Independent Music Awards - Nominee Q & A
14th Annual Jazz Instrumental Album Nominee
Home Base: New York
Genre: Fusion (Jazz/World/Rock)
Category Entered: Jazz Instrumental Album
Work Submitted: Album – Stories from the Years of Living Passionately
Artists Featured: Noshir Mody (compositions, guitar), Tsuyoshi Niwa (soprano saxophone), Carmen Staff (piano), John Lenis (bass) and Yutaka Uchida (drums)
Label: Noshir Mody (Self-Released)
IMA: Who are your influences?
NM: Too many to mention everyone, but here’s the short list – Trilok Gurtu, Joe Zawinul, Miles Davis, John McLaughlin, Ulf Wakenius, Pat Metheny, Al Di Meola, Keith Jarrett and Zakir Hussain.
IMA: Describe your nominated work
NM: As the title of the album Stories from the Years of Living Passionately suggests, the compositions are experiences from my life that have manifested themselves in music. I feel pretty blessed that I am able to conceive the music in a moment of inspiration and have the musical skill to mold that moment of inspiration into a finished work of art.
IMA: Did you use any unusual effects or instruments in this recording?
NM: The electric guitar was run through my pedal board which has a couple of custom reverb/delay patches to simulate ambiance but other than that all the other instruments were tracked acoustically.
IMA: Were there any happy accidents while in the studio, or did everything go as planned?
NM: Every time we make music I have no preconceived notions of how things are going to turn out – whether in the studio or at a gig. There are sections that are written and sections that are intentionally left open which allow for those moments of magic or “happy accidents".
IMA: How did you raise the funds for this project? How long do you expect it will take to recoup your out-of-pocket recording expenses?
NM: This is my third self-funded album in the last 7 years. Before each album there is a period of meticulous organization for funds, personnel and logistics. Many times I fall short and we put out an album with only the resources that were available. Sometimes I have to be ok with that as it gets the music out into the world to connect with others. With each album I have noticed an increasing awareness and appreciation for my music so even though these albums and projects are a labor of love for me I do hope to reach a critical mass in the near future, which will allow me to recoup expenses.
IMA: Why did you choose to submit this work to The IMAs?
NM: Since I am an independent artist I typically submit my work to the IMAs. It feels great to be recognized for Jazz Instrumental Album, especially considering the other outstanding albums that are competing in the same category.
IMA: What’s your definition of success and how will you know when you’ve achieved it?
NM: Success to me is not a milestone, it’s a process. I consider the ability to execute one’s vision while harmonizing with one’s environment as success. Too often I have seen agendas coerced, which may eventually materialize goals, but fracture relationships. It’s hard to build upon anything achieved in that manner since you have already paved the way for your decline.
IMA: How will you leverage your IMA honors to achieve your career goals?
NM: It’s a great honor to be on a short list of 5 albums in a genre that is typically made up of highly skilled and imaginative artists. I’m excited to share this with fans that support my music and utilize this recognition to further gain visibility among music lovers everywhere.
IMA: Who’s sitting in your audience and what makes your fans unique?
NM: I am happy to play for everyone and anyone who is willing to listen – this music is accessible and relevant simply because it is about our time. I love when during our free concerts in Central Park in New York City little kids will jump up and dance and at the same time other listeners are rapt in attention following the nuances of the music. I love that our performances affect people viscerally, that they are moved by the music and the passion driving the musicians delivering it.
IMA: What is your guilty pleasure on the road? Any close calls or mishaps while on tour?
NM: I love driving and usually nominate myself on being the designated driver. No close calls that I can recollect.
IMA: Are there any songs you wish you wrote and why?
NM: Astor Piazolla’s Milonga del Angel – I am truly swept away by this melody and no matter how many times I hear the song, it continues to stay fresh for me.
IMA: What artists are you listening to that would surprise your fans?
NM: The Indigo Girls. I love their albums Rites of Passage and Swamp Ophelia and even after 20 years these are my go to albums when I’m feeling overly introspective.
IMA: How do you discover new music? Do you buy music or are you content with streaming?
NM: I scour iTunes regularly and I buy music. I also listen to streaming music on cable, satellite radio and the Internet to discover new artists.
IMA: How will musicians make a living if fans continue to expect music to be free?
NM: This is a tough one – I believe fans have always been happy to contribute to their favorite artists. Since today almost anyone can put out an album, the music model is changing to accommodate curated song selection in this vast expanse of content. Unfortunately, instead of having listeners direct their funds to the artist; the model has changed to use the music as bait for product sponsorship. A sponsor pays to connect with your fan to sell them their product while your fan is listening to your music. Fans are being told “free music" however they are probably spending more when they purchase a slew of products that are constantly being hurled at their consciousness. For ad-free music, there is a subscription fee. Either way, the consumer is paying and profits are being made by the parties that are committed to making a profit. So the only sustainable way I can see musicians making money from music is if they have a grass roots cultivated support base with whom they are able to connect and interact with directly. Artists need to be committed to developing their support base. In my opinion, this needs to be as high up there in an artist’s priorities as writing and performing good music.
IMA: What don’t fans/audiences understand about the music industry today?
NM: Seek out independent artists and cherish them – it is here that you are most likely to find the artist and his/her art coupled as one. “Art" created for large-scale consumption by the music machine is typically being done to sell you soap, soda, salty foods, so on and so forth.
IMA: Are digital singles/EPs vs. full albums the future?
NM: I believe good music will always be the future. Its aggregation is secondary.
IMA: Finish this sentence: The music industry is…
NM: ...made up of good and bad – just like everything else.
IMA: What do you have in the works for the upcoming year?
NM: I’m really excited about my new project which involves a new ensemble and new musical works – I’m altering the instrumentation and utilizing horns in a dynamic and percussive manner to create an ambiance of textures and layers within the arrangements. I have no idea how all of this will eventually materialize but I’m incredibly energized to be pursuing this goal with wonderful and amazing musicians.