Arborea are a folk duo consisting of Buck and Shanti Curran. They write beautiful and haunting songs and have been working constantly since the release of their first album “Wayfaring Summer”. With the release of their second album, the Terrascope felt it was time to find out more.
Terrascope: First of all can you share some of your earliest musical memories, the events that inspired you to become musicians. Were your families musical in any way?
Shanti- As a child I really loved listening to music. We had a record player and my dad had a great collection of music. He had all these great albums, Bob Dylan, Fleetwood Mac, Rolling Stones to name a few. My favourite record was Harry Nilsson's 'The Point'. I listened to that every day! When I was a bit older I listened to the Traveling Wilbury's, Mike and the Mechanics, every U2 album that was out-whatever my parents were listening to really… So I loved to listen to the music, but it never occurred to me to make music. My mother was a local Folk-Rock Singer/Songwriter- She was always playing the guitar and working on songs, she had gigs every week, and there were always other musicians around- So I think I took all of it for granted. It was just such a normal part of life. As I grew older I became very interested in photography, so my parents converted a spare room into a darkroom for me. I really poured my creativity into my photos, and thus I equated being creative as a very private internal process. Though I can be an outgoing person I'm also very shy and it was so much easier for me to hang a piece of art up and maybe you'll notice it or maybe you'll pass it by, but to stand in front of you and expose my heart and soul through my voice and fingers- it was impossible to ever consider! Buck always thought I had a beautiful voice and every once in a while I would try to sing for him- he would play something like 'Moon Dance' or some other well known song, and I would try and choke out the tune, but as soon as I sung a flat note I would be so humiliated I would give up and sometimes cry- obviously I had issues if singing would make me so emotional and nervous I'd cry...I think I was just horribly self-conscious and judgmental of myself. Sometime in 2004 my parents gave Buck a mixer that plugs into the computer, thinking to help him out with his endeavour to record a solo acoustic guitar album, but Buck shelved the project and never really took the time to learn how to use the mixer and computer program that came with it. A few days before Christmas I was struggling to come up with a gift for Buck- and I suddenly had this crackpot idea that I would learn how to use the mixer and microphone in secret and record a few songs, so I called my father and he taught me how to use the program over the phone. Everyday when Buck left for work I would lock the doors, set up the mic, and sing. When I was finished there were four songs, all acappella and I burned a CD and wrapped it and put it in a box inside of a box and gave it to him for Christmas. Judging from his reaction, my CD was the best present anyone has ever given him. We started playing music together after that, with both of us playing the guitar. The first song we ever recorded together was 'onto the shore'. When we played there seemed to be this magic that occurred between the two of us, here in our living room. There was a flood of energy and softness, almost tangible. Here, suddenly, all of this creativity was flowing around us- it truly is like being in a river, and you must float with the current! As I was so new at playing music, what I was doing was very genuine, and pure, coming straight from my heart, and Buck was very ardent and eager to play music with me. He had been waiting so long for me to come out of my shyness and greet him at this artistic and creative place, so when we came together musically it was like making love for the first time- with all these years of yearning and passion finally being expressed. Now that I am finally using my voice, I feel that it's becoming an instrument apart and separate from my personality- and so I desire to learn it and become a master of my craft. I feel strongly about the human voice's ability to create music. To sing is extremely intimate and personal and yet so accessible. I study the music of Sinéad O'Connor, Jessica Radcliff, Shirley Collins, June Tabor, Nusrat Fat eh Ali Khan, Robbie Basho especially, Jeff and Tim Buckley- I do a pretty good impersonation of Tim Buckley's song 'Pleasant Street' when I'm all alone…
