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. Kevins 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, Kevins 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 dont put this
on and start driving on the freeway! With Kevins 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 Kendles 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
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
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 couldnt 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 theres 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
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 Im always attempting to create something
new, that hasnt 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: Ive always been fascinated by the night
sky, right from when I was a child. My parents taught me some of the
basic constellations, and Ive 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 Id 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 couldnt 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 thats 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
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 wouldnt say that I was originally influenced
by rock music. Thats not the case. Ive always enjoyed
rock, but my main influences have always been of a more gentle nature.
It was hearing Mike Oldfields 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 wouldnt be here today doing what Im
doing. Mike Oldfields 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. Youre 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 havent really followed their later careers,
as I personally didnt 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!
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. Youre
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 didnt 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! Ive
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. Whats your opinion
on people saying were all alone in this vast, unknown universe?
I mean, does it seem possible, in light of all these galaxies, stars,
planets, etc... or dont they (the aliens) seem to care about
us? Weve been imagining Aliens since the cave man days! (lol)
Why dont people spend more time thinking about these things?
Kendle: I think its incredibly arrogant to suggest that
we are alone in the universe! To me thats 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! Im 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. Were a planet full of the same species,
all linked to the same life force, after all! Over the years, weve
managed to segregate and isolate ourselves by every possible means
- country, religion, creed, politics its just nuts...
and it must change!
mwe3: Tell us about the musicians you record with on Illumination.
Whats 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. Ive known Nigel for 23 years, and hes
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 UKs 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 Hillages
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 Nigels Seventh Wave studio later that week, and Brian
improvised some glissando guitar live over the demo Id recorded.
It sounded incredible! From that point on, Brians gliss guitar
has been an integral part of the Deep Skies sound, and I cant
imagine a Deep Skies album without it. Nigel records the gliss parts
at his studio, adding various treatments to Brians guitar lines,
and adds additional synthesizer and synth bubble effects.
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. Hes
a former member of Ozric Tentacles, and is the brother of Basil Brooks
from Zorch and the Steve Hillage band.
Ive 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 McCallas 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".
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. Ive 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. Ive 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
its a great workhorse instrument thats 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,
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 couldnt possibly afford!
The setup I used for Illumination is a complete mix of all
the above, as are all my albums... I dont 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 Im after, as they all have their own strengths, weaknesses
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?
Kendle: Ive 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! Its a wonderful
privilege to be able to take to the air as and when I feel like it,
and the weather allows, which isnt that often in England! Ill
never lose that sense of wonder, looking down on clouds and landscapes
from up above... Im very lucky to have been able to do it. Its
also very inspirational for the music too, a lot of which has an airborne
theme to it. Ive 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 theyre 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. Its got a fantastic
sound! Its hard to get that balance between vintage sounding
and ultra high tech but you seem to have nailed it!
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 its 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.
Its 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!
Im 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: Thats 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.
actually a Reiki master, so I also know the power of this beautiful
energy, that its 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 natures own systems and frequencies,
such as the Golden Mean, and the number 432 occurs frequently
in the layout of ancient sites. Its 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.
Ive heard very good reports of its healing properties... Im
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. Its
quite a rural area with lots of inspiring countryside all around...
its a great place to live, and Ive 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!
Its where the other Deep Skies musicians live, and Im
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.
done very few live performances in the last decade, primarily because
its rather difficult music to perform in a live environment,
Im completely self-funded, and Ive given priority to the
studio to create new music. I havent yet done any shows overseas,
although through the internet and social media Ive come to appreciate
that my fan base does extend right across the world, which is absolutely
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. Its at a wonderful concert venue, St. Georges
Church in Bloomsbury, London, a fantastic building designed by the
architect Nicholas Hawksmoor. Tickets can be booked through my website,
subject to availability. Im hopeful that there may be more performances
next year, if all goes to plan!
mwe3: What do you call your music? Weve 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 dont 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 doesnt 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 cant 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 theyre
the ones that seem to be getting the short end of the stick when it
comes to the internet.
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 Ive 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.
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.
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!
to Kevin Kendle at www.KevinKendle.com