Interview with Hubi Meisel (January 31st, 2006)

I am sure some of our readers know Hubi Meisel from his performance on Dreamscapes “Very” album or from one of his solo-albums. He is now ready with a new solo-album called “Kailash”; I have put together a few questions for him.  

Kenn - Hubi, previous to your new album my only experience with music you’ve taken part on was the Dreamscape album, but I am sure there is a lot more to be told about your background, so please fill us in...
Hubi: After Dreamscape I finally realized my first Solo-EP Hubi Meisel /“CUT”, which was released in January 2001. It contains rearranged versions of my favourite 80’s songs, and could be described as my personal tribute to this special era. As the title suggests, it was something completely different from what I had done before ;-) I had this project in mind since my childhood already, and it was real fun to interpret those pop classics in a new and heavier style. My second album Hubi Meisel /”EmOcean” was released in March 2004 through Lion Music and Avalon Marquee. ”EmOcean” is a 72 minute progressive concept album dealing with the Bermuda Triangle, Sargasso Sea, Atlantis and the mysteries of the underwater world... this album is strongly connected to the element of water and very emotional... it really means a lot to me.... Apart from that I also participated in several projects, e.g. Book of Reflections & Mistheria, but during the past 2 ½ years I was almost working non-stop on the production of my new concept album ”KAILASH”.

Kenn – “Kailash” is a progressive journey through the Himalayas , telling the story of ancient Buddhist/Hindu mythology – what inspired you to write about that, and are you a Buddhist yourself?
Hubi: I’m not a Buddhist (and also no member of any other religious group) however; there are many wise and precious keys in this religion. Being a strict vegetarian and having deep respect for all life forms are attitudes that I share with this ancient religion… not because of moralizing or dogmatism, but simply because it feels right and good to me. For example, their practice of true non-violence, also called “Ahimsa”, is something which would be real blessing for mankind if we honoured this principle at least a BIT more…  

Kenn – “Kailash” is your 3rd solo-album (second one on Lion Music), and on all you’ve worked together with Marcel Coenen, and on the 2 last ones with Vivien Lalu, who has written the music. How did those co-operations come together, and how do you work out a song?
Hubi: A buddy had called my attention to Marcel in 2000, and I also knew him from his work with Lemur Voice. He’s an amazing guitarist and I’m glad that he’s also part of this 3rd album! The cooperation with Vivien - who lives in Paris - developed rather quickly after he had dropped me an e-mail in 2000… he knew me from the “Very” album and had found my homepage on the net. We got into a conversation and he sent me some MP3s of his work… one thing led to another, and very soon we both had the feeling that it’s meant to be that he joins me for “EmOcean”, for which I was writing the concept story at that time. As our cooperation for "EmOcean" worked out so well, it was more or less clear that we would work together again.
After I had finished the KAILASH concept, I sent it to him together with rough directions & suggestions on song structures for each song. Then he started sending me his ideas via MP3, and we were discussing and arranging the parts together until it matched my inner vision of KAILASH. Afterwards I worked out the vocal melodies & lyrics. I usually do the melodies first and then write the lyrics, sometimes it’s also the other way round. Then the material was sent to the other musicians, who still had the possibility to add their own creative ideas & soli to the existing material.
This kind of ”long-distance cooperation” may seem a bit unusual, but I must say it always worked pretty well! Vivien did a wonderful job again on "Kailash", and the same applies to all of the other musicians involved. Apart from Viven and Marcel, there are Daniel Flores (Mind’s Eye - drums) & Johann Niemann (Therion - bass), both from Sweden , Jorge Salán from Spain (Mago de Oz - guitars) and Dutch guitarist Joop Wolters on the 2 bonus tracks.
OK, it might have seemed less complicated to work with people who live a bit nearer to Munich ... but those guys are all so great and I just love working with people from different countries!!!

Kenn - If your music was an emotion, which one would it be?
Hubi: LOVE & FAITH!  