Buck – When I was very young we lived in a neighbourhood of Detroit where my father had grown up. My grandmother (father's mother) played the organ and I used to love to hear her play whenever we'd visit, but my parents weren't musical really. The one thing my parents did have was a nice record collection, and that probably had the biggest effect on me, and I use to spend a lot of time on my own drawn to the music, and all the amazing cover art…it all seemed so perfect and timeless, and even at an early age I picked up on the sensuality of the music and the people involved in it. Funny thing is that I never heard my parents listen to the records except for when they would have parties. My mother bought a lot of Soul and R& B records like the O'Jays, and the Ohio Players. We also had lots of 50's/60's rock n' roll that I loved….Elvis, Jan and Dean, Chuck Berry, and Fats Domino, as well as records by contemporary artists like Jim Croce, Fleetwood Mac, and the Bee Gees. Another favourite part of the collection was the classical guitar records by John Williams, and I thought his guitar playing was so perfect and beautiful. I would listen to some of his Bach pieces over and over. The most curious part of their record collection was a copy of Tim Buckley's Greetings from L.A. and that cover art, and the photos with Tim in a gas mask used to confound me…oh, and I can't forget the covers on those Fleetwood Mac records. A pivotal moment in my musical development occurred when my father bought a classical guitar and started private lessons, but it didn't last very long and ended up under his bed. I knew it was there and the older I got, the more I became interested in learning. In 1980 we moved to Ohio and I remember watching a movie with my mother about the 60's music scene with Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix. I was simply blown away by seeing Jimi Hendrix play Johnny B. Goode, but in contrast didn't understand why all that screamin' Janice was doing was considered good….pretty funny in retrospect. Anyway, there was an older boy in our housing unit that played acoustic guitar and would sing really nice and he used to play a lot around the housing pool, and serenade my sister. I thought he was really cool and it got me to thinking about getting lessons. A couple of years later, I discovered Flamenco guitar and Paco de Lucia, and the young Django style guitarist Bireli Lagrene. Of course by this time Jimi Hendrix was everything to me and the psychedelic aesthetic, technical brilliance, and spirituality of records like Electric Ladyland had a profound effect on me, and got me thinking in a completely different way about music. By the time I got into High school my father let me trade his old classical guitar in for an electric guitar, which is what I focused on all through school and my 4-year service in the U.S. Navy. At the end of my service however, in 1990, my musical interests started to shift back to my love for the acoustic guitar and I bought my first nice acoustic guitar at the Folklore centre and instrument shop Ramblin' Conrads in Norfolk, Virginia (eventually where I would first meet Shanti). When I got out of the service I ended up getting a job at that very store and was surrounded everyday by books and records of brilliant folk music…from Phil Ochs, to Sandy Denny, Bert Jansch, and Christy Moore. We were also a live music venue, so we would host shows every week and many artists from England, like June Tabor would perform at our shop, and I've gotta say that Conrad's was really where I got my musical education. It was there, in 1991, that I first met the English guitarist Martin Simpson who’s been my biggest inspiration over the years… both musically (especially his slide playing) and from a guitar-making standpoint, as he was a big advocate for the English guitar maker Stefan Sobell and always had a very nice Sobell guitar with him. A couple of years, while still at Conrads, another inspirational thing happened. Ry Cooder and Mohan Vishwa Bhatt released ‘A Meeting by the River’…. inspirational to me from both a recording standpoint and an improvisational one. I read an interview with Ry Cooder around that time, parts of which have stayed in my mind to this day… the way he talked about open tunings, and forgoing fingerpicks and getting his fingers as intimate with the strings as possible to create more dynamics. Also the way he reverently spoke about glass slides. Of course that article led me to his brilliant soundtrack Paris, Texas. I worked at Ramblin’ Conrads for 5 years and ended up being the manager during my last year there. I left in the spring of 1995 for Colorado and sadly the store closed its doors that summer. Through most of those years I focused on playing blues and folk music and fronted my own blues trio and also played guitar for the blues guitarist Deborah Coleman, but felt constrained by traditional blues forms and started working on creating original music. So, I went on to live in Colorado, and later Ireland just before I met and married Shanti in 1997. When Shanti and I first started dating we would listen to a lot of music and I introduced her to the music of June Tabor and Martin Simpson, Sinead O'Connor, and Jeff Buckley. After we were married I discovered she had a gorgeous voice and of course started to dream about collaborating with her, but it took years for her to open up, because she was so shy at first. I knew she really had a gift though, when I'd put on some Jeff Buckley, or even some classical music and she could match those singers note for note.
Your music seems to have a reflective, spiritual quality, is this something you strive for in your songs or is it the way the music naturally turns out?
