Martin Kennedy (pictured here with collaborator Steve Kilbey of The Church) of All India Radio discusses his influences, past and present, and describes his ideal project—we’d love to be in the audience for that concert!
- What made you originally choose ambient music?
MK: In the late 1970s I discovered a tape of Brian Eno's albums Discreet Music and Music For Airports in my older brother’s music collection and he let me listen to them. He also let me listen to his copy of Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon. I was at the impressionable of 12 or 13 and I was certainly impressed. At the same time I also discovered Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and AC/DC, so my influences were broader than just ambient music.
- Anyone in your genre has to have something to say about Eno, Tangerine Dream, Alan Parsons—others may come to mind. Who would you list as most influential to your sound and who do you listen to when you want that ambient experience?
MK: Influential to my sound: Brian Eno, Pink Floyd, The Church. Go-to listening for an ambient experience: Brian Eno, Harold Budd, Michael Brook, Jon Hassell, but lately I've been discovering Deuter whose music borders on New Age but his early albums have a wonderful proto-ambient, electronic and early Floyd-ish feel. Also the mid-1970s albums of Steve Halpern, who is considered a godfather of New Age music, but back in the 70s before the term 'new age' was in use he was just some hippy releasing 'discreet' music albums on his own indie label. And it is wonderful stuff. Of course I ALSO listened to AC/DC, Black Sabbath, Led Zep, Joy Division, Husker Du, Midnight Oil while I was growing up and those strong influences came out in my other bands, past and present. But that's a whole different story....
- The first All India Radio album I ever heard was Echo Other and I did not realize immediately, hearing “Four Three” and some of the subsequent tunes, that All India Radio is mostly instrumental. The beautiful voice we hear is Leona Gray?
MK: Yes, All India Radio is mostly instrumental. Not sure why, it just ended up that way. No its not Leona on “Four Three.” That is Selena Cross. I met Leona not long after Echo Other, late 2006 and we started working on Fall.
- And the two of you have worked with Steve Kilbey of The Church; how did that come about?
MK: Back in 2005 I released an album on the Karmic Hit label which was run by Steve's brother John. Steve heard that album and some of my early All India Radio work, liked what he heard and put out the idea of a collaboration. Being a big fan of the Church, naturally I jumped at the chance!
- You are Everythingis an excellent album. Are there more in the works?
MK: Yes we are just about to release a second album of commissioned songs and we are currently recording our fourth studio album, the follow up to You Are Everything.
- I really enjoyed Red Shadow Landing as well and have to confess to building a deck while getting to know it through repeated listening. It had a kind of mindfulness effect—a real accomplishment for me. Do you have mindfulness or meditation in mind when you create your music?
MK: I require a certain amount of mental calm and mindfulness to start with. Then after a certain period of time, or after a certain amount of progress into the writing stage, things will come into focus and I will know where I need to go with the album. At that point energy and drive takes over to get the job done. Not always a relaxing process!
- I have been listening to Ghost Songs: Remixes & Unreleased Tracks Vol. 3 (free download! at bandcamp.com) and am really enjoying it. So don’t we live in a weird age? You go through all that work and then give it away. What are your thoughts on where the “business” is now?
MK: Luckily the songs on Ghost Songs album were more or less just 'sitting on the shelf' gathering dust so I was comfortable giving them away for free or at least giving people the option to pay. Things are changing fast and it is exciting. I think the business is tough right now. Especially if you are a mid level artist signed to a small label. I'm not in that bracket and I do just OK sales wise but I couldn't retire on it. As my CD sales fell in the late 2000s my digital sales rose. As my digital sales fall my streaming royalties are going up. It all balances up.
- Unlimited resources, any crew currently available, what is your ideal project?
MK: A new instrumental album written by me, produced by Brian Eno and Michael Brook, with guests David Gilmour, Harold Budd, Robin Guthrie, and Brian Eno and Michael Brook themselves. Performed live by the same musicians without me. I'll be sitting in the audience enjoying it!