Symphonies in sound and imagination: exploring Sahona with Charly Sahona

Charly Sahona_RingMasterReview

2016 received one of its early treats just a few weeks back with the release of the self-titled Sahona album. It was the debut release from the new melodic rock project of vocalist/guitarist/keyboardist Charly Sahona of progressive metallers Venturia. It is a release which is, in our own words “a rousing drama of sound and imagination.” Offered the chance to find out more with Charly, we grabbed a hefty chunk of his time to explore the creation of the band and its first album, and simply the creative heart of the man…

Hi Charly, many thanks for sharing time with us. How are things in the Sahona area of the world?

Hello, thanks for the invitation. Well, things are fine here. The album is out and so far, reviews have been very positive about it . We’re about to release a new music video and shoot a new one. I’m working like crazy in order to perform these songs live as soon as possible . So, I can say I have a good life .

Before we look at your excellent debut album, would you tell us about the first days of Sahona. It was originally meant as a solo project for you?

Oh thanks, I’m glad you like it !!! Sure, you’re right , at first, the album was meant to be a solo project and more precisely, the follow-up of Naked thoughts from a silent chaos released in 2010 but the songs are quite different and so are the musical arrangements and the line-up. So, the first days of Sahona as a full band are recent but the writing of the songs began in 2013. Oh It actually took a lot of time before we recorded and released it .

What sparked the creation of the project; what was it you wanted to explore different to your music in progressive metallers Venturia

I really wanted to do something different with this one. I like my musical-making to be in a constant motion. At the same time It’s necessary to stand back with the last thing you released and start something new with fresh ideas and enthusiasm. For this project, I wanted to write something without any heavy riff played on a 7-string and focus on different musical textures, guitar sounds and new grooves.

You touched on it earlier, so you had a collection of ideas and songs already in the works before you invited fellow musicians to help out?

Yes, after I finished the first 4 demo-songs, things were clear in my mind and I knew who I wanted to work with. I like to make music with talented people of course but it’s always better when you do it with your friends. So I first asked drummer Stéphane Cavanez to join me , I’ve known him for a long time, he’s a brilliant musician, very enthusiastic about things. After hearing the demo version of On this winter night , he said he would agree to play on all the songs . Same thing with my long-time friends Fabien Paraillac and Cédric Artaxet; I don’t remember exactly if I sent them the first four demos before asking them to join me but anyway, both of them agreed. I was very glad and happy they all said yes to join me for this project. I knew they would sound great together and that my songs would have been transcended thanks to them .

sahona_RingMasterReviewSo what was the catalyst to changing the idea of guest musicians to a full band?

It was something I had in mind for a while , as the songs have a different sound compared to the things I did before. As we were recording, there was an obvious musical chemistry going on and it reinforced me to think about having a band name for this project. So I talked about it with Chris from Dooweet agency and to my buddies. We all thought that the idea of the band was obvious and as the name Sahona sounds cool for a band too, the choice was done, easy to make and I didn’t have to scratch my head during days in order to find a new name . The other thing is: as the musicians are my friends, the idea of having a band together was something natural. More, I really like to immortalize music with talented friends.

Was it an easy to decision to ‘share’ your songs with I am guessing musicians with their own adventurous ideas when creating music?

Sure, it was very easy as we’re all professional musicians . There was no ego thing that could have been hard to deal with . I wanted a more organic sound and a sophisticated modern rock approach and I knew what my band mates were able to do .

For example, the drums I programmed were done in a prog-metal style and Stéphane brought a more refined  rock groove, I let him do his stuff as everything was matching .

As I’m the lead singer and as there are many guitar layers on these songs it was obvious to ask for help and some back-up . I couldn’t imagine another guy than Fabien to play the guitar with me on this album.  We have the same guitar approach but he’s more rock than me.

We recorded a lot of different guitar takes and during the mix, we chose what was best for the song no matter if it was him or me playing….

He did an amazing job on the mix too. Just like his guitar sound, all the songs sound powerful and organic.

Regarding the bass, there was a couple of things I asked Cédric to play the exact same way I did on the demos. But as my bass programming was voluntary basic most of the time, he added his own personality and groove that matched perfectly Stéphane’s drumming . He even changed some root notes that at first surprised me, and the more I listened to it, the more I liked it.

In the end, everything felt easy and natural.

Did their input mean your songs changed or evolved from their original characters once the band was a full involvement of all?

No, not really but I guess things will evolve when we’ll perform live. It’s a natural process and it’s important for us to make slightly different things when we play the same songs over and over.

