Golan may be a relatively unknown band, and even it’s founder Sebastian Albu is an unknown. But so where The Beatles, The Stones, and everyone else at some point. It was by happenstance that I discovered Sebastian’s musical side, and I really enjoyed Silhouette, his first foray into the recording industry. I had the opportunity to talk with Sebastian, who incidentally, is a really nice guy, and damn fine on the Guitar.

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I was born in Bucharest, Romania and when I was 4 my family came to California.  My father was a concert pianist and my mother a violinist so I started off playing those instruments.  We moved around a lot when I was a kid and eventually settled in West Virginia for a number of years.  Living in that area was a huge influence on me.  I had been exposed to a lot of classical music before we came to Charleston (WV) and during those years I absorbed a lot of Americana and Roots music that I heard from my friends.  After high school I attended to the University of Pittsburgh where I studied Jazz Guitar with  Joe Negri.  Five years ago I moved to Denver to play music and to be closer to my family.
How long has Golan been around, and how did it come together?

Golan is relatively new.  I’ve been writing music under that pseudonym for some time though.  The current group with John Grigsby-bass, John Lake-trumpet and Mark Emmons-drums has been together for just a few months.  I wrote most of the music for “Silhouette” While traveling throughout Vietnam and Thailand in 2006 and then recorded it in a trio setting with Mike Thies-drums and Doug Anderson-bass.  So really, the lineup rotates, depending on what I’m writing at the time.

Is it entirely self composed music that you play, or do you also do covers?

I try to keep it mainly original music.  Occasionally we do throw in a few covers, although we try to do something different with the arrangements.  I think that it’s extremely important to try to write and play music in a way that people may not have heard before.  I have a difficult time playing the same tune the same way each time.  While it’s crucial to find your own voice, it’s just as important to use it as diversely as possible.

I was really impressed with Silhouette, the quality of the music is outstanding. But I am curious as to why you do not use a vocalist?

Often, it’s difficult to convey the emotion I want to write about with words.  Sometimes it’s really hard to find the right phrase to get the feeling across.  I find that instrumental music is more open to interpretation by the listener and so in that sense it appeals to me.  Conversely, with the right words a piece of music can be explosively powerful.  And really, the human voice is the instrument we are all trying to imitate.

I see Golan going far, in maybe the movie soundtrack business, is this your goal?

Yeah.  I’d love to hear the music in a film.  Usually when I begin working on a song, I usually have scene or image in mind that I try to accompany with music.

As I understand it Silhouette is your first CD. Is this for a label, or is it independently recorded?

Golan is not signed, but it certainly would be nice to have the backing of a label.  The album was recorded by Andrew Harling (a great engineer) at his home studio in Denver over a period of about a year.  Mike, Doug and I recorded the initial tracks as a trio and then I went in and added little things here and there.  After a certain point I had to just tell myself to stop.  I kept coming up with different ideas for things to add to the music.  It could have gone on forever.  There are endless possibilities with all of the technology available.  And even more importantly, you don’t want to lose the space and create clutter.  Even if you come up with another idea that sounds great, chances are it will get lost and sound bad if there is too much going on.

Music is much like the book and video business, it is one thing creating the product, but marketing it, to get it in front of the audience is the real trick. What are your publicity plans?

So far I’ve been doing everything myself, but it’s pretty overwhelming.  I think there’s a point when you have to have a  some help to succeed.

Who are the biggest musical influences to you?

Musically, my family and friends have been a huge inspiration.  Specifically, I love Bill Frisell, Marc Ribot, Tom Waits, Chopin, Igor Stravinsky, John Zorn, Dave Douglas, etc.  The list is basically endless.  I also like setting a musical piece to a story.  I love the author Flannery O’Connor.  She wrote this great short story called A View of the Woods.  After I read it I was really inspired and I wrote a song with the same name.  I guess that any significant experience in life qualifies as an influence to some degree.
The internet has become an important vehicle for many musicians. How are you leveraging this resource and what are your thoughts on music piracy?

I love to hear comments about the music from everybody. Good or bad. You can hear some samples on my web page

www.myspace.com/sebastianalbu   or

www.sebastianalbu.com

As for piracy, it’s a really tough subject.  At this stage, exposure is more important to me than a financial gain.  I think that it’s virtually impossible to stop people from downloading music.  Radiohead’s unprecedented move of offering their album up for free download is probably a sign of the futility of trying to stop illegal downloads.  I’m not saying it’s fair, but realistically, people will always find a way to get music for free, so you might as well just roll with it.
What is next for Sebastian Albu?

I’m already working on the music for the next record.  I really love the way the current quartet sounds and I want to capture it.  When the inspiration is abundant you have to jump on it quickly because there are always the dry spells when you just sit there with your instrument waiting and waiting and waiting…

Thanks Sebastian, and good luck with Golan. The music biz is brutal, but I suspect that you have what it takes to succeed.

Simon Barrett

http://zzsimonb.blogspot.com

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