After appearing in our last issue No.31, INDRA from Romania proved his interpretation of the Berlin School sound is quite diverse in its structure. Although his compositions are lengthy, the twist & turns he incorporates in the music is always interesting and entertaining. So, we were happy to get the chance to have a chat about his music and as a bonus, some unreleased sounds as well.
Let’s start with your younger days. Did music play a major part in you upbringing at home in your youth?
It was one of my major preoccupations. Being a child I was listening over and over again the classic rhapsodies and concerts on the vinyl and also the pop-rock stars of those times. I used to improvise little ‘concerts’ with some of my school friends in the woodhut from my yard, with ‘instruments’ like sticks, metals, glasses and gongs. It was funny! Stockhausen would have been happy! Some of my colleagues had a sort of pipe instrument with a little keyboard attached, so that all the long day I asked them forgiving it to me, to play it.
Soon I realised that my friends did not feel very well the rhythm and moreover they did not
understand what were my musical ideas, what I was asking them in this direction. So I decided to take the way for myself, doing a course of drums and percussion. I also learned playing the guitar, especially for the opportunity of making some strange sounds using the effect pedals.
In those early years when you played guitar in various bands were you aware there was an electronic music scene outside of Romania?
Ha-ha, of course I was very aware of that! I had already known by heart the albums of Pink Floyd. I had listened a lot to Beatles, Uriah Heep and even to Deep Purple, although not everything of their musical creations I liked. There was also Gary Glitter and Janis Joplin and the exciting Mike Oldfield with his extraordinary Tubular Bells. And many others, including the disco-pop musicians and bands.
Around ’75 – ’76 I came to listen to J.M. Jarre and Vangelis albums; it was a major turn in my conception, mainly because I began to understand that electronic music seemed to reveal very much of what I was intending to do in music. Still, the influence of Pink Floyd was huge and lasted so to the ’80s. My solos on the guitar were somewhat ‘slow-hand’, long sustained, with deep vibration and echo, dominant and rather melodic. I often tried different strange effects using the effect pedals and glissandos.
What influences in the music world gave you the desire to switch from guitar to synthesizer technology?
The main influence in this direction, I can frankly say, was that from Klaus Schulze’s music. The combination between a very deep trance-like state of mind (in some of his tracks) and the overwhelming effect types made me conclude: ‘Guys, I’m gonna make some music by myself! I think it’s time for a proper orientation!” and so I entered the complex world of EM.
Did you find it difficult/expensive to purchased hardware in your native country when you started building your first studio set-up?
Indeed, there were some problems in this respect. My first keyboard was a YAMAHA PSS-390; it was rather new for those times but I had already exhausted its possibilities in a couple of days.
Fortunately, some good friends of mine from Denmark trusted in my musical ideas and beliefs and helped me buy my first home studio. The notorious KORG Wavestation, my love, a computer and so on. Then followed the Fairlight and other instruments; there were times of rapid accommodation with the higher and higher technology, especially with the sampler one. I used to explore to the maximum almost every synthesizer I had at my disposal; the NEW SOUND was a kind of my principle.
Has it been a struggle to keep pace with music technology as it progressed into a computer age?
On the contrary. I was very glad to follow that path because it suited me very much. I’m for the pure sound, but sometimes this is not enough. One can say: ‘You don’t need all this complicated stuff. You can make the same thing with a violin’. Wrong, even supposing you could do it, you wouldn’t have too much room for your imagination. The highest technology which is now available for recording music gives one a very large held for expressing oneself. But one must know how to use it. In a way, this is a work of searching and discovering which implies interest and enthusiasm.
Like Chris Franke & Schulze you began with percussion, did this give you a greater freedom and platform for the rhythmic sequencing that’s so evident on recent album releases?
