Its at this point where we usually give you a lovely little intro telling you a little but about the forth coming interview, well this time we aren’t going to do that. You need to listen to Pantaleimon no matter what sort of music you like. Andria’s music just seems to grab you and instantly makes you think as it is intelligent in words composition and emotions it stirs inside you, but yet its so mellow and adorable that you just can’t help but smile. I have never said this in an introduction before but this is an interview you really need to read, so here Wicked Spins Radio presents an interview with the lovely Andria Degens aka Pantaleimon.
WSR – Thank you so much for giving Wicked Spins Radio this interview, can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?
Andria – I’m an English singer-songwriter and I create music under the name of Pantaleimon. I’ve done so for a number of years. I’ve recently released a new album ‘The Butterfly Ate The Pearl’. I’m based in England, but I’ve been residing at an ashram in Grass Valley, CA and traveling around California, taking in, Lake Tahoe, Yosemite, Sequoia, Big Sur. I love dark chocolate, nature, altered sates, yoga, and veggie food.
WSR – You are a self-taught musician, what was the first instrument you learned to play?
Andria – I had a 3/4 nylon string guitar and a small keyboard on which I used to play around with, making up tunes. But it was when I was older I really took to the Appalachian Dulcimer. My first one was given to me as a gift on my birthday.
WSR – Can you describe the feeling you felt when you began to know that instrument and you could make beautiful sounds with it?
Andria – My feeling for the Appalachian dulcimer came relatively easy. I love the resonance of the drone strings in relation to the melody strings. Sound for me starts first in my head. I hear or feel a note or a phrase or a riff inside and then play what I’m hearing/feeling. I’ve always worked that way on all instruments I play and I never seem to play in any conventional way. I felt an immediate affinity to the dulcimer, the notes would come to me like a vibrant river, flowing through me. I would play for hours at a time. Although, on the new album there is only one track that features dulcimer. That’s because I found myself experimenting with a wider aural palate for this record.
WSR – The Butterfly Ate The Pearl is your fifth album release, besides yourself who else has worked with you on your new album?
Andria – Hugo Race, it seemed a natural progression for us to work on an album together, as we’d known each other for years. As well as playing on the album Hugo co-produced the album with me. We also co-wrote ‘Eagle Turning’ – this track was written sometime before the bulk of the album was created, but it seemed crucial that it should be part of the final cut. It makes sense on an emotional and aural level. I also co-wrote another one of the tracks ‘Diamond River Run’ with the classical composer Polo Piatti. Until this point I had always written everything on my own albums, so it was a new experience to co-write these two tracks, but I found the experience immensely rewarding, as the process took me into new realms.
I asked Will Oldham to contribute the introduction to ‘Morning Star’. Otto Hauser had always said that if ever I needed a drummer he’d be more than happy to play. I met Jay Darlington through his brother Bill and our musical relationship started when I asked if he’d play ‘a bit of piano’ on one of the tracks…. He became so enthused by the music he ended up playing not only just the piano, but also Moog, Mellotron, Farfisa, Tampura, Hammond Organ on three tracks. Of course I was absolutely delighted. James Blackshaw was living next door to me at the time of recording and so we got together and worked on a couple of tracks. Steve Finnerty from Alabama 3 came over one night and I played him a few tracks. He loved the tracks and put down one of the guitar parts on ‘Ember’. Some of the preliminary tracks were laid down at Andrew Liles’s place. But I ended up recording the bulk of the tracks alone in the basement of a very small cottage I was renting at the time – it suited me to work in isolation as I was going through a very difficult time in my personal life. Then eventually when everything had been recorded I met up with Hugo Race and we mixed the album in a week at Franco Naddei’s Cosabeat Studio in Italy . I’ve felt so much support during the making of this album. I remain in awe of the way the album came into existence, in such an organic kind of way, attracting so many others toward it, as though it took on a life of it’s own.
WSR – You moved around quite frequently as a child, what affect did this have on you?
Andria – It gave me a lifelong lust for travel, new experiences, new opportunities. It also made me a very independently spirited and open-minded individual.
WSR – Moving around a lot you must have seen some beautiful places, do you draw any inspiration musically from either moving about a lot or from any of the places you lived?
Andria – Absolutely, all the time. I also draw inspiration from the terrains of the inner world. And at times, like for this recent album, the inspiration came from terrains I had never been too. And then when I came to Yosemite, Sequoia, Big Sur, it felt as though I was making pilgrimages to the places that had inspired the new album even though I’d never been to these places in the physical world. Moreover, the album’s lyrics, like most of the lyrics I write, although they describe a physical terrain are also symbolic representations of emotional feelings or higher states of consciousness. The inner world truly reflects the outer world and vise versa. I also draw inspirations from my dreams, for I have dreams that are vivid in colour and sometimes there’s two or three installments of the same adventure on consecutive nights. So there’s a rich well of images and feelings to draw from there.
