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Himalayha: Moving artfully in circles

img  Tobias Fischer

Your previous two-track-EP Melancolia nº IV, thanks to its jazzy bass lines, had a stronger sense of a live-band-feeling than the new material. A coincidence or a conscious decision to move into a new direction?
Maybe both. The tracks on the EP are very different from each other, but they all work together as a whole. It's always good to follow some new perspective when creating a piece of music, but hopefully there's something similar in all of them as well.

The title of your new release, sounds anything but happy. Does music have a cathartic function to you?
I don't think that the title sounds unhappy, but that may just be my personal perspective. My main goal was to create a sense of poetry in the title, writing something that people can recognise, that will evoke thoughts and feelings. And yes, music does have a cathartic function to me. Listening to and making music is like a therapy. It´s also a way of self expression, which feels very rewarding. Music is one of the things that I share with my friends and with people that I like. It´s a seminal part of me.

You single out Zbigniew Preisner and Alva Noto as inspirations and references. It's not something one would necessarily notice straight away.
When I was composing, I had in mind various inspirations. I used the imagery that Zbigniew Preisner's music evokes. His music is brimming with emotion, so I tried to capture some of that. From Alva Noto, I allowed some of his experimental side to tricke into my own work. Maybe people don't see these influences in my music, but they are definitely there, in a subliminal way.

Other notable references are Satie and Debussy. In which way do you believe there can truly be a dialogue between romantic composers of the classical era and contemporary sound art?
I think romantic composition shares a lot to with contemporary sound art. Both use experimentation and both reject a conventional way of creating music. For me, one important aspect is the importance of melody. So in my compositional process, I try to use the melancholy and the melody of these composers. Minimalism, too, is also something that I brought from Satie and Debussy.

How do you balance texture and melody in your work?
The textural details are there to give some ambience and a sense of space, and the melody - well the melody is almost everything in music, to me it's like the Leitmotif of a movie. Most pieces were born on the piano. I constantly record musical phrases on the instrument. After creating the piano lines, I turn to  the arrangements, adding some minimalist electronics, field recordings and found sounds as well as several acoustic instruments. I try to be careful with the selection of sounds and instruments. These, after all, are the tools that will shape the sound. Composing and producing depends on what you have in mind - if you reproduce what you have in your head then you're on the right path.

Soundtracks seem to be important to you, too.
These days, some of the greatest music comes from soundtracks. I love the work of composers like Cliff Martinez, Yann Tiersen, Gustavo Santaolalla ... and just to name a few directors, the movies of David Lynch, Krzystof Kieslowski, Pedro Almodóvar and Wong Kar Wai are a great influence, some of their movies inspired me to create imagery for Himalayha. Melancolia em Dia Menor intends to be a soundtrack for someone else's imagination. Movies and soundtracks tell stories, and maybe this is one of my goals in music: to tell stories.

What kind of stories?
Stories about the persons playing a role in my life, about some of my memories ... I use a personal approach in my music, it represents emotional ties. But I like to think that everyone else can make up his own story when listening to Himalayha. It´s an open door into a dreamland.

How does the translation of a story or concept into sound work with you?

I have a background in advertising and design, so I will start any creation with a concept. The translation of a story into sound depends on what kind of emotion you're trying to convey. Telling stories in instrumental music means passing images on to listeners - you must use every sound and every note like an image. It´s all about emotion.

So do you believe the idea of absolute music is unrealistic?
I think that we are influenced by everything around us. Everyone leads with influences than can work on a conscious or a subconscious level. In art, everything moves in circles …

Image by Bruno Costa

Homepage: Hélder Costa / Himalayha

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