How did this new album and overall concept for it come about, and what are your ultimate goals with it?
The new album "Full Circle" was a conscious attempt to follow up my wide-ranging world music fusion album "Elevation" from 2011 with something more focused and streamlined, with my guitar at center-stage, rather than interweaving through a tapestry of ensemble performances like the 20 member ensemble you hear on "Elevation." "Full Circle" involves a core unit of just 5 musicians. Each tune is concise and melodically to-the-point. In some ways, the album marks a return to the kind of minimalism I practiced in my prior group, the Latin guitar duo, Young & Rollins, and the album title "Full Circle" is meant to convey this 'return to my roots' approach.
What did you find to be the most challenging aspect of recording the new album?
The three albums I did before "Full Circle" all involved elaborate ensembles of musicians recorded all over the world. My approach on those albums was to layer complex performances together to create a kind of sensory overload experience for the listener. The challenge on "Full Circle" was to temper that instinct to layer multiple instruments and sounds together and stay true to my philosophy of 'less is more' by keeping the arrangements sparse and the guitar front-and-center.
How would you describe what inspires you to do what you do?
videos I have released - that really motivates me to keep releasing music. I have never been interested in taking a purely solipsistic approach to music. For me making music is about creating something that connects with people.
How would you finish this sentence? “I don’t like to go a day without_________?
"Playing the guitar" is the easy answer. I play everyday without exception. I will take a collapsible travel guitar with me on a short 2 day vacation just to get in 15 minutes a day of playing. If I take a day off guitar it feels as unnatural as not having coffee in the morning!
What artists do you feel akin to or in the same tribe with?
I have recently been enjoying the music of Israeli singer/composer Idan Raichel. Raichel brings diverse performers and musical influences together into an appealing and at times haunting world-fusion sound that I connect with. Also, the Icelandic experimental pop-rock band Sigur Ros always inspires me to strive to make music that uplifts and touches people with emotional intensity. I am attracted to artists that offer surprising, genre-defying musical combinations combined with the ability to engender intense emotional responses in the listener.