MuzicNotez Crew: First off, it’s an honor to be doing this interview with you, thanks for taking the time to sit down with us.
What motivated you to start creating music? What age did you begin?
Glen Neff: Thanks Nick for the interview.I grew up in a family that was always playing music. Dad, Granddad Neff, brother, sisters, uncles, cousins – I thought everyone grew up like that. The music they played was Ol’ timey fiddle tunes, Bluegrass, the Standards, Dixieland, even elements of Blues and Texas Swing. Pretty diverse.Granddad Finck was the 1st violinist in the Philadelphia Philharmonic. I played piano, banjo, guitar and cornet. But I left it all behind early on for synthesizers,and a Fender Rhodes heavily effected. I wrote music with unusual chords, Jazz Funk and Rock & Roll. Also Introspective piano ballads that I sang. And I enjoyed experimenting with other players doing abstract jams-music Concrete. I love to improvise, and I love melody. This, and my interest for strange chords and unusual sounds has linked me to jazz, but I don’t play standards and prefer to create my own compositions. So what motivated me to start creating music… don’t know, it just happened… grew up playing and experimenting, still am. I felt compelled to do my own thing after the Ol’ timey music didn’t infuse my spirit.
David Schwartz (founder of Mix Magazine and chairman of the New Mexico Music Commission) had this to say: “Santa Fe-based Glen Neff is a composer, musician, artist, designer & builder whose style in all of his art forms is both organic and romantic. Born in New Jersey into a family of artists and musicians, Neff earned a BA degree from San Diego State University, and was raved about in the San Diego Reader as “head and shoulders above the Eno clones in his sophisticated use of harmonics, rhythms and synth voicing. His music is adventurous and lively… Neff is a true improvisor and a reflexive expert at reacting to himself on tape. This one-man interactivity is compelling.”
MuzicNotez Crew: Who were your musical influences, idols, or bands growing up that have helped mold you into the musician you are today? Or helped mold the music that you create?
Glen Neff: I have the mind and soul of an artist.And being an artist you assimilate your environment and hope to find your own voice. This takes time,so I’m fortunate I found my way early on. It’s not easy to talk about myself, but I’m appreciative that I’m an original and not a replicant! I have to say, after being exposed to the music of my family, I first discovered on San Diego radio the likes of Miles Davis, Weather Report, Carlos Jobim and Music From the Hearts of Space (out of San Francisco). I saw The Grateful Dead, John McLaughlin, Tangerine Dream, Ornette Coleman, Brain Eno,The Tubes and the Iron Butter Fly live! That ought-a do it! My music and painting life was inspired and stimulated by this great movement taking place in music at that time. I still have my record collection. I was reassured that my strange chords, unusual sonic textures, effects and sound fusions were justified. If Joe Zawinul, Herbie Hancock can do it! Right! Almost everything I have created has a melody. I love harmonically rich. Of course there is the other side. I think we all have the other side; the heavy metal dude that likes New Age Music! My other side was to jam with all kinds of people and create non melodic music.Dissent even,like abstract expressionist sound paintings. I guess I’m part of the original Electronica scene in California. I’m Part of the first group of synthesizer composers. Been do’in this for awhile. I had people tell me I remind them of Jamiroquai and Goldfish, it’s all a matter of perspective!
MuzicNotez Crew: What’s the ultimate goal you want your music to achieve, or for you to achieve in your career as a musician? Any particular message you wish to send?
Glen Neff: I finally got a music publisher, Musicofthesea, so maybe some more opportunities will open up. I would like my music playing in the background of a TV show. I want to write some more film scores. Put my music in a commercial. I’d love to write music for a play or dance performance. I know I’m not a pop star and I’ve gotten over it. Let the music speak for itself, it’s more timeless then a human life. Music is a most powerful means to reach our humanity, a great mediator. Music permeates into us, we understand. The universal language of music can perhaps help bring World Peace someday to our struggling planet. My ultimate goal is to keep creating and fusing my music with cultures of our planet, and cosmic influences. Get it out there through licsencing and digital downloads.
MuzicNotez Crew: What’s the greatest concert you’ve ever been to or performed?
Glen Neff: I’ve performed some pretty cool shows. Mendocino Arts Center, Carlsbad Library. A TV show concert. Santa Rosa, Sebastopol, San Diego, Santa Fe. I was the promoter of a couple music festivals, but it’s to much work! I did a few concerts at Blue Door Studio, my loft when I lived in downtown San Diego. A pretty groovy scene. Artists and Lawyers on the top floor, (I was on the bottom). But, most of you reading this don’t know me. I’m known in a small universe, but we are doing this interview to let you know the universe is expanding! A memorable show: The Grateful Dead at the Hollywood Bowl! Seemed everyone was stoned and moooo mooing like cows! Oh,and great music as well!
MuzicNotez Crew: Your latest album is ‘Bamako’, how would you describe this album, and what was the production like?
Glen Neff: Bamako was created out of a batch of songs I wrote in January & February I sent my music publisher Musicofthesea for consideration for Bollywood. I had the songs so I create the album almost as an after thought. All songs are created in Logic with my vast sound pallet of software instruments.
