In this interview spotlight, we chat with Orissa about influences, the latest project, navigating the modern music world and more.
Full Q&A along with links and streams below.
Where are you from and what style of music do you create? (In your own words, not necessarily in marketing terms or by popular genre classifications.)
I was born and raised in Northern California. I am a graduate of The San Francisco Conservatory of Music. After San Francisco, I lived in Italy where I did my post-graduate work at the Accademia di Musica Niccolo Paganini. I have been living in New York for the past few years.
As for style, first I want to thank you and praise you for phrasing the question that way.
On the one hand Orissa can be fairly categorized as progressive metal. On the other hand the musical and poetic languages descend primarily from a far different array of musical lineages. The musical elements in Orissa are drawn from: Balkan and other ancient musical traditions; classical harmony and form and eastern european 20th century classical composers; modern American music like classic soul and R&B; early jazz fusion; classic to contemporary progressive rock and metal; American pop.
An Orissa album is approached from a writing standpoint more like a novel or a cinematic television series or film than a collection of songs. I am not motivated by matters of style. My purpose for writing and making an album is to explore an emotional space and the ideas within it, and to leave as its artifacts of discovery a complete, and cohesive musical and poetic work.
For Orissa, this results in music that is emotionally intense, with a wide dramatic arc, and waves of cathartic tension and release. The lyric and poetic content and their underlying inspiration and themes are rich in imagery and layers of depth and meaning. The music and the poetry progress together from beginning to end in a cohesive, creative story with a logical beginning, middle and end.
In summary, I think that an apt description of an Orissa album is a self-invented term – a Sonic Novel. My role in creating an Orissa album is most aptly described as being a Sonic Novelist. My first full length album, Orissa’s, ‘Resurrection’, is an Empyreal-Erotic, Psychedeli-Sensual sonic novel.
What led you down this path of music and what motivates you to stay the course?
Inspiration led and keeps me on the path. As long as I am inspired to say something with music and poetry and to play it for the fans, I will continue to follow the paths on which it leads me.
How is your new release different than previous ones? Did you set out to accomplish anything specific?
Resurrection is a full-length album where all the songs were created in relationship with each other and the underlying sources of inspiration. My previous releases, (Omens and The Musical Offering), were an EP and 2 singles. All of them have the same characteristics of musical language and the epic, cinematic feel, but Resurrection is longer, more cohesive and more mature, as it should be. The production quality of Resurrection is higher than previous releases.
On Resurrection, I set out to explore ideas and feelings about relationships, eros, divinity, salvation, responsibility, eternity, masculine-feminine interplay and more. I set out to document that exploration with the best music and poetry I could write. Given a bit of distance from its completion it is interesting to see what my subconscious was working on during that period. I am curious to see what insights the listeners and fans perceive after they listen to the album and get to know it on a deeper level.
Do you face any challenges as an indie musician in a digital age? On the flip side, how has technology helped you (if it has)?
Yes I do. I think there has been a lot attention given to how pirating and streaming have affected artist’s revenue. I think that the digital revolution in the recording tools on the production side of music has been at least as transformative in presenting challenges and opportunities.
As for challenges, it is about the vast and constant supply of music that overwhelms the audience with choices. Even highly derivative, style conforming music may not get any attention. For those who are making music that requires time and effort to be understood, digested and appreciated by the listener the landscape is extremely foreboding. It isn’t necessarily record companies and streaming services making things financially difficult for musicians and artists, it is the laws of supply and demand.
The cost and quality of these tools have made making recorded music very inexpensive relative to the analog era, contributing to the supply side, “surplus.”
On the flip side, I can make recordings without the blessing and financing of a record company. The muse grabs my attention with inspiration and I write and record the music as I see fit. That is a tremendous benefit that I can make a high quality work of art without this institution’s sanctioning and distribute it into the market. Now the album is made. However, we are back to confronting the supply and ease of distribution problems.
On that set of challenges the digital age is providing more means for me to target and find my audience. Personally, that is the next set of digital tools I need to learn and master along with the techniques that work for my music and my audience. Of course, I will also partner with a team who has the expertise to help me with this as well. Any takers out there?
Where can we follow you online and hear more music?
- My music is available for purchase and streaming at: iTunes; Play; Amazon; Spotify
- You can follow me on Facebook at facebook.com/ORISSABAND
- Orissa’s videos can be seen on YouTube at: https://www.youtube.com/user/orissaband
- Follow me and Orissa on Instagram: @orissaband
- My full discography and merchandise is available at: http://orissa.bandcamp.com
The album artwork is hot, and the new t-shirts look incredible!
Anything else before we sign off?
I want to thank you and your readership for taking an interest in my music and my creative process. The first single off of the new album is available now on Spotify and Soundcloud and available for purchase on iTunes, Play and Amazon. It is a scorching track titled, ‘Tara.’ Give it a listen and add it to your playlists and share it with your friends.
We’ll be premiering singles and releasing video content throughout the rest of the year. Give the music a listen and the visuals a viewing. I think you’ll like what you hear and see. When you do, share it with the good people in your world. It will be a great service to me and to them.