Kenn - I really like the very simple artwork, which features Mt. Kailash – to people, who has never ever heard about this place, which significance does this mountain have to the Buddhist/Hindu religion?
Hubi: I wanted a something “pure” for the front cover, but the overall artwork consists of 16 pages full of awesome illustrations depicting the concept story. The artwork was done by Chris “Sayian” Kallias from Switzerland , who already did the "EmOcean" artwork... some of these illustrations can be viewed in the flash-headers of my homepage. As to your question on Mt. Kailash : It’s considered as the spiritual centre of the universe, the “navel of the world”! It’s also known as “ Mount Meru ”, which is the residence of God Shiva. It’s worshipped by the Buddhists, Hindus and Bons and until today it’s a “must” for many Buddhists and Hindus to circumambulate around this impressive mountain at least once in a lifetime. It is said that with every round around Kailash you get a chance to free your soul of karma.

Kenn – On this album you’ve clearly been inspired by a mythology, but what else inspires you when you write music?
Hubi: When I create a new concept, the first impulse is never coming from outside, it always comes from inside and can’t be planned… it’s just there one morning. I’m mainly inspired by my intuition and nightly dreams, which have led me to the conceptual frames of "EmOcean" and "Kailash". Later, when I’m working out the concept story & lyrics, I also include the inspiration which was coming from books and old writings.

Kenn - Is there any plans for you to go out on the road to support “Kailash” or is this strictly a studio project?
Hubi: At the beginning I actually didn’t plan a pure studio project only, but due to the fact that the musicians live in 5 different countries, it still seems very difficult at the moment to do a tour. Each of them is unique, and it would be a pity – and maybe even impossible - to replace one or more of the musicians who played on "Kailash"… But even IF it was possible to get together all musicians, it would still be very risky with regard to the high costs that would arise from that. In general these songs would work on stage, too, I think… I guess it would be great to perform them live!

Kenn - Let’s play an association game, please tell us your first spontaneous thoughts about the following key words:

Hubi: That’s were it all starts… and I love my family!!! However, from a higher vantage point, I strongly believe that the family is also an important learning field for anyone, as our family members often mirror those parts of ourselves that we don’t like or that need growth. Even if you leave your family, the play goes on… you’re drawn to other persons who reflect the same topics to you until we finally start to integrate or balance them in our own personality.

Religion in music
Hubi: To me, spirituality and beliefs are an integral part of any art, especially when it comes to music! Whenever you express yourself through it and whenever it comes from your heart, music and spirituality always accompany each other I think. I prefer the term spirituality here, as I associate the term religion with something that has been influenced and distorted a lot by humans… Spirituality is more connected to one’s individual soul, and it’s not bound to rigid rules and attitudes, ha-ha!

Hubi: I was quite into politics until a few years ago, but meanwhile I don’t care much about this all anymore… it always involves judgement and taking sides in matters we can’t really judge in this jungle of lies, half-truths and power games… this all didn’t feel good to me anymore, so I more or less got out of it…

World Cup in Germany 2006 (Soccer)
Hubi: I don’t live far away from this huge new stadium (called “Allianz Arena”) in Munich, where the opening game and 6 other soccer matches will take place, however I didn’t make any plans as I always give top priority to music, and there’s a lot of work waiting for me this year ;-) So there was no chance for me to get infected by the circulating “world cup fever”, ha-ha!

Progressive Rock
Hubi: Still my favourite genre in the wide field of Rock Music! Nevertheless I like many different kinds of music… music has so many faces!

Kenn – Name a person, event or maybe an album, that have had a big influence on you life, and why?
Hubi: Dream Theater - ”Images and Words” & Steve Vai - “Passion and Warfare”.
When I listened to "Images and Words" for the first time, I was overwhelmed by the unique sound and atmosphere of this album… until today it’s one of my favourite albums. Also “Passion & Warfare” felt like a real blessing and has this “not-from-this-world” touch… the moods and harmonies on this album cannot be described in words…

Kenn – When you sit back to relax at home, what kind of things do you do? Listen to music, read, watch TV or…
Hubi: You got it! I’m a real bookworm and I love listening to music! TV became more and more unimportant to me but watching a good DVD from time to time is something which I really like, too.

Kenn - Last question - do you have any famous last words for our readers?
Hubi: Thanks a lot for your time & interest! Feel free to get your own impression about KAILASH on my site 

Have a great time and BEST WISHES from Munich :-)  

Hubi Meisel - Kailash

Album available February 27th, 2006 on Lion Music.

Click on the album cover to see more info on Hubi Meisel.