STEPHEN SCHNEE: QUIET PLACES has just been released. How are you feeling about the album and the reaction you’ve had to it so far?
ANDREAS VOLLENWEIDER: QUIET PLACES is intended to provide something like a hide away, a place where we can slow down, step out of the crazy spinning carousel of life, and breathe freely for a moment. Especially in these times, such moments of contemplation are of existential importance. The first things that go overboard in such situations is our view for the positive, which very often is overpowered by the seemingly dominant negative. Music can lead us to such a place where we can gather strength for our fight for the better and the good. The feedback we have received to QUIET PLACES so far makes me quite confident, that it really does work…
STEPHEN: It has been quite a while since the release of your last album. Do you consider QUIET PLACES a continuation of your recorded legacy or a musical rebirth? Or maybe a little of both?
ANDREAS: I do not follow any strategy, neither in my life, nor in my work. I mainly follow my intuition, which has been a reliable mentor so far. For the first time, I had an unusual, additional support from my work on my novel IM SPIEGEL DER VENUS. I could actually say that writing has inspired the music and the music has inspired writing.
STEPHEN: During the lengthy break between your last album and this new one, did you gather quite a backlog of material ready to use, or are the songs on QUIET PLACES written specifically for this project.
ANDREAS: The music of QUIET PLACES is actually the result of many hours of improvisation with the brilliant young cellist Isabel Gehweiler. Although musical structures were formed here and there, most of it is still open and free and could never be played the same way a second time. As an additional source of inspiration, the themes and ideas behind the novel REFLECTIONS OF VENUS always floated somewhere in the room.
STEPHEN: While many music fans are fairly aware of the songwriting process in Rock music, how do you compose your songs? Are they born from improvisation or do you think of a certain melody and then begin writing composing around that?
ANDREAS: All our music from the past 40 years have come from improvisation – one could almost say that the music has written itself.
STEPHEN: And sticking with the same subject, do you compose your music differently today than you did 40 years ago?
ANDREAS: I am far too wild a spirit, not to be tamed even by myself. I am not disciplined and structured enough to construct music intellectually on the drawing board.
STEPHEN: QUIET PLACES is filled with beautiful melodies that evoke a sense of wonder and beauty, which is especially welcome during these trying times. When putting together an album, is it easy to create an atmosphere that will take the listener on an emotional journey? Or is that the most difficult part of the recording process?
ANDREAS: You have to go on these journeys yourself, dive into these depths yourself, experience all this yourself, and the music will emanate the right atmosphere all by itself. The work on our mindset, and our stance towards life, with the sum of our feelings, thoughts and values that must be the basis of our artistic expression. Only then we are worthy of credibility and people will follow our invitation to join us on the journey.
STEPHEN: QUIET PLACES is the beginning of a new trilogy for you. Like your first trilogy, which began with 1981’s …BEHIND THE GARDENS – BEHIND THE WALL – UNDER THE TREE, do you pre-plan out which direction you want each release to go, or do you let the music guide each project?
ANDREAS: As I said earlier – I am planless and clueless 😉
STEPHEN: QUIET PLACES serves as a companion piece to your first novel, IM SPIEGEL DER VENUS. Did you initially conceive QUIET PLACES to work as a ‘soundtrack’ to the novel or are you treating them as two separate projects?
ANDREAS: QUIET PLACES was never intended as a soundtrack for the novel. It has developed parallel to the story, it has accompanied me over the many years of my research, it has grounded me, and made my thoughts fly, just like a good travel companion should.
STEPHEN: Over the years, your music has been classified as everything from New Age to Jazz to Classical. How would you prefer your music to be classified?
ANDREAS: Honestly? I PREFER NOT TO BE CLASSIFIED, AND SO DOES OUR MUSIC (same way as you and everybody else, I think…)
STEPHEN: What is next for Andreas Vollenweider?
ANDREAS: The international release of QUIET PLACES, the novel as well as the audio book. That keeps me busy for quite some time. Touring seems not really to be an option due to the virus. All we can do at the moment are these LIVE@HOME mini concerts on YouTube. It’s a very surprising new way for me to bring the music to people, even to places we could never travel to. I must admit that I have underestimated this option very much and today, however, I am very excited about it. I would never have thought that such an intense feeling of closeness is possible in this very virtual situation. But seen in this light, even a love letter that the postman brings is also virtual. You are not personally present there and yet, if the letter is well written, you can touch your loved one deeply.
Special thanks to Andreas Vollenweider
Additional thanks to Larry Germack, Clint Weiler, and Doreen D’Agostino