An interview with Troy Donockley.
May 2009 by Nick.
Troy is a multi-instrumentalist, member of the band
Iona, he just returned from a tour with Nightwish. Troy can be heard on
their live album "Made in Hong Kong". And the video of
"the Islander" is rewarded as the best music video in Finland, directed by Stobe Harju.
And his next tour starts next week with the legendary Bad Shepherds.
Links to YouTube and the bands mentioned above you can find below. Please read the interview first ;-)
It took you 3 years to finish this album and yes i can imagine that it was a lot of work to get all the people involved, record the weird sounds and make it album flow.
You've an own studio now at your house? Did you used it a lot?
What are your influences?
Yes, I do have a studio at home which has, like it has for many artists, given me total independence in every sense. It is here that I do 90% of all work now as the internet has made it possible to send music across the world e.g. I can record a "take" in my studio and email it to Los Angeles INSTANTLY. This to me is a magical thing.
You start with an intro spoken/sung in latin that is repeated by Joanna Hogg. It sets the mood of the album, first a bit dark, religious and then delighted.
What are the words about? And why you used latin words that belongs to the church, is it all a part of the concept of the album?
The words come from the Latin Mass but I am not trying to invoke something Catholic/Christian. I am here contrasting the beauty of church music ( of which I am a great fan of ) with the horrors commited by religion throughout history. Which is partly expressed, as you graphically described, in the "Raping" of the guitar in the second part.
By the way you're a Darwnist, i would expect some strange Gaelic words.
At the end of the first song there are some really strange dark sounds, is that you raping a guitar?
Troy: Yes ;-)
The album has indeed a theme about a dark side of the human history “Age of Enlightenment” the "Dark Age" of fear and religious extremism. What is the link with
the way we live nowadays?
I think the link is evident everywhere we look. It is growing very fast -Religious Extremism and the drive for control and power. It is social, political and emotional. As people become more insecure, isolated and threatened by their lack of understanding of science and the natural world, so the need for religion grows. And when you have primitive beliefs coupled with modern weopen technology....then we have a serious problem!
Some parts of the album are really dark, but often they're followed by some more brighter sounds is that how you want to express
"the paradox of beauty within systems of cruelty"?
That is exactly what I want to express but again, only to a degree...there are other factors but I will keep them secret.
Please explain the phrase; "...and the inherent hopelessness of the conditioned mind".
When a mind is totally conditioned by whatever culture it is born into, it is very difficult for it to see the world "as it is". The mind cannot have any freedom of thought in this state so is prone to hopelessness in its own 'prison'. Good grief, This is getting heavy....!
Tim Martindale added some really strong art work, that expresses the mood of the album, songs perfectly. Who is Tim?
Tim runs my website www.troydonockley.co.uk and is my friend and designer for quite a few projects, but, especially, his input for this new album has taken his excellence to new levels.
Who else is involved in the artwork?
Well, the front cover and a couple of sculptures featured on the inside are from Alastair Dickson - a brilliant sculptor living near Toronto. There is an atmosphere to his work that is so skewered, surreal and hallucogenic that I can't get enough of it. He kindly gave me permission to use his "Brutish Museum" sculptures. The imagery for the photographs are from me and then Tim took the shots to try to match the ideas and the music. And he certainly acheived that...Big Time.
Who had the idea for the really original way of folding?
That was Tims idea completely. Hats off Tim.
You used 8 pictures and there are 7 songs... mmm why is that?
Only 7 pictures have connection to each piece of music and they are all on the inside cover. The strange and sad creature on the 8th picture just had to be there just because I love it.
You wrote all the songs, how do you write? Sitting at a keyboard, guitar? Do you write it down?
Usually, I do it in my head and then notate it for the players who will perform it. My favourite moment is hearing the music that has tortured my sleep for months out and into the world. But I do improvise though, mainly on piano...
You didn't wrote lyrics, but you used some phrases of Walt Whitman, why?
