Charlie Roscoe Q&A

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“spiritual healing requires music and sounds that invite focus on the spirit, and body work requires music and sounds that invite focus on the body, and that those sounds are benevolent.” – Charlie Roscoe

To start with, thanks Charlie for taking the time to chat with us, we really appreciate it.

Hey wonderful to be here and connect with you at YogiTunes…YogiTunes has been on my radar for quite a while so I’m so happy to be involved and talk with you…the digital music industry is going through such a shift these days, with the changes in how people choose music and how they listen to it in their homes…I think its great that people can get access to quality music in one place like this without wading through hours of music.

2016 has been a busy year for you with releases, which we’re super happy about. Firstly in January you released the Time Traveler ep, then in February you released Druid Circle, then in August Music for Energy Healing, and you just announced the November release of Awakened Earth. Can you tell us a bit about each album, your creative processes and your intentions ?

Actually a little secret is that Time Traveller is a piece i finished several years ago, but with my Bandcamp page growing a new audience it felt like the time to put it out. It was a great creative moment that lasted for quite a few days in the studio, pretty much non stop…of course taking breaks for semi-important issues like sleeping! When I’m working on pieces I go into what a dear friend calls “the composers bubble” and your whole universe is kind of focused on the amazing energies that you can connect with through your sounds and how you can arrange and play with the sounds. Once you have found a doorway in its absolutely amazing what can happen.

For time Traveller I deliberately wanted to make a song that was longer than anything I had ever done before and ended up with a nice long piece…It contains recordings from nature reserves locally and loops that kind of evolve really slowly, I think we have tibetan bowls and guitar lines and some great Indian samples towards the end also.

I also use synthesizers a lot, but particularly look for organic and natural sound sources that can merge and integrate with the electronic elements…in fact thats always been my “thing” to weave in nature and healing elements into the music, but also keeping a nice connection to contemporary music, not going too far off into the new age scene and try to keep an edge to the music.

That said , “Druid Circle” is the first of a series of releases especially created especially for the healing arts, meditation and well being.

I was commissioned to do one of the pieces within the album for an organization in the U.K. called “OBOD” which is a home and community for practicing druids…and I was asked to create some music for one of their meditation CD’s… it came along at a great time and a lot of ideas flowed from the commission.

I worked on the cd in several locations around the South west of the U.K… using one instrument called a “grand symphonic wind chime” which is a simply beautiful tool, its actually a giant Wind chime but professionally made and tuned. I play it live with no metronomes, and use soft mallets to get a really sacred sound, and then keep adding extra layers. Then we have quite a few instruments layered together, pianos, flutes and synths.

Something to say about Druid circle is that i did not use a single electronic metronome in the process, which for a studio musician is huge. You can be lost without a loop to layer things over, but it undoubtably opens you to a more open and natural expression of sound. the modern world is so regimented and ordered, but nature is so flexible, relaxed and has its ebb and flow, and making the album was quite effortless in this way. this is a topic I’m quite interested in along with other electronic composers, how the metronome can tie you into a more rigid world of sound.

The middle track in this cd “infinite landscape was 100 percent live and quite a magical moment to create…i was down in Cornwall looking out at the ocean with a friend drifting off on the floor. I had just started to try out a new way to record using foot pedals and drones and just kind of opened this doorway where unheard of sounds were popping out all over the place, strings, ethereal synths, and the mic was on. My friend looked up and just said “record!” and i just let go really. So there you go, what you hear is simply as it was, very little editing except for sound levels.

Oh yes, and this cd was the first time I dared to open my voice on a recording in this way so thats quite a shift for me, as for more than a decade I have been recording gorgeous vocals from other amazing singers.

Music for energy healing is kind of a different story, in how it came about. the idea began almost seven years ago as i finished a training in the U.K. at a college called “The School of Energy Healing”, a school for, yes, you guessed it, energy healing! and i got a vision of the album. The melodies took quite a while to unfold and also I wanted to get the best sounding instruments on it…it really began to feel right when I got hold of sound recordings of these amazing crystal bowls infused with minerals and samples of Javanese gongs…also all over this cd is a pretty essential tool for the bubble composer, “Omnisphere”. Its an amazing tool that I now simply couldn’t work without. To summarize it has many many high quality rare and unusual instruments sampled that you can play over a keyboard that sound very lush and live and real. Also it has a library of Analogue synthesizers from the 70’s onwards multi sampled that means you can get an amazing real sound that would otherwise mean you’d need a second room just to house 20 dusty synths with crackling connectors…thank you Eric Persing from Spectrasonics, you are my savior!!

