Medwyn Goodall being interviewed by Morgana, about his 2012 album – Thunder Drums – Taiko.
(Morgana) First of all Medwyn, congratulations on the release of Thunder Drums. During your career, you have become well known throughout the world for producing several diverse and iconic musical styles within the New Age genre but this is the first drumming album you have produced. What made you choose Taiko?
(Medwyn) I’ve always been attracted to dramatic drums since the days of recording King Arthur, the Clan trilogy and various others, so I think it would be fair to say that drums have always been a very active element in my music. Why Taiko? I was very lucky to see a Japanese Taiko concert at The Hall for Cornwall in Truro about two years ago and the impression has stayed with me ever since. I remember noticing the drums set up on stage before the performers came on, leaning over to a friend and saying “the drums are not miked!” ; meaning I saw no microphones, or PA system hooked up on the stage. My friend just gave me this knowing smile. When they started playing you could have heard the drums 4 streets away the power and energy of them was that intense. What struck me however was the diverse sounds, and complexity of rhythms they achieved. From very soft clicking right through to the deep and dramatic. They could make the drums truly talk, it had structure not unlike composition for any other form of music. It was that concert that left me hooked and it’s remained with me until now.
(Morgana) What challenges did you find writing an album where your choice of instruments was restricted to drums only?
(Medwyn) The challenge is to honor the tradition of Taiko, which is all about how to perform on drums in a dynamic way that has incredible sensitivity towards volume, method and ultimately the composition of beats, and range of tones, which becomes a language. The Japanese are true masters of this and so I approached the album with great respect and discipline. What I didn’t want was to simply bang a few drums and slap “taiko” on as the title.
(Morgana) There is a lot of symbology, myth and legend associated with Taiko in both China and Japan. Is this an area that holds any particular fascination or inspiration for you and did you have to do much research before starting the album.
(Medwyn) I didn’t research into the mythology because for me in the end it would be judged on the sound. I was not writing a book or making a film, and so my complete focus was on performance and recording. For this I listened to a lot of the Taiko performances you can hear online, websites, youtube. They taught me a lot about the patterns one finds in Taiko.
(Morgana) Is it true that your research involved a few more visits than usual to your local Chinese Restaurant?
(Medwyn) …erm………(nods and turns pink)
(Morgana) ( . . . sees Medwyn turning pink and decides to go for a swift change of subject) . . . What message or feelings would you like to leave your listeners with after hearing Taiko?
(Medwyn). Not so much a message but an atmosphere, emotional response. Taiko has an energy to it that is quite unique. Many simply love that energy of drums, it’s a release for them. Some love to creatively dance and express themselves to drums. Others love to drum along, further still some will simply like the atmosphere or to cleanse the house sonically. Each to their own. There are many ways it can be appreciated and any artist can only hope that it will be enjoyed in whatever way people choose to use it.
(Morgana) When we last spoke a few weeks ago, you mentioned that you were thinking about producing a sequel to your 1990’s album “In the Stillness of a Moment”. Assuming this album isn’t it, what can we expect from you next?
(Medwyn). I seem to be going through a very inspired period where my mind wants to create more than my body can keep up with. At the moment I find myself having ideas for a “Great Spirit 2”, “Medicine Woman 5”, a tropical themed CD entitled “Turtle Island” , and an African themed adventure for which I have yet to decide on a title. Eventually all of these will surface but I feel it is likely “Great Spirit 2” and “Turtle Island” will arrive in 2013. “Great Spirit 2” is attractive because it lets me re-visit a style I have not returned to since the 90′s. “Turtle Island” allows me to return to the theme of the ocean, and nature and new sounds.
(Morgana) As always, here is a question for the benefit of any technical types out there. Without giving away any big secrets, what studio kit or software packages did you find to be the most useful in making this album?
(Medwyn) Over the years I’ve saved quite a collection of apt software, sounds,
and techical approaches, like “War Drums” and “Cinematic Drums”, I used those both on Clan 3. They also feature on Taiko.
(Morgana) Finally, is there a question you’ve been burning to answer that I have failed to ask?
(Medwyn) Yes, “Would you like to go for ice cream?”
(Morgana) YAYYY – now you’re talking