When writing songs, do you come at them from different angles or have a general way of bringing them to life from idea to sound?Album cover_RingMasterReview

I usually have a precise idea of how the album or a song will sound like even though the root of all songs is based on a guitar or keyboard chords progression and a simple hummed melody . Then, I’ll program a midi file of what I just did. If the melody sounds good with a bad flute midi sound and a midi bass line, I keep the idea and will have a clearer vision of how it will sound like with all the instruments. Then I’m thinking about what kind of drum beat, bass line, guitar riff, and keyboards texture would fit with the idea of the song and at this moment, the creative process is growing fast. Or, not that fast actually because getting the right keyboard sounds or guitar effects takes me a while very often. When I’m programming , I have in mind how my band mates would play it and that’s the reason why I’m never really surprised (although I’m always amazed) when they bring the songs to life with their style and their sound. It sounds obvious to my ears and at the same time I’m so excited to hear what they bring to a song and to discover how it takes the song to a higher level.

Tell us about the lyrical themes behind the album.

Sure ! I decided to do something I never really done in the past.  I wrote about the most widely expected subject in the world: Love !!! But not the way girls like it though (no offence intended girls, I’m just kidding !!!) .

Reading and writing romantic and soppy stuff are not my thing at all as I’m a cynical and rational guy . So the majority of these lyrics are about love and its frustrations and turbulences . It’s way more interesting, true and realistic in my opinion. But when I say “love”, It doesn’t only mean the feelings you have for your girlfriend or your boyfriend,  I use it for the passion you have for your art or whatever that excites you too, it can be painting, sport, your beliefs and then we’re slightly get into the spiritual aspect and themes I like to write about as well.

Most of my lyrics are not explicit, this way people can identify with them and make their own story.

I usually prefer to describe impressions than reality.

What about the recording of your self-titled debut? How long was it in the making?

It’s funny because it took a long time to finish it (something like two years !!!) but the writing and the recording were actually very fast and easy to do. As we’re used to record in studio, we know how it works and we’re getting more and more efficient and good at it. But as we didn’t have any deadline or expectations,  we took our time to record it. The rule was to get together when we were able to do it only. It was: job, touring with cover bands, tasks and family priorities first. This way, we were in a very relaxed state of mind and every time we forgathered, it was for fun.

Ok, the album was supposed to be released in late 2015 but for commercial and administrative reasons it got more delayed .

Did you approach its recording differently to creating releases with your other projects?

Yes and no … As it’s the 5th album I’m producing , I’ve learned through the years with amazing people and  I’ve also learned from my mistakes. Today, I know the importance for everybody of being prepared and how to record the best way possible taking into consideration the people you work with as every musician has his own preferences and personality. And that’s how a recording session can be different from the ones you experienced in the past: it depends on your line-up as well. So I asked my band mates about the way they wanted to record and I just let them do it their way as it’s extremely important for artists to work the more relaxed and efficient way possible.

But the thing that changed a lot for me was to share the guitar parts with Fabien but it was so exciting to hear him play with a different strumming and sound than mine and then mixing our guitar tracks together. I really enjoyed it .

Oh, and there was another great thing : My vocal takes were recorded home with a very cool equipment a friend of mine lend me.

This way, I took my time…I was recording one full song a day and the day after, if something was not exactly the way I wanted to be, I just had to press the « rec » button again and it was done. I don’t like the feeling of recording in a studio with time passing, all the money you know you’ll have to spend, the people around you even if it’s your friends. I did it many times in the past and I can tell you how relieved I am to work and to record alone at home, it gives me so more freedom and offers you more possibilities.

sahona_RingMasterReviewHave you found there has been an instinctive urge to do things with Sahona and the album differently to your other ventures elsewhere, just out of the want to try different things?

Yes, as I told you, I wanted to have a different musical approach, a different sound, a different line-up. But on the top of that I really wanted to express myself to another level, and the best way possible as a singer and I’ve been working hard to achieve that. Maybe, being the singer of your own songs reinforces the introspection aspect of the creation. This is not to say that this album sounds more like “me” than the previous ones I did with another lead singer, it’s just different . But as you give more of yourself as a performer, it makes the thing more introspective and maybe more intense and that’s what I wanted to achieve too.

I always imagine a debut album breeds new ideas and opportunities to try and explore further in its successors. Elements not imagined and expected when composing that first encounter. Were there any which arose for you in the making of Sahona’s debut?

