"All About The Album" - If you'd like to feature your band/album, email: urban
Toomas Vanem has just released his first instrumental guitar album. Here he elaborates about that debut album. So it is all about the album „I“.
Thank you. The reaction has been very good so far! It is my first solo album and people seem to dig my music. There are some nice articles and reviews written about the album. I am happy that my album is selling good. Let's say it has been noticed worldwide and for me it is a good thing!
OK! I am a rock guy, and I wanted this album to sound heavy. My goal for this album was that I wanted it to be musically interesting not just for guitar players but all the music fans. I decided that songs or tracks must have strong melodies that listener could hook up to. At the same time I knew that this album is going to be rhythmically challenging, odd time signatures and stuff. So there is lot of layers in my music when you listen to it. I mixed different styles … added some jazzy lines here and there, some Eastern world influences. The album’s music is really a big mess of styles and things that I have absorbed into myself over the years, I guess! One thing that is not presented here is country …(laughs) but maybe on my next album…we will see!-
How long did this CD take to make from start to finish, recording wise?
It took some time and more than I thought at the beginning. As a gigging and session musician, I have my fulltime job as a guitar player for lots of projects to pay my taxes and bills. So I recorded this album in chunks, when I had the time. And I wanted it to be perfect, of course! I had lot of sessions with my drummer and bass player Andrus Lillepea and Henno Kelp at the big studios. Then I transferred all the files to my own little home studio where I did all the editing, guitars, keyboards and basically mixed and finished the album. It took about 4-5 years to release this one. With a next album I will try to move on faster and get it done!-
Who are your musical heroes, influences?
The great guitar players: Jeff Beck, Allan Holdsworth, Al Di Meola, John Mc Laughlin, Steve Vai, Larry Carlton, Mike Stern, John Scofield, Frank Gambale, Paul Gilbert… But I also dig old school bands like Yes, Genesis, Whitesnake, Planet X. From classical music Mozart and Bach are my favorites… nothing new here, the usual heroes.
Why did you decide to make it an instrumental album?
First of all, I love music! I don't like the idea of classifying music into some specific genres or categories. For me basically music is just one form of an art, among others. It doesn’t matter if the music is classical or instrumental or vocal oriented pop, jazz, metal, ethnic ... as long as it's good and moves me.
When and why did you start playing the guitar?
I started to play guitar when I was about 15. And the main reason I think was that I saw the local school band rehearsal. It was so unbelievable cool. Dudes with their electric guitar and amps, standing there like heroes and I was blown away.
Do you play any other instruments?
Not really. In my younger days I studied clarinet and little bit of saxophone at the local music school, but I haven’t touched those instruments for years. I can play little bit of keyboards on a very basic level. I bought myself the cheapest bass guitar on earth and for my new album demos I have some big plans to shred with it and give it a twist… and last but not least the MIDI monster Yourock II generation axe is the little bastard that I try to come up with something… (laughs)
What do you think about the state of the music in your country Estonia?
Estonia is a tiny country on a surface of our planet. Our population is about 1 million people. Nevertheless we have some fantastic and talented musicians, who have gained also worldwide reputation. Music has allways been a very important part of our culture and life. Be it whatever kind of music. One can find in Estonian music scene something for his/her personal taste or something original or new.
Is there an overall theme of mood that you were trying to capture while writing the songs?
The mood always differs with every song that I write. I think it is heavily affected by the mood that I am in at the moment. Like all humans sometimes I have strong feelings too – I can be angry or sad, fucked up… or excited about something, happy or melancholic, and I try to put those emotions into my music when I am composing. And you know what? I have noticed that it is really a good thing to have those emotions! When you go to the studio without any emotion and just think like …OK I’m gonna write some piece of super cool music today, it usually doesn’t happen! You can come up with something, but afterwards when you listen it back…it doesn’t have the balls and it doesn’t move you at all. How can you then expect that it will move other listeners? But when I have nailed something, I am 99% confident, that I was affected or influenced by some emotional state of my mind. From my emotions and moods I have created some kind of musical philosophy. All the songs on my album carry or mediate some story and you can find short legends of those stories inside the CD booklet of my album too. Music that you write, needs to carry some special certain energy! And absolutely there must be a melody themes in your music too!!! Personally I don’t dig or like music, which is written as a background or like harmony pad/ambient style, like some kind of soundtrack. But it could be just my problem and I am OK with that.
What are your immediate plans?
I am working on my new album, trying to release it faster than the previous one…(laughs)
If there is anything you would like to add, please do.
Thank You so much for spending some of Your valuable time reading this interview! Listen to the good music and go and create some of your own! And please buy my record too!