INDRA is probably the most prolific electronic musician in Romania, with over 35 CDs to his credit and many other unpublished works. In the past I did a lot of interviews with him in almost any media format available, but this one is the first written. Let’s step into INDRA’s world and find out his thoughts on the recent endeavors and the upcoming projects.
2011 was one of re-edits. Six albums from the beginning of your career were published for the first time on CD, in remastered versions. For every title you opted to offer a special bonus piece. What did this movement to the past, the work of updating some archived records, mean for you?
INDRA: It meant a special effort, over a long period. If I knew from the beginning how difficult it would be, I think I may not have started this project. However, I wanted to update my discography, as much as possible, and in this work I was helped by a good friend and collaborator Catalin Truta.
I understand that you did not manage to re-edit all the old albums.
INDRA: I succeeded with six of them, but another 6 cannot be fully recovered. Some of the melodies on these albums or fragments from them are presented on the album Interactive Play – The Essential [double album, 1995], others will be included on albums in a new series, which will be called Archives.
If we consider also the albums Colosseum and Maharaj, the number of re-edits climbs to eight albums, which seems to me to be a good result. But what was so difficult in this work of re-editing?
INDRA: The masters had been made on magnetic tape and were almost 20 years old. They are already very deteriorated, especially as the original records were not very good quality. I used professional equipment for the conversion from analogue to digital, then all the material was “brushed” of imperfections, at least as much as possible so that not to destroy the personality of the sound.
I paid tribute to analogue recordings from that period of the ’90. But from another perspective, the experience was interesting; hearing old songs on albums from the beginning of my career in electronic music, I re-lived some strong feelings and aspirations that animated me then… Of course, now I see a little differently the way of making music, the structure of the pieces has suffered and changed, the themes are different because the technology has developed so much and allowed a deeper investigation of sound, but basically I noticed the same foundations, probably due to my personality and inner tendencies.
That’s right, I followed your evolution in electronic music since the beginning and I also noticed the elements that you speak about. Some things have changed in your concept of composing, others, the basics, seem to be somehow like a red thread that crosses your ideas about music, which define you from this point of view.
INDRA: This is best seen in the live concerts. There, the personal “touch” is clearly evident. It is a special interaction; I am relating less to the public and much more in the musical dimension. Maybe it’s an oddity, but it allows me to remain in the sonorous universe that I want. If those in the room resonate with it, then all the better.
This applies to the Ricochet Gathering editions at which you participated and where you performed with artists like Steve Schroyder, Wolfram Spyra, Steve Jolliffe?
INDRA: Of course, especially at those meetings, which involved genuine improvisations of electronic music. You have to be amazed what wonderful musical themes and ideas can sometimes result from such improvisations.
In collaboration with Vic Rek, the events organizer, you have launched a DVD containing a video edit of the Ricochet Gathering in Croatia. Why did you just stop with the edition from 2009?
INDRA: Because we thought it was the most successful meeting, and from many points of view: location, environment, conditions, weather. It was a culmination of 10 Ricochet Gatherings over 10 years.
Have you ever considered the possibility of recording an album in collaboration with another musician? If Yes, who would they be? Indra &…
INDRA: Yes, it is one of the projects which was proposed, even if I am not a fan of musical collaborations. However, I feel that some contemporary musicians are nearly on the same “wave length” as me and that we could achieve something special together. I have even spoken with Catalin Truta [aka OMU ] and arranged such a collaboration. I hope this will be soon.
Among other musicians from abroad, I would enjoy a collaboration with Steve Schroyder or Spyra, with whom we understand each other in this respect. But for now, each of us has priorities that have not yet overlapped in this direction. The technical elements should not present a problem.
You slowed down work on the series Special Edition – Tantric Celebration. What should we expect from this collection?
INDRA: We can expect everything that is better. I slowed the pace of the appearance of this series because I worked on the 6 re-editions of which I spoke, as well as other projects. But now the road is open again and the ninth Special Edition CD, which is called Matangi, will appear, most certainly, in late January or in February. Already this album is about 90% complete.