Shanti- I think that it must occur naturally. I am inspired to create music as a direct result of what we experience in our day-to-day existence here- our lives. It's not an easy and bountiful life but I think we are fortunate to have wild and delightful children and to live where we do, a place of relative peace compared to most of the world. Also, these songs are a reflection of our ideals, and what we hold most dear in our hearts, and in some sense it is fuelled by our combined romantic imagination. I think that Buck and I are dreamers, true dreamers in every sense of the word, we are constantly reinterpreting that which we understand, and we try to infuse everything with the magic that we feel. To quote a book that I'm reading called 'Off the Map' the author says, "Half of being a dreamer is dreaming and half of it is actually living in your dreams."
Buck – The music that Shanti and I create together definitely seems to come naturally, and is created spontaneously when we are together or by ourselves. A lot of ideas are created on walks in nature, where we have time to breath and reflect on things. Refining lyrics is the one thing that can be a challenge and on quite a few songs we've went back after initially creating it, and really tried to hone the lyrics the best we could. River and Rapids, and Black Mountain Road are a good example of this. On to the Shore, from Wayfaring Summer is a good example of an ode to a place here in Maine where we take our children every summer and describes through words and music the path we have to take to get to the ocean. It's a beautiful two-mile hike up a mountain and then down to an isolated beach.
Of course we have a lot of songs that deal with nature, or our union, but Phil McMullen was actually the first writer to really notice that we have a passion for songs that deal with human rights, and the human condition. Dance, Sing, Fight is definitely our little folk anthem to stop violence. The important Indy film 'Paradise Now' directed by Hany-Abu-Assad influenced the lyrics to Beirut, as well as meeting a wonderful family from Israel, who were vacationing in Maine around the time that there was conflict between Israel and Lebanon. Beirut was recorded live in one take, right after we had finished writing the lyrics. If you listen closely you can even here a police or ambulance siren in the distance. Echo of Hooves is literally an improvisation we recorded, with Shanti singing 'On our way to War'!
I first became aware of you through the wonderful Wayfaring Summer" album. Are there any earlier recordings or do you have an archive of unreleased material?
Shanti- Oh, there are a few earlier recording that I hope no one ever hears! We literally have hundreds of songs that we've started and then lost focus on. Sometimes when I'm cleaning out the computer I delete dozens of them at a time. We have quite a few new, finished songs, mostly in demo versions. These days I feel like there's a wild river of songs rushing through me…but I am in no hurry to record or release them yet. Both of our previous albums have been very spontaneous, and many of the songs were recorded just hours after writing them. On the next album I am hoping to have something a bit more deliberate, and maybe have some other musicians play with us. I would like to be able to listen to it and feel like it's as close to perfect as I am able to come. Is that even possible?
Buck – I've got older recordings, but I've never been truly satisfied with anything, I've done in the past. Shanti and I recorded a lot of improvisational music with my mini disc recorder, at night, in the hot summer air during 2005, and a few things from those sessions ended up on Wayfaring Summer, like Rain and Coda. Shanti really became my muse that summer and I really started focusing on the idea of getting a Definitive recording and capturing the music we were creating. Also, for the first time in my life it felt like I was creating music that I could really call my (our) own and, with Shanti there…it was something I could really be passionate about!
How did you feel when the album was released, especially as it seemed to gather positive (well-deserved) words from just about everyone? Did its success help you get gigs?
Shanti- You know- it's funny like that- I didn't really know what to expect when we released the CD- I guess I just threw my lot in with Buck and came along for the ride. When positive reviews started to come in it felt really gratifying. I would read the words peeking out from behind my hands, heart pounding, just waiting for someone to tear me up, but that never really happened. It truly is lovely to know that we are making music that people will listen to. How many road trips, sunny mornings, long walks, and quiet nights have we been able to be a part of? That, to me, is like cosmic icing on the cake…
Buck – After playing music for over 20 years, continually evolving and never really being satisfied doing it alone, it was amazing to start making music with Shanti. When we finished recording Wayfaring Summer, I remember going off by myself in a very quite place and listening to the whole thing from beginning to end, with headphones on, and afterwards feeling really excited that we had something special (and in many ways it was hard to believe that it was something that just the two of us had created). It's been such an amazing thing to share it with people all over the world and to get such a positive response. Marissa Nadler was one of the first musicians to really appreciate Wayfaring Summer, which led to our first gig opening up for her. WFMU was the first radio station to support our music and put it on the air. Phil McMullen and the Manchester based writer Mof Gimmers got our CD fairly early and had some really wonderful things to say about Wayfaring Summer in their reviews. We also got booked at Green Man and Tanned Tin Festival in Spain shortly after the release of the record, which was a great sign for us to move forward. The next wonderful thing that happened was that I started communicating with Helena Espvall, and then go to know Steven Tobin (the owner of Fire Museum Records) a little through email, after buying a copy of Helena's solo record directly from him.
