Interview with Rhian, just Prior to the Wellington show : Tales from Elsewhere – Oct 2 2013

Bio Photo

Bio Photo

The first time I met electronic artist/composer Rhian Sheehan was when I was babysitting his daughter, Niva. He’d just released his first album Paradigm Shift on the fledgling label Loop. It was constructed in the dingy spare room of his Newtown flat. Yet despite this tiny biosphere his subjects, and atmosphere, were vast – as vast as the universe itself. The topic was loosely the aeronautical, with an emphasis on space travel. Space it seems has become a lifelong passion for Sheehan who’s gone on to make more music on the theme and now composes and produces professionally for major US clients including a famous planetarium . “There are a number of cinematic elements that creep over into my personal projects from that composition work,” he tells me over lunch at a Wellington café, “Although I haven’t fully given up on the children’s toy fetish.” Sheen’s grinning as he recalls how he came to write much of the themes of his third album Standing in Silence around the results of a few mad hours “mucking about with the comb and workings of Niva’s wind-up music box”. The dinky metallic tune formed the basis of many of the pieces on the project. These surface again in his latest work Stories from Elsewhere. “This is a departure (from the last one, which was inspired by a trip to India). It’s a set of experimental lullabies, all quite delicate, esoteric, ethereal.”

Sheehan’s teamed up with a number of players from the album including Andy Hummel (Rosie Tin Teacaddy, Woolshed Sessions), Ryan Prebble (The Nudge, Fly My Pretties), Jeff Boyle (Jakob), Steve Bremmer (The Adults), Sheehan’s wife Raashi Malik (Rhombus), Mailee Matthews (Charlie Ash), Jane Peirard, Ed Zuccolio (Harbour City Electric and members of the Orchestra Wellington to create a rare aural and visual treat at the Wellington Opera House in early November: Stories form Elsewhere – Live. Given the gossamer quality of the music on Stories… I wondered how they would translate to the stage. “We performed … Silence at the Opera House and were really surprised. We didn’t expect such a large audience for this ethereal ambient music. This time there will be songs from Stories… mixed with other pieces, moments of quiet with moments of loudness. It’ll be more dynamic this time.” A sonic undulation I suggest. A wry smile is the reply. “Working with an orchestra is going to be interesting. I made Stories… at (Wellington’s) Surgery (Studios). Unlike the previous albums it was all live music, real music, live instruments and guitars but recorded with plenty of analogue equipment. You can see the irony in an electronic artist making music with analogue equipment for production on CDs.” He explains that the musicians from the session will join him on stage, so the orchestra is really a mere extension of that, all be it a more crowded proposition!” The show will include highlights from the … Silence album and also multi-media work from a past collaborator Gareth moon (Pleasure Kraft). Visuals will include HD time-lapse photography of New Zealand landscapes and starscapes from Auckland photographer Joseph Michael, making this a very special event – for every compartment of your celestial cerebellum.

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