Penelope Arvanitakis and I go way back to 2005. I would spot her at open mics in mysterious and leafy Belgrave, the creative centre of the Melbourne hills, and simply marvel at her talent. The cadence of her voice was like no other, her piano playing was so highly advanced for one so young, and her songs were quirky, honest and deep. She was a cut above the rest.
In 2007 we recorded three songs together at her parents’ house, one of mine and two of hers, and then … we promptly fell out of touch for 16 years!
Mrs. Penny was one of those teachers you remember – she encouraged me, enjoyed my stories, and often read them to the class. She told me to study sciences for a better-paid job, and off down that road I skipped studying engineering. But as Iggy Pop once quipped, if you’re creative, there’s something inside you, and it needs to get out…
Million Pebble Beach is my chosen “Nom de Guerre” – a nod to a local artist and the area (Pete Codling’s One Million Pebbles project in Portsmouth).
As Ralph Waldo Emerson – the great American Individualist and Transcendentalist – once said: “All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better”. And so, the new Zonn mini-album “Songs Of Truth And Freedom” started off, as many experiments do, with the inventor watching the world around and perceiving that something needed to be done. This approach, coupled with my fondness for re-writing old tunes, led to the interpretation of a 1980s new-socialist stalwart into a novel anthem for the 2020s.
The different settings for my latest album, Desert Cities – Part One, span from Denver to Seoul. Track three, Brooklyn, is a love song for the gritty and enigmatic Bushwick neighborhood and track four, Coming Home, rides the metro north to Midtown where home is not a place but a person (and a lovely oasis at that). Track two, Lost in Seoul, reflects on the foreign shores of South Korea, “the crowded streets, the angry East Sea, don’t mind if I belong here for a while.”
Only track one, Hold out Thirst, mentions a dry, barren, lifeless, sandy desert. Its brief and stark first refrain, “I went to the desert and held out my thirst,” captured something much bigger in me when I first listened back to the completed album. The desert, in this case, is where one goes to reflect deeply, to test themselves against the elements, physically and emotionally and to experience thirst as a fundamental sensation of life, to feel acutely alive. The remainder of the album (part two included, TBR Fall 2019) is born of this same desire.
Recently I have found myself playing a new role – that of the Messenger Raven. In this case, I witness murders and sing about them with my band “The Raven’s Tale” and report on them as The Journalist in a theatre production of Ivy Alvarez’ book “Disturbance.” It is a job not for the faint of heart! In this article, I will tell you about this new exciting role in my creative career.
“Nature Poetry” (the album!) is the striking byproduct of the dance performance “Nature Poetry” by Križaj / Wehrli / Gisler. With inexhaustible eager, the choreographers Jasmina and Simon, and the musician Daniel jump into the bushes and transform their naiveté into a virtue. To be listened with closed eyes or while traveling alone – and one or two songs can even boost your party!
Driving (in the) snow from Kempten. I was supposed to put saucers and blondes together, but the reversable rider of Skye said „NO!”, and off he went on a rollercoaster ride of thrift shop guitars, carrying the torch for Lady Biba. The 4 A.M. Lamp kept burning, and sociopaths were rescued from their shady caves, turned into rainbows and oh! Butterflies „above the nation”. That was the dream of the Woodstock generation, now wasn’t it?
Music is dying. Slowly, but it is. I don’t want to be one of those close-minded people who lives in the glorious pinnacle of the past, but we can all agree that the quality of the music industry has declined intensely since the second half of the past century. Today’s standards of what is labeled as art are worrying. Why do we live in such an artistic wasteland, you might ask?