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INTERVIEW: Orissa

Hi Orissa, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Hi VENTS. I am doing great thank you. How are all of you doing? It has been a great summer so far. The night skies in August are spectacular.

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Tara”?

Sure. Tara is the opening scene or set of scenes on the new ORISSA album – ‘Resurrection.’ It finds our protagonist in a state of despondence. Yet this character is not whining or lashing out in anger. He is feeling his suffering and working through it, taking responsibility for it, contemplating it, learning from it, and submitting to forces that contain higher levels of wisdom and insight. He is doing it in a state of humility that is often if not always necessary for growth and transformation. The poetry is rich in metaphor and imagery and the music traverses a wide emotional spectrum whose gestures are sometimes angular and ferocious, sometimes mysterious, contemplative and introspective and whose setting is always lush, visceral and cathartic.

Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

There was not a particular event to inspire this song. It was inspired by my emotional state at the time and by my internal and external processes for moving through it. We all take some lumps in life, and we all give ourselves some lumps too. This song was inspired by extremely intense emotions, my reflections upon their sources, my desire to be the master of those coming from me, and to be humbled and submit to other forces to handle those coming at me from elsewhere. The song also laid the groundwork of the emotional and poetic journey that runs through the entire album. It was a very productive musical eruption from many standpoints.

Any plans to release a video for the single?

Yes. I was fortunate enough to work with an incredible graphic artist and animator, Maxwell Millermaier, who created a gorgeous lyric video for Tara. This one goes way beyond the typical formula that is circulating these days. It is beautiful and psychedelic. This video is also an homage to all of the people who backed my Kickstarter campaign that funded the making of this album. I had my album artist, the amazingly talented and super cool Jamie Koala, design an image just for them. Max worked his magic on it to put their names in lights in a couple of suitably beautiful cameos. The music, poetry, designs and animation are works of art that we are all proud of and that we hope you enjoy and take inspiration from.

We will release it in the fall. Be on the lookout as it is quite cool.

The single comes off your new album Resurrection – what’s the story behind the title?

I assume you mean the title of, ‘Tara.’ Tara is a reference to a deity that is pervasive in Himalayan spiritual/religious traditions and lore. Specifically the reference is to the Goddess/angel Red Tara.  In this lore, Red Tara is a fierce deity. The fierce deities are interesting because they appear to the person having the divination as violent, threatening and terrifying beings. However, they are benevolent beings whose implements and ferocity are there to help you overcome your difficulties and suffering.

I saw this as a beautiful and instructive metaphor for recognizing the illusions of self induced suffering and for using the free will to choose to see through them even it means embracing some difficulty. I see it also as a metaphor for truth and reality. They can frighten us when we are emotionally weak and fragile. Freedom, truth and responsibility are much scarier than dependence, delusion and victimhood. The former are much more rewarding. There are still more layers of story underneath that are told in other chapters in that song, and that are developed  over the course of the album, but that is one of the key ideas.

We live in a time and place that is very unique in all of human history. We are wealthy beyond imagination. Just the basic necessities of life, (potable water, hygiene, medicine, shelter, abundance of food, entertainment and art …), that we take for granted make the most wealthy and powerful of figures in pre-industrial human history look like ragged, deprived beggars in comparison. When I say we, I mean even the poorest of us save for the homeless.

At the same time, there is an abundance of suffering and dissatisfaction that is all self-induced. Even worse, a strange culture where very well-off people whine and complain and embrace an ideology where status is based on who is the most entitled to being at the top of an hierarchy of victimhood and supposed oppression has emerged and metastasized. At the same time this spiritually bankrupt movement wants to tear others down and blame and silence and shame – and to amplify those tactics the more well reasoned the resistance is expressed. I don’t know where this bitterness and resentment came from, but it is sad and it is also quite dangerous since it is a virulent authoritarianism masked as victimhood.

Human progress takes place at the individual level where individuals strive to be their best rather than to bring themselves and/or others down. That is the only source of spiritual and material progress for our species. That is not selfish or anti-social, for part of being our best is cooperating with our fellow man through choice – not through force. It requires the consequences of failure and the rewards of success to be unleashed to its full potential in a culture that is bound by, enforces and respects just laws. Then, collectively, we all thrive when we are freely cooperating and exchanging ideas, goods, services, talents and skills for the enrichment of all involved.

How does Tara fit into this?

Well I was bogged down in my own inner turmoil writing this song, but in hindsight I think it can be instructive and inspire other individuals to conquer their illusions and self-induced suffering. With that happening, the greater whole, which is just a mirror of the sum of its parts will reflect an internal reality that has more abundant freedom, happiness, contentment and spiritual and material wealth.

