ENTREVUE / INTERVIEW
The Emerald Dawn
With: Ally Carter, Tree Stewart, David Greenaway and Tome Jackson
ALBUM REVIEW HERE
Philippe André - July 2023
Profilprog (PP) : Hello Tree, Ally, David and Tom, thank you for giving us your time to answer our questions
THE EMERALD DAWN (TED): Our pleasure, Philippe. Thanks for inviting us.
PP: Fifth album for THE EMERALD DAWN and still at the same pace, about one every year? It's intentional or not?
TED: We've averaged about 1 album every two years. We wouldn't want to leave it any longer than 2 years between albums. We would like to release music more often, but it seems the creative process takes us about that long.
PP: Given its title, this is a time-based concept album, isn't it?
TED: Yes. It is an album about how time is experienced in different ways. The first track, 'Out of Time', is about a moment that is so special in your life that you want it to last forever, but if you could succeed in doing that it might be disruptive to all around you. The second track, 'Timeless', is about the subjective experience of time and its seeming elasticity. And the final track, 'The March of Time', is about no matter how much, you might think that time is just in your head, giving its appearance of elasticity, it is nevertheless relentless, and you are continually getting older, and your end will eventually come no matter how much you try to avoid it.
PP: Do you have what I will call "time obsession»? There's an hourglass and a watch on pages four and five of the booklets.
TED: We wouldn't say that we are obsessed with time. But as with all our albums we are exploring a particular theme, which the artwork reflects. In the case of 'In Time' there are a number of images which we commonly associate with time -- an hourglass being one of them.
PP: Always in the booklet, what is the meaning of the cobra? And the meaning of the stairs?
TED: There are stairs and doorways on every album. The stairs suggest different aspects of a person's character or psyche. Some stairs enter or leave the heart, others the head, for example. And doors open into different worlds where we would like to take the listener on a journey. They invite you into a different space. Regarding the cobra, an ancient symbol of time, which originated in Egypt, is that of a snake eating its own tail: Ouroboros. The serpent also represents the creative lifeforce as well as infinity. The cobra is there to remind us of Ouroboros and its origin in the meeting point of North Africa and the Middle East, as reflected in the central section of 'Out of Time', and that is why the soprano saxophone in that section sounds like a snake charmer... In other words, in the first track of the album we employ a snake as a symbolic representation of time.
PP: There is the passage of time but there is also the weather, the latter with global warming, is it more important now in your daily life?
TED: Ah, that is the topic of the next album, which will be our sixth... The environment has always been a major concern of The Emerald Dawn. Hence the name of the band, which implies a new, more environmentally aware world. A green revolution, no less.
PP: Do you know Léo FERRE's song "Avec le temps", one of the most beautiful French songs in history?
TED: Unfortunately, none of us do, but we will check it out!
PP: Two questions for Tree:
The first one: you are a complete artist since you are a musician, painter, designer, sculptor, what art do you prefer? May be all?
Tree: Thank you for the compliment. I don't have a preference. I enjoy all the arts I take part in, but music is very important to me.
The second one: you have been using a Roli Seaboard for two records, what are its advantages and particularities?
Tree: It is a keyless 'keyboard', rather like a fretless bass. So, you can do things with it that you can't do on a regular keyboard. You can play with real vibrato, and you can slide between notes. You can also change the sound depending on where you touch the Seaboard. If you touch it near you and then slide your fingers further away, you can gradually change from one sound to another. That is how an orchestra transforms into a choir at the beginning of 'The Ascent' on our last album, 'To Touch the Sky'.
PP: It seems to me that this is the first time that you write all your first names (Katrina Jane, Alan Brian.......) on an album booklet, is there a particular reason for that?
TED: For legal reasons we have always used our full names somewhere on the album for copyright purposes. But sometimes it is fairly hidden in the small print.
PP: Geographically do you feel better in Cornwall than in Edinburgh? Is life there different, quieter?
TED: Only half of the band lived in Edinburgh, but it is certainly true to say that where we live in Cornwall is much quieter, far more conducive to composing and rehearsing, but a bit more out of the way for performing live in front of an audience.
PP: Humanly and economically has Brexit put you in difficulty?
TED: (Lots of expletives around the table regarding Brexit!) Every member of the band voted to remain in the EU, and Brexit has been a disaster for most British musicians. It has made it no longer viable for us to perform in Europe, and CD sales to Europe have fallen through the floor because of that disastrous vote.
PP: Are you part of the bands that can make a living from their music?
TED: These are very difficult times for professional musicians, and half of the band are full-time professional musicians. They can only just make a living from music, and that includes all aspects, such as performing, recording, and teaching.
PP: Do you have either of the avowed or unacknowledged influences that can show through in your music?
TED: We like various styles of music, and we are all influenced by the music we like. I'm sure it must show through at times. We each have several favourite musicians and no doubt that affects how each of us plays.
PP: Ally you have a recognizable guitar sound among a thousand, is it a choice on your part?
Ally: I just make the sounds I like. I'm flattered that you think it is recognisable.
PP: What do you think of the appearance of the digital format in music today?
TED: Digital recording has made it possible for us to do everything ourselves: record, mix, master. That is a fantastic advantage. The great disadvantage is how quickly a band's music appears on free streaming or Torrent sites. Music costs a lot to produce. The way in which free (illegal) downloads has taken away the income from bands has made it especially difficult for musicians to make a living.
PP: Are there any records that have marked you in recent months?
TED: It is all too easy to get completely engrossed in your own music when you are recording and mixing an album and then getting it ready for release. Once the album is out, we will look forward to catching up on what we have missed over the past few months.
PP: Books? Films? Shows? Football matches?
TED: The same applies to just about everything. Creating an album can easily take over your life. Once the latest album is behind us, there are many things we want to catch up on.
PP: What are your plans for the coming months?
TED: We have several gigs coming up, which are on our Facebook page. So quite a bit of time will be spent over the next few weeks rehearsing those sets, and we will be preparing for the release of 'In Time', for which we hope to do a performance of the whole album from our studio and which we hope to broadcast on our YouTube channel.
PP: Thank you for your collaboration and all the best for THE EMERALD DAWN
TED: Thank you so much for taking an interest in our music, Philippe. Today's new prog music would go unheard if it wasn't for the wonderful job people like you do in drawing attention to it. Best wishes from the whole band to you and your readers.