of instrumental New Age and healing meditation music will completely
enjoy the 2015 CD release of Spiritual Haven by composer
/ multi-instrumentalist Russell Suereth. Created, mixed and
produced by Russell, the Spiritual Haven album really takes
the listener out there with its mix of unusual World Beat rhythms
and other intriging sounding instruments such as oboe and other relaxing
instruments with further musical flavorings from modern sounding synth
beats, guitars, zither and much more. Commenting on the meaning of
the album title, Suereth explains, I believe people all over
the world need spiritual havens. I believe music can help people connect
to their own spirituality, which, in turn can contribute to a healthier
lifestyle and a fuller sense of well being.' In the following
interview Suereth further explains his sonic mission by adding, 'When
I created this music, I set out to create New Age songs that have
a certain feel to them. To me, that feel is imagery of ancient places
combined with modern relaxing tones. I also like to have a fair amount
of rhythm and percussion.' On Russell Suereths Spiritual
Haven, modern technology meets traditional ancient instrumentation
and the results are timeless music magic. www.RussellSuereth.com
mwe3.com presents an interview
Can you tell us where youre from and where you live now? What
do you like best about it?
Russell Suereth: Im originally from Massachusetts. Thats
where I met my wife, Beth, while we were attending Boston University.
I live in northern New Jersey now, which is where shes from.
I hope to move back and maybe live in the Cape Cod area. I really
like it there great water, great towns, and great fried clams.
We like traveling to Ireland, especially along the west coast and
on the Aran Islands. Its somewhat off the beaten path, but its
another world on the islands there.
mwe3: What were your early musical studies like and what instruments
were you most interested in early on? Did you study harmony and theory
or are you self-taught?
Russell Suereth: Well, I started playing the guitar when I
was 11 years old and took lessons for a few years. Ive been
playing on and off throughout most of my life but became really focused
on it about ten years ago. And by that I mean practicing several hours
a day. A little after that I also started playing around with audio
workstations and using keyboards to create and edit music. When I
started taking piano lessons everything came together for me, because
the structure of the music became very apparent on the keyboard. I
love to create things and creating music was the next natural step.
It wasnt a step I thought about, it just happened.
mwe3: What era of music did you grow up in and how did that
influence your composing and approach and how about your early musical
heroes and influences? While you were growing up, were you into rock
and roll and progressive rock or were you into the experimental classical
and jazz sounds? Was there a turning point in your musical career
where you started to devote yourself to spiritual and healing New
Suereth: I basically grew up in the 70s. I was a big guitar
fan back then, and for me that meant Duane Allman and Carlos Santana.
When I look back it seems that my favorite songs from those two had
quite a spiritual feel to them. I really liked Duanes song Dream,
from the first album, The Allman Brothers Band. It contained wonderful
tones and had a down-to-earth but soaring quality. I was also into
the collaboration between Carlos Santana and John McLaughlin. The
high point of that combo to me was Carlos work on the song Let
Us Go Into The House Of The Lord from the Love Devotion Surrender
album. His technical work and phrase choices really told an engaging
I got very interested in New Age music in the 1980s. I listened
to a lot of David Arkenstone, David Lanz, and Patrick OHearn,
and I still love those tracks today. But I also listen to classical
music. I really love the 20th century American classical composers
Aaron Copland and Philip Glass. I have a portrait of Aaron Copland
above my desk in my studio.
mwe3: What made you want to expand outwards from guitar into
the keyboards and what other instruments are you playing on Spiritual
Haven? Do you still practice keyboards and guitar or do you spend
most of your time writing and recording?
Suereth: I spent a lot of time on keyboards in the Spiritual Haven
album, which is nice because I like the keyboard a lot. But Ive
hardly played the guitar in the last year, and I really miss it. The
guitar is such a physical instrument. You really have to work that
thing with both hands, and it becomes a physical activity that I dont
get as much with the keyboards. The hard strings also accentuate the
physicalness about the guitar, and because of that it feels that Im
closer to the instrument. I hope to play more soon. Now, after Ive
said that, its extremely hard to get away from composing and
the universe of sounds that the keyboard provides. Its an absolute
dream for creating, and I love to create.
mwe3: Would you describe your brand of instrumental music as
New Age or a more modern blend of electronic gothic chamber music?