It feels important to share that on this cd i was moved to record all the field recordings myself and prayed and invited the highest good to come forwards, and each track begins with a real field recording. So i took the recording and the prayer and then began to flow with the music over the top, a very personal and growing time for me but now very pleasing to be ready to share it with everyone.

“Awakened Earth “ which will likely be released as “Awakening Earth “ is again quite a different story from these meditation and healing albums…though its still uber chilled…its definitely in the spirit of the original Jairamji recordings, which is to really reach out for the most far out and exciting sounds that i can find within my reach at that time. This album turned out to be very ambient and searching, and this type of music just seems to come very easily from me, who can say why. its getting in touch with fear and darkness and turning that into light. Yes, thats quite a profound thing to say, i know, but truly, when you search with sound its amazing what you can discover and contact in yourself.

I’m really excited about this release because it took literally years to gestate and grow and a ton of files to flow through and process and edit into the final product. Theres a lot of my composer and musician friend William Softmore on this cd playing long passages of didgeridoo, some nice guitars, all kinds of bowls and gongs and flutes and voices and some lovely field recordings from my recent stay in Bali, Indonesia.

It will be released primarily through Electrik Dream (http://www.electrikdream.com/) and also accessible from my band camp site. i hope you enjoy!

What is it about [the right kind of] music that lends it to helping in energy and body-work ?

Yes, a good question! well, obviously the first thing is to invite the heart rate to drop down and also invite the mind to become calmer so the receiver can let go of thinking too much… actually energy work, or spiritual healing, in my experience can be quite a different dimension to physical body work, but of course they are closer than say, dancing! The obvious answer would be that spiritual healing requires music and sounds that invite focus on the spirit, and body work requires music and sounds that invite focus on the body, and that those sounds are benevolent. I try to balance both aspects in my recordings.

When and how did you first get into playing and recording music, and what instruments do you play ?

The real hook came during and after my first trip out to India. It caused me to completely drop out of my boring lectures at University that were really doing my head in and I put together a studio with a 4 track recorder, one budget microphone, and a little Roland drum machine. It was pretty weird at first, but bit by bit i learned the ropes to achieve some kind of meaningful result. Once I got a sampler I became a full time studio hermit and got into hours and hours of sample cd’s that were my main musical teachers actually, learning all kinds of rhythms and phrases from Indian, South american , African etc…

Then i began to seek out and record unusual instruments to record, and then slowly bit by bit learned some of those instruments…right now I am able to add some nice sounds from piano, guitar, celtic flute (much like the bansuri) hand percussion, and growing into my voice. To be honest I’m pretty good with a sampler, which is basically taking sound from anywhere and slicing them up into miniscule portions to put on your songs. However, I’m less and less going into that and more keen to record singers and meaningful players, as i believe this is where the real gems are to be found, especially voices.

You formed a project called Jairamji in the 90’s and I was lucky enough to catch your performance on a sublime stage under ancient plane trees, next to the beach on the mystical Greek island of Samothraki, on a 5.1 surround sound system that had been rented from the conservatory in Athens – an epic moment indeed… how was it for you ? What’s been your most memorable performance ?

You’re so right, it was epic! We were pretty nervous to be honest as a big artist was on right before us called Shpongle, also it was 7 or 8 am maybe? you know those days I attempted to mix the whole band live to my backing tracks, as well as arranging the tracks live, and it can be hard to do it live. Things have changed now with Ableton Live, and now we can really play live in a way that was not really possible before.

Jairamji has hardly played out live because of those limitations, but I’m excited to say that i will be starting to play live again quite soon. Ill be looking to offer performances that are quite ambient and suited for chill out stages but even more excitingly taking it up a notch to full on tribal, dance music performances. i can’t begin to say how much gratitude i have for the many many bands that have blown me open with inspiration , but its going to be great playing live again and giving back to people a live experience to connect to.

I understand you’re starting to release music under your given name Charlie Roscoe, instead of Jairamji. Can you talk about why you’re doing that, and what challenges you face in ‘re-branding’ yourself, if any?

Yes, it is a little challenge, but necessary. “Jairamji” is the name of something very close to my heart…it was and is an exploration of global music culture and almost all the songs are like a patchwork of samples and unique voices and not something that translates very easily live.

