AV: What inspired your new album Emerald Waters?
HH: This album is all about water and my relationship with it. It is a celebration of the greatest natural resource on our fragile planet. Without it, we do not exist. The music I wrote for this album is an attempt to convey the beauty, importance and power of water in our world. This music is a mix of elements of Berlin School, some traditional melodic structures and emotional chord progressions, infused into an electronic music landscape.
In 1979 or so, I took a trip to Sanderson, TX where my uncle lived. We went through the town of Del Rio and I remember driving over a bridge, which crossed this gin-clear spring-fed creek, named San Filipe Creek. Those ten seconds stuck with me my whole life. There was something about seeing that water, the colors, the transparency, all of it was magical to me and it had a profound effect on my love of rivers. I’ve been in love with the Hill Country and West Texas ever since. That emotion is what I attempted to capture in this album.
AV: How is this music different from your past releases?
HH: Every new work I create is an attempt to be a new exploration, at least structurally and melodically. Every new album is a deeper exploration into how I can convey my emotional experience to the listener. It is a very difficult endeavor, but it is ALWAYS my intention; to move the listener emotionally and offer them a positive emotional experience.
AV: Did you employ any new techniques or studio gear as you worked on this album?
HH: This is the first album that incorporates the use of my synthesizersdotcom analog modular system. You’ll hear it in Tales From The Abyss. Modular synthesis is the ultimate puzzle. Maddening and addictive at the same time. I’m also playing more solos and recording them live, instead of using midi so much. I’m hoping to move towards having a skill set that will be worthy of live performances. That is where the communion with the listener is most powerful, but presentation and performance matters. That is one of my main goals.
AV: Do you have a "secret sauce" that you return to for each new album?
HH: I try to create a rich tapestry of sound that represents a wide sonic landscape. There are very subtle sounds throughout my work that many people may not notice, but they are essential to the final creation. One thing that is NOT obvious to listeners is the sheer amount of work that goes into creating the songs that I release, because for every successful song that gets published, I have ten or more that will never see the light of day. Hundreds and hundreds of ideas are explored from which I cull the very few I’m willing to share. It’s embarrassing how awful some of my experiments truly are. I guess my secret sauce is just persistence.
AV: Was there anything specific that influenced this album's creation?
HH: This album was deeply inspired by the natural world around me, but seeing that creek in Del Rio was definitely the driving force for the album, “Emerald Waters”. The landscape paintings by Texas artist, David Caton, were a huge inspiration, as well.
AV: Can we quote you on anything?
HH: “Music with no audience is meaningless. If I had to create my music in a vacuum, I would do it, but my connection to the listener is what I cherish most. I think music has extraordinary importance and power today.”
AV: Will you share some of the software & hardware that you use to create your music?
HH: Propellerhead Reason 10, Presonus Studio One IV, Spectrasonics Omnisphere, Native Instruments Komplete, Dave Smith Instruments Pro 2, Dave Smith Instruments/Oberheim OB-6, Synthesizers.com Portable 88 analog modular system, Valhalla Room, Shimmer, Space Modulator, Arturia Pigments, FabFilter Pro-Q, Timeless 2, Twin 2
AV: Who is on your team?
HH: Spotted Peccary has been my team since 2019. The album was composed and recorded by me in The Decompression Chamber (my tiny converted garage), then mastered by Howard Givens, with design and layout by Daniel Pipitone. Packaging, distribution and promotion are all stellar.
AV: Is this album dedicated to anyone?
HH: This album is dedicated to the Devils River Conservancy and the extremely important work they do to preserve one of Texas’ crown jewels, the Devils River.
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