What did you set out to achieve musically with the Spiritual Haven
CD and how would you compare it with your early album releases?
How has your music, both compositionally and recording-wise evolved
Russell Suereth: Categories can be so subjective sometimes.
Its really hard for me to tell what other people are thinking
about a specific genre. When I created this music, I set out to create
New Age songs that have a certain feel to them. To me, that feel is
imagery of ancient places combined with modern relaxing tones. I also
like to have a fair amount of rhythm and percussion.
I feel that theres a rhythm or beat in all of us today and also
in our ancestors from long ago. And I really feel that theres
a connection in that ancient rhythm to modern rhythms we can create
today. So I agree that I do have a modern blend in my music. If you
know someone who likes to call that electronic gothic chamber music,
then thats fine with me.
How was the Spiritual Haven album created? It sounds very organic,
yet very structured. In a way I was thinking to compare it to Tubular
Bells with its multilayered approach but theres a progressive
element in there too. Were certain instruments recorded first?
Russell Suereth: I wanted to create an album that contained
ethnic instruments and sounds because I wanted my listeners to feel
that they were in a different place, and maybe in a different time
too. On this album, I created a few basic melodies for each song.
Then based on the mood of that melody I would choose a sound that
I wanted. Maybe a woodwind sound, or some type of percussion. I always
try to make a contrast with the instruments to differentiate them,
but also to help them tell a story thats different from the
Each instrument has something to say, and its reasonable to
give them that space so they can tell their part of the story. Notice
that I used the phrase, part of the story. Its my
responsibility to manage all the instruments in the story, and, accordingly,
I have to hold back some of the instruments that would prefer to tell
the entire thing themselves. Yes, structure is very important for
me in the music I create. Otherwise I think it falls apart, and doesnt
tell its story. You know how if you write a novel theres essentially
a beginning, a middle, and an end? But within those three book parts
there are smaller parts that, if created properly, help keep the reader
interested in the story. Music is very similar from a story standpoint
for me. Something has to be happening, and in the end I try to have
my listeners wind up in a different place from where they started.
mwe3: How did you work with Keith Hannaleck on the making of
Spiritual Haven and what role did having the mastering done
at Imaginary Road have on the final sound of the CD?
Russell Suereth: It was great working with Keith. Hes
the one who actually steered me in the direction of creating New Age
music. My music had been geared more toward Adult Alternative. He
really saw aspects of New Age in my music, which makes sense, since
Ive been a big fan for years. When I started on this album,
Spiritual Haven, I asked him if he would help with the preproduction
work, which in this situation was listening to very rough drafts of
tracks to see if I was in the ball park. I remember that one of the
first drafts I had sent him was right after I got stung by a bee.
I had taken a lot of antihistamine because I was really starting to
swell up. I was so out of it. I listened to those rough drafts and
of course they sounded fine to me at that point, so I sent them to
him. I still feel bad about that today, but I havent told him
about the bee sting yet. Maybe someday. Hi Keith!
I had Tom Eaton do the mastering for Imaginary Road Studios, which
is Will Ackermans studio. Tom does great work, and I really
think his expertise helps make this album shine.
The music on Spiritual Haven is very soundtrack influenced.
Just like the video for A Magic Flight. How do
you feel the video element impacts your music? Also what are some
of your favorite soundtrack albums and movies, documentaries? Would
you be open to writing and recording music for soundtracks in the
Russell Suereth: Im a very visual person, so when I create
music theres often imagery in my head associated with that.
I specifically added some elements into the track A Magic Flight
to give an impression of flight. Those sounds are modern percussive
sounds, but they give the imagery a feel of ancient technology. I
think that soundtracks have some of the most creative music out there.
Maybe its because of the imagery they convey, or maybe its
because the music doesnt have to fit a specific genre. Id
love to do soundtracks. I think it would be a lot of fun to create
the musical imagery behind the visuals you see on the screen.
mwe3: What other directions are you planning to take your music
in next? What is the next frontier for you musically?
Suereth: I really need to sit back and see how I feel about the
music inside Spiritual Haven. Im too close to it right now.
I want to see how I feel about the instrumentation, the rhythms, the
pacing, and the story in the album. Maybe then Ill have a better
view of that next creation.
to Russell Suereth @ www.RussellSuereth.com