Time Travel







Stiction 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 Quirkworks Laboratories?

     Right now eight, which includes the new release with John Orsi.

How is the distribution going for you right now?

     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 for them.

How did you get picked up by City Hall?

     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 it.

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 order?

     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 airplay.

How did you get involved with Houston West?

     James Huskey contacted me after reading a review of Vox Orbita in Keyboard.

What pressing plant do you use?

     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 released?

     Ambiento came out in '93.

What were you doing before that?

     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 studio?

     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 DAT.

You really know how to open up a bed of sound, is there a prep period prior to recording where you spend time making "sounds"?

     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 heart.

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 Two"?

     The evil laugh .......well..............!!!!

What is your relation to John Orsi whom you recently released "A Survey of Remembered Things" with on Quirkworks Laboratory?

     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.