Definitely. This is something very important. It gives more power to the music, much rhythm and as I said many times before, the rhythm is essential for it is the core of life. ‘Understanding’ rhythm means knowing the mysteries of the universe. We struggle everyday to ‘pulse’ the rhythm of our life and sometimes we succeed to emulate this into the sound; hence the idea that through music and rhythm we can influence in a beneficial way our perception, our psychic states, our moods and of course our health.
Your music has strong Berlin School influences especially with the sequencing, one of your favourite styles?
The vein of my style is Berlin School style. Even though I use many times the groove sound or the atmospheric-ambient harmonies, nevertheless I always come back to the ‘old love’.
However, I do not take it as it is; something has to be renewed here. There is a lack of imagination in the classic Berlin School and too much repetition. The ostinato is good, but it has to be used in an optimum mode. I think I succeeded in bringing this dimension of ‘making things happen’ in the Berlin School style, adding also a hint of melodic line, which has the role to connect the listener to his heart. It’s an improvement, because thus the music has coherence and is actually interactive with the listener.
When I ask musicians what are their favourite albums they have produced, it’s usually their latest, are there any in you catalogue, which still today, you hold some fond memories of?
Usually I’m of the same opinion: ‘the latest, the greatest’! However, from my part there are some ‘favourites’ and I refer mainly to the two volumes of The Call of Shiva, the Millennium Live 2000 and the Echo in Time albums.
You recently played in Germany at the Cue’s Open Air Festival, how well were you received and are their plans to do more?
The organization was very good and the people appreciated the music I played; rather it was as it they stayed in astonishment, not expecting as somebody outside Germany could compose and play that style in a way they could like very much. Even if the pieces were long (one of them lasted over thirty minutes) the auditory was ‘caught’ in a transfigured state of mind. Setting free their feelings and perceptions…
Will a possible live album come from this event?
Well, not really an exclusive album but one of the tracks (the longest) I intend to use for a next album, maybe on the Special Edition (12 CDs). I like its sound and idea.
Your latest mammoth undertaking of a 12 CD set called Tantric Celebration is a large project by any musician, have you mapped out your ideas for all of them or will you see how each one develops as time ebbs on?
Many of the tracks are already structured. I know very well which dominant every album of the twelve will have but what I can say for sure is that the whole project will be characterised by the Berlin School style. After all, the first album (Kali) is already released on the market and fans share their impressions on different forums. This Special Edition is a major project and I hope it will mean something important on the EM ‘stage’.
A question I always ask the musicians, are you professional or do you hold down a daytime job?
I am a professional but I do other activities too, like being a writer in the esoteric and spiritual domain of life.
One for the gearheads, a list of the hardware & software you currently use.
Some of my equipment is sold. I kept just the KORG Wavestation and the KURZWEIL K2000-SVX; I use a lot the VIRUS TI and VIRUS Classic, the HARTMANN-NEURON (the plugin having its special controller) and the ROLAND V-Synth. There is also KORG Radias and WALDORF and especially the SCHRITTMACHER Step Sequencer and a lot of VST Instruments on the Cubase 3.0 platform for recording.
The monitors are BLUE SKY (the ProDesk version) and I use the MACKY Onyx mixer for some special recordings. This could be a global picture.
When you have time to relax what do you like to listen to?
I like listening to some of Klaus Schulze’s work but I do listen carefully the music of other artists on the EM market. It’s important to see which is the trend and how they put their ideas into music. In a way, it’s like making acquaintance to them. I should mention Spyra, Rudy Adrian and Ron Boots; there are many others who make good music, but are not constant in their process of creation.
And lastly what do you hope the future brings for you and your music?
The only thing I strive for in music is to offer the possibility for humans to have maximum of benefits from it. The music is not just for listening, it is a means both to a higher psychic condition and to a physical one.
That’s why I always search for something new to put in my compositions, for some new sounds to help transcending the mundane. When listened carefully, the audible sounds take us to the hidden realms of the invisible worlds.
(Interview by Mick Garlick – April, 2007)