Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A Brief History of the "Eternal" Project

Christmas 2008, I see  Vladimir Oboronko at a holiday dinner at his place, organized by Aeone and Paula. My friend Narina is there with me, and she and Vlad are speaking in Russian for a long time.  I don't know what she's saying, but it sounds hot in Russian. Then Vladimir tells me about some recordings he's just done up in the Bay Area with Huun Huur Tu at Fantasy studios that he's looking to mix.  I ask him to send them to me, and when I received them, am entranced by the haunting spiritual content of the songs and performances.  We meet a few days later and discuss how to take these recordings to the next level.  I suggest we speak to a number of mixers and producers, and my first choice is Carmen Rizzo. I had been a fan for a while, and thought it may be a perfect fit if he had time to work on the project. Vlad calls Carmen and he is intrigued.
January 2009, we meet with Carmen after he has heard the tracks, and have a great creative discussion. Carmen has great ideas for mixes, and agrees with me that it needs a special treatment to take it out of the purely acoustic world into something new, but just as soulful and spiritual. Both Vladimir and Carmen ask me to stay involved creatively in the project, and I officially become co-Executive Producer.
February 2009 - Carmen has made several mixes of each song, and they are quite beautiful and haunting.  He tells us he feels it needs something more to make it really special.  Meanwhile, Vlad and I have been talking about making some recordings with Huun Huur Tu and strings.  Late one night, Carmen calls me and we have a long creative discussion.  He thinks adding strings would be a good idea, so we decide to combine the two ideas, and we have an excellent session with Nikki Garcia and Alicia Bauer. Carmen mixes the tracks yet again.
March & April  2009 - After a meeting with Tom Schnabel of KCRW, we are all convinced that Carmen should have a free hand to really be as creative as possible with the tracks - the direction they are going in is so promising, that we officially change the album from being mixed and produced by Carmen to a full collaboration. Carmen adds trumpet and ethnic instruments, beats and even more layers of sound to create what now is the unmistakable sound of "Eternal".
May 2009 - As we get ready to master the CD, Vladimir calls us with exciting news. His partner Sasha at Greenwave has booked a concert for Huun Huur Tu at a festival in Perm, Russia, and the budget will allow them to fly Carmen and me there to create the live version of "Eternal" with Huun Huur Tu. I become the musical director, to create arrangements for string quartet and play backup keyboards for Carmen in the live show.
June 2009 - Carmen creates the live version of the songs from "Eternal", while I write string arrangements, as Valdimir and Sasha finalize the details of our trip to Russia. Menwhile, Bill Smith, the booking agent puts together a mini-tour of 4 US dates in September for the show.  This will be the advance before our full tour next year.
July-August - The record is released and "Eternal" takes off.  It is embraced by radio in both the World Music and Electronica categories, and is the most added CD to college radio for several weeks. The reviews start coming in and they are stellar, and what was once just an idea discussed  over coffee becomes a reality.  Now, as Carmen says, "we are building the ship that will sail next year". Carmen and I rehearse the last 2 weeks of August, and now we are all bound for Russia to start the next chapter of this great adventure.


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