Interview - by Jeff Kahn
(Phone interview conducted August '97)
Richard Bone is a
pioneering electronic artist with influences
ranging from Milton Babbit and Roxy Music to
Harold Budd and Carl Stone. He is well known
across the adventurous terrain where pop and
experimental sounds meet, and his many
previous releases effortlessly straddle the
worlds of dance, alterna-synth and new age
audiences. Currently heading in what Bone
refers to as an "ambient-lounge" direction,
leaving the vocal oriented/dance tracks
behind, his music is the direct result of
dreams, meditations and hours of candlelight.
The following interview reveals the unique
musical vision experienced at his home studio
in Greenville, Rhode Island.
INTERVIEW . . . . .
How many releases do you have out on
Right now eight, which
includes the new release with John
How is the distribution going for you right
Distribution is such a
nightmare to get started. Still mostly mail
order, Backroads, Echodiscs, Artist Access,
etc. I have distribution of the west coast
with City Hall, who specialize in indie and
off-the-wall stuff. The mail order through
Echodisc and Backroads has been doing quite
well, as a result of airplay on two syndicated
radio programs, "Musical Starstreams" and
"Echoes". These are nationally broadcasted
shows, "Echoes" being from Pennsylvania and
"Musical Starstreams" from California. There
is also another show called "Hearts of Space",
which I think is out of Texas. They all do
ambient style of music. Hearts of Space is
also a label that has Steve Roach recording
How did you get picked up by City
I sent them some CD's to
check out. They ordered about 250 discs,
that's about 25 of each release. I also have a
smattering of distribution in Eastern Europe,
for some reason, I am selling.
Yeah I got a fax from a
distributor in Poland who wanted 150 units.
Strangely enough, this little distributor was
the first to pay me for them. Where with most
distributors you have to wait to get paid,
these guys, even being overseas, wired money
directly into my account. Echodisc and
Backroads are all good too about sending a
check each month.
How difficult is it to get in the Echodisc
and Backroads catalogs?
Well, getting into the
catalog is easy, but they won't put you into
the catalog unless you are getting airplay and
they are getting a request for you. There has
to be some demand for your stuff. What I did
was I bought the mailing list from New Age
Voice, which something like 100 radio stations
that play new age/ambient music. I then
blanketed all those stations that apparently
started to generate enough sales, which
warranted people wanted to start carrying
Do you get a play list from each station to
see if you are getting played?
Every issue of New Age
Voice, which is monthly, has about seventy
percent of those stations report. So, you can
track it that way.
Do you have a catalog for your own mail
Yeah, I do, if any body
contacts me about it. But, it just seems
easier to let everyone else handle it. Because
the only way anyone is going to find out about
me is through advertising, which I have found
to be a waste of money. It doesn't do a thing.
The only thing that works for me is getting
How did you get involved with Houston
James Huskey contacted me
after reading a review of Vox Orbita in
What pressing plant do you
I do all my pressing
through QCA in Cincinnati, Ohio. QCA has been
around since I was doing vinyl in the late
seventies. They are Disk Makers quality but a
good ten percent less, also nicer to deal with
because they are a smaller company. Their
quality is impeccable.
How long has it been since Ambiento, was
Ambiento came out in
What were you doing before
Before that I stopped
making music for five years, but ten years
before Ambiento was when I was working in
London through Chrysalis. I was living in New
York and was in a band called Shox Lumania.
That band had the first release on the RIOR
label called "Live at the Peppermint Lounge".
At the same time I was doing that I pressed a
single on my own and this label in London
picked that up. I then ended up releasing two
albums over there and maybe five or six
singles. They wanted me to go into a more
dance direction and I wanted to go into more
of an experimental direction, so that is when
I left. I didn't realize it at the time, but I
did not enjoy doing vocal work at all. Since
Ambiento came out I haven't done any more
vocal work. In fact I got rid of my
reel-to-reel eight track recorders, everything
is direct to DAT now.
What equipment are you using in your
The heart of my setup is
an old Ensoniq ESQ-1 8 track sequencer. I've
tried newer equipment but always come back to
this basic reliable workhorse. I have a floor
to ceiling midi rack. Each of the sequencers 8
tracks are split upper and lower creating
"16". Many times I will have one midi channel
playing a different part in each octave.
Especially useful for percussion or, let's say
bass and flute.
What is in the rack?
A bunch of stuff: Proteus
I, Proteus III, an SQR, a JV-880, an old S-10
sampler and two Akai samplers. All through a
Mackie 1604 mixer, then direct to
You really know how to open up a bed of
sound, is there a prep period prior to
recording where you spend time making
I don't really spend any
time in pre-production developing sounds they
seem to evolve as part of the writing process.
That process, for me, is very peaceful and
serene. Usually preceded by a period of
meditation. I almost never start with any
pre-conceived idea. I just start to play and
watch what happens.
Does the fact that you live in Rhode
Island, USA have an impact on your music? Do
you feel that you are somewhat removed from
the core scene?
I moved up here from NYC
for the very purpose of leaving the "scene". I
began to find it of no value to me. While in
Shox Lumania there we were constantly being
marketed by management to have a certain
look,walk,talk and attitude. Although that was
fun for awhile, it grew tiresome. Anyway, I've
always been a loner and a bit of an outcast.
Moving up here, in this peaceful settings (my
home and studio over look a small lake-I can't
even see my nearest neighbors) allowed me to
start the journey inward. "THE ETERNAL NOW" is
my musical transcript of that adventure. I
guess for me that disc is very close to my
Who wrote the "The Millennium Pages"
THE MILLENNIUM PAGES was
written by automatic writing on new years eve
on a New Hampshire mountain. The only thing I
remember about it was putting on Roger Eno's
"Between Tides" disc. The words flowed out in
about 15 minutes. There was no editing, it
reads just as it came.
Who does that evil laugh in "Zone
The evil laugh
What is your relation to John Orsi whom you
recently released "A Survey of Remembered
Things" with on Quirkworks
About a year or so ago, I
saw a small ad in some music paper for a disc
called "Knitting By Twilight". For some reason
I was drawn again and again to that ad.
Eventually I ordered the discs and fell madly
in love with the music. Plus I couldn't
believe it was coming from my own back yard
(Providence). I decided to throw caution to
the wind and found the composers name in the
phone book. I called John and told him what
and incredibly beautiful piece of music he had
produced. We became friends and recently
decided to combine two separate EPs onto one
disc. And so "A Survey of Remembered Things"
was born. John is currently recording the next
Knitting By Twilight disc as well as playing
drums in "RedShift Signal". Probably the most
original band to come out of RI in ages. Think
Cocteau Twins with a male vocalist singing in
his own language.
Anything new in the works?
Yes, I am waiting to hear
from two labels in London about possibly
signing a three-year deal with them. What I
will probably have to do, since these
arrangements overseas are going to be
exclusive, is Quirkworks will change names and
I would record under an alter ego. In order
for me to keep tossing out this experimental
stuff is to create this whole alter ego. The
plan right now is to use the palm tree with
the solar system rotating it as seen on the
cover of Metaphysic Mambo disc as the new
logo. The new label will be called Palmtronic
and I will record under the name Cosminot
View. I am hoping everything will come
together sometime in May.