Hi Shambhu, welcome back to VENTS! How have you been?
Thank you, I’m feeling wonderful as we launch my fourth album, Lilac Skies. This album took me year to
create, with 10 new songs, including a few (Lilac Skies and Basis of It All) that I wrote back in high school. After launching 3 albums into the New Age market, there’s a lot of meaning for me in an album that highlights my roots in Jazz and Blues. After recording an acoustic album, Soothe, for my 3rd release, I wanted do a live, in-studio album that included more of my jazz and blues songs with my guitar doing lots of the heavy lifting. That was the concept for Lilac Skies. I wanted the chance to again work with Brazilian drummer/percussion Celso Alberti who added tasty drums and percussion across the album and advised on sound production. This is also the first album where I scored and arranged the tunes, and we managed to record the ensemble cuts in one day, which still blows my mind.
Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Lilac Skies”?
Lilac Skies is the album and title track. This song opens with a bright, optimistic tone in a laid-back Brazilian flavored groove. Reflecting on a sandy beach under the sun. It features myself (guitars), Frank Martin (piano), Celso Alberti (drums) and Kai Eckhardt (bass). This core ensemble just crushed it track after track. I later added Premik Russell Tubbs on flute.
Here’s a video of the recording session for Lilac Skies at Fantasy Studios
Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?
Lilac Skies was the very first jazz tune that I wrote and transcribed as a kid in high school; it’s still the opening song in my old songbooks. Why did it take me decades to record this beauty? (Big smile) I’m definitely looking at a few more of the songs that I wrote in that period!
Any plans to release a video for the single?
Yes, I just released a gorgeous video for Lilac Skies working with producer Matthew Shell. Immerse in the beautiful images of lilac skies rolling into shots of the recording session.
Why naming the album after this track in particular?
I was debating titles for the album. While gazing at a lilac sky sunset – it just occurred to me – that’s it. It spoke to me. Lilac Skies means infinite love. Lilac is the color of love. And sky represents the infinite and endless possibility to achieve our hopes and dreams. As a title, Lilac Skies pairs well with my music and feeling of optimism that flows through it. My music is also visually evocative. A listener may complete a song with one’s imagination. I have hundreds of comments from people who see things when they listen. Close your eyes, get into it and let go. Now tell me what you saw. Reach me at Twitter or Instagram @shambhumusic or Facebook @shambhumusichome. Use the tag #lilacskiesvision
How was the recording and writing process?
The writing process started with jamming for hours late at night and early mornings, and recording everything — over a period of 6 months. The more time I spent digging for songs, the richer were the results. I learned the lesson to better songs = play longer + focus deeply; there’s an exponential return. After a while, the creative faucet opened. I went from dry to holy cow! I left the surface of my mind and entered the intuitive realm. Then the music that flowed through me was more interesting and inspired. For a while it was exciting to wake up and sit down and jam in the studio, because I was channeling songs like Inspired by the Nightand Seeing You Again – out of nowhere – on one particularly fortunate morning in January 2018.
When I am starting to play, I clear my mind with a short meditation. I put on the headphones, press RECORD in Logic, pick up the guitar, and just start playing. Everything is correct – I accept every sound as meant to be, even when it sounds awful. That’s usually a trigger to try something else. Over time, songs emerge. I will often add a few guitar parts and a bass and piano or pads when a song idea is hot.
I also write songs to relax and it’s the songs that relax me. I create meditative sequences that I jam on and it puts me in a trance. It’s soothing. I dose myself into calm and end up with very nice songs. Other times, I will hear a melody, so I pick up the guitar, and create a song. Those are ways that songs appear. Sometimes I play them whole – like Inspired by the Night and Seeing You Again. Other times, they take weeks to finish.
I also craft the songs in live performances. Playing live is a great way to figure out how to make a song work. And right before I go into the studio, I produce home studio versions – simulations of the full track versions – and spend time listening and understanding the possibilities of the song. Once in studio, prior to reading the charts and recording, we listen to my prototypes.