ARTIST NAME: Ensemble Voyagers: Daniele Montagner + Shinobu Kikuchi
SONG TITLE: Asadoya Yunta
SONG TITLE: Chinsagu No Hana
ALBUM TITLE: Two Songs from Okinawa
The Ensemble Voyagers created by Daniele Montagner is an “open” ensemble dedicated to the exploration of musical jewels ranging from the roots of Western civilization to the traditions of non-European cultures, passing through medieval music to the present day.
With the use of original musical instruments or made according to the organology in vogue, a sound journey is undertaken through the aesthetics that has represented and continues to represent the history of humanity, its roots, and its evolution.
Tell us how you develop your sound and style to make it different from other musicians.
We try to use mainly original musical instruments or made according to the musical organology of the various ages and ethnic groups that we decide to play, infusing the sound with a contemporary approach.
Tell us your opinion on the way new artists are coming up and the frequent release of songs.
It is clear that the music business has changed radically over the last twenty years. Currently, the music business is almost 50% divided between those who use digital distribution and those who still use CDs, vinyl records.
It is the “single” fashion return, and currently, everyone composes his own playlist based on his own tastes and the use he intends to make of them, and this was already done with CDs.
However, the problem remains that of royalties and product quality.
State your experience as a musician.
I am a “mercurial” person and I am fascinated and interested in new technologies. Certainly, you can’t improvise and honestly, I struggled a lot to be able to understand, adapt and use the new digital modes. I was used to and still tied to the artist’s somewhat romantic relationship I play, and the organizers and those in charge of business do the rest. I had a quick change and had to do it myself, it wasn’t easy.
Tell us your opinion on streaming and digital download of songs.
The music business as I said has changed a lot and music piracy and illegal file-sharing is a problem for artists. The musical fruition changes with the evolution of society and technology, it is normal. The digital business prefers the “single” as I said before, or an album of two or three songs. Therefore, marketing and promotion strategies and the relationship between artists and consumers are also changing. Each artist then makes his choices.
Tell us your goals and plans.
We are shortly planning a new record release of an instrumental medieval dance and probably a musical journey in ancient Greece and then we change course and we set sail for new projects…
Tell us five current artists that are your favorite.
Jordi Savall, Carlos Santana, Elton John, Pink Floyd, and the Italian singer Cecilia Bartoli.
Tell us your best song up to date.
The artistic creations are like children, there are no favorites and once they are done they follow their path. I would, however, like to point out one that many will surely know. It is a beautiful song from the ancient musical tradition of the island of Okinawa, a song I listened to when I was twenty and remained in my heart, very delicate and cheerful.
We have given it a very pure and simple version, as is the tradition using a Japanese singer expert in the musical tradition of Okinawa who also plays the Sanshin, a medieval flute played by me, whistle and castanets.
Tell us your dream and hope for the future.
My current thoughts and concerns are increasingly turning to our mother Earth, to our planet. The pain and devastation that men have sown in this world are terrible. I am very busy in this field to do all I can; good and positive. I wish that the awareness, the light, and the collaboration in giving the best of oneself descended on men and selfishness and violence dissolved like fog in the sun.
As far as our group is concerned, I would like to carry out the projects we have in progress and open ourselves to new collaborations, even to composers who want to write in an ancient but contemporary style at the same time.
Tell us what has changed in the music industry.
The turning point in the current music industry and not only in this was given by the development and spread of the internet.
Ironically, the technological factors that now drive the rescue of digital music are also the main reason for the decline of the global music business due to illegal file-sharing.
The record companies, however, managed to maintain an important role but new business models and new users (players) took over.
The use of music is now much simpler via the mobile phone and this has amplified its scope and the way it is used and purchased.
Tell us your opinion on television/radio stations playing the same songs from established artists and giving little chances to independent artists.
Unfortunately, we know that it is a usual practice, even if we don’t like it.
The recording industry is characterized by an economy of star -system: one album out of ten makes it possible to make a profit to compensate for the failure of the other nine and independent music obviously finds it difficult to obtain its own space, but with the advent of the digital age the situation seems to be improving.
Normally, when I travel or when I tune in and look for the most open and independent radio stations and programs of any kind, I like listening to new music. I am very voracious, I listen to everything and above all, I want to listen to what the mass does not listen to.
Tell us the challenges independent artists are facing and how to tackle them.
The challenges are many. We must learn about our mistakes. Surely you need to find good and serious partners and collaborators and build your dream patiently and with confidence. It will be a mistake to run after money and easy profits.
Share your press release and reviews with us.
Tell us your opinion on using social media to promote music online.
The growing trend of the digital format is made possible by the continuous increase of users using online services.
Digital technology and the internet facilitate the possibility of making oneself visible with a simple click. Despite the fact that it remains always a bit difficult for an artist to make himself known, sell his creations and build a profitable career through the only telematics system without having a label (be it a major or an independent) behind him, the possibilities introduced by the internet that stimulate the creativity and imagination of many users and therefore widen the possibilities.
Tell us about your music career.
I graduated in music in Italy, doing classical studies at the Conservatory; I dedicated myself in my youth to avant-garde and experimental music. Then I became interested in jazz language and worked and produced an ethnic-world project.
I played in symphony orchestras and opera houses and played as a soloist and in classical and ancient music groups.
I produced three CDs of my music and collaborated with the musician Vidna Obmana on an ambient music project.
I played and worked with Steven Halpern for healing music.
I wrote a book on music entitled “Frequenze di Benessere” (Frequencies of well-being).
I studied conducting and two years ago I created the Ensemble Voyagers in which we produced two albums and two singles.
Tell us what still motivates you to go on with your music career.
As long as I have the desire and the urge to do something new, I will go on; I would say a spiritual necessity.
Tell us about you as a person.
I’ve said so many things about myself. I am a creative type, I love harmony, I really love animals and nature, I have many animals and their presence regenerates me and calms me, I play with them, I try to understand their world, which is full of beauty and delicacy. I love the sea, I love traveling, I love to discover.
Elaborate on the story behind the song.
First, we choose a historical epoch and a piece of music that touched us emotionally or we remember with pleasure or we go to look for music that is little known but that have artistic importance, without prejudice.
Tell us the process involved in making this song.
So let’s imagine the sound it should have, when the sound is clear and the structure and architecture are clear, we begin to build the sound environment, like a painting, or a scene from a movie.
We are interested in putting the sound of an instrument in the right place and at the right time, it is not necessary to always play all together, but only those who are necessary for the poetry and musical poetry of that song and for that song.
State your artist’s name and elaborate on it.
After many proposals we decided on Ensemble Voyagers because we feel a bit like time travelers, we immerse ourselves in past ages, we recover sounds also using ancient instruments and we re-emerge in the present.
State the title of the song and the meaning.
The titles of the songs produced are the original titles of the songs in the musical tradition we selected, in the case of the song presented in this interview Asadoya Yunta is a song that originated from Taketomi Island in the Yaeyama district of Okinawa, Japan. It tells the story of a young and beautiful peasant woman named Kuyama Asato.
State the title of the album and the reason for choosing the title.
Asadoya Yunta is part of the “Two songs from Okinawa” album along with the other traditional song Chinsagu No Hana. The title refers objectively to the content of the album and represents a postcard that depicts our journey in the tradition of the island of Okinawa.
All the album covers and individual songs produced as Ensemble Voyager have been made by me, Daniele Montagner.