Mystical America by Laura Sullivan


 

Laura Sullivan

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Mystical America 

 

 

 

AV:  Before we get down to questions about Mystical America, could you tell our readers a little bit about yourself and how you got started creating the style of music that you do now? 

LS:  I grew up on a farm inNorthern California. My mother started teaching me to play classical piano when I was 4 years old and I began “making up my own songs” on the piano when I was about 8. I was very influenced by the classical music I was learning and the style of my music still reflects my classical training. In most record stores my music is found in the “New Age” section, although some prefer to categorize it as something else such as “Contemporary Instrumental” or “Neo-Classical. 

 

AV:  Your latest CD, Mystical America, was released not too long ago. What was the seed of inspiration for this CD and how did you go about beginning to do the work on it? 

LS:  I’ve always been enthralled by places that have spiritual significance, mystery and mystical intrigue. Growing up nearMt. Shasta, a place very close to my heart, I was always fascinated to hear stories about how people had been affected by the spiritual power of the mountain. Through traveling I became inspired by other fascinating places inAmerica and decided to try and capture some of the beauty and magic of these places in music. 

AV:  Was there anyone else besides yourself who worked with you on Mystical America?  What kinds of contributions did these other participants make to the overall CD?  If you worked on it alone do you ever seek outside advice on what you are working on before it is completed? 

LS:  In creating Mystical America I worked very closely with an amazing artist, my friend and Producer, Chris Camozzi. He understood completely my vision for this project and helped me fine tune the compositions. We spoke at length about the symbolism behind each song concept and he helped bring the music to life through his deep understanding of the pieces and his wonderful talents. Chris brought in Mary Pitchford, a terrific violinist who I’ve worked with on my previous release, “Pianoscapes for the Trails ofNorth America”, as well as Diane Grubbe, a wonderful flute player, and Scott Fuller who is a genius at effects and orchestral arranging. Chris also played acoustic guitar on the album. Another person I always work with very closely is Frederick Wilson of Delvian Records and The Gate Media Group. He is closely involved from the beginning as a friend, mentor and also in the creation of marketing and promotion strategies for communicating the essence of the project. He is also a mastering genius. I was also lucky enough to work with a famous artist on the cover art, Johanna Pieterman. She designed a work of art specifically for the project. It is a “real life” Statue of Liberty with sage leaves in her hair representing “Nature’s Splendor”, an ear-ring shaped like a wheel representing “Sacred Symbols”, a petroglyph on the front of her garment representing “Mysterious Messages” and Ogam Writing on the hem of her sleeve representing “Magical Creations”.  

AV:  Did beginning work on this new project bring to mind echoes of your previous releases and how did Mystical America build on what came before without becoming derivative of past compositions? 

LS:  There is a lot of negativity in the world aboutAmerica right now. With my new release, “Mystical America” as with my previous release “Pianoscapes for the Trails of North America” I wanted to celebrate things that are special and positive, in my eyes, about America. Musically speaking, the CDs are similar in that they are both based on melodic and soothing piano compositions. “MysticalAmerica” has a bit more additional orchestral instrumentation than my previous releases. 

AV:  If someone was curious about Mystical America how would you describe the music to them? 

LS:  I hope that the music on my new CD will take the listener to these wonderful and magical places. The music has been described as very soothing and relaxing. All of the pieces are my original compositions except for the final track is my arrangement of Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” which I have dedicated to my beloved “Mt. Shasta. 

AV:  Tell me about what you found satisfying about creating the music of Mystical America and is this feeling the same for all the music that you create or does each one generate its own emotional response within you? 

LS:  I love composing music and if I had my way I’d probably be sitting at home in my pajamas all the time doing nothing but that. When I’m composing I feel very contented and absorbed and the day goes by very fast. I don’t remember feeling a great difference in emotion overall while composing the music for this CD compared to the music I have composed in the past. Each piece is an expression of my own emotion, and there is a wide variety on each album. For example, the track Heavener Runestone is to me about the loneliness, elusiveness and sadness of an important message that no one has been able to decipher. AndCoral Castle is about the tremendous love that motivated the creation of one of the most extraordinary and mysterious structures inNorth America. 

AV:  What will those who have heard your music before recognize as “you” about Mystical America and what will they find on it that breaks new ground compared to your previous music? 

LS:  The gentleness and softness of the compositions and my playing touch as well as distinct melodies and themes is a “me” that I think is recognizable. There are more instrumental orchestrations in addition to the piano on my new album. 

AV:  What kinds of musical influences might your audience find in your music as they listen to Mystical America?  Are you aware of these influences while you were creating this CD or do they just seep in on their own?

 LS:  Reviewers have compared me to George Winston, Liz Story and Wayne Gratz. I consider this a great compliment as I’m a fan of these artists; however, I wasn’t aware of these influences during the CDs creation. I just let what was inside me come out. 

AV:  When did you know that Mystical America was done and that tweaking the mix would not make it any better? Are you pretty objective about knowing when you can’t make a piece of music any better than it already is and calling it done? 

LS:  My Producer is very helpful with the tweaking. I trust him immensely and rely on him to help me decide when a piece is “complete”. I really need this help; otherwise I might continue tweaking into infinity.  

AV:  With the release of Mystical America do you still get butterflies in your stomach when it’s finally time to share it with the public?    

LS:  Yes, I get butterflies. I just try to get them to fly together in coordination and then release them with love. 

AV:  What kind of feedback have you been getting since releasing Mystical America and does this feedback (reviews, e-mails etc) ever affect how you might approach your next project? 

LS:  I’m very excited about the wonderful response to my latest CD. It’s been very encouraging and humbling. I guess it affects my approach in that I just feel very lucky to have the opportunity to continue making music, which I love doing, most of the time more than anything else. 

AV:  Being intimately familiar with Mystical America what would you like for your listeners take away from this CD after they have played it a few times?  Or upon repeated listenings over a period of years? 

LS:  I hope they just enjoy it and discover something that has personal meaning to them about the songs. There is no great message that I’m trying to convey through this album. It’s just an attempt to communicate through music emotions that I feel from places that have inspired me. When listeners hear the music they may feel those same emotions or something different altogether. And they may hear them again differently years later because as we experience more I think we hear and understand things differently. 

AV:  When will this release be available and how can AV’s readers get a copy of their own? 

LS:  MysticalAmerica is now available at retail stores nation-wide and online at Amazon.com, CDBaby.com, and DelvianRecords.com and on Itunes. 

AV:  In most interview sessions there is always something that an artist really wanted to tell their audience about their latest release but the interviewer never asked. Is there anything else about this CD that stood out in your mind and that you would like to share with the readers of Ambient Visions before we close this interview out?  

LS:  Enclosed in each Mystical America CD is desert sage incense in honor of the ancient tradition of burning sage as a spiritual blessing.

AV:  Thanks for taking the time to talk to us here at Ambient Visions and I wish you much success with Mystical America.