AV: How would you introduce the project, and the album name?
JG: The title In Awe, tells a lot about the story of this record. I wanted it to feel like light through trees, an open vista or evening light intertwined with the inner connection to God. Silent prayer and contemplation are valuable to me, yet a walk in nature moves me instantly in conversation with the Loving Creator. So, it’s a moving meditation which simply says, “thank you for the beauty around us, and for the deeper purpose we can experience.”
AV: What is new about your approach since your previous album, Full of Life?
JG: I think every project has its own voice, often connected with personal growth and change, while building on the past. This record feels a bit bigger and to me, hopeful and positive while still creating a peaceful space. I allowed for more standard verse, chorus, bridge structures to give this feeling of moving through the desert or beside the ocean.
AV: How would you describe your process and technology?
JG: For most of my projects, including this one, my music starts with a guitar, a looper and reverb. This record I used a few more musicians' input including Sean O’Bryan Smith on bass, Mitch Ross added live drums on some of the songs, along with the voice of Kim Daniels.
On Everyday Miracle, I had a synth bed sent to me by Benjamin Fleury-Steiner. After years of recording to tape, I finally am getting comfortable with the computer. My last record, Full of Life was the first I’ve done completely this way and I played or programmed everything. This time, along with my musicians, I used piano and string samples, processed and played drum and percussion loops, and used various new plugins.
For guitar, I used mostly my trusty Ovation 1867, a Paul Reed Smith electric. On Gratefulness I used a Telecaster. Sometimes I doubled the acoustic and electric. Much of the background ambiences are guitar loops. I did use more piano sounds on this record. Even though I’m now comfortable with the computer, I still try to keep it organic as well, using takes from beginning to end and editing when needed. Throughout the process of layering and making instrument choices, it really comes down to intuition.
AV: Is there anything on IN AWE that may not be obvious to the listener?
JG: There is an underlying kick drum that appears in and out of some of the pieces that gives the feeling of movement. Then, it stops and becomes a place to just be in awe of that space. As for the guitar, I’ve been working with Robert Fripp’s New Standard Tuning and picking techniques on about half the pieces from Full of Life and almost all of In Awe.
AV: If we were to quote you, what would you say about this album?
JG: Right now my quote would be, “everything is miraculous.” Spirituality has always been central to my purpose and music. In growing spiritually, I’m finding science and spirituality to be symbiotic and more miraculous with every discovery. . I have no need to defend a specific doctrine anymore, but just celebrate that the same Divine Presence has always been here and available to all.
AV: Who or what influences you and your music?
JG: As stated earlier, moving through nature and spiritual connection is the biggest influence on this record. I do think though, some of my love for 80s music like the Cocteau Twins and Peter Gabriel snuck in, along with more minimalist classical composers like Arvo Part and Max Richter.
A few writers have had great influence on me: Thomas Merton, Henri Nowen, and Richard Rohr. Recently, I recently found an essay by a Native American named Ohiyesa, which speaks about “the miracle of the ordinary.” This writing has been very powerful and speaks so eloquently and simply to this connection with nature and Creator.
AV: Any special shoutouts?
JG: This album is dedicated to all who might be renewed or encouraged by the positive, peaceful space of In Awe.
All songs written, produced and mixed by John Gregorius
Ambient Visions Best
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