I’m always excited to explore new territories, new sounds, new chords progression, new ways of making music. Having a more or less precise idea will always push you to go further in order to create something new and interesting. Listening to different music, going to the theatres, reading books, talking with people, playing with musicians…All this things are inspiring and maybe it if it’s not always a conscious thing, it will incite you to evolve as a human being and inexorably in your art and in your life indeed. This is something I like to be aware of and thankful to.

What comes next for Sahona and its individuals?

We have to play live as soon as possible and we have to work hard for that. We intend to begin a tour in our country in September. Then we will focus on the next album as we’re all really happy about this debut one.

My thanks again Charly for talking with us; Anything you would like to add?

Thanks for having me !!! Congrats to the readers for reading this interview so far and thank you Pete for spreading the word about the music you like whether it’s mainstream or underground .

And finally, give us an insight into the records and artists which could be claimed to have most inspired your own life and creativity.

Oh my god, they are so many . But let’s try to do it fast. I’ve always been a fan of classical music but the one from the early 1900 with composers like Ravel, Bartok, Debussy, Prokofiev, Rachmaninoff. As a guitar player I’m a huge fan of guitar heroes like Steve Vaï, Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal, John Petrucci. I’ve always been into progressive music with bands like Genesis, Rush, Yes, Dream Theater, Frost, Opeth and I’m really into their contemporaries with the young prog underground scene like Destiny Potato, Disperse and especially with the metal djent scenes with bands like Periphery, Tesseract, Monuments who took progressive music to a new level. I like rock and pop music too with bands like Muse, Radiohead, Keane, Dead Letter Circus.

All these bands and musicians have inspired me in many ways indeed.

Check out our review of the Sahona album @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2016/03/02/sahona-self-titled/

https://www.facebook.com/sahonamusic/

Pete RingMaster

The RingMaster Review 21/03/2016

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

For more exploration of the independent and promotional services check out http://www.zykotika.com/

Law 18 – Self Titled

Law18_RingMasterReview

There is little we can tell you about Italians Law 18 beyond that they come from Milan, were formed in 2011, and are a quintet playing “hardcore groove /crossover stoner”. Actually there is one more thing, and that is that they recently released their self-titled debut album and it is one slab of deranged rock ‘n’ roll that we for one have become increasingly fond of.

That description of their sound is lifted from the band’s Facebook page and only tells part of the story, a small clue to the off-kilter fusion of styles the band weave into their compelling creative revelry. Across the album’s nine tracks, you will find everything from groove and nu metal to thrash and hardcore, stoner and punk through to funk and plenty of other bold strains of sound.  Its songs are raw and inventive, ranging from psychotic and quarrelsome to eccentric and tenacious, very often all at the same time, and for the main compelling fun.

The album opens with Dwarfs & Cowboys and an immediate mesh of rich grooves and punkish vocals led by Alessandro ‘Ale’ Mura. Bold rhythms align with Lorenzo ‘Pero’ Perin’s riffs to add thick aggression whilst lead guitarist Davide C springs sonic tendrils into the tempest, a mix which bullies and entices like a mix of Pantera and Suicidal Tendencies as the track develops. It is a relatively straight forward offering but prone to contagious thrash bred surges of intensity amidst sonic drama, each becoming more volatile and extreme with every passing second.

The following You Blind is similarly sculpted but with a swifter eagerness to show its instincts in pushing its boundaries and infusing broader textures of sound and flavours. Hardcore and metallic voracity unite as the initially band prowls before launching a torrent of rapacious grooves and rhythmic agitation upon the senses. It subsequently eclipses its strong predecessor before being outshone itself by Hollow Earth Society. From the initial grazing of guitar and the predacious beats of drummer Luca Ferrario, the song has ears and attention gripped, more so when it slips into an unpredictable web of warped sounds and imagination from its early bout of muscular rock ‘n’ roll. The new and riveting enterprise uncaged is unmistakably System Of A Down inspired and quite irresistible, even with its familiarity to the Californian band, as Law 18 infuse their peculiar strains of heavy and anthemic textures.

art_RingMasterReview The dramatic invention continues with Dominus Caeli, a track opening with a flirtatiously seductive bassline from Lorenzo ‘Tarzan’ Colucci which then incites further jazz/funk exploits from rhythms and guitar. Like an abrasive fusion of Toumaï and Trepalium, the track grumbles and rumbles with punk lined irritability whilst creating an unstoppable and virulent contagion of grooves and raucous aggression. Further building to a hungry prowl courted by unhinged vocal teasing, the song is a thrilling slice of rabid, in sound and invention, metal fired rock ‘n’ roll.

