Interview with Anjael
You are known as "The Man with the Blue Face". Can you tell us the significance behind the blue face and why you decided to roll with this image?
Anjael: Foremost, blue happens to be one of my favored colours. I choose blue as it is also the colour of the wide expansive sky which accepts us all irrespective of our caste, creed or colour and it also happens to have a spiritual meaning behind it mainly, something stemming from my own spiritual practices of universal brotherhood to fight various forms of prevalent poisonous racism & allied poisons globally. A statement , to make the onlooker feel either comfortable or nervy and it also reflects the state of ones soul and consciousness ie what do you think when you see a blind man? A lame or a deaf person? Do you consider yourself better? Lucky? Or does your heart actually sympathize with compassion? Do you judge the person who is poor and cannot wear expensive clothes but, is extremely nice as a person? Etc etc I see the reactions when they see my blue face.
You've been in the music industry for at least 30 years. Of course music has become a major part of who you are. Can you tell us how music started for you?
Anjael: My very beginnings in music as a toddler aged 5 fully immersed in mid-Eastern, eastern & western classical music in a very illustrious multi cultural family where music was the life blood. Both my parents were renowned musicians and my dad was by far a gem of an artist, fantastic painter, sculptor,linguist, a brilliant bellow organist, Mid Eastern Mawal ie Ghaezal singing expert & composer He was of royal descent from one of the Mid Eastern Royal families and had left all riches behind to travel around the world to study spirituality and advanced music from many a teacher in particular to my memory and was much sought for his advanced skills as an leading exponent of spiritual music.
He interacted with the legendary Duke Ellington over 1963 if my memories serve well. He was friends with the American drummer called Jo Jones , Violinist Leon Abbey, Ravi Shankar, close friends with the Indian Sitar Maestro Nikhil Banerjee, Mr.Teddy Weatherford a great musician who died in abroad, the legendary Yehudi Mehunin, friends like the great Indo-Pak Ghaezal singer Begum Akhtari Bai , he met Charlie Byrd and Dizzie Gillespie I think he said 1954 or some when they toured the East and the list would be endless and in spite of thousand requests and many great offers from radio, TV, playback singing he would turn it all down to focus on his work as an ambassadorial liaison in Mid East, Europe and S.E Asia and working for an Italian tire company.
I have nostalgic recollections of so many nights in my beautiful fathers lap as a little boy listening to him sing with rapt attention, his divine eyes lifted towards the sky, smiling with the essence of grace and my mother would be serving the guests who came from various nationalities far and wide to hear him sing at private concerts.
Hence you can see real music is in my blood and heritage and yes it did not come easy as my dad died when I was very young and life changed drastically 180 degrees. My mother tutored me in the rudiments of all music and I owe my musical knowledge to them both and other teachers who appeared from time to time and guide me here and there and that is how it all started.
You've worked with some big names in the business like David Gilmore of Pink Floyd, Gregg Dechert of Uriah Heep, and Bad Company. How are you involved with them?
Anjael: I am not involved anymore and its been a long time now since my last involvements with anyone “Popular” and really I do not care about that anymore:-).I have spent last so many years , I was part of an Indo-Jazz fusion group for 7 years which had nothing to offer to me. I at one time over 1985 was saving money to go join a band as a lead vocalist in underground rock metal UK music scene but, a destined meeting with the fantastic spiritual musician Mr.Richie Havens happened in 1986 at the same stage and platform I also met the amazing Wishbone Ash with shining flying V guitars:-) and this changed my course a bit. I think it was also in that year or a few years after I encountered two fabulous guitar players, Kevin Eubanks (we became fans of each other in Goa) & Vernon Reid of Living colors -the amazing group. Shared stages with Didier Locke wood but, not together and I also encountered and became mutual fans with the great guitar hero Shawn Lane a few years before his untimely demise.
Another encounter with the worlds best African group OSIBISA in 1982-3 whose “Woyaya -we are
going” song changed my life so much..Oh I so fondly remember the Conga player Daku Potato,Sol Amarfia the powerful drummer, Farhan Freere from star gazers,Teddy Ossei, Paul Golly, Kiki Djan hmmm wow!
Me & Gregg Dechert work a lot and we are both very reluctant musicians picky and choosy on who to work with and we do not care if someone is very famous.
Who else have you worked with?
Anjael: No I have not worked with too many well known names but,have worked with very serious musicians very less known outside only in certain circles and I could not make contacts or promote myself as many of my former musical friends in the circuit would not allow me to flourish and I also had a ailing widowed mother to attend too. I technically have some friends who are quite well known Internationally but, I am sad they never kept their word.
My very recent work has been with the fantastic Afro-Cubano Conga player Senor Oscar “De Conga' Dominguez of El Salvadore- a young but, composed matured player with a very keen ears.
You are a guitarist, a composer, clarinet player, and singer. Did I miss anything? What instrument are your most passionate about?
Anjael: Yes I am as per the tradition of Tariqate Roohani Baz School given to me as a torch bearer from its last keeper my Teacher Piran Pir Shah Wali Husseini & my parents as an extension of the esoteric Rabbi school and I also studied flamenco of the Sambra school extensively for last 15 years and a wee bit with late great non trad Tocadores Senor Carlos Garcia Montoya.
