An Interview with Harmony Channel
How does your background in electronic music lead you to your style as a video artist and animator?
What are the parallel between the "ambient" school of music and the slowly
evolving and morphing style of imagery you have been exploring?
I am struck by the slowly changing images of the rose in "By Any Other
Name" - it gives me a feeling of timelessness. Are you working with our
perceptions of time?
as far back as I can remember, I have always "seen" music. Not only in
terms of colors and moods but also as height, depth and velocity.
Synthesis was the natural evolution from my early years in piano &
guitar based rock. For many years I felt that my music, especially the
ambient side of my work, would benefit from a visual element. I have no
formal training in music.
I learned to play, record and produce simply by throwing myself into it and by
carefully scrutinizing those artists I admired. I finally came to the
realization that if there was going to be a visual element to my music,
I was going to have to create it myself.
Using software which was basically designed for editing home video I set to work creating
what is called "moving paintings." As with the music, the visuals
evolve slowly over time and, as is also the charm of ambient music, one
does not need to give it undivided attention but rather it can run in
the background and become part of the environment.
I also began to discover that, as with the music, the more I slowed
things down the more was revealed. The unfolding rose in "By Any Other
Name" was my first experiment with the idea of a slowly repeating but
constantly changing image. The entire video was created from a ten second clip of a rose blooming.
How has your study of mysticism and ancient Toltec philosophy influenced your imagery and visual styles?
Indirectly, to be sure. My study of ancient traditions and mysticism
has lead me inward and to a practice of daily meditation. It is in the
daily candlelit moments before dawn that I feel my inspirations arrive.
However,standing inside the King's Chamber at Giza or the great altar atop
Chichen Itza has made me aware of the limitless nature of the human
experience, of infinite possibilities. And, although it has been a
wonderful journey so far, I feel as though I am just beginning.
You have composed visuals for other people's music and have contributed music for other people's video?
how does collaborative work contrast with your solo music video endeavors?
Richard: My visual experiments are immensely personal and experimental. So far I have only dabbled with creating video for others.
Last year I created as series of visuals which were sent to Morgan Fisher in
Japan where he added his incredible music and just recently I produced
a short music video for my friend Mary Zema whose CD I produced a few
Perhaps because I am a loner at heart, or perhaps simply because I am self taught, I don't tend to be much of a
collaborator. I am easily awed and intimidated by the talent of those
artists I admire.
That said, I have been working on a long distance collaboration with ambient horn player Jeff Oster as well as
scoring the exquisite poetry of Lisa Indish. Both projects should see a
CD release within the next few months. No doubt I will feel compelled
to add a visual element at some point!
Could you tell us a little about your upcoming work "Serene Life of Microbes"?
Is that audio or will there be videos forthcoming as well?
Serene Life of Microbes, which was released in October on AD Music in
the UK is my most experimental work to date. Because I am a songwriter
at heart, most of my work to date was had a definite sense of structure
to it. The pieces of Serene Life are more about mood than melody, as if
looking through the musical microscope, as it were.
Because the project was conceived visually as well as musically, I created
videos for many of the tracks at the same time as I was recording the
music. "The Seduction of Dr. Pasteur" which will be broadcast on
Harmony Channel is one of those tracks. Several of the other videos
have been reformatted to play in a continuous loop on a digital picture
frame which is available through my website. The frame is designed to
make the "moving paintings" available anywhere, in any room on a 7"
What directions do you see for yourself in the future?
I have begun to experiment with animation and chroma key. It seems that
both of these avenues are a logical next step for me. I would also very
much like to work with a painter, photographer or visual artist in a
mixed media gallery presentation.
What wishes would you have for your "artistic children", the body of work you have created and released into the world?
How might people use and extend your work?
My hope, which I affirm every day in meditation, is that the works find
the audience for which they were intended. I humbly believe I was given
the ability to assemble notes or generate images to touch others. If
that is so, the most I can ask is that my works reach those eyes and
ears. I can remember being about 14 years old and starting to
experiment with writing songs.
I would record the piece on a little portable tape recorder and fantasize how
amazing it would be if someone somewhere in the world, whom I didn't
even know, could hear and be moved by what I had created. I guess I
still feel that way.