These reviews do a pretty good job of describing BAMAKO.
From Jamsphere: by Rick Jamm:
“A couple months back Glen released the World Dance Electronica CD BAMAKO. There is so much going on in this album. There’s more than just a hint of World Music and Nu Jazz. Glen Neff’s composing is extraordinary, and a source of inspiration for anyone worried that their creativity might dry up after their early-youth years. Neff’s playing is fantastic- utterly dependable whenever he needs to swing or groove spontaneously, yet rich in emotion when required to improvise a solo or the melody of each track.
What is never in doubt from the moment you start getting into Neff’s music is that you have before you many years of listening pleasure.
The music will take you to places you have never been before and you’ll always return with a refreshed point of view. Glen Neff explores the full range of hybrid sounds, harmonies and rhythms on BAMAKO.
From a soft and tender relaxing vibe to a full blown controlled frenzy, this music parallels the experiences of planetary life with all its’ up and downs and ebbs and flows. It is something to experience often. The long and winding 9-track suite starts out slow, builds to a boil, explodes, and then mellows out from what can only be described as an emotional storm. From the title track, Bamako, through Walls of Darbari, Veenapersia, All or Nothing to Bolly Stop Spot and Time Machine Dreams, when the music finally ends, you have been through an emotional roller-coaster.
BAMAKO is a riveting, hypnotic, exotic, and majestic piece of music from Glen Neff.”
Santa Fe Reporter review: by Alex De Vore:
“…after several listens and the most intense attention I’ve ever paid anything in my life, I have to say that I’m blown away. At its core, Bamako can be unfairly classified as world music, but it is so much more. This is emotional music that touches upon mankind’s almost primal rhythmic need or the soundtrack to potential enlightenment.
Breathe deep, dear listener, and relax. Neff brings the intensity to his soundscapes with a noticeable international flair; it’s almost as if no corner of the globe escaped his musical mind’s eye… stellar tracks like “Veenapersia” get your head bobbing and keep it that way. Closer “Time Machine Dreams” may just be one of the most beautiful ambient experiences around and sort of speaks to the album as a whole experiments in New Age music needn’t be hokey or lame and sometimes beauty is just plain beauty.
MuzicNotez Crew: You fuse elements of music from all over the world with improvisation. When did you start this style, and why?
Glen Neff: I have traveled somewhat extensively around the world. In fact I visited Bamako Mali in 1971 just after College. The album is named after the memory of that place. I felt like I was on another Planet, like a scene out of Star Wars. So the infusion of world music elements started back then. My Rock n’ Roll interests subsided to a degree, I was no longer pursuing popular music culture! The “style” of music I’m interested in now is a fusion of our planet’s cultures that I mix with rhythm, melody and improvisation. I feel I’m painting with sound. I create music like painting a watercolor. A blank paper in front of me, lay down a brush stroke of an inspiring sound/rhythm, add details. Don’t over work it, come back later and dial it in. Like all paintings, some just sit in a pile and sort of get forgotten. I’ve got hundreds of songs. I come back to and finish the better ones with an intuitive sense they are “done”. I’d rather create a series, finish the better ones and move on. I don’t fuss over a song for months and I don’t listen to any of my songs much after the focused editing period.
Move on to something new. I write my music in Logic with a great pallet of software instruments. The days of OBX, Memory Moog etc. are past for me. I know many devotees exist, but I’ve been there done that and happy with where technology has taken us now. I hope to keep creating music till I crook!
MuzicNotez Crew: You grew up with a wide array of musical influences, do you have any interest in working in more genres in the future?
Glen Neff: Yes I work in other genres and mediums. I designed and built and live in a round straw bale house, so I do think outside the box! There are some photos at my website www.glenneff.com. I host an Open Mic Night at the Mineshaft Tavern in Madrid, New Mexico each month and jam my funky Rock n’ Roll with friends. It’s a blast to commune with musicians and I record some of these groove jams, you can hear them at my website under “Nu Neff.” The future is wide open, I’ll create more fusions and other worldly music! I’m the most free when it’s just me, but enjoy limited collaborations with others.I have an ongoing project with guys that play: theremin, blues harp, sax, guitar etc. Still experimenting.
MuzicNotez Crew: You have all of your music featured up on your website, what else can your fans expect to find there?
Glen Neff: You will find at my website all my music available to download. You get a glimpse into my life through photos, and some of my paintings can be viewed. It would be great to have you join my mailing list! Just sign up.
MuzicNotez Crew: What else are you working on? What can we expect to see and hear from you in the future?
Glen Neff: I’m going to continue to explore the World Fusion Music. I like bringing the elements of different cultures together. There is already a bunch of EDM, Pop, Rock… it is much more refreshing for me to integrate cultures of our World into my own style.
MuzicNotez Crew: Anything else you wish to say about yourself or your music? Any message for your fans?
Glen Neff: Fans! Yes, please become my fan. Join my website www.glenneff.com mailing list, friend me on Facebook, visit me at Reverberation – Glen Neff – The Sound Poet, check out my Sound-cloud and YouTube channels, and send me an email if you like a song, thanks, Glen