the making of "dance for the new world"
I started this project in 1995. I've always
for creating things, and my music has been the primary source of my
since I was young. I wanted to do something different this time around,
as I noticed that the world was going through some radical changes. My
personal world was as well at the time.
Everywhere I looked, there was new stuff going on: online technology was taking a hold of planetearth, my neighborhood where I was living began to get uglier and uglier with the advent of more narrowmindedness and white racists who spent one too many days watching "the grind" on MTV. My Friday gig at Kikuya was getting going, and I had a great place to try out new songs with the band on a weekly basis. I had been writing a lot of new music in my studio after leaving the Crusaders, which was musically a very inspiring period for me. When you are a composer, you live for the moments when the music fills your being, and you cannot record it or write it down as quickly as it is coming into you from the source. So, the obvious things came to mind as I began this project: which of these gazillion songs should I record? What is the concept of this project? Who am I trying to touch here? Nevermind the fact that I had no record deal at the time, that was the last thing I was worried about. Life was a pretty smooth cruise at the time.
I started out with the groove for "Obsession".
had been sitting in with a band one night, just hanging out with
and I noticed a girl sitting across the room. One of those faces that
takes your breath away. While I stared at her in awe, I knew a couple
things: 1) this is the kind of beauty that launches the thousand ships
that writers write about...and 2) she would never be mine. Sometimes,
just go with your feelings.....
So, after I left the club that night, I kept hearing this drum groove in my head, and a dark, haunting piano riff in G minor. They represented her perfectly to me. I went into the studio, and recorded the drum part, and began playing the piano riff. A couple of weeks went by, and one day, it was done. I tried to capture her allure, her charm, her unavailability, and the darkness which went with her innocent features. I am told she likes the result:)
"The Time Has Come" was born out of my feelings about God, and the confusion that I see in my own soul, and in the world we live in. During this period, a lot of things were bothering me: Why is so much wierd stuff happening on the planet? Why are people losing their minds? Sometimes, being an artist is a weird thing......you feel things, but you can't speak them. There was and is a lot of impending doom stuff out there.. Somehow, I was trying to balance the light and dark in my own self...and see what was going on out there. I could see that my Christian friends were of no help: most of them were struggling with their own dual natures, and failing miserably. My girlfriend was of no help, she was too worried about basic things like not having a driver's license, getting to work, etc. The church was of no help: too much hypocrisy. I just had to go inside, and find something for this one. Some of my friends who regularly visited my Friday gig were into the groove of "The Time Has Come" because I had just been playing the groove on its own at the gig. When I added the body of the song to the groove, and changed the key up to the relative major, I knew I was on to something. The melody sound was something that had been floating around in my head since an early 1995 trip to London. I wanted to add a bit of a glassy touch to the piano melody in octaves to give it a different sort of a sound. The feeling that I get from this song is one of hope and calm in the midst of inner wondering and confusion.
Ah... "Island Girls". One of my favorite topics lol....This one's just a happy little ditty that makes you forget about life, and want to dance at the islands mon. Every project needs one of these.
"Wednesday" is from my days with a new found love, and copious consumption of Samuel Adams. A few months had passed, I was in love with someone new, had a Wednesday gig, and was playing around with a series of four chords one day in the studio. I had met Zachary Breaux by this time, and was still tripping on the great musical experience I had with Ronnie Laws on the "Brotherhood" CD, which, in my opinion, contains his finest work since "Pressure Sensitive". Except for "Stairway to the Stars" from "Deep Soul", but that's a story I'll have to tell another time. Ronnie and Zach were both fond of four chord vamps, and I was as well. The question of course was, what are the four chords, and how long will it take you to get tired of them? The ones I chose, G minor9-D minor11-F minor9-Cminor11 seemed to be ones I could play over and over, and never run out of things to do over the top of them. I added a bridge which has a fairly silly bass riff in the middle (alex al thought it sounded like little men marching), and boom, it was done. I'll never forget playing these chords while looking at her picture that I kept on the piano, those were good days.
