VENTS: Hi Chris, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?
CM: All groovy here, I’ve been busy recording and producing music during the quarantine.
VENTS: Can you talk to us more about your track “Secrets of Navigation”?
CM: I have always loved ambient music, film scores, open and spacious dream-like compositions. I have been developing a repertoire of music and sounds with my electric violin using some guitar pedals for the last 20 years. I have finally decided to formalize my relationship with it and create a new artistic identity called Seven Crows that features my instrumental ambient mood music.
VENTS: Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?
CM: All of the Seven Crows music I’ve written has been inspired by feelings, moods, landscapes, nature, dreams, and emotions. It is in contrast to my other songwriting style which tends to narrate a story-based experience often dictating the emotional context with lyrics, chords, and melody. This new body of work really invites and allows the listener to have their own relationship and interpretation of the music.
VENTS: Any plans to release a new video for the track?
CM: We’ve made two videos for the first two singles and I hope to coordinate more visuals with the recorded music. It’s a super wonderful opportunity to further my artistic vision by making little films and I like collaborating with people on them.
VENTS: Why naming the album after this track in particular?
CM: I love titles that have multi-dimensional metaphorical meanings. I think it is kind of lazy of composer’s to just label things with numbers. I like giving my pieces at least some direction with a name to guide the listener’s imagination to something about it. “Secrets of Navigation” is one of the more open and atmospheric numbers on the album, kind of like being in a fog, or watching a Mr. Olin movie. How often have we all felt that way? And how often have we all wondered if anyone knows a way out of the more unusual terrains encountered in life? Searching for one’s real path, a trail on a journey, or discovering the secrets of navigation to steer our way is something that seems relevant at this time.
VENTS: How was the recording and writing process?
CM: I recorded most of the album at my friend’s art gallery in the magical town of Bisbee Arizona. I have a tendency of coming in to the studio with song titles, composing a piece and crafting it in the moment. Then doing edits to achieve the effect that I want. All of the sounds of the album were created with an electric violin using about a half a dozen guitar effects producing: loops, samples, drones, motifs both rhythmic and rubato. I finish the process by editing together sonic poems that I felt captured something.
VENTS: What role does Los Angeles play in your music?
CM: I would have to admit quite a bit. It’s such a weird, strange and beautiful place. Now that I’ve been here 20 years I have a lot of history and I know where a lot of the bodies are buried, so to speak. I draw a lot of inspiration from its diversity, perversity, extremes, and the drama that is the result of all the hopes and dreams of people that come here from all over the world. And… we probably have the world’s best tacos!
VENTS: How has the likes of Brian Eno and Warren Ellis influenced your writing?
CM: Brian Eno’s entire body of work, both his original work and production projects, including his literature, have been an enormous influence on me. He’s a great thinker and a great innovator. He brings a
very valuable point of view to art. His development of ambient music of course has been influential to everyone in this style of music. His production work with the likes of U2, Peter Gabriel, and The Talking Heads completely influenced everybody of my generation. Warren Ellis is by far my favorite violinist out there. His work in the 90s with the band Dirty Three from Australia was just beautiful, raw, dramatic and sensual. His film scores with Nick Cave are off-the-hook brilliant. His music is both simple and complex, and at the same time full of character.
VENTS: Where did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?
CM: More from my heart and my body, than my brain and my creativity. This instrumental album is more about feelings than thoughts. It is all experiential.
VENTS: What else is happening next in the world of Seven Crows?
I’m working on releasing some other Seven Crows singles later in the Fall of 2020, along with other videos of Seven Crows music. I’ve already sketched out and recorded some music for a second album. As far as the other genres I play, I am currently recording a folk and world music album for a Dutch label in the Netherlands called Friendly Folk Records. It has a lot of country rock, bluegrass, Irish, and tango influences. It’s turning out really nice. It’s fun to sing and play with all the great roots-rock players in Los Angeles. Other musicians on the album include: Pete Thomas from Elvis Costello and The Attractions playing drums, Doug Pettibone from John Mayer, and the Lucinda Williams band playing the guitar, and Hal Cragin from Iggy Pop and Rufus Wainwright playing the bass. It will also include a collaboration with the Irish band Lunasa and a tango with some Argentinian musicians. Afterwards, I plan on releasing the second Seven Crows album in early 2021. I will be sure to send you one!