But a lot what I’ve been creating recently is simply more of my own solo music , with less session recordings. Its more of a showcase of what i can create with my own playing and singing, and ill look forward to offering performances that can carry the music live more effectively.

I just decided to make this change and am deliberately inviting to people to acknowledge it…at the moment I’m kind of mixing the name Jairamji with my new output and trusting the process will go smoothly, but even that said who likes their own name ? were all a little hampered by the predictability of our parents choosing names for us, as a music artist, w and I’m open to a new creative artist name showing up for me that does feel right when the time is right. but for no its my given name and I’m wise enough to not ponder it too much and just keep sharing the music!

Being from the UK you’re probably familiar with the old radio program Desert Island Discs – where people are asked to talk about the 5 albums they would bring with them to a desert island… so, what would your choices be and why ?

Now you make me feel like I’m on radio 4, a truly British institution!

What an impossible question but ill give it a shot! i could think about that for hours but ill just try and select five that are albums that have stood the test of time. also i guess all these albums are a good reference for artists that really inspired me when first got hold of thee albums…

1. Another Fine Day- Life before land
2. Woob – 1194
3. Ozric Tentacles – Erpland
4. Kevin James – One
5. Anugama – Healing

I’ve noticed you using your voice more in your recent work – do you practice Kirtan ?

Well, yes, I do, a lot. but I’m very passionate about this topic, in that the type of chanting I really love is singing in english and exploring sacred sound, or free singing, when the words and phrases just flow through. I love to connect to the indian tradition, but my true passion is the emerging movement of what you could call magical troubadours, singing songs in english or their mother tongue that really inspire and teach. I see this as the highest music form really, especially singers who invite the audience to join in singing their original songs and maybe also sharing songs in sanskrit.nothing tops voices singing together with a positive intention. I quite literally believe it will change the world!

Along with my own output I’m planning to set up a label or music portal that supports and nurtures singer songwriters/chant singers that have a lot to say that can help people feel good in their lives, but really infusing their music with all these beautiful instruments too. I think were going to see more and more emerging talent of younger musicians standing out with these type of sacred songs and chants mixing in with all the new technologies and I’m excited to be a part of it coming forwards.

For myself i am using my voice more and more and derive a lot of joy from singing and toning. But as a producer i can’t hold back form wanting to connect and collaborate with all these great writers and singers.

You were recently in Ubud… how was it out there and what were you up to ?

Indonesia and Bali is like the edge of the world and Ubud is a yoga mecca. I had done a long stint in the British Isles and needed a boost and got so much more than i had hoped for , especially the insane amount of sunshine that you get there. I recorded quite a few singers and players out there and i have a backlog on my hard drives of editing jobs to do! Being in Bali helped me move forward with many aspects of my life and what I enjoyed most was meeting inspired characters from many countries. Traveling is good. It’s what inspired the whole Jairamji thing in the first place.

Which artist or artists would you most like to do a collaboration album with ?

Ok, another good question! I feel that there are many many producers and musicians I’d love to collaborate with,especially fusing my production style with sacred singers or chant singers.

Bob Holroyd jumps to mind, Kuba, Carrie Tree, Bob Hillary, William Softmore, dare i say it Shpongle??, Another Fine Day, so many… I think remixing other artists could open up many doors, also I’ve been thinking to invite artists to help create a full album of remixes of my first album “Kindred Spirits” as it’s got such a friendly and loyal following.

Your album Druid Circle has a picture of one of my favorite places on the cover – St. Nectan’s Glen… for people who don’t know it can you talk a little bit about what it is and why it is such a magical spot ?

I feel that this part of Cornwall and the South West of the UK represents a part of the world that is deeply Celtic and ancient and the landscape around there is very nourishing. Sadly England can be a bit cold these days due to the bizarre climate changes but nonetheless the spirit is still fully present. Around this area live all the legends of Merlin and the Knights of the Round Table so it’s a fun mystical place to be and i really get inspired musically when I’m in Cornwall. Yes, i got into that waterfall.

If you could go back 25 years and give your younger self some advice [with the benefit of hindsight] then what would it be ?

Look after yourself, you’re not immortal (not yet anyhow!!) follow your dreams …don’t let anyone stop you doing what feels like the right thing to do. Don’t worry about money, but look after it well when you receive it! Life will throw you some hardships and some opportunities…take the opportunities, don’t hold back and don’t sweat the hard stuff!

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