I had a great appreciation for Helena's cello playing after hearing all the music from her solo CD 'Nimis and Arx'…her creativity just astounded me. However, it was her cello playing on the Bert Jansch recording Black Swan that got me thinking that it would be perfect to collaborate with her on some of the new material we had been writing after Wayfaring Summer came out. I had been talking with Greg Weeks and he suggested that I write to her and that's basically how things got started. The big problem we faced was living far away from each other, which is the beauty of computers, and the Internet, so we emailed her the songs so she could get familiar with them. A couple of months later she went into Miner Street studio in Philadelphia and ended up recording everything in just a couple of hours and improvised many different takes to give us lots of different things to choose from. Funny thing is that they were all so very beautiful, that we ended up using everything and creating that chamber sound you hear on Red Bird and Black Mountain Road. Shortly after, we finished up the CD and Steven showed an interest in releasing it. Shanti and I have really enjoyed working with Steven and feel so grateful that he believed in this record enough to release it on Fire Museum Records.
Talking of gigs, you seem to play a significant number, including a brief sojourn over to Europe a couple of years ago (including a slot at the Greenman Festival in Wales), how was that experience and could you tell us some of your best/worst gigs?
Buck – We've played some really fine gigs, but not as many as we'd like. I think Shanti and I (and our two children) would be happy if we could pack our house into a bus and hit the road for a lengthy time. We had a really amazing time playing the Green Man Festival, and were received really well. Unfortunately we had to leave a few hours after our gig, on the first day of the festival, so we missed out on a lot of fun. …we'd love to return. Fortunately we haven't had a bad gig yet and that's probably because we put a lot of time into rehearsing. My personal favourite gigs have been the Tanned Tin Festival in Castellon, Spain, La Casa De Los Jacintos in Madrid, and doing a session at WNYC for David Garland's wonderful program Spinning On Air. Performing in Spain was very special for Shanti and I…the Spanish have an amazing passion for music and really seem to love a lot of the acoustic music being made today.
Shanti- gigs…oh, gigs…. all that singing in front of people…I've actually learned to enjoy the stress of that. It's funny, people always say I look so comfortable and relaxed when we are playing on stage, but inside I am raging an epic battle with this ghastly monster-beast that wants to drink my blood and tear me to pieces. So far, I've always won out- but I think at the Green Man festival I fought harder with that beast than I've ever done since. I expected the Café stage to be some quiet out of the way place where a small handful of people were sprawled- out of their wits and laid to waste by some great whiskey and ale. I couldn't have been more wrong. There were tons of people there and it was only the third time I had ever played for people. I'm surprised I didn't die right there in front of everyone… I actually really enjoyed playing at the Tanned Tin Festival in Spain- I think I am evolving when it comes to playing shows. These days, the monster-beast is no more than a whimpering puppy most of the time, and I am really able to tap into that enchantment that seems to happen when we play together. We are leaving in a few days to play shows and I'm really looking forward to it!
Tell me about your songwriting process, do you bring separate songs to the table or does the collaboration start much earlier in the creation of a song?
