Hello readers! For this week's interview we are lucky to have a chat with "Rasplyn" which is the concert name of the composer, singer, and clairvoyant reader; Carolyn O'Neill. Her latest release is "Scenes Through the Magic Eye," and it's full of ambient beauty and lush orchestral washes - absolutely worth the listen!
MW: Thank you so much for giving us your time today – I’m really looking forward to hearing more about your music!
RAS: Thank you so much for your interest in my music and for taking the time to learn more about me!
MW: Could you describe your music for the uninitiated out there?
RAS: I am a classically trained orchestral composer gone solo. I am also a Clairvoyant Reader and Energy Healer and my experiences with that work greatly influence what flows out of me during my creative process. My music tends to be fairly dark, but beautiful, and filled with fully orchestrated and textured layers and vocals. My music creates mystical and visual landscapes that have been described as being very cinematic and intense, sometimes even psychedelic. I love to use instruments from around the world to tell the stories of my compositions with the intent to fully transport the listener out of present time and into the scenes in my mind’s eye, or rather, to get lost creating scenes of their very own.
MW: A lot of the readers of this blog are curious about the recording end of productions – could you let us know what your studio set up is like?
RAS: My studio set up is very simple and quite honestly my recordings are completely DIY and literally done in my bedroom. I use Logic as my platform and have a Korg keyboard as my MIDI controller along with an audio interface and a mic. I use the EastWest orchestra collections pretty extensively in addition to recording my own vocals, clarinet, bass guitar and various hand percussion instruments.
MW: How old were you when you first started doing music? What was your first instrument?
RAS: I was about 7 years old when I first began organ lessons. We had a beautiful antique Wurlitzer organ with carved lion’s feet that had been passed down from my grandparents. Unfortunately, after a couple of years I accidentally broke a belt inside of it and it was unable to ever be repaired, so ended my keyboard proficiency. In 4th grade I began playing the clarinet in the school band and that became my main instrument until high school where I also picked up the bass guitar and, for a brief period, the cello. To this day I wonder how different of a composer I would have become if I had continued to play the organ all the while, instead of switching to the monophonic and linear clarinet.
MW: Who do you think are some of your biggest influences?
RAS: I have to say that my influences are quite broad. When I was a teenager I was very into grunge and riot grrrl music, which eventually bled into more of an interest in gothic genres, but I was playing orchestral music all the while. I never quite lost my tie to the female rage behind the riot grrrl and grunge movements though. As you can probably tell, the music I create now has plenty of anger and emotional torture behind it, but I tell my story through the palate of an orchestra rather than that of a rock band. I also feel heavily influenced by classical composers whose music was very dramatic and cinematic, even before the time of film existence. I’ve always loved music that has the ability to tell a full emotional story and to paint a picture without the need for words. Also by artists who allow themselves to go to that super deep and weird trance state when they create, without ever looking back, fully riding the wave of unconscious inspiration wherever it might take them. I’d say some my biggest influences have been: PJ Harvey, Babes in Toyland, Tori Amos, Miranda Sex Garden, Hole, Rasputina, Schubert, Mozart, Stravinsky, Grieg, Chopin, Debussy and Mozart, to name a few.
MW: Were there any individuals that really helped you out in your journey? Who were they?
RAS: Countless individuals have helped me over the years. I have to thank both Gerald Bailey and Matthew Mehawich, who are both wonderful musicians and composers in their own right, for pushing and pulling me back into music after I had given up on it about 4 years ago. Philippe Gerber (JOHN 3:16) of Alrealon Musique found me in 2012 asking for a collaboration, and has done nothing but support and push me to take on way more than I ever had dreamed for myself musically since. He has gone to great lengths to promote my music through his label and to challenge me to expand and experiment with what I am able to create as a solo artist. My relationship with him has completely transformed me as a musician and I would never be where I am today without his guidance. Also this past year, Lakshmi Ramgopal (Lykanthea), discovered me and immediately took me under her wing promoting me and working to get my name out as much as possible in the Chicago music scene. She is an incredible solo ambient artist and friend.
MW: What was the craziest thing you ever encountered in a live scenario?
RAS: The craziest thing I ever encountered in a live scenario actually occurred 2 years ago when I was playing bass guitar in a metal band called Quadrillion. The lead singer and founder of the band, Theresa Vishnevetskaya, had started it as a bizarre artistic pregnancy project for herself. We never expected that the band would end up being pretty great. We played our very first show exactly one week before she gave birth to her son (who turned out completely healthy), but she was an unbelievable trooper, performing full force at countless rehearsals and on stage screaming, and howling, and growling away while 8.5 months pregnant. It was a sight that I will never forget. The whole band was terrified and prepared for birth at any moment, but luckily the baby waited until after our show to make his appearance. That show was definitely the most fun I’ve ever had playing music.
MW: Could you tell us about your latest release?
RAS: Creating ‘Scenes Through the Magic Eye’ has been a 2-year long spiritual journey for me. During these past 2 years I have realized that usually when I write, I have no idea where the music is coming from or where I get the ideas for my compositions. I simply sit down to work and they seem to just flow out of me, unconsciously telling a story that some part of my being appears to know all too well, but that is not from my current experience of life. I decided to spend a lot of time looking at this process and deep into myself to find out what is behind where these stories are coming from, learning what the story that my spirit feels compelled to express is and why. ‘Scenes Through the Magic Eye’ is what was born from this exploration.
MW: Sounds awesome, where can people go to hear more about you?
RAS: You can find me by searching Rasplyn on bandcamp, facebook, twitter, reverb nation, tumblr and instagram and my website is www.rasplyn.com. My album is off of the Mythical Records bandcamp page, http://mythicalrecords.bandcamp.com/album/scenes-through-the-magic-eye, and is also available on iTunes and Amazon.com.
MW: Thanks again for taking this time to chat!
RAS: Thank you so much for the opportunity!