That is correct regarding the drums-I am representing a 3000 year old ancient temple style called Cinkari (Khsetra) Melam from Sri Lanka. The classical Darbari Sufi Sama'un trance drums from Mid East and Bateria de Panthera conga style drumming of the slave fighter movement of ancient Capoeira and off course not to forget my own western fusion jazz rock drumming where I Try to combine it all.
You did miss a few sorry but, I am equally proficient with electric bass, double bass, Bamboo flute,Qanun, Saz -Bouzouki,Cuban harp,Cajon,Conga,Tabla and I am most passionate about guitars and drums and have huge passion for bass but ,cannot play due to my damaged hands.
You were inducted into the Hall of Fame? What was this for?
Anjael: I have been a member of a world wide fraternity of like minded fellow musicians & innovators. There are several underground International associations and academic Institutions where we facilitate exchange of ideas, creativity and advances in music & performing arts. Believe me , these musicians are all adepts! They can literally tear most global musicians into pieces if you have any idea of Gypsy jazz musicians in E. Europe, Mid-East, East. A coalition of such inducted me into the hall of fame due to few fact like, I am the only steel string flamenco player using my nails which took me 3 years exclusively to play what others do with on nylon and on top of that, I am also a drummer with a skill to see colours around notes, play beats which are very different that what most of us hear regularly, keep time syncopation and also being singer, song writer, composer,multi instrumentalist.
It sounds like you've had some success in the music industry. From your perspective, what shortfalls do you see with the current business model with how labels operate and how music is played on FM radio? Do you foresee a big change happening? I'm interested on your take on today's industry as a whole.
Anjael: The definition of success today is co-related to the amount of money you can waste on B.S vanity , how many people you can deprive to be at the top and physical assets.
My success is really at the very nominal grass root level and my target audience are the world citizens of global communities which is ever so slowly growing. I cannot help marvel at the complete lack of appreciation for true musical healing arts or original performances vs millions dying to go to concert over some half naked or even fully naked pop star who has to use gadgets to sing and hip gyrations to earn mega bucks, cheats on Government taxes , publicly misbehaves & abuses in Courts ,paints a horrific public image, misleads youngsters and corrodes the mind.
Show me how many labels are there which actively promote real music vs labels which market, advertise, makeup stupid half baked artists with all the glam with huge concerts which makes no sense except “money making gimmicks” -why do most Indie musicians start their own label? Why labels including those morons who sit on some of the national music competition as judges make it clear ' you gotta look like a star? -physical is such a preference.
Do you have any idea the amount of money these labels make? If good labels would start a form of accepting submissions with bio, reference and a filtering process it would surely benefit real musicians and I am trying to initiate such a process. Labels only sign when they see $ sign and so much to blame is ourselves with our lack of depth.
FM radio can be a very powerful medium but, I hardly listen to it as every station plays the same ole shit barring a few old jazz stations. If FM could cater to world music? Real jazz or fusion ? Sincerely, when do you recall hearing John McLaughlin or Shawn Lane or Billy Cobham or even Stephan Grapelli or Trilok Gurtu on these FM stations?
I think if the regular common person would take a stance and think for a second what he wants to hear, why he wants to hear and the outcome of the music. Riddle me this for you and your readers “do you and your children like to pay 150$ to go to a concert of a gyrating naked mindless soul less drug abuse advocating singer? Or go to a artist who is regularly involved in gang warfare, drugs and violence ? Or go to a concert where hard core music is being played to refresh your core and and and make your heart strong in values, make your society stable,give your children something to cherish and marvel at?
The big change that is happening is very slow to gather momentum as people are still afraid, afraid of various isms if you will, extremism’s,various conflicting theories regarding every aspect of human life, afraid to step outside their comfort zone,cannot seem to investigate for oneself but, depend on rumors and this applies to music. Today’s industry needs a wake up slap and fresh blood, not money sucking cronies so that “musicians can do what they do best, make real music” not pretend they are film or porn stars”.
I think I am carrying on the work started in our times by stalwarts like Richie Havens, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez,Joni Mitchell and Tommy Emmanuel and many others and rest is up to G-D if my voice and message is heard or not.
What other projects are you currently working on?
Anjael: Right now all my focus is on project RE-ACTION between me and Gregg Dechert, my solo drum album where I wish to show case the panthera , cinkari melam, Sufi Samaun and fusion jazz rock drumming , my flamenco guitar based album and songs , a fusion album in the burner and a latin album with my friend Oscar Dominguez and also this October 24th 2014 I & Gregg Dechert perform at the prestigious underground Avant Garde music festival of Eric Stach , a very respected saxophone player in London, Ontario which runs for 4 months a year and is a meeting hub for players as far as New York to Japan.
Anjael: Preparing myself to shovel all the beautiful Canadian snow that’s going to land on my front and back porch:-). So sad about the health of my hands and how I may keep on playing. Very busy helping a friend launch a new medical corp due to my expertise in the subject matter.
I do have a S.E. Asian small tour of 3-4 countries organized anytime from Nov 2014 -March 2015 and slowly slowly starting to put myself there to promote my work since I never did that in my past. Be well and may you and your readers have a prosperous 2014!
Find more of Anjael:
Official Website: www.lionofhebron.com