Buck – During Wayfaring Summer, we had more time and a lot of songs were written together, through improvisation. Lyrics were often automatic writing, taking almost a Jack Kerouac approach. Alligator is a good example of me having fun with words and images that appear to be vague, but in my mind are very direct. They are my words written for Shanti, but her voice ended up being absolutely perfect for the song. River and Rapids however was an example of constantly revising lyrics, and creating a variety of rhythms with words, until it felt just right. Many times ideas would just appear and we'd throw things back and forth between us until we got something we liked. At other times, initially it can be more of an individual approach, like in Dark Horse. We were going out the door for a walk one afternoon, and just before we left I picked up the banjo and those riffs suddenly came to me. I wrote all the lyrics while we were on the walk and when we returned; we set up and started recorded and ended up with what you hear on the record. Shanti later added the frame drum, which just took it to an entirely new level, by adding imagery, at least in our minds eye. Shanti imagined a horse galloping through tall, wind swept grass, which is represented in the sections where she's brushing her finger tips across the face of the drum. Our schedules became a lot busier for the latest CD, so more of those songs were initiated apart from each other, and then we'd make changes, or add parts at separate times.
Shanti- yes, these days are quite different from when we were writing 'Wayfaring Summer'! It seems like we are always so busy and when quiet moments do pop up we aren't together. So, we make the most of it. Since Buck is often away working on the guitars, I tend to have more access to the recording equipment, so I usually start recording a song and then show him what I've got in the evening, and then we either scrap it, or continue working on it. There are a few songs on the new record that we each did separately and I think it has it's own charm to it, but I prefer to write together!
Shanti, I know that you only started writing songs comparatively recently compared to Buck, was there a specific event that prompted you to start writing?
Shanti- Well, I mentioned earlier that trying to sing in front of Buck (or anyone for that matter) would leave me feeling so nervous and vulnerable that I actually cried a few times. Spiritual growth is something I regard as a highly important responsibility that we all have, and I knew that it just was not right to let my fear of singing control me- because inside I really wanted to sing but I didn't dare to. Well, I can't live like that, and so it was I decided to take my creative spirit and direct it towards music, rather than photography or writing. During this time I also went through a period of intense, unexplainable sadness- I guess some call it depression but I didn't see it that way- I felt extremely expressive and wrote many stories and poems. I was alone too much, Buck was away, hard at work building guitars, and I was home with the children and that's no way to live a life together- not when we love each other as we do. To play music, to take my poems and make them songs instead, to play instruments and make records- that was something that we could do together, and I truly feel we were meant to do this. I believe our music comes from an inexplicable space that only exists between us. So maybe it wasn't a particular moment, just a series of events that lead to the natural conclusion that I must write music- and here I am reborn…
Buck, you make guitars for a living, does this sometimes make it difficult to motivate yourself to play, or is it a blessing for you?
Buck - The music is actually what inspires me to build. The need to have a guitar that will do the things musically that I hear in my head is one of the most important things to me. I build my own guitars for this purpose, but my day job is working for the Maine based luthier Dana Bourgeois. I've been so busy since Wayfaring Summer came out however, that my building has taken a back seat to our music. A great acoustic guitar can really inspire me as well, to make music. The instrumental Wayfaring Summer, and Plains of Macedonia on the new CD, were recorded with a 1990 Stefan Sobell guitar that Martin Simpson used to own. It was the very same guitar that Martin showed me when we first met, and the very same guitar that got me thinking about building. That guitar can sing like a choir of angels. That same Sobell directly inspired the guitar that I built and used on Leaves Among the Ruins, and Ides of March.
Tell us about some of the instruments you own, I know you have an unusual banjo lurking around the house.
Shanti- One of the awesome things about being with Buck is that he just can't say no when it comes to buying instruments for me…every year for Christmas or my birthday he has given me something remarkable- I truly love that about him. Last year for my birthday he gave me a Harmonium, which he had shipped all the way from New Delhi, India. I'm still learning how to play it, but I've used it on a few songs like 'House of Sticks', which is on a compilation put out by George Parson's Dream Magazine. On Valentine's Day he gave me a Kalimba- and I love to sit outside and pluck sweet melodies when I have the time. I've just written a song on that. The Banjo you mentioned is a Gourd Banjo that Buck had specially made for me. The body is made from a huge gourd- it looks more like a pumpkin, and it's fretless with gut strings- what an amazing sound it has- SO earthy!! Recently, Buck helped me get an endorsement deal with OME banjos, a small, family owned company based in Boulder, Colorado. They are masters of their craft and my new banjo arrived about a month ago. When I first played it I got chills, there is something so very exceptional and fertile about it- almost like it was created with sacred love. Truly, the banjo is my beloved instrument. I feel drawn and bound to it. There is something heroic about the banjo and it's history, it is an instrument of the people, not something pretentious and unattainable. It's been played on the porches and streets and fields of America for hundreds of years, first by the slaves and then by the Irish Immigrants. On it were crafted the ballads of the dispossessed, the down-hearted, the weary and overworked, and through those songs, a new strength rises up, something intangible that can never be taken away from the people- that inner fire and light that shines so brightly. If Buck hadn't given me that first banjo for my birthday several years ago I'm not sure I would have ever been inspired enough to open up and let my own light shine.
