Medwyn Goodall being interviewed by Morgana, about his 2012 album – Moon Goddess II.
We are seated in a recording studio in a secluded part of Cornwall on a warm, sunny afternoon in August 2012. As you look around the pinewood interior, you can’t help feeling renewed by its pleasant atmosphere of creative energy and calm. The lighting is tastefully subdued and a collection of LED lights sparkle from a rack of recording equipment, like tiny stars, adding their colours to the room and casting their sparkling reflections across an impressive display of framed gold and platinum discs which adorn the fabric-hung walls. A collection of guitars and a mandolin stand in line, ready to add their distinctive touches to the latest piece of music as it unfolds. As our interview begins, a large ginger cat wonders in from the sun-dappled grounds outside and stretches out lazily for an afternoon nap in a cat-nest in the far corner of the room. From a small wooden shelf above, a carved wooden owl looks on. In such peaceful and unique surroundings it is not difficult to imagine the artist at work – the artist is Medwyn Goodall.
(Morgana) First of all Medwyn, congratulations on the release of Moon Goddess II. For the listeners out there, Moon Goddess II follows closely on the heals of Earth Healer 2 as your second “Retro Med” album. It has South American flavours, soulful guitars, a bright mood of optimism throughout and incorporates many of your signature sounds from the time the original Moon Goddess album was released in 1996. What made you decide to rediscover your earlier earlier style?
(Medwyn) It wasn’t so much a decision as a natural evolution, completing a circle. Enough time had passed for these sounds and styles to be nostalgic, fun, and fresh again, both for me and the audience. I’d also reached the end of a long journey of self discovery, pushing my own limits and evolving with new styles, I had simply reached a point where I was tired of doing that and came home again.
(Morgana) Have you any more retro-albums planned and what message or feelings would you like to leave your listeners with after hearing this album?
(Medwyn). Oh yes having re-discovered my own past, I now have plans for “Great Spirit 2” and a “Medicine Woman V”, but to bring Medicine Woman back to its roots again. I’ve been toying with an “In The Stillness 2”
The intention with these retro albums is always the same, to pass on positive energy. They are all feel good albums, cheerful, and calming. They don’t demand anything of you other than to feel good. Nothing deep, no FX, no heavy story, they are all very upbeat and happy. A simple emotion that we could all do to have more of.
(Morgana) What is your favorite track on the album and why?
(Medwyn) I very rarely have a favorite track, I think thats because I work hard to consider the ‘whole’. Each album has its own voice, so I end up having favorite albums.
(Morgana) Rumour has it that you have been spending a lot of time recently trawling through eBay for items of studio kit you used to have in the 1990’s. Have you sold any pieces of studio kit during the past few years that you now wish you hadn’t?
(Medwyn) LOL yes that’s true. When I started Earth Healer 2, I proudly restored all my old equipment back into the studio, but when I switched on my Roland U220, which is an old synth, it fried itself instantly. So I did end up finding a restored unit on EBAY.
I haven’t sold anything that I regret, but I have worn out bits of kit that I wish I still had. I destroyed a Roland D70 and a Korg M1 and various guitars, incuding a Fender strat and an old Gibson SG. They all got burnt out, broken keys and so on. I used to have a massive Mackie mixing desk, 64 channels of buttons, I was sad to see that go, but then again I wouldn’t go back in time.
(Morgana) Did you manage to acquire everything you wanted . . . and how easy was it to interface it with the rest of your studio equipment?
(Medwyn) Todays equipment is designed to be digital and work with computers, whereas everything from my past that is heard on Earth Healer 2 and Moon Goddess 2 is either a real acoustic instrument or is considered ancient technology. So whilst it isn’t too much of a problem to get things linked up, the problem was recording the older keyboards because of the dirt in the sound. They produce so much hiss, and noise and bad bass tones. I mainly used a Roland D50 from my past, and it’s a bit of a pain to record I must admit, one key doesn’t work, and the left of its stereo output would conk out half way through something lolol…but as soon as you hear it you go “oh that’s Medwyn”. It’s a signature chord sound, very warm and soft, so it is worth the effort.
(Morgana) Given the mix of old and new technology you have used to produce this album, what has been the hardest part of the process? Does the experience make you want to ditch modern technology and go back to old ways of working?
(Medwyn) I’d never swap new for old, no way lolol… Old school recording amounts to a tape machine and recording take after take after take. You could spend a week getting a Mandolin part correct. Now you can erase any error, and edit in a new performance to correct it. Everything is easier, faster, and gives you so much control over the sound, a level of control we could never dream of when we were huddled over an 8 track or 16 track and a few EQ buttons on a mixer that produced enough hiss to mimic a steam factory.
The past was far more hands on, more about performance and being a musician that forced you through limitation to be creative and to write well, and that is what these retro albums are about, it’s more about me writing tunefully, and playing a real instrument and not relying on as much technology. It’s more of a live unplugged sound, because that was what it was like before computers took over in studio’s.
(Morgana) Talking of real instruments and hands-on performance, people out there are going to love your guitar track “Eyes of Love” – surely destined to be another MG classic. In the interests of balance, here’s a question especially for the nerdy types out there. What synth modules and software packages did you find to be the most useful in making this album?
(Medwyn) There’s actually very little on the album, some of the drums came from RMX and some of the more obvious synth sounds came from Omnisphere, beyond that it’s all guitars, mandolins, and 2 old Roland keyboards, a D50 and a U20 etc. Apart from the actual mixing of the album which uses WAVES and LEXICON processors to mix and master with for the advantage of getting today’s sound quality.
(Morgana) Finally, is there a question you’ve been burning to answer that I have failed to ask?
(Medwyn) Yes, when’s dinner?
(Morgana) LOL – I’ve brought it with me as agreed ( . . . passes Medwyn four packets of crisps and a Toblerone). Thank you Medwyn, I wish you every success with Moon Goddess 2.
(Medwyn) Thank you! Shall we let the cat out now?