The date was 10th August , 2017 and after a long wait i finally caught up with one of the greatest musical genius of our times , Mr Steven Wilson to talk about his new album ” TO THE BONE” . After the phone was connected we greeted each other , the interview began with him talking about how the album and how it came about, his love for Bollywood and his songwriting inspirations .
The album “TO THE BONE” releases on the 18th of August , 2017.
Tell us about the concept of the album “ To the Bone” . How would you best describe it ?
Well for me “To the bone” is an album which is more focussed on my songwriting side and perhaps the conceptual rock elements are not so strong in this album. These are the songs about the melodic time of my work , the songwriting side of my work. And to me one big reference point was some of the records that i grew up with in the 80s like Peter Gabriel’s So, Talk Talk’s Colour of Spring, Tears for Fears Seeds of Love Kate Bush’s Hounds of love David Bowie where they were both ambitious and at the same time acceptable and it was kept in a perfect balance. These kind of records are less made now. Records which are very easy to enjoy , with great pop melodies but with a lot of sophistication , lot of ambition going on in the production and the lyrics and in 2017 I miss hearing those kind of records. Mainstream pop is very very shallow now, very conservative. I wanted to make a record that is very easy to enjoy as a great pop record and a great rock record and also it has this layer of sophistication going on .
Is that the very reason that The album is so diverse in its nature ?
In a way my music always had a strong diversity to it and if you listen to any of my records you will get to hear metal riffs , pop melodies , electronic rhythms , the ambience , the acoustics and the songwriting style . Each of the eleven songs in the new album kind of inhibit a different universe and in this album it is more obvious. But anyone who has followed my music for any length of time will know that Steven Wilson is someone who has a lot of different musical elements to his music .
Talking about the lyrical content in the album , say for example the song “Pariah” , what can fans and music lovers infer from lyrics like “I’m tired of everyone and that includes myself” ?
In many aspects Pariah is a song of positivity and when the female comes on in the chorus, it is basically the positive element and the negative element is my voice and its basically the sentiments of living in the modern world , a world of social media , a world of i phones , a world of terrorist attacks , a world of politicians . Its very easy to get to a point of information overload where you get exhausted with the amount of information and entertainment and politics and opinions that you are constantly bombarded with 24 hours a day and you only have to be on social media for few minutes to be exhausted by the amount of opinions and how everyone has to get their opinions out there and Pariah is a song about being exhausted with the modern world and the feeling to be at par with the modern world whether it is needing to be in social media etc. There is a line like “ I am tired of Facebook” as well ( laughs ) and its more about being in the pressure of social media .
Is “To the bone” the most personal record for you till now ?
Well in some respects yes and in some respects no . Some of the songs in “To the bone” are written from the basis of some imaginary characters that i would feel very alienated from . For example when i am writing songs like Detonation which i have written in view of religious fundamentalists, these are the people that i don’t identify with , quite the opposite as i don’t understand them at all . Some of the songs are written in the perspective of characters , fictional characters but lot of the ideas and lot of those feelings and emotions are very personal and as we have talked about the song Pariah , it has a very strong personal element to it. I don’t know if its my most personal record than my other records as all of my records are very very personal.
Where did you get the idea of involving Bollywood themed dancing into the song Permanating ?
I have always loved Bollywood dancing and music and it has always seemed to be one of the most purest expression of joy that you can ever have in the world of art . There is something about Bollywood dancing which is so happy , joy of life infact. I am not known for writing cheerful songs ( laughs ) , i mean i write a lot of melancholy stuff but for whatever reason this cheerful song came out of me , i immediately needed a Bollywood dance troupe for it .There was no conceptual or intellectual reason to it. I just wanted to express the purest form of joy and i knew that Bollywood dancing would suit this song so beautifully .
Thank you for including the Bollywood theme in the video . Well since we have talked about Bollywood what are some of your favourite Bollywood movies ?
Well i haven’t seen many of the amazing amazing bollywood films that i should have seen and i apologise for my pronounciation ( laughs) but i have seen and loved Kuch kuch hota hai , Devdas , Guru , Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge . I think some of these movies had the classical bollywood dance themes and i loved them
Last year you came to Shillong to play in NH7 weekender . How was that experience for you ?
Shillong is amazing because i have never been into that part of India before and its very different than Mumbai and places and and some of it is very difficult to process , like a lot more poverty up down there but then again how happy the people are . Well i come from a country where people don’t express much joy ( laughs ) . So its great to go to a place where people obviously have problems in life but they still have the incredible strength of companionship , friendliness and joy and passion for life and i think that’s something very much ingrained into Indian culture . It was an wonderful experience and one that i would love to repeat.
Fans would really love to know about the musical mind of Steven Wilson , get an insight into your songwriting process , thinking and conceptualization .
That’s a very difficult question to answer because its something that’s very hard to put into words and its kind of beyond explanation. I don’t know where my music comes from , where my ideas come from but i am very happy that it continues to come to me . I grew up in a house where my parents loved music and they listened to many different kinds of music and i grew up in a house where i had no concept or ideas of musical borders or musical genres. My parents were listening to Pink Floyd one minute and Abba the next minute and for me it was great music whether it was this pure pop or very conceptual and intense rock music . I couldn’t understand the difference . For me it was just good music and i think that has been the whole secret for me and my music and that’s why its perfectly natural for me to make a song like Permanating and people might say Steven Wilson is someone who only makes dark progressive rock music but i have never thought of myself to be in a particular genre or box . My music always have these different elements to it and that’ s because of growing up in a house with no musical borders and that’s why its so fundamental and also very visual as i love cinema and we have already discussed that .
Thank you Steven for your time and best of luck to the album .
Thank you Anylouder for having me. Looking forward to meet and play in India again
Till then Goodbye and Take care.
Interviewed by : Ashiqur Rohman