Let's move on to the latest album, simply entitled "Arborea". It is a beautiful passionate album that seems to solidify your own sounds whilst retaining a refreshing spontaneity. How did the recording differ from the last album?
Buck – The differences mainly come from the fact that the core of many of songs were initiated when Shanti and I were apart, and we'd come together afterwards and add to them or alter them. The new CD was also created during the late fall and winter, so I think those seasons added their weight and mood to the material. I do think that the Arborea sound has become such a natural voice for us, that we now individually hear and create new ideas subconsciously that come out spontaneously… sounding as if we were together…we've become telepathic in a way. Of course, the best time, is when we can carve out some time for ourselves and create together…the most rewarding too, spending time with your mate.
Shanti- Wayfaring Summer is very genuine and innocent, but there is also an element of sensuality and warm earthiness to it. I think of it as the chronicle of two lovers in the warm and fertile summer. The second Album 'Arborea' was recorded during a very lonely and harsh winter. We wanted to challenge ourselves, to see if we could completely isolate ourselves during that winter, so we stopped seeing our friends and withdrew from society. I remember thinking that I wanted to see how lonely I could get- would I drive myself crazy with only Buck and the children for company? On the first song 'Forewarned' it was Valentine's Day and I did not have a gift for Buck. It was early morning and he was away for the day, so I turned on the microphone and started singing, or wailing, and I actually lifted the banjo up to my mouth and sang into it, using it to create a ghostly echo. Then I wrote the words- it's about a woman who lost her greatest love to the wild and wicked sea. Buck loved it, and later he added his guitar to it and sea-bells. My sense of the new album is one of immense and vast loneliness- it is the story of separated lovers who have been left, forsaken, in a gorgeous and fatal place.
Can you let us know your favourites from the album, do any of the songs have a special resonance with you?
Buck – Black Mountain Road, because I think Shanti's voice sounds so gorgeous to me. We didn't use any compression on the recording so there are parts where her voice seems to swell so beautifully…gives me chills really. I also love the parts that Helena Espvall improvised on that song. Her cello is a second voice really, and both her and Shanti are like Waves on the ocean rising and falling, wild and free. I also love the sort of primitive, folk blues sound of Seadrift, and again I love Shanti's singing on this song…it's deeper, and sensual. Jack Rose has been an inspiration over the last couple of years and inspired me to improvise the guitar piece Leaves Among the Ruins. I feel connected to that piece because I woke up to a Beautiful morning and got some coffee, turned on the mic and that is what came out. When I listened back, I was pretty surprised to hear something that I felt had such defined mood and character. It can be such a rare thing for me to be happy with anything I've created on solo guitar, so I feel grateful for that piece.
Shanti- Well, my favourite song is 'Dark is the night (in the wind), after that, I love Black Mountain Road and Sea Drift. Dark is the night is a song I wrote by myself- and I played all the instruments. I did take suggestions from Buck, which helped to solidify my idea. It was recorded during the last snowstorm of the winter- in April. We had decided to go for a walk in the crazy wind and snow- and I remember being at my wit's end with this dreadfully long winter. I felt like I would never feel the sun on my skin again and I had a feeling of panic, because you know, you really can't control Mother Nature, or even give her delicate suggestions. So, I kind of snarled into the wind and said 'ok, be a bitch then, throw whatever you've got at me, I guess I'll just have to deal with it! Then we went home and I turned on the microphones and did this quirky spaghetti western type song, where I sing 'All us cry in the winter, All us fall when the north wind blows, in the wind, in the rough wind. All us bleed in the winter, all us die when the north wind blows, in the wind in the rough wind. I think spring came shortly after that, so she must have been waiting for us to bestow gifts upon her, do you think?
