Joined: May 16, 2011
Location: Los Angeles
|Posted: Mon May 16, 2011 11:16 am Post subject:
Subject description: Global Music Artist
|It isn't easy to describe musician Lee Negin. For example, he is a composer, lyricist, multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, sound sculptor, producer and recording engineer. Born in the USA, he has lived in India, Japan, England and Poland. A visitor to more than 40 countries, he currently resides in Seoul, Korea, where he is a Professor at Hanyang University.
Lee Negin's music has gone through many phases. For example, he was a pioneer in the international Indie/techno/new wave movement of the 1980s, with his recordings receiving airplay and distribution around the world. He is listed as an influential artist in "The International Discography of the New Wave" (edited by B. George and Martha Defoe (Omnibus Press).
Two full-length CDs and several EPs of new material are slated for release in 2011 on his own label, Passing Phase Records. The first is "Hungry Ghosts," a 13-track album of music that features songs with the ability to put people into a state of bliss, get them into a frenzy on the dance floor, thrill them with the beauty of ethereal melodies, and/or make them crack up to sardonic and satirical lyrics. Sandwiched between EPs of music in several formats will be "Wu Wei," an album of ambient tracks that merge the ethereal with the eternal.
"My musical influences are very diverse," notes Negin, "and with 'Hungry Ghosts' you can choose to whirl like a Dervish or transcend body consciousness, and everything in between. This is new world music," Negin states, "but in these tracks I think you will hear echoes of Kraftwerk, James Brown, Led Zeppelin, synth-pop bands, Jimi Hendrix, Indian ragas, modern jazz, classical music from eastern and western traditions and Frank Zappa-esque humor and social commentary."
On the Charts
Lee Negin's music has achieved global airplay and chart action. For example, on charts compiled by Maemeeti, a fan-voting site, "Masks" reached #2 on the Indie Dance/Nu Disco chart and #3 on the House-Electro chart. "The Dance" hit #3 on the House -Electro Chart, while "Tranquil Abiding" and "Mind...the Gap" went to #2 and #4 respectively on the Lounge-Ambient-Chill Out chart. "Nothing Goes Right" reached #5 on the Techno chart.
In addition, Negin's "Masks" spent three solid months in the #3 position on Reverb Nation's Electronica/Dance chart in Korea, while "The Dance" reached #10 on Rebeat's (international digital music distributor) mixed genre chart of most requested downloads in the world.
All of which is astonishing when you consider the fact that his music often seems to begin where the music of Don Van Vliet (Captain Beefheart) left off.
A Sonic Journey
"I started to study music when I was about seven," Negin says. "Although my mother was a pianist and we had a 'baby' grand piano in my living room, I gravitated towards trumpet, perhaps because my cousin, who I thought was cool, played it." Following that were years of studying trumpet, drums and euphonium (a brass wind instrument slightly smaller than a tuba), playing in school bands, orchestras, and on weekends playing in bars and clubs in jazz and rock bands. He also studied music theory and attended The Cleveland Institute of Music and Boston's Berklee College of Music for two summer programs and one semester as a full-time undergraduate.
Combining his junior and senior years of high school, he graduated early and was all set for a career in music but made a radical turn and pursued intense studies of metaphysics and meditation with a teacher in India. Then, in the late '70s, it was back to music. "I had added keyboard and guitar to my instruments, so when I met some electronic musicians, we decided to put a band together. I moved to their city, and started purchasing gear, including a large acoustic drum kit, percussion, gongs, etc. We made music like a cross between Tangerine Dream, Kraftwerk, Wendy Carlos, and the jazz-rock fusion of Mahavishnu Orchestra." His roommate was one of the band's keyboard players, Paul Delph. "He's the guy playing organ on 'Mickey,' Toni Basil's hit."
That band imploded due to clashing egos, so Lee started to assemble a studio and gear. (Note: those who prefer to avoid the horror of gear lust are hereby warned to skip to the next paragraph.) "It was the beginning of relatively affordable synths," Negin points out, "and the progressive movement was in full swing (Yes, Genesis, ELP, King Crimson, etc.). I got a 1979 Gibson Les Paul black beauty (lefty--I play guitars lefty), a bass, an acoustic guitar, a Minimoog, ARP 2600, Serge analog modules, Korg PS-3100, Synare Syndrums, Korg Mono-Poly, Roland Vocoder, Tascam 4-track (reel to reel), some mics, Yamaha DX-7, Roland TR-808 drum machine, Korg M-1, Prophet-1, LinnDrum, Roland Jupiter 6, etc. and started to seriously write music." A solo career was born.
A 6-song EP entitled "Two Sides" was released in 1980, followed shortly thereafter by a second release, "Wired for Sound" b/w "Nothing Goes Right." Lee played everything on these tracks, which received glowing reviews and international airplay, including the highly influential Jon Peel at BBC Radio.
Around this time, Lee was collaborating with the founders of the Detroit Techno movement, members of a band called Cybotron. "They got signed to Fantasy, and invited me to tour with them as their 'drummer' (Simmons drums--state-of-the-art at the time)," Negin says. "That dissolved because like everyone else on Fantasy, they were not treated well (the most famous case being Creedence Clearwater Revival)."
Achieving success as an indie artist was exciting but he wanted to get wider distribution and began dealing with record labels, managers and music business attorneys in Los Angeles. "By the late 80's, I was burned out on the hideous music business. Everyone loved my work, but the majors, or at least their A&R people, were afraid to stick their necks out and sign me because they needed a 'hit single.' Furthermore, it was the cocaine era, and I was tired of everyone around me 'hoovering up' mountains of the stuff." Music was once again put aside.
The early 1990s found him living in Japan, where he got the music bug again. "I started writing music again, which resulted in the CD 'Balance,' recorded in Santa Barbara in 1993, and released in 1994." Although there was a warm reception for this album, another change was upon him. "Again, life intervened," he notes, and music took a back seat.
Music Today and Beyond
"In 2009, a German record label contacted me about re-releasing some of my material and I decided to reenter the music arena." The result has been an explosion of creativity and interest in his work, with several heavily layered and highly artistic music videos on YouTube, a batch of new digital singles, his back catalog released digitally, the "Hungry Ghosts" album, and a push to connect with audiences and fellow musical and video artists around the globe. To date, he has 15,000+ friends and subscribers to the PassingPhaseMusic YouTube channel and 50,000+ friends on his MySpace page.
Selected reactions to Lee Negin's "Hungry Ghosts" album:
"Mixture of ambient and electro pop. Very much a mind-bending trip of sounds. Outstanding album -- great on loud systems."
--Paul Readman, Music World Radio 1
"The whole album is a floating trip of sounds and vocals that takes you to another place."
--Demand Records, U.K.
"Lee Negin is hitting what seems to be yet another apex in his music career."
--Chris Constantino, SonicTribe Network
"Sometimes people who have had near-death experiences say that they are taken to a place where their entire life flashes before their eyes, and in 'The Dance,' that's what I felt."
--Sheena Metal, LATalkRadio
"A stimulating listen. So take some time to ponder intellectual relativity and the space aliens living in your inner ear."
--John Shelton Ivany Top 21
And, in refusing to review it, the venerable New Music Express said it was "A bit too far off the wall for us."
LEE NEGIN ON THE WEB
"Hungry Ghosts" and other songs are on iTunes, CD Baby, Bandcamp and Amazon.
|Electronic composer/performer Lee Negin.
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