What do you do when you are classical composer who has produced such artists as Haiganoush and written music for West End theatre plays and you wish to tone things down a little? Why, you go back to your roots and start a classically tinged folk music project of course. That’s exactly what Richard Melkonian has done with his latest venture simply titled Boeden.
It is an endeavour that was recorded with a string quartet in London’s Pinkbird recording studios last November and if debut track ‘A Song In Summer’ is any indication, it promises to be a sonically rich and yet intimate affair. Today, we get to premiere the aforementioned ‘A Song In Summer’, which is a response to Lord Byron’s poetry intended as a post-modern return to British folk traditions and bard poetry.
Last week we spoke to Richard about his latest project. His answers were equally fascinating and insightful.
O: What was the impetus for Boeden?
RM: Soft sounds, nostalgia and space … I’d been writing folk songs for years, but after studying composition for three years, I saw a way to marry together my interest in classical music and folk music. So I began writing parts for String Quartet. I got together with Kamo Quartet and recorded a bunch of songs live in one evening at Pinkbird studios and Boeden was born.
O: Why is non-virtuosity an important aspect of Boeden? What attracts you to that approach?
RM: A lot of music at the moment seems to rely on virtuosity as a means to carry it across to the listener. I’m not against virtuosity, but often it seems to be shouting at you about how good it is. I wanted to make something that people could ignore. Virtuosity, by its very nature, demands attention, it says ‘look what I can do!’ It uses music as a means to show off, even flashy production feels like this to me. I wanted to make something that sounded simple, childish even, not really of this time, common yet unspecific.
O: You recently played your first gig at Gallery Cafe in Bethnal Green in London. How did that go?
RM: I play with the Kamo String Quartet, Dominic Ingham, Si Thom Rich, Bill John Harpum and Laurens Price-Nowak, we didn’t use any amplification for the strings, just some support for my quiet vocal and guitar. We didn’t have any music stands so the Quartet played around a table, it was wonderfully domestic. The music carried well in there, it got me thinking about how quiet I could make this music and how domestic it could be. Next time i’d like to have my dog on stage with me.
O: How do you plan to follow up ‘A Song For Summer’?
RM: We’ve got a few more songs from our live session at Pinkbird studios and plan to release a track a month, also start playing regular shows in London for now. We’re interested in taking folk music in a bit of an unexpected direction, but still working on that.
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