The bass of Colucci again provides a great start to the next track; its heavy pulsing growl the lure into Dirty of Blood and spark for another hellacious assault of hardcore fuelled raging before Leather’s Wreck shares its own expectations foiling landscape of creative bedlam. Both tracks in their contrasting lengths show more of the band’s striking imagination; the brief fury of the first slipping into a mischievous discord hued swagger for a great psyche twisting moment whilst the second provides a noise rock shaped avant-garde adventure. As raw and imposing as it is sonically and melodically seductive, the harmonica skills of Mura excelling with its bluesy expression against the similarly hued guitar resourcefulness of Davide C, the track offers seven minutes plus of ear pleasing and imagination stirring incitement.

An addictive swing and stroll spines the anthemic persuasion of the following Mirror Reflections; its boisterous and pushy antagonism an uncompromising brawl of forceful punk ‘n’ roll. In time, it too evolves as rhythms spring into a demandingly infectious shuffle within post punk like scenery before returning to its tempestuous and bruising rampage of punk metal loaded rock ‘n’ roll.

Rage Against Me roars with defiance from every blues rock pore next as intrigue surrounds each turn in its bracing funk ‘n’ punk stomp. Driven by a grouchy stamping of its rhythmic feet and mass vocal irritability, there is no escaping its instinctive catchiness and highly persuasive ire or from the avalanche of riffs and crushing rhythms which shape closing track 2010. Unleashing a host of heavily spiced grooves, barbarous hooks, and a contagious energy which has bodies as involved as ears and imagination by the parade of vocal provocation across the band, the track is a maze of sonic invention.

It is a great close to an album which grabs attention from the off but really blossoms as a whole and excels in its individual elements with each subsequent venture into its frenzied rebellious world. Law 18 has sculpted something very worthy chunk of anyone’s time but especially for those with a taste for bold yet organic blurring of genre walls but still simply want unbridled rock ‘n’ roll.

Some bands and releases just seem to be on the same wavelength as personal creative adventure;

The Law 18 album is out now @ https://law18.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/Law18band/

Pete RingMaster 21/03/2016

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

For more exploration of the independent and promotional services check out http://www.zykotika.com/

Phobophobes – No Flavour

 

Photo by Keira Cullinane

Photo by Keira Cullinane

Phobophobes is a British quintet releasing their debut single this month and though it is only one song heard, it is hard not to join the clamour of suggestion that the Londoners are going to provide the UK music scene with a new and fresh spark over coming years.

No Flavour is the name of the band’s first single, a track which shares its virulent psych pop/garage rock enterprise with a vaudevillian like mischief whilst instantly shedding light on many reasons why the band is causing a stir. Formed in 2014 within the creative belly of Brixton, Phobophobes consists of vocalist Jamie Taylor, guitarist George Russell, bassist Elliot Nash, drummer Dan Lyons who played in the original line-up of Fat White Family, and keyboardist Chris OC also plays in Meat Raffle. Fair to say, the band has earned a glowing reputation across the capital and beyond for their stage presence and sound, something sure to blossom just as eagerly elsewhere once No Flavour escapes the shadows.

Thick swinging beats hit ears first, their resonance as enticing as the fuzzy edge to the emerging guitar. Once keys dance in with flirtatious melodies, that carnival-esque hue is working away on ears and imagination, being only enhanced by the controlled barker like tones of Taylor. The virulence of sound is echoed in the vocals, especially in their broader prowess in a chorus for which there is no antidote for its incitement of listener involvement.

Continuing to bounce and enslave, the song swings and thrills like something akin to The Doors meets early Horrors meets Tankus The Henge, with added Cardiacs like mischief, to match that of the lyrical side, for keen measure. The track is manna to ears and imagination, with no complaints from feet and hips either. Coupled with a reportedly “extraordinary version” of Leonard Cohen’s Tower of Song on the B-side, a pleasure we have yet to hear, No Flavour is a mighty introduction to Phobophobes, a band as mentioned earlier, it is easy to suggest has a very potent future ahead of them.

No Flavour is released March 25th on 7” vinyl and download on BAM Records (via Republic of Music).

https://www.facebook.com/Phobophobes/   https://twitter.com/PPhobes

Pete RingMaster 21/03/2016

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

For more exploration of the independent and promotional services check out http://www.zykotika.com/