records under the name Van Larkins, but either way, Australian
guitarist Owen Van Larkins is bound to turn heads around with
his 2012 Candyrat CD Wandering Hands. Kind of
reminiscent of Lasse Englunds trendsetting 1986 Anchor CD
and or Ralph Towner's ECM style guitar impressions, the Van Larkins
guitar approach is both hypnotic and melodic. On Wandering Hands
Owens guitar craft gets some smooth backup from bassist
/ slide guitarist Ross McDermott along with scenic sounding
touchups on cello and harmonica. Also cited here as an influence turns
out to be current guitar hero Kaki King. With its rolling New Age
guitar soundscapes, the sound of Wandering Hands is deep and
meditative and like Englund, Owen is also rhythmic in his approach.
But the spotlight here is clearly on Van Larkins, who fits in well
on the Wisconsin based Candyrata label doing great things in
the CD music world with their multi-tasking roster of top acoustic
guitarists. Commenting on his 2012 CD, Owen adds, 'Wandering Hands
was recorded in late 2011 and completed at the beginning of 2012
whilst staying with producer and singer songwriter Andrew White. My
debut solo album represents a one year period in which I left the
Australian shores and reinvented myself as a musician.'
mwe3.com presents an interview with
OWEN VAN LARKINS
mwe3: Theres so many great Australian guitar players
currently recording. Im amazed, what is it about Australia that
makes so many great guitarists? I know Hank Marvin also lives in Australia,
have you seen Hank around? Has the guitar always been a part of your
life and how long have you been playing guitar and when did you start
VAN LARKINS: Australia is a magical place, full of everything
a musician needs for inspiration, from the beautiful beaches of Bondi,
to the red sands of the outback, I find everything I need here to
compose my music. I am yet to meet Hank, but Im very good friends
with Phil Emmanuel who never hesitates to share his extensive knowledge
of the Shadows sound. Phil and I have performed together on
stage and also during a master class, we featured together on the
6 Oclock news shortly before I left the Australian shores for
the first time.
I picked up a guitar when I was 13, not knowing where it would take
me, at that time it was a fun way of joining in with the high school
band, or trying to impress the girls in my class. After leaving school
in 2000, I decided to pursue further studies in this field, completing
a Certificate III of Contemporary Music as well as winning the Contribution
to the Student Group award, one of only two awards given that
Once I realized I had the ability to compose original music I went
on to study diplomas in both music performance, and sound engineering-it
always helps being able to communicate with the sound tech at a show!.
So in short, I have been playing finger-style guitar and composing
for 11 years now, I couldnt imagine doing anything else!
mwe3: Where and when was Wandering Hands written and
recorded? And who else did you record the album with and also what
other people were involved in the recording and production?
OVL: Wandering Hands was recorded in late 2011 and completed
at the beginning of 2012 whilst staying with producer and singer songwriter,
Andrew White. Although a lot of the material on the album dates back
up to ten years, this is because I was focused on composing for the
duo Hunter Van Larkins while I worked full time since I was 19 years
solo album represents a one year period in which I left the Australian
shores, and reinvented myself as a musician. The album features the
amazing harmonica player and fellow performer, Brendan Power (Sting)
as well as cello player Janet Holboro and engineer for the album,
Ross McDermott who played keys, bass and slide guitar.
mwe3: How about the great CD artwork? Is there a story about
the colorful Wandering Hands painting and layout?
OVL: The talented young man responsibly for my artwork is Derek
Sammak. I was more than happy to leave creative control to Derek and
feed him ideas, stories and music during the recording process, even
though he is based in the USA, and at the time still finishing his
exams for his last year of school, Derek was with me every step of
the way bending and morphing digital art with the abstract and experimental.
mwe3: Were the Emmanuel Brothers were quite influential to
you? When did you start listening to Tommy Emmanuel play and what
albums do you like best from Tommy and Phil and what other guitarists,
in Australia and beyond, and bands and albums do you still find inspiring
to listen to?
OVL: Tommy Emmanuel is a guitar guru and what I would aspire
to be as a performer, I have had the honor of meeting Tommy a few
times after his performances and a number of the guitarists on my
label have toured with him (Don Ross, Gareth Pearson) I am crossing
my fingers I get that opportunity!
story of how Phil Emmanuel and I met is quite interesting. In the
early 1980s my father Perry Larkins designed using airbrush
and canvas, an album cover for Phil Emmanuel. My father used to jam
on his harmonica with the brothers at the iconic Ettamogah Pub. It
was probably 3 or 4 lessons into the master class with Phil that this
connection was made known; you should have seen his face! Phil is
a great teacher and all round nice guy, he was a real treat to perform
with, and its an honor to call him my friend.
The albums I find inspiring still to this day are: Only, and
Endless Road by Tommy Emmanuel, Celtic Gypsy by Andrew
White, Passion Session by Don Ross and pretty much everything
by Pat Metheny, Kaki King and Michael Hedges.
mwe3: What guitars do you play live with and also what guitars
do you record with? Do you have and record with electric guitars and
also how about strings and favorite enhancing effects you use in live
and in the studio?
OVL: I recorded Wandering Hands with a Stonebridge guitar,
which is the North American distributor for Furch guitars (Czech Republic).
performing at the Montreal Guitar show in June of this year (Also
known as the Montreal Jazz Festival), I discovered my new favorite
guitar, the Chatelier guitar from France. You can expect to see and
hear me playing this guitar for a long time! A beautifully crafted
instrument to be sure. Without giving to much of my secret recipe
away, I have fallen in love with the combination of acoustic guitar
with fretless bass and slide guitar, and also the Fender Telecaster
for harmonies and ghost tracks. These instruments combined
with subtle digital loops make up the majority of production on Wandering
Hands. I am now working to replicate this production live using
a loop pedal, not as a tool for building a song live, but more for
triggering prerecorded harmonies and bass lines at certain points
throughout my performance to give the listeners a little taste of
mwe3: And how did you become involved with Candyrat Records,
the label that released your CD here in the US? They seem to be doing
some great things for the guitar these days.
OVL: Candyrat Records is the central hub for todays modern
progressive finger style guitar genre. It is where my music lives.
I first made an appearance on the label when my duo released the album
The Express in 2008. Candyrat at this stage was open to distribute
the album, but was waiting for us to pull out the big guns with our
most recent album Myriad before signing an album exclusively.
We have a great deal of thanks owed to our producer and mentor Andrew
White for our connection to Candyrat Records, as most successful musicians
would be aware, it is the help of experienced and accomplished artists
that can save the up-and-coming years of trial and error,
and for that we are forever grateful.
mwe3: What other things interest you besides guitar playing
and music? Hobbies, interests, causes?
OVL: I have worked in the area of environmental fieldwork and
horticulture for the best part of a decade; its what paid the
bills before I made the terrifying leap of faith into the life of
a full time musician (laughs). So you could say I am a green thumb
at heart, I have also been involved in fund raising for children in
Africa as well as many local events to promote original art.
How about future plans moving forward including promoting the Wandering
Hands CD in Australia and the US?
OVL: I am working now to perform my music all over the world,
applying for festivals to use as key dates to book smaller shows around.
My album is already being promoted on around 100 radio stations in
the US and Australia, and I have a number of new videos to be released
As far as new projects, I have a number of things in the pipeline
with Candyrat as well as new contacts in Asia and Europe. Its
time to work hard, travel the world and share what I do best with
the people that enjoy original music!
Thanks to Owen Van Larkins @ www.VanLarkins.com