(Från Zero Magazine-arkivet. Ursprunglig skribent: Johan Arenbo)
SANANDA MAITREYA’s INTERVIEW WITH ZERO MUSIC MAGAZINE
Photo: Norman Douglas Pensa
Hello, Sananda, and thank you for taking your time to answer our questions! You recently released two great new chapters of your new project: The Rise of the Zugebrian Time Lords, Chapter 1: Scarabeo and: Chapter 2: Snowglobia. Did you start with a specific vision in your mind or did the chapters take shape as the process went along?
– Thank you for your interest in the work. The chapters reflect the unfolding of the vision we have when the concept arrives. We record the songs knowing in advance how they relate to the chapters and the project as a whole.The Rise of the Zugebrian Time Lords was an idea that came to me to be a companion piece to the previous project, Return To Zooathalon. The Zugebrians are the sworn enemies of the Zooathalon. The Time Lords believe in oppression, while the Zooathalon is a place where spirits grow and can reinvent themselves.
Your cover of ‘You’re Going To Lose That Girl’ is very good. What do The Beatles mean to you and your music today?
– The Beatles are like my musical fathers; their music raised my consciousness, my soul and made me want to be a musician. Returning to the songs that I first heard as a child was a rite of passage for me as an artist. Returning to my roots. Recording the songs felt like going back to school and taking final exams. I only hope that I didn’t embarrass the songs, and Liverpool.
What are your hopes and expectations with The Rise of the Zugebrian Time Lords?
– I do not live well on hopes and expectations, I let time and effort reveal the will of the moment and focus on what I can control, which is my dedication to the work, and what the songs wish to be at any given time. I can only expect that the ZTL project will reflect the most entertaining effort I can put together, in collaboration with my imagination and the spirit of the times.
Do you have a ritual: something you always do when a new record is finished? Do you go out and celebrate?
– If I went out and celebrated after I finished a project my wife wouldn’t believe it was me! I usually just wait to catch my breath and new inspiration before barreling into the next idea. My wife is the one who has to plan and insist upon vacations because we both work really hard while raising two wonderful young sons. If I have a ritual, it is to thank God for blessing me with work. Work keeps a man sane in a crazy world.
Your lyrics have a poetic quality to them. Do you approach lyric writing as if you were writing poetry?
– Thank you for your compliment, it is appreciated. The main difference between a lyric and a poem is that a poem dictates its own rhythm while a lyric has to conform to the rhythm of the structure of the song it serves. So a lyric respects the restrictions its song’s rhythm imposes, while a poem follows its own law, which it writes as it goes, if it wishes. Certainly there are many lyrics which stand alone on the page as poems, though lyrics must always cheat towards what sounds best when sung. I approach writing lyrics in service to the arrangement of the song. Meanwhile poems are written in service to the will of the word to resolve issues within itself, within its own psychology, while also celebrating its existence. Poems can also be sung! What skills I have and have earned, I try to put to the best use at all times when given the opportunity.
Photo: Norman Douglas Pensa
Your website has a wide section called ‘Writings’. You have a great gift as a writer. Have you ever considered writing a novel?
– Again, thank you for being so kind, I am honored that you feel as you do. A NOVEL? Oh My God! That would require a transformation that I have not yet made. As for now, I am more or less ‘experimenting’ with a formula that would allow me to combine several various elements into something readable. A novel would also demand a commitment from my soul that I would have to set time aside for, and reserve energy for nothing else but the novel. My suspicion is that one day in the future two things might beguile me: an Opera and a Novel, when I am ready and have incubated a novelist’s attention span. At some point I am sure to be challenged by a new horizon. I love writing songs but more awaits…
You use the term ‘Post Millennium Rock’ about your music. What does that mean? The term sounds kind of like a post-modern fusion of eclectic styles…
– And your description of P.M.R. would be as correct as any that I could give. What it also means is the permission and freedom to step beyond artificial marketing categories and simply add the ingredients to the music that have been given to me by time. I love all great music, no matter what it is called today or tomorrow. And I see no reason why I need to respect barriers between genres, which also represent barriers between communities. I am in a position to let the song itself, and not politics dictate what it needs to be. I am most grateful to be able to give something back to the music that has given me so much in my life and blessed to still be alive and capable of serving the music in a creative way. It is a great time in my life as an artist and I take the responsibility seriously.
After all the success and the things you have achieved in your life, I suppose your goals and boundaries have changed a little. What is important for you now when it comes to music?
– What is most important when it comes to the music is GETTING IT RIGHT! Naturally, one almost never does, so the game is to keep going until you do get it right, like a dog chasing its own tail. The priority is always to leave a lasting impression, if not always an immediate one. My goal is to use what time I have available to my spirit, and create as many memorable moments as God allows. I love work and the challenge of work and am very lucky that I get to work with my 2 great passions, Words & Music. I have also found that the greatest success in life is surviving it! If you can survive it without hating yourself too much then you’ve won!
You live in Milan. What does Italy mean to you? Is Milan a creative city?