It is also very possible that by the end of 2012 this whole series of 12 albums will be completed. It would be an important step for me and the same time would be the most widespread realization in electronic music that I have had so far.
What other projects do you have after this period?
INDRA: The plan is rich, but much will depend on the changing times. In addition to the fourth album that will be completed Special Edition, I have in mind an ambient album, which will be called Soft Dreams. Sometimes, after some difficult and long projects, I indulge myself with a relaxing, ambient, space album. It will probably contain three or four songs. One of them is already completed.
Afterwards I am considering a special album, involving ancient themes; in fact, even its name suggests this: Legend. About a third of the tracks are already completed. Here, the approach is interesting to me, because the musical themes resonate with civilizations and cultures long gone and are combined with a modern approach.
I have also a project of a series of six albums, to which I will give particular attention. The series will be called The Berlin School Trilogy and will be three groups, each of them having two titles. This is a work that requires more “polishing” and I have already completed about a quarter of its total musical content. I dare say that the project will represent a kind of synthesis and also a guideline in what is known as the Berlin School style of electronic music.
In parallel I will begin publishing a long series of 25 albums, grouped into five sub-groups, each of 5 albums. This series will be titled Archives and will include previously unreleased studio music, in chronological order; it will also contain parts or fragments that could be saved from the six albums that could not be completely reconditioned.
As you can see, I have some work in the near future…
It is a huge volume of work… All these albums will appear simultaneously or they will be published in stages, as you have done until now?
INDRA: I work on them in parallel, I like to diversify. Part of material is already finished, as I said. However, the albums will appear successively, but at regular intervals. I feel the need to offer to those who are interested as much as possible from the musical universe I conceive. My impression is that they form a “bridge” linking individuality and start to fade into the ocean of universal consciousness, like the falling drops of the rain unites with the endless ocean.
I must confess that, listening to electronic music of the Berlin School style, in which you mostly create music, I was aware of the meditative quality of the audio experience, the spiritual value of the compositions. However, only with you I found an explicit connection between the music and the applied philosophy of an esoteric inspiration, especially Oriental. In this type of electronic music there seems to be a resistance, if not a rejection by many artists of these thematic associations. Maybe it’s just a demarcation of the frivolities of new age sensibility but, from this point of view, your appearance is a bit exotic, seems to break a taboo of the genre. Have you ever had the feeling that you are received with scepticism by fellow musicians or the public because of these peculiarities of your creations?
INDRA: I would say that often the resistance comes rather from a lack of their capacity to resonate with this very special sphere of electronic music. You cannot tune into a FM radio station if you have a long wave or medium wave radio.
My experience has shown that even the most rigid human structures eventually, in one way or another, start to show a greater attention to the music I compose, because at a certain moment something, somewhere inside them is illuminated by a ray of light that allows them to penetrate deeper into the sonorous mystery of the universe that creates this music. In my opinion, the phenomenon is synonymous with getting the inner maturity. It is easy to listen to verse-chorus, verse-chorus songs and then, after two months no longer remember the tune or no longer find anything in it.
However, it is much more difficult to penetrate the message of a complex piece, to penetrate deep into the mind and soul and reach certain subtle strings of the being. Those strings once awoken to the vibration, are elevated more and more and open in us the prospect of other worlds, which until then we knew nothing about. There are not too many people who manage it, but the fact that they exist shows that things are true.
Your artistic career is coupled with a long experience as a yoga instructor and writer of articles and books. I know you for a long time and see how these activities are entwined in your life. Is electronic music a form of yoga for you?
INDRA: It is more a means of expression of what I have obtained through yoga practice. This vision of sound, if it is understood correctly, can lead to a real inner transformation. It is not simple, because modern man has, generally speaking, the bizarre idea that music is made for fun at parties. He tends to thus enclose music in a very superficial domain. Fortunately, real music has nothing to do with such things and I think that because of this it is perceived as being difficult and “uninteresting”. To reach the core they have to crack the shell of their preconceptions, then of the superficiality and finally, of their ignorance. Then all becomes clear, bright and full of meaning.
(Interview by Marius-Christian Burcea – January, 2012)