Oh, I am a HUGE Walt Whitman fan and I love that stanza...I got a bunch of friends to say a line each which workes great.
Which poems you used of Walt Whitman?
The poetry is from "Song of Myself". It may be of minor interest that I also got the title of my first album "The Unseen Stream"
(1998) from that very same poem. You see, I am a fan!
The three ladies who are singing on this album are Joanna Hogg, Barbara Dickson & Heather Findlay.
Can you tell something about them?
All three are dear friends and brilliant singers. As you know, Joanne has been featured in all of my solo work and for good reason as you can hear on this new album.She is incomparable.
Barbara Dickson is very famous in the UK and I have produced her last 3 albums...she is also one of the finest singers of traditional music in the British Isles. Ever.
And Heather Findlay? a sublime performance. I have witnessed her, over the last 10 years, become a truly brilliant and expressive voice in music.
So, three of the best in the world. A great privilige.
How was it to do a part of Nightwish tour?
It was utterly brilliant. They are unique and, in my opinion, the best rock band on the planet. Plus, when we are together we have dangerously big fun.
So on your next album Anette Olzon could be one of your guests?
I may very well get Anette on the next album. I love her voice and spirit...
And after that a 120 day tour, or some thing like that, with the Bad Shepherds?
A big contrast with Nightwish?
It's a contrast but not as big as you would think....Bad Shepherds seriously ROCK!
What kind of songs you'll play with them?
Lots of punk/new wave songs done in a folky style. It is completely acoustic though...
You've only one date on the mainland planned, a festival in Eindhoven (15th of August (link you find below)), are there more dates in the pipeline?
Lots and lots of festivals through the summer, and around 60 for the rest of the year. I think that will be enough for this year!
The large amount of dates with the Bad Shepherds are credited to the fact that you'll not playing with Iona.
How is that? Isn't that strange?
Who'll replace you?
Well, because IONA doesn't operate as a professional touring band anymore, I have to prioritise other work. The Bad Shepherds
dates came in first so thats the way it is....it is a shame. They are getting in a guy to stand in for me but I don't know who
he is. He will be doing any shows with them in the future.
There will be released some cd's in the near future with you. One is my big hero from the past, one album that made big impression
on me in the late 70-ies: "Eye of Wendor" by the Mandala Band, aka David Rohl the Egyptoligist.
Can you tell me something about him?
Well he is a splendid friend of mine and we have similar tastes and interests. We will be working on more projects together in the
How did you met David Rohl? You're not only a session mucian, but you also wrote some songs?
I can't remember exactly how we met but it was definitely through our myspace pages. Since then, we have became firm friends.
He is a brilliant man and we get on like a house on fire. I have contributed quite a lot to the Mandalaband 3 project and I composed
one piece for the first album "Wine Dark Sea" which I am very proud of. But the pair of us intend to do an album together, maybe
next year I hope, based around "The Gods" - Ancient and not so! We are off to Egypt together to camp in the desert....and David is
the man to be with on an expedition like that....
An other project is Eureka, a German guy called Frank Bossart, how did you got involved with him?
I have never met Frank. He sent to me a track and I played pipes on it, which brings us nicely full circle to the first question!
Okay one final question, for the Dutch friends, and then i leave you alone with your jetlag.
It has been a long time you played in the Netherlands (i believe the last time was with Mostly Autumn '06 !). We'll miss you
with the upcoming Iona gigs, so is there a possibility that you will be invited for the X-mas shows of Mostly Autumn? Or other
projects in the LowLands?
I love the Netherlands. My music has a lot of friends there. You have a unique 'community' of serious music lovers. So, I would
love to be there soon. Watch this space.
Troy thx for your time and your wonderful album.
Love and freethought
Competition; i'm allowed to give 2 "Madness of Crowds" cd's away.
Please have a look here.
Interview with Troy
about ProgAID and more,
An older interview at VoicePrint.