Falling Water Shimmering Strings
(Real Music)


Much more than just an album of meditative, acoustic guitar based music, Falling Water Shimmering Strings by Chris Haugen blends the sounds of acoustic and electric guitar with a range of electronic sounds including mellotron. For example, track 2, “Smooth As Glass” blends guitars, electronica and even sitar like sounds for a truly genre expanding moment. With the 2015 CD release of Falling Water Shimmering Strings, Chris Haugen has created a masterpiece of World Music guitar sounds. Haugen’s grasp of various guitar styles flows through each of these tracks which features him performing a range of fretboard instruments, including Weissenborn guitar, acoustic guitar, lap steel guitar, various keyboards and even drum loops. Speaking to about the “oceanic” feel of his new CD, Chris explains, “The ocean is definitely an integral part of my personal legend. So the tides and waves and colors of the sea are always present in the music. The concept of the album was literally to heal… to create a space musically that would allow people to go inward.” Backing up Haugen’s vision here are some gifted musicians including Ben Leinbach (bass, ambient sounds), Mark Degli Antoni (keys) and Hans Christian (sarangi, drones, udu). Some tracks fare better than others but fans of the acoustic guitar, electronica and World Music sounds are strongly urged to give a listen to Chris Haugen and his 2015 masterpiece Falling Water Shimmering Strings. / presents an interview with

mwe3: Can you tell us where you’re from originally and where you live now and what do you like best about it?

Chris Haugen: I was born in Southern California. Some of my earliest memories are going to Newport or Laguna Beach. We moved on when I was in grade school and I actually spent most of my growing up years in Eugene, Oregon. Fast forward several years, I landed in San Francisco, and now just across the bridge in Sausalito. I have access to everything here. The city, a great music community, nature, surfing. yoga… It’s a good place to be.

mwe3: Your new album on Real Music is called Falling Water Shimmering Strings. How did you meet up with Real Music and what’s the inside story on how the new album came together?

Chris Haugen: I had just moved to Sausalito and I took a walk along the water one day and saw a sign for “Real Music.” I had just done a demo of solo acoustic “yoga” music, and when I looked up the label, I thought it might be a good match, and it was. Synchronicity.

mwe3: Is there a kind of oceanic vibe to the new album? You’re pictured on the front of the CD playing a rather unique looking guitar. Tell us about the concept of Falling Water Shimmering Strings and something about that guitar on the CD cover?

Chris Haugen: The ocean is definitely an integral part of my “personal legend.” So the tides and waves and colors of the sea are always present in the music. The concept of the album was literally to heal… to create a space musically that would allow people to go inward. Terence Yallop of Real Music, picked up on the vibe and came with a great title.

The guitar is a Weissenborn, which is a lap steel with a hollow neck. It has very warm, comforting sound, which is perfect for this style of music.

mwe3: Who else plays with you on Falling Water Shimmering Strings? When was the music written and recorded and was the album recorded live or was there a lot of overdubbing and other studio wizardry to complete it?

Chris Haugen: Studio wizardry! Thank you. There were a few guests: Ben Leinbach on “Reef,” Hans Christian on “Western Yogi,” and Mark Degli Antoni on “Nautilus.” Otherwise it is all me. A process that worked really well for me was to record a long improvisation with a theme, then go back and find the gems, and edit it into an arranged piece. I added swelling, layered guitars, and eventually got a midi keyboard to help with the ambient sounds.

So it is not at all like I started with completed songs. I tried that, but working alone it was a bother to try to engineer at the same time, so improvising a concept as a jumping off point was key on this one.

mwe3: What guitars did you use on Falling Water Shimmering Strings and tell us about your other favorite guitars? How does the Weissenborn guitar compare with the sound of your other acoustic guitars and also the lap steel guitars that you play throughout the CD.

Chris Haugen: I played a lot of lap steel…A Bowerman, Weissenborn style, Superior and Asher electric. The acoustic steels played all the melodies, and I used the electric for ambient sounds. They are all my favorites really. Each one has a distinct personality. One sounds great in D, another in Db, or C, etc. I also played my Taylor dreadnaught.

mwe3: Tell us how Falling Water Shimmering Strings compares with your other albums? How many albums have you made thus far and are they still in print on CD?

Chris Haugen: I have three albums in my back catalog. Beg Borrow Steel (2002), Seahorse Rodeo (2008), Chris Haugen (2012). I like them all. Each has different mood, and you can hear me throughout. Seahorse Rodeo has been my most popular.

Falling Water Shimmering Strings is more stylized than my previous works. Working with a label, I wanted to create something that was honest artistically and also resonated with Real Music, so I worked with Terence to create an album with strong continuity and fluid dynamics. It came out really well, I can’t wait to share it.

mwe3: What about some of your favorite session work? What was it like working with Ken Kesey and Sean Penn, as well?

Chris Haugen: What I love about session work is getting in on a project with a new group of musicians and having it gel. There is guarantee of that, so when it happens it is really cool. I like it when the music plays itself, when you don’t have to spend a lot of time talking about it.

Back in the day I was in a band and we got close with Ken Kesey. We stayed at his farm in Oregon, and used to rehearse a play he had written in the Bus Barn. Yes, the bus “Further.” Ken let me do some writing in his study, where he wrote some of his great works. Fun, crazy times. Eventually I went to the UK with the Pranksters, on the bus, in search of Merlin. A story for another time.

Sean Penn lived in Marin for a while, and I was lucky to be involved in a group of musicians who knew him and worked with him. Mostly on those sessions we would get a video and try to score it on the spot.

mwe3: What guitarists, musicians and albums have had the greatest influence on your own guitar playing and compositional style?

Chris Haugen: It is constantly evolving and updating. Just recently I discovered Gabor Szabo, from the ‘60s, and I am like, “How did I miss this?” I have studied many of the masters at one point or another, some favorites… Steve Howe, Ry Cooder, Jerry Garcia, Wes, Django, Bill Frisell. The list goes on. I am attracted to touch and texture, timbre.

mwe3: What can you tell us about your surfing interests? How long have you been surfing and where do you like surfing most?

Chris Haugen: I was born on a surfboard. Well not quite, but I was swimming before I could walk. My dad lives on the central coast. As a youngster I would visit during the long summer days, and not really knowing any other kids in town, I got a board and wet suit and spent hours in the slop summer surf. And then one day, pow, I stood up and rode the face. I was hooked. It is something I love, so I try to stay close to it.

mwe3: What are you hoping listeners will come away with after listening to and enjoying your Falling Water Shimmering Strings album? What plans do you have for 2016 as far as writing and recording new music and other music and non-music related projects?

Chris Haugen: The music is an opportunity to slow down and let it go. One critic described the album as “serene,” so yeah, I hope to create a sense of serenity for the listener. That would be good.

I would like to expand on yoga lifestyle music in the next year, and perhaps play some trance and dance music in the genre, collaborate and expand.


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