I also like the words to Swan, I think it kind of reflects my inner turmoil…
Does Arborea have any collaborations in the pipe-line, or new projects on the horizon?
Buck - Shanti and I are currently writing songs for our third album. We are also very interested in collaborating with our friends Margie Wienk and Jim Ayre of Fern Knight. Their latest self-titled CD is definitely one of our favourite records of the last few years. I think both Shanti and I agree that it would be nice to do some songs with more intricate and enigmatic arrangements.....like Pentangle or some of the stuff Sand Denny was doing with Fotheringay. I think taking the time and working with Margie and Jim would yield something very lush and powerful. Of course, working with Helena Espvall again would be a very beautiful thing. Time of course if the biggest challenge, for us all.
working with our friend Jose Luis Cuevas from Castellon, Spain. Jose runs
the Spanish label Borne Recordings. He’s been a great advocate for bringing
new folk acts to Spain and Europe, and will be releasing some of our
recordings in the future.
I'm also curating a Robbie Basho tribute record, a labour of love really, that will be released on Important Records in the future. I think Robbie Basho was one of the most spiritual and emotive musicians of our age and it blows me away to think that he didn’t make much of a living as a musician in his life time. His singing seems to be a stumbling block for some people, but with Basho it’s important to dig deeper. There are some absolutely gorgeous vocal moments on a lot of his records…the power and timbre of his voice. I’ve never really heard anybody pull off such moments of daring and sheer beauty quite the way he did. Some of the collaborators on the project so far include Glenn Jones, Steffen Basho Junghans, Yair Yona, Helena Espvall, Fern Knight, Rahim Alhaj, Joseba Irazoki, and Marissa Nadler.
I know that family is very important to you both, How important has their support been to your musical growth?
Shanti- A few months ago my Father died unexpectedly and tragically. We were very close and I had such deep respect and love for him. I never imagined that he would be taken from us at such a young age, I thought I had years and years in which to enjoy his company, and while I am still sorting through the stunning grief of this loss, I can tell you already that though I am changed by this, more than anything it has solidified my core values and convictions. There is nothing more powerful than love, and nothing more important than being with the people you have been blessed to know and love. Now more than ever, I strive to live and make decisions that I know my Father would be proud of and to be there for my mother in her time of deepest loss. On a lighter note, both my mother and father, while they had supported the idea of us making music, and given us the means to record our first record, really weren't into that 'slow and quiet music' as my dad would say. He was all about rock and roll and the early punk movement. So, I think it's funny that they really didn't get where we are coming from musically. It makes you appreciate that fact that we are all so diverse, even coming from the same family…
Also, having the children around me all the time helps me stay connected to the magic and wonder that exists always, waiting for us to acknowledge it.
Buck – Well our kids are a huge inspiration to our lives, but it's always difficult for me to focus on the music and not feel guilty, because inevitably it's quality time spent away from them. Shanti however home schools them both, so she's around them all the time, and she really needs that time for herself. We've gotten so busy however, that it seems that the only time Shanti and I spend together is when we are practicing or performing. Now that they've gotten older, they seem to understand better…and our daughter especially, loves to sing along with our songs. My parents, grandparents, my sister and her family really love the music Shanti and I make, but sadly we all live so far apart (we're spread out all over America) I don't get to share things with them on a daily basis.
Finally, any plans to visit the UK again, we would love to have you back.
Buck & Shanti – Oh, we are ready to move to the UK for 6 months, to live and perform. I think the ideal situation would be to live in Ireland with our friends, and go out on small concentrated tours for 2 to 3 weeks periods, come back and rest for a week, and go back out again. We'd also love to share some gigs with our friends from Manchester, the band Starless and Bible Black, and of course we hope to be invited back to the Green Man Festival next year and to set up a proper UK tour around that time period.
The charming folk from Arborea were interviewed for the Terrascope by Simon Lewis. Thanks to all concerned for a beautiful job!
Editing, Artwork and layout: Phil McMullen. © Terrascope Online July 2008
Photo of Arborea playing at WFMU used in the heading to this piece: Jim Ayre (of Fern Knight)
Alissa Anderson photographs used with permission.
Fire Museum Records: http://www.museumfire.com/arborea