The Mind Orchestra is an International group comprising of over 30 musicians, from all corners of the globe. The project was conjured out of the ether back in 2011, based on the idea of Nick Gent. Back then, he decided to create essentially an online group, a pool of talent that he could work with to create an album that realised his vision for the songs. The Mind is the inspiration, the seed of vision and the Orchestra is the instrument, the means of physically expressing that. What we found extroardinary about each tracks is that you can hear all sorts of noises and vibes in the music (sounds of traffic, talking, thunderstorms, children laughing and playing, just real life) that you won't be churned out of state of the art studios. The guenine, pure and raw aspects make The Mind Orchestra's music so unique and delectable. The release of "Devoured by the Comfort Zone", the debut album and the first of many, is the culmination of three years of work and a lifetime ambition for Nick.
Hello, nice to speak with you- thanks for doing this interview. The Mind Orchestra essentially is an imaginative experiment with online collaboration to make music. We comprise of over 30 musicians from some 10 or so countries, so we truly are a global group. A fantastic collective of free open minded souls that just love making music.
- The idea of gathering musicians from all corners of the planet is a genius but hard thing to do! How did you pull that off and how did you manage those tunes coming from everywhere?
I stumbled on a great site Indaba Music, which provides the platform to host and create online sessions. They have an extensive database of musicians you can contact and invite to participate in the sessions. I used a very intuitive process to find people, so I would look for that feeling, and send out an invite. The musicians surprised me at every turn, and their willingness to work like this was very inspiring.
I've always heard more than a part or a sound, part of the reason I liked the orchestra vibe, is I have always heard sounds together, accompanying and harmonizing with each other, it was these visions that gave me a solid idea on instruments and noises I wanted. So I would go looking for people that played for example a dilruba, or Violin. Some of the noises were things I always heard, other choices came instinctively, and there was always the surprise, and joy of people approaching me with requests to join the sessions.
The format made it relatively easy to stay in the loop with what was going on, however sometimes there could be 4 sessions on the go and inevitably focus may be just one or two and then I would return to others and apologise for seeming like I had gone on the missing list. To be honest it was a joy to juggle with, tricky sometimes but always rewarding.
- Each track in “Devoured By The Comfort Zone” has its own distinctive story, but all seem to have this underlying feeling, this call to travel all around the world. What would be the main message behind the album?
There are a variety of recurring and distinctive messages that run through this music, but perhaps the overriding pulse is a return to source, a focus on the intuitive and on the freedom of the imagination. Raising our vibration. So I suppose your right, it’s a call to travel around the world, around inner and outer universes using our minds, our imagination, our intuition and be playful with it.
- You are also experimenting with raw, natural sounds of (the) daily life, without using any sampling. How do you record them and how do you make them sound so perfectly with your beautiful music?
My approach to recording and to music making in general is freedom of expression- there are no rules as far as I’m concerned, no right or wrong, just frequency and vibration. Years of making music outdoors in all weathers, playing with the animals and trees and people gives you a soundtrack you can’t control- i.e. the noise of other life- why would we control that even if we could? – so I take the attitude that as I didn’t have a professionally stocked and equipped recording studio and it was mainly me to press the record button- I might as well make my peace with it all and just say nevermind to controls and the pristine, let’s just do what we want.
I like random, intuitive input- so when you are in the zone of that state of mind where you are in synchronization with the creative process, you flow with what happens and can to a small degree guide the shapes and landscapes that take form. So what I’m trying to say in a longwinded fashion is essentially jamming with your environment and your own imagination and the playoff that creates for me is where the magic is.
It’s a shamanic approach to music in many ways. Being free with the process allows magic to happen like a bee flying into a microphone sitting in a garden with a delay on it, suddenly creating this incredible sound that just so happens to be in time with the drum kit- leave it in ! its gold dust- a gift. Sometimes I would stick a microphone out of my street window, record a thunderstorm when it rained, or the crackle of a fire- other times the noises would creep in by themselves. The recording session is a conduit for the full circle. So if it sounds like it fits perfectly, I believe it’s the magic of harmony in freedom.
I recorded almost all of my stuff with a single Rhode condenser microphone, a Yamaha hard disk recorder and then iphone mic when I wanted some of the more mobile ability. Having said that my recording machine fits in a easy carry suitcase so the machine went anywhere where I could power it up...I like raw, dirty noises- I like truth and organicness in the sound almost like smelling the earth of a forest after its rained and the suns out…
- Is there one track among the others that holds a special place in this latest release? One that has the most anecdotes ?
That’s a very good question…they all obviously have a special place in my soul, but there are ones that stick out and for all kinds of reasons too. If I had to pick one, I would probably say it would have to be Nomad. It was the first song I recorded for this album. It was also the song that I spent the longest amount of time working on in total. As with a lot of the songs, I recorded for Nomad about 120 G worth of wav files of noises, sounds, guitars, flutes and percussion for it. I wanted it that way but it meant that I had some serious editing to do, and weaving. I had some awesome input with the five string fretless bass, that instantly gave the music a special feel and felt solid, Thomas M was crucial for me with his tabla sounds, and he did quite a bit of initial mixing and work on the tracks, Travis with his beautiful lapsteel, Tomasz’s Dilruba- I love the intro so much. Daniele with his top notch kit sound, everything just felt right and happened naturally. An Amazing bunch of musicians I played with across the whole album. Only ever a few takes was needed from any of them, most of the time take 1 or 2 that we used. Everyone got into the vibe and it flowed- just great. I remember also the juggling of tracks- trying to keep in my ear all the different noises. In the end I think I edited down 100 odd tracks into 60 or so. There was 20 tracks of pure percussion and drums alone- I was in my element. I wrote that one travelling in India many years ago, and singing it always felt like home…
- Tell us a bit more about the future of The Mind Orchestra. Any new material on the way? Any other projects, any events?
I feel the Mind Orchestra is just starting really, this is our first album and I already have half of the next album recorded- a lot of it material left over from the devoured by the comfort zone sessions. I see this next album as picking up where this one may leave a trace and taking it towards my next big goal of a project. I won’t for now reveal the name or a great deal about it, but I intend to explore the healing potential a little more and make a medicine album. In some ways get more in depth into the ideas that this album extols, and expand on that. I imagine some composition for film and visual imagery; some experimental stuff would be good. Im always imagining things and I love dreaming up new things to do. I would like to open the door to other musicians that may want to work with us, and we have a solid crew, that are utterly motivated and inspirational in themselves, and the energy I find very exciting with that we could all do with it. So more music, more projects good vibrations.
- Are you planning to all meet one day with the participating musicians? Maybe play together for a special occasion?
I have often thought how nice it would be to all team up, and do some shows. Logistically for us all to do it would be next to impossible, but a streamlined version could be very cool. So it’s on the cards but currently we have no plans to play live. I will explore the possibilities as we progress, there are in total over 30 musicians contributing to the music, and im sure we can dream something up. Maybe the fans have some ideas ?
And thank you. It’s a pleasure.