PRODUCERS NOTE by RONAN CHRIS MURPHY
Kathleen and I had started work on our 3rd project together in Los Angeles. Since we were both going to be in Europe on separate business, we decided to meet up in Venice, Italy for a week or so of writing. We also thought we might be able to add some of our musician friends in Europe to some of the songs we had in the works. Then we heard Zu… When Kathleen and I heard Zu playing handpan as we walked through Campo Santa Fosca in Venice, it struck a chord with both of us and we desperately wanted him to be a part of the new album. The problem is that his handpan was tuned to A=432, which is a bit lower than most western pop-rock music, and would have essentially made him out of tune on any songs we added him to. It did not not feel realistic to have him play on any of the songs already in the works. I could have digitally manipulated the pitch, but we wanted the sound we heard that evening. We had to come up with a way to create something from scratch. That evening I headed back to our apartment and got to work. The plan was to create some beats and grooves at a set tempo and then record Zu improvising while he listened to the grooves in headphones. I would then take bits and pieces of his improvisations and build the basis for songs that we could build on later. We made sure everything else we added to the songs would be tuned to A=432 Taking a “capture the music in its natural habitat” approach, I wanted to record Zu as we had found him. We set up by a canal in the Cannaregio district and began to record. The passing boats and the curious children stopping by become part of the music in figurative and even literal ways. Our experiments with Zu created results that were more beautiful than we could have imagined and this approach would become the foundation of several Project Electro pieces of music. The music had a way forward. The two pieces that came from this session with Zu, “Radiate” and “Mother’s Hope” would be the first of our international collaboration works.
The arrangement I had made from Zu’s original improvisation became our foundation to explore new grooves and textured. “Radiate” took on a new life when the we had former Los Lobos drummer Victor Bisetti and Motown bass legend Tony Newton lay down a groove that, along with Oaxacan percussionist René Pérez López, would replace and vastly improve upon the programmed beats we started with. We created new textures of interplay between my own hogfiddle work and La Barranca guitarist José Manuel Aguilera.
At its core, Radiate would prove to be a very personal and profoundly painstaking song to lyric-write. I was riddled with internal strife and unbridled energy, yet with a nomadic need for self intimacy. With Radiate I would wrestle with conscious unraveling. Eternally striving for truth. My truth. Human truth. My lyrics went through many iterations before arriving at it’s essence of core. So with the beautiful backdrop of Zu’s handpan, José Manuel Aguilera’s flowing, melodic guitar, Tony Newton’s Motown edge on electric bass, and Victor Bisetti’s solid drum and snare beat, I set out to:
- Unlock [my heart]
- Unhinge my Throne
- Unthread [my ego]
- Unveil my Truth
- Unveil my Love
At its essence Radiate is an unthreading of self ego to arrive at peace within, and unity of heart with our world. One heart, two hearts…to radiate. I sang and wrote against Zu’s hang drum that we recorded on the canals of Venice, Italy. Added to the forefront, too was the rich bass of Motown great Tony Newton. to ZU’s hang drum 132bpm, and A432 tuning. Ronan looped the track to create a basic Pop structure, guttural feel. Metaphor is like a ballerina spin, where each spin unravels or unveils a more genuine self. Radiate love.