A Celtic Violinist, Electronica Tone Poem s and Jet Pilots.
You can hear an audio version of this Echoes Blog, with Anna Schaad‘s music
On the surface, violinist Anna Schaad might seem like a New Age artist with Loreena McKennitt aspirations. Her first three albums often found her in renaissance garb on the covers, with titles like “Raven in the Meadow,” “Roll in the Heather” and “The Journey.” Given all that, you have to wonder what’s happening on a track called “Flyboy” with electronic drones and the cockpit chatter of pilots.
Anna Schaad: Yes, there’s, you’re gonna hear the pilots up in the air talking, um, their navy talk in the background here. And a little bit of a, an F-16 or a ES6B Prowler. Which is a very loud jet that flies, flies the friendly skies above us.
You’ll have to search long and hard to find a New Age or even modern instrumental album, that has any kind of imagery based in the military. It probably takes a musician married to a Navy pilot to pull that off, and Anna Schaad has done it on her latest album, Dream Within a Dream. It’s a love song to her husband of 4 years, lieutenant commander Jeff Montgomery.
Anna Schaad: It was written last year when my husband, who’s a Navy pilot, was away for seven months. We’d had deployments before. I’ve been married to him now for four years. But seven months was the biggest, longest time we’d been apart. And when you’re apart from someone, boy, that’s a great time to especially as an artist. Nothing like a little angst to fuel you creative process. And so, yeah, a lot of the songs are kind of a tribute to him.
Blonde and blue eyed, with a slight crook in her nose that gives her that sassy look of Ellen Barkin, Anna Schaad is dressed down in jeans and a pale pink sleeveless shirt. She’s a Pacific Northwest girl born and bred and currently lives in Bellingham, north of Seattle. She started out as a classical musician, but got sidetracked by celtic music.
Anna Schaad: Learning Celtic made me break out of my classical, mode. And I love the classical mode but it’s just different and it adds a whole another dimension to your playing.
Her first three albums are heavily Celtic-influenced, but she took another turn with her 2009 CD, Dream Within a Dream.
Anna Schaad: What happened was I heard the Buddha Bar series of ambient techno. The really low down tempo techno that’s got lush sounds from around the world and lots of different components to it. But very, very laid back but I got hooked on those hip hop rhythms and just the feel of it. And I said, “That’s the direction I want to go.
Anna Schaad & Jeff Montgomery @ Echoes
Dream Within a Dream is a mix of electronica, world music, a touch of Celtic and lots of Anna Schaad’s violins. She’s got a bunch of them, from electric to acoustic.
Anna Schaad: I have a lot of them. Yeah, there’s a lot of instruments under my bed. Don’t tell anybody [laughs]. That’s where I put ’em when I’m not using ’em.
When they aren’t under her bed, they’re stacked up into orchestras of strings on her albums.
Anna Schaad: On my, my last album before this, The Journey, it has pretty orchestral, in fact that’s the most, most orchestral of my first three ones. And I did do that, by layering many violins. Sort of like Enya layered many, many voices for her thing maybe, and I was frustrated with that cause it still doesn’t give you that symphonic sound. So, combining that with really good orchestral synth patches is where, this gave me a more orchestral sound.
Although she wanted to get away from her classical background, it finds it’s way back in on tracks like “And Then She Flew.”
Anna Schaad: Samuel Barber‘s “Adagio for Strings” is my, my number one string piece. I used to listen to it on my parents’ record player every day after school and weep on the floor. [laughs] I guess I’m a little bit of a sap. But that’s an incredible piece. And, there is actually a little tribute to Barber’s “Adagio for Strings” in that song.
For Anna Schaad, every song is a story and her violins are the perfect storytellers.
Anna Schaad: Violin, for me, is a story telling instrument. In fact I used to do a program called The Talking Fiddle. And I think that’s the gist of it really. It’s a talking instrument. It’s telling a story. You think, just because it doesn’t have lyrics it doesn’t have a story. But they do.
Perhaps apropos of that, her album title comes from one of the greatest storytellers ever, Edgar Allen Poe. You can hear Anna Schaad’s stories on her latest CD, Dream Within a Dream.
John Diliberto ((( echoes )))