets, or the mistaken belief that if it’s not going to be released on CD, mastering is not necessary! Basically, the mastering process involves using the ears, and knowing how to make the recordings from the studio sound as good as they can, and, in the case of an album, sound like a coherent product, rather than a collection of disparate tracks. It’s amazing how different and improved the sound can be after proper mastering, as a result of good equalization, compression, enhancement, level balancing and so on. This genre of music requires special sensitivity too, as the mainstream approach to mastering is usually, make it as loud and bright as possible, which is totally unsuitable for the carefully crafted instrumental ambiences of space music!

I’m glad you like the sound of Illumination – all the Deep Skies albums have that vast, timeless soundscape in which to immerse yourself. The brilliant digital recording system I've used to create all my albums from 1996, with Aerial Vistas, to the present day has played a key part in the sound I can achieve. It's the Soundscape system from Solid State Logic (SSL.) It started off as an 8-track system, then was expanded to 12-track, then 32-track, and is now virtually unlimited! I normally use it in a 64-track configuration, with all individual synthesizer parts being recorded over two tracks, in stereo. Complex multiple effects setups in the recording process are used to make each individual layer of sound move around the stereo field in a subtle way, creating a sense of stillness, without ever being still... a bit like gentle waves on a beach, the sounds rise and fall against one another, sometimes moving in a circular motion, particularly on headphones. The Deep Skies series lends itself to experimentation and creativity not just in the music itself, but also in the effects, production and mixing stages.

mwe3: How about Reiki and other metaphysical aspects to your music and music in general? It seems certain tones and swell tones can act as a positive sound therapy for the brain! My cat went into a trance listening to Illumination and so did I!

Kevin Kendle: That’s an area that interests me greatly – the healing properties of music. I firmly believe – more than that – I know that music is a very powerful healing force indeed. It not only has a psychological effect on the listener, but also a physical effect on the body, as the sound vibrations in the air from the speakers not only vibrate the ear drums so we can hear the sound, but also vibrate the cells of the body too, which is partly why certain music soothes, and other music aggravates.

I’m actually a Reiki master, so I also know the power of this beautiful energy, that it’s most definitely real, and that you can feel it, once attuned as part of your teaching. Appropriate music can help enhance the environment in which any healing treatments – not just Reiki necessarily – take place. In fact, one of the tracks on Illumination, called “Inscape”, had such a deeply relaxing and healing effect on me that I felt it would be perfect as music for healing treatments and spa sessions. So, initially, as an experiment, I extended this piece, augmenting it with extra parts and textures, to an hour-long piece of music for this purpose. But I went one stage further and retuned the finished music to the more natural tuning system where A=432 Hz, rather than the standard A=440 Hz which is almost exclusively used in western music. The change is very subtle, but the frequencies present in the music are suddenly brought into line with nature’s own systems and frequencies, such as the “Golden Mean,” and the number 432 occurs frequently in the layout of ancient sites. It’s a very interesting area. I asked some friends around the world I knew and respected as healers to try out the new music on their clients, and all reported great results. One also told me that it enabled her clients to effortlessly achieve a “theta” brain wave state, the most relaxed state you can be in without being actually asleep. Encouraged by all this, I called the new music “Insight – Music for Healing,” and released it, currently as a download-only album, via my website. I’ve heard very good reports of its healing properties... I’m sure your cat would love it too!

mwe3: Tell us about life in Hertfordshire England. What are your favorite cities or towns in England and have you done shows in other European countries or on other continents? You must have fans on all continents!

Kevin Kendle: Hertfordshire is a county in England, which lies to the north of London. I live at the northernmost point in the county, a town called Baldock, which dates from at least Roman times. It’s quite a rural area with lots of inspiring countryside all around... it’s a great place to live, and I’ve been there now for 20 years. I guess my favorite areas of England would be Dartmoor in Devon, in the southwest of the country, which is a beautiful area of rolling hills, wild moorland and ancient woodland – very inspirational! It’s where the other Deep Skies musicians live, and I’m lucky enough to be able to visit at least once or twice a year. I also love the area known as the “Lake District,” the county of Cumbria, in the northwest of England. By contrast, this area is very mountainous, with dramatic peaks and beautiful valleys, some containing large, picturesque lakes, hence the name given to the area.

I’ve done very few live performances in the last decade, primarily because it’s rather difficult music to perform in a live environment, I’m completely self-funded, and I’ve given priority to the studio to create new music. I haven’t yet done any shows overseas, although through the internet and social media I’ve come to appreciate that my fan base does extend right across the world, which is absolutely wonderful!

Having said that, I am performing live in London in November – for the first time in many years! It promises to be a unique event that will feature the space music from the Deep Skies albums, with visuals, performed live with me on synthesizers, plus Nigel Shaw, Brian Abbott and hopefully Tom Brooks too, the other original artists from those albums. It’s at a wonderful concert venue, St. George’s Church in Bloomsbury, London, a fantastic building designed by the architect Nicholas Hawksmoor. Tickets can be booked through my website, www.kevinkendle.com, subject to availability. I’m hopeful that there may be more performances next year, if all goes to plan!

mwe3: What do you call your music? We’ve got a lot of genre subtitles like New Age, Ambient and Electronic? Maybe all three?