– Milan is a creative city and is rich with great artistic history. Italy is a myth, it is a collection of city states and regions each still rich with the legends of their own tribes and cultures. This is why living here is such as great opportunity as an artist. So many vibrant histories and stories within reach of one nation. For an artist, it never hurts to live in an environment surrounded by proud cultures and traditions and where art is seen as vital to life and valuable to community.
Do you think growing up in the United States has had an effect on your perception of music generally?
– Growing up in the States still has an effect on many things for me. Your early training and programming stays with you quite some time. It helped me that I was born in New York, a great music city, while also being raised in the South, in a hotbed of musical styles: Gospel, Blues, Rock, Pop, Jazz, New Orleans, Memphis, Nashville, Country, Folk, Disco. For a while, I lived in Chicago and also got a good dose of music education from there. Without my American experience, I would only be at best, a choir boy without a song.
Has music always been an important part of your life? Do you remember the moment in which you realized that you could connect with others through your own musical creations?
– Unfortunately yes, music has always dominated my life, since as early as I can remember hearing the Beatles at the age of 2. She has been a bitch, but a steady one and one that I can rely upon. I LOVE MUSIC and that is why she abuses me! I guess I was about 4 when I realized that I could reach people through my sensibility, I was singing a song in church at the time and improvised what I couldn’t remember. But it worked! So it gave me the idea that my creativity could be amusing to others. You don’t need to tempt a fool twice!
Photo: Norman Douglas Pensa
Will you ever revisit your old work or do you feel like your older songs belong to another time and another life of yours?
– Yes, I feel that those songs belong to another era and place. I am honored to have an association with them and learned a lot from them in their time but I do not possess the spirit or psychology to go back to those songs. It would require of me yet another transformation, and I do not know how many transformations I have left in me for this life. Meanwhile, by nature I am a type driven ever onwards. ONE DAY I WILL LOOK BACK, if God blesses me with the time to do so. But in the meantime, there are still too many songs to write, and many visions to be blinded by, here and beyond.
What do think about George Michael’s version of “Let Her Down Easy”?
– I am very favorable to master George Michael’s version and naturally, very grateful. At this point in my life, I am not only flattered by the musical treatment given the song, sung and presented by a great and lasting artist, but I am also moved that his recording puts more food on our table to feed our two growing young sons, Francesco Mingus and Federico Elvis, who eat like race horses! Trust me, THIS MEANS A LOT. I have long considered George to be a good and supportive friend and am lucky that legends like him have some affection for my work, enough to help me feed my family. And to add validation to my long term publishing efforts. Again, I thank him. He did a masterful job and an ear for quality has always been a hallmark of George Michael’s work, as well as his own stellar songwriting.
You were once a good boxer and even won a lightweight championship. Was boxing a good training for your upcoming career in the music industry? I mean, you learned to work hard and fight for what you believe in…
– Boxing did train me for life. But this is in essence why we encourage our children to participate in sports, TO GROW CHARACTER and because all sports teach the natural laws of life in the world. All great sports help prepare us for the larger game of life. The lessons learned in a sport will apply sooner or later to us and we will know what to do at the right time, how to behave and handle the situation. Yes, boxing did teach me how to fight, how to retreat, when to rest, when to work and focus, and that ultimately even with others around you, you are still alone and cannot hold anyone else responsible but yourself. It taught me how to take a punch and how to meditate and go within. It showed me that I was capable of handling myself in the world and that within reason; I didn’t have to be afraid. Most of my time in the music industry was characterized unfortunately by too much fighting and ‘profile politics’. The energy I used to waste having to fight I now just put into the music, which benefits the music.
How do you see your future? Is your goal is to continue playing, singing and following your music to places of happiness and joy … or do you have other plans?
– I have no choice but to continue to follow my muse and her dreams, but eventually, my plan is to become a villain and try to convince a large standing army, maybe the Swedish military, to back my plans for total world domination and control. I have always harbored secret dreams of being a Third World dictator with a First World military budget. Naturally I would annex Copenhagen and give it back to Sweden. My first dream was to become Pope, though clearly now that isn’t going to happen since I like to smoke and don’t like velvet shoes. It would also appear that my goal of marrying into a Royal family met some fevered opposition, it seems like they don’t trust us pop stars very much. Better for me that when I met my wife I met my queen. I guess writing an Opera or writing and directing a film would be a cool endeavor one day. I would also be very happy to witness my sons grow into their own self-belief and happiness.
One very last question: How was your recent “Introducing Sananda tour” in Italy, France and Sweden? What is your impression of Sweden and the Swedish culture?
– I have in truth always been drawn to an appreciation of Viking Culture in general. I am a fan of history and have tremendous regard for the people of the North Star tribes. Your country has contributed much to my life as an American, where your people have had a large part to play in who we are. I am looking forward to returning to your wonderful and blessedly simple country. Your minds are fair and your women are lovely. Besides, Everything I Know About Sex, I learned from Swedish Porn! Thanks, it hasn’t hurt me at all.