WSR – You have a diverse range of influences, who would you consider your strongest influence and who out of your influences would you consider the most strange? And what is it about their music that is such an influence?
Andria – I love music and listen to a wide range – always have. With each album comes a different set of influences in music and literature. When I recorded Trees Hold Time for instance I was listening to Neu! and Eden Ehbez, Djivan Gasparyan and Vedic Chanting and reading Rabindranath Tagore. . With ‘Butterfly Ate The Pearl’ it was Soundgarden, and the books of Paramahansa Prajnananda (Kriya Yoga), Michael Moorcock, Orson Scott Card, Jostein Gaarder, plus a childrens story book I found in a garbage bin. Diamonds are found in the blackest of places.
Having said all that though, my earliest influences were David Bowie, Kate Bush and Brian Eno. So their influence has percolated the longest, so they would be the strongest. Soundgarden, as mentioned earlier could be seen as my strangest influence as many people are surprised by that connection. My favourite albums of theirs are Superunknown and Down On The Upside. I could also add in the Temple Of The Dog album in there too – that was also influential.
WSR – What is the inspiration behind your name Pantaleimon?
Andria – The name really resonated with me when I first came across it in the Phillip Pullman books (albeit with a slightly different spelling), ‘His Dark Materials’. I also resonated with Saint Pantaleimon even though I am not a religious kind of person. It was his story and the fact that he was a healer that struck a cord with me; it gave me goose-bumps to read his story as it seemed weirdly familiar. It’s not something that can be fully explained. And when I was thinking of a name to work under ‘Pantaleimon’ just kept hanging there in my minds eye.
WSR – You have worked with Cam Archer, can you tell our readers what it was that you did with Cam?
Andria – Cam asked if he could use some of my music for parts of his feature film ‘Wild Tigers I Have Known’ . He used three tracks, one of which I wrote especially for him called ‘High Stars’. We also worked on a trilogy of black and white narrated short films. Cam would send me the ‘script’, and I would record the spoken words in my studio and send them back to him. One of the short films was showcased on a DVD with the Cinemad magazine.
WSR – A question I like to ask is if you could score music to a film which film would you choose, but instead I would like to ask you this. If a film could be made from one of your songs what song would you choose, what sort of film would it be, what would roughly be the plotline, who would you like to star in it and who would you like to do the music for it besides yourself?
Andria –Wow, what a question. I love film. Well I’d choose a film of the whole album. It’s a bit greedy, I know. But the record is like some weird travelogue happening inside my head, moving over differing terrains, reflecting differing emotional and physical states. It would be a story of the journey through these differing states of consciousness, about transformation, and all the stages inbetween to a higher consciousness. And the portrayal of higher consciousness in relation to the little deaths we experience throughout life to prepare us for the ultimate transformation. So I’d have David Lynch direct it, Brian Eno do the music. I’d have Amanda Ryan star in it. Not sure who the male actor would be. He’d have to be someone pretty special. The plotline would follow the tracks roughly in this order: Ember, Eagle Turning, Another World, The Butterfly Ate The Pearl, Morning Star, If I (Was), Diamond River Run, Elevation Of A Dream and the Summer Reigns. I could give a whole story board, but that might take some time..
WSR – If I (Was) is a very beautiful song and the video again is a stunning piece of art no less, why did you choose If I (Was) to make a video for and who did the animation for If I (Was)?
Andria – Thank you. Eric Leiser, the film animator from CA, and I had always wanted to work together on a music video. So when the album was mixed I sent a CDR to Eric and asked him to pick a track to work on. He chose ‘If I (Was)’ and I was very pleased. Whenever I work with anyone, the first thing I wish them to be is inspired, and that track inspired him to make the video he did. I was thrilled to see that video for the first time. I’m very happy with it. I think he’s amazing at what he does. He is presently working on a video for ‘Ember’. That will be premiered very soon.
WSR – You have released The Butterfly Ate The Pearl in a really nice clear vinyl, to you what is your favourite way to release your music is this very digital world we live in?
Andria – I do love vinyl, to look at and to listen too. There is nothing like it really. So it was important to make the album available on vinyl for fellow vinyl lovers. However, I think all formats have their place, for the more people that are exposed to the music, through the varies mediums, the better .
WSR – What is your favourite place in the world and what is your favourite way to relax?
Andria – My favourite place in the world is wherever I am, although, I’m quite partial to California. And I like to relax alone or with friends, and I also love those rare times of having no place to go, nothing to do and no one to be. Oh, and of course sleeping and dreaming.
WSR – Do you believe in true love and if you do have you ever felt it?
Andria – True love, I believe, is the unity of the higher states of consciousness within man/woman. I’ve had glimpses.
WSR – Thank you so much for giving Wicked Spins Radio this interview, is there anything you would like to add?
Andria – I would just like to thank you for asking some interesting questions. It was a pleasure to take the time to answer. And I wish all your listeners and readers at Wicked Spins Radio peace and love ’cause that’s all that really matters. And hope to see you in Spring next year!.