"Dance for the New World" was actually the
song I composed for this project, and its interesting that it became
title track. I am still totally in love with this song, and have yet to
get tired of its melody or beat. This was actually a summation kind of
song, and for sure an ambitious attempt at musically capturing
that was going on out it the world, and inside my heart. From a musical
point of view, you have a lot of different things all combined into one
song on this one. The melody concept is kind of like a far eastern "its
a small world after all" theme, with a little Rippingtons and Pat
thrown in. The groove is straight from Europe. The piano solo: gospel,
and floating contemporary jazz. I really like the added touch of Mark
violin on this one....each section of the song kind of takes you to a
part of the world, and then brings you back with the melody. I wanted
one to reach people of all ages...and so far, it looks like it is
folks seem to really like the piano. I've had good comments on the
from the Gen X'ers, and one fan sent me a video of her four year old
The intro to this song was sheer improvised heartfelt genius by Sarah Ingraham, who came in and sang in Indian a capella after just a reference note on the piano, what a talent she is! The words I wrote out in a few minutes consulting with my friend Michelle online, who was the real inspiration for this track. Note: If you have the CD, note that I never said "rather" in my thank you's. That may be the ugliest, and most incorrect typo I've seen to date..sorry Michelle, it wasn't me. :)
If you don't have the CD yet, here are the words that set up the song:
here in the quiet
right here alone with you
safe in the oneness
of a love
that knows no bounds
I see the challenge that lies ahead
from the darkness we emerge, and now begin
"When Love Gets Deeper" is a very nice vocal song featuring Brenda Russell, who is a consummate lyricist, and a true icon in comtemporary music. The music part of this song was one great for getting busy to...and Brenda's words really sum up making it into the best phase of love: true love, whether the person is there or not. Thanks to Eric Marienthal for some nice sax on the intro to this one.
"To Begin Again" Ah.....how many times must
start over in life? Seems like many...I see so many friends going
such nasty stuff in real life... why is life so ugly, arrogant, and
at times? Personally, it does drive me nuts. Just when I think I've got
a handle on it, it seems to take a curve in another direction. I call
WCS...the wild card syndrome. Sometimes, that's the only way to explain
things. People change. You never REALLY know anyone completely. You
REALLY know what is going to happen in life.
This song is to inspire those who are starting over at something...a job, relationship, whatever the case may be. I like the feel of this one, it reminds me of Toto's "Afrika".
I have always loved the beach. There is something so calm and serene, yet so vast and huge about it. I tried to get the feel of a perfect California day in "Ocean Breeze".
"Bustin' Out" is just straight up good old fashioned funk. I learned about funk when i was with the Crusaders guys. We had lessons. It was ugly...lol. Funk is so easy, yet so hard to get it right. The loop I made for this was inspired by an old Wynan's song, and this one has about the strangest bassline I've ever composed. So many people have asked who the sax player is on this one, and most of them are shocked to hear that it is Greg Vail. I think I need to keep reminding people that good musicians can change their style and sound to fit the mood of a piece of music. When you hear a song that you instantly know is "so and so", then you are getting that one "thing" that that artist does. Great artists are like chamelions..they change to fit the situation they are in musically, which is what Greg did on this cut. Greg's talent for playing goes far beyond his recorded music. Byron Bordeaux added great guitar and vocal stuff to this one.
and now for something completely different..................................
The song "Planetmullins" was a true labor of love to create. It took almost seven weeks of studio time. I realized after I got started on this one, that I had bit off way more than I could chew when I started out with the goal of capturing American History back to the fifties, pop world culture of the nineties, the future of the planet, the spiritual and mental states of folks of all ages, and my own personal style all at once. Whew, I thought I was going to die during this one, and my relationship with my girlfriend did die (sorry Nicole). It wasn't the groove of the song that was tough, it was all those darn soundbytes. If you listen carefully to this one, you will hear early American science fiction, Russian and NASA space flights, all kinds of races talking (especially afro-american and english). It has a duchess, a bugler (Tony Guererro on my grandfather's WW1 bugle), a lot of street thugs, some scientists, some idiots, some jamaicans, some politicians: its got one of everything just about. I lost count at 300 samples when I was making this one, it just got to be too much to keep track of after awhile. The best part of the whole song is the "rap" done by Adwin Brown. He came to the studio after I moved it to LA, and we talked about the concept of what I was trying to achieve with the song. He spent a week writing the words to the "rap" part, and it only took about five minutes to record it. All told, this song took a lot of time...I worked on it off and on for almost a year before it was done. It never fails to put me in a good mood though: its just completely out of its mind:)
"Midnite Rendezvous" just came to me one night when i was in one of those sexy, romantic kind of moods, sitting at the piano in the studio. It was a quick one, just stormed into me one night, and nearly recorded itself. Definitely THE smooth jazz track of this project IMO.
I'm sure all of you have known the pain of a relationship that didn't work out. When you truly love someone, and they go away, it can be a painful experience. For me, that feeling of lonliness is captured in the last song on the CD, "House of Broken Dreams". This song is mostly piano, and it still pains me to listen to it to this day. Its the favorite of many on the whole CD.
All in all, this CD took me two and a half years to make: and it will take you an hour and one minute to listen to. Enjoy it. I hope that the music strikes a chord in you somewhere, and you will be transported to new places in your heart, your soul, and your thinking.
get more info on rob, gigs, projects, and other fun stuff
go to the site map of planetmullins
Copyright © 1997 RME Group, Zebra Records All rights reserved.