Kevin Kendle: I hate to put music in pigeonholes, and while the label New Age was perhaps the perfect label once upon a time, it has now become tarnished and synonymous with the bland and boring, sugar-sweet, empty music that is so prevalent nowadays. I always try to build in elements that keep the listener interested, if listening actively, but that don’t become intrusive if the music is being used for treatments, or to relax or meditate to. I prefer the term Ambient if pushed, but Electronic, although appropriate, evokes for me the more mechanical, sequenced music of Berlin School electronic music. There are definitely overlaps with all three genres, as far as my own music is concerned, but for me it doesn’t fit squarely into any single one.

mwe3: Tell us about your label Eventide. When did you start it and how many albums have you produced and are they mostly still in print on CD? Has the internet been good to your label? The only danger I see is that audiophile music can’t be appreciate on most laptop speakers... but I could be wrong! Also how do you feel the internet can save music or should I say musicians as they’re the ones that seem to be getting the short end of the stick when it comes to the internet.

Kevin Kendle: I started Eventide Music as a label in 1994. It coincided completely with the release of the album Eventide and I was looking for a suitable name that summed up the type of music I create. I suddenly realized that the name Eventide Music suggested the evening, full of sunsets and stillness, which is what the album was about, but it also suggested peace, calm and the time of day when you might listen to it to wind down. In total I’ve released about 30 albums, most of which are on the Eventide label. All are still available on CD, although the first few albums are produced to order on CD-R these days, and several of the albums released on the New World label have been discontinued by that label, but are still available from my website direct. All albums are available as downloads from iTunes, Amazon etc, which is how most people get hold of music these days anyhow. MP3 downloads are compressed, though, and the format is "lossy," which mean they don't sound as good as CDs, plus you don't get the thrill of thumbing through the artwork and reading the booklet notes. It's rather ironic that never before have independent musicians been able to record at such high quality in private studios, in 24-bit resolution and greater, just at a time when the listening public are quite happy to listen to compressed audio on tiny white earphones and sound docks which are so small that you can't possibly get a decent stereo image or a deep, satisfying sound from them!

I have mixed feelings about how the internet is affecting music generally. On one hand, musicians around the world can share large music files, making having guest musicians much easier. The problem is that the concept of being able to make music as a living is fast disappearing. Music is increasingly seen, particularly by the younger generation, as a free commodity - something file-sharing sites have brought about. Even the "accepted" way of paying for music legally these days, download sites such as iTunes, Amazon etc, pay such low returns to the artists, that it's impossible to make a living out of studio music alone. To give you an idea of the scale of the problem, even with 30 albums available worldwide, all of which receive frequent downloads, just taking iTunes into account for a moment, it would still take nearly a year to make the same amount of money that a single CD sold via my own website brings in! And now that streaming services are even replacing the download sites, the returns to the artist are even less than that... I don't do what I do for the money anyhow, I do it for the love of it, but it saddens me to see music so generally devalued by the up-and-coming generations.

mwe3: What about plans you have for your music and Eventide over the next six months through till 2016? Are you busy writing, recording, making DVDs and will there be any live shows or videos that your worldwide fans can see on youtube?

Kevin Kendle: I've recently been very busy working on the music for a fascinating project commissioned by the Aetherius Society, a worldwide spiritual organization dedicated to bringing about world peace, and who do some amazing work, based on channeled teachings, received through the organization's founder, Dr. George King, in the 1950s and beyond. It's called Rise, and it's a series of beautifully worded Peace Meditations by Richard Lawrence, who is the executive secretary of The Aetherius Society for Europe. I've recorded and produced 10 tracks of new, original music for the Rise project, and Richard has been over to my studio in the last week to record all the spoken voice parts. The combination of the words and music is magical, I'm very pleased with the end result, and it's due for release by the Aetherius Society soon. I'll be appearing with Richard at some live events to help promote awareness of it over the coming months, which is very exciting.

My next project will be focusing on the Deep Skies Live Experience event in London in November, and all the planning that goes with such an undertaking. At present there are no plans to produce footage for YouTube, but that may change, and there may be more dates planned for 2016 - it's a very exciting time!

I'd just like to close by thanking you and mwe3.com for the opportunity to take part in this interview - thank you!

 

Thanks to Kevin Kendle at www.KevinKendle.com





 

 
   
Attention Artists and Record Companies: Have your CD reviewed by mwe3.com
Send to
: MWE3.com Reviews Editor Robert Silverstein
2351 West Atlantic Blvd. #667754
Pompano Beach, Florida 33066

E-mail: mwe3nyc@gmail.com
New York address (for legal matters only)
P.O. Box 222151, Great Neck, N.Y. 11022-2151

 
 
CD Reviews Feature Reviews & Features Archive Photo Archive Contact MWE3 Home
 

 

Copyright 1999-2015
MWE3.com - All Rights Reserved