How was the recording and writing process?

The writing and recording process are for me both long and arduous but also joyful and rewarding. My art is made where I would say 85% of the effort is in evading the formulaic and cliched responses. After my undergraduate studies I felt like, while I was an excellent student and got  good grades, I didn’t really know much about music. I also wanted to just be around the pure genius of my teacher, Dusan Bogdanovic. So, I arranged to study harmony, counterpoint and composition in depth with him privately.

Man that was awesome. We broke down many of the great classical master’s masterpieces. One day, we had several under our belt, and I think we were studying Schubert’s, ‘Death and the Maiden’, quartet when we were both astounded by his genius and the sublime turns his harmonic and melodic language could take. We both wondered, what is it that separates Haydn, Mozart (at

his best), Bach, Schubert … … from their peers? Dusan mulled it and said something that stuck with me to this day; he said, ‘I think what it is, is that they know the formulaic response, but they know the other possibilities too and they can choose to go beyond them. It is like Miles Davis said, “Play the other thing that you hear.”’

So, that makes for a long and winding writing process, and it creates music that might not be understood or easily digested at a first or cursory listening – but over time hopefully it has more of me that I’ve given to it for the listener to find and give back in return. I am not a musician at the level of the aforementioned people. Still if nothing else, I am offering up my best and hopefully the closest view of my essence and personal experiences to the audience.

What was it like to work with Sahaj Ticotin and how did he relationship develop?

It was a great honor and thrill to work with Sahaj. Sahaj is a killing singer, writer and producer. I  met Sahaj through a mutual friend via Facebook. I think he posted some question or comment on music one time and I chimed in on it, and, well, probably got too long winded. But, he was gracious and accepting of my opinions. I remember looking him up and being blown away by the quality of his skills and his art.

A couple years later when I needed to mix the record I looked him up and he was free to work with me. We built up the relationship from a Facebook, “friend”, to a professional partnership and I flew to LA where we met and I met his beautiful family that brings him great joy and satisfaction.

How much did he influence the album?

Sahaj came in during post-production. The album was recorded and he came in to mix it. His influence was great. He was a great mentor to me as he graciously gave many great ideas that he stepped back and let me implement. That helped me as a fledgling producer. For those items he an advisor whose guidance and ideas really boosted the potential of what he could do with his mixing genius. I am very grateful that he took that approach. My music is very lush and harmonically rich, and he really helped me to bring that aspect of the musical ambience to its full potential.

As for the mixing, I could probably only ruin it, so he took the recording and other post-prod that he encouraged me do and worked his mojo with it from there.

Sahaj made the album sound big and rich and full. He has a great ear and feel for song. He also has some incredible production skills which he used to find the music’s true essence through the mix.

Where did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?

I got the inspiration for the songs and lyrics from my personal experiences in life and, for this album, from the most significant and deepest relationships I’ve had so far in my journey through it.

Any plans to hit the road?

Yes. We are putting together a tour of the Northeastern US this fall. It will culminate in an album release show in New York city. We are finalizing the dates now, and will publish that on our Facebook page. If you are in New York in the late fall, you should come out. The live show is a lot of fun and the energy is electric. Like and follow our Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/ORISSABAND), to get updates and announcements about our shows and many more creations that we have in store for you in the next few months.

What else is happening next in Orissa’s world?

We are releasing the album in the late fall. In the next few weeks, we are releasing more singles, the lyric video and other creative content for our growing audience to enjoy and share with their friends. We’ll offer pre-sales of the album and merch bundles soon too. We’ve got the Tara lyric video that I mentioned. We are working on a second lyric video.

In a few weeks we will record two live playthrough videos that will be ready for release in the late fall and early winter. The production quality is going to be special, and we are excited to bring the energy of our live performance to places we haven’t played yet through the on-line medium.

Our drummer, Phil Lherisson, and I are working on re-vamping and developing the drum parts and doing an instructional video series on song oriented drumming and part development. You learn a lot by playing the music live, and we have unlocked even more groove and energy in the drums since the recording of the album. I am also going to do a series on some of the guitar parts that emphasizes song-writing and theory.

We will continue to book shows and bring our live performance and experience to our ever expanding audience and fan base. We have a lot going on and are excited to share it with you.

Thank you for taking time and expressing the interest in my music. I really enjoyed answering your thoughtful questions. I want to thank your readers for taking the time to discover something new and taking the time to understand it at a deeper level. Have a great summer!

LISTEN TO “TARA”

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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