interview with Obsidian Key

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Have any of you played in other bands?

Sonic: Yes, I play in multiple bands (most noticeable Steady Pitch and, in the past, Antarktica and others) as well as working as a session musician and sound engineer. 

Paul: I have played in various covers and originals bands since I was a teenager, and I am currently in the process of recording a solo record.

How is it that you started playing music?

Sonic: I started to play music when I was very young (11 years old) and started with studying electronic organ, then, later on, started to play guitars and, only later in my life, added bass guitar and drums.
Paul: My journey as a singer began at school, singing in plays and shows from 7 or 8. When I was 14, I joined my first rock band, and never looked back.

What are your names? / Who plays what? / How old are you? Sonic: My name is Paolo and I play guitars, bass guitars, keyboards and drums. Paul is the new singer for the upcoming record.

Have you had other previous members? Sonic: Obsidian Key is a music project in which I like to play on some tracks with musicians I like and who are very passionate about music like me. We had some featured artists on the first album and we hope we’ll always have some featured artists on every album to always get that little extra, you know, on every new record.

Did you make music even when you were young?

Sonic: Yes, absolutely, I started to play in bands when I was very young and I’ve always been trying to write music as well.
Paul: I remember writing my first set of lyrics at 12 years old... Hopefully I've improved since then!

Where are you from? Sonic: I am originally from Italy, while Paul is British.

What year did the band form? Sonic: Obsidian Key project started in 2010, with some highs and lows but it’s now a stable project which we hope to make a live band at some point.

What's your style of genre? Sonic: This is always an interesting question for us (lol). Let’s put it this way, the main influential genres we play are Prog Rock and Prog Metal but we also add a lot more influences in our music than just the typical prog rock and metal elements, so it can vary a lot. 

What inspires you?

Sonic: I think that almost everything can inspire me, from a beautiful day of sunshine to a news on a newspaper or a movie, you know, everything can “click” inspiration. Generally we focus on things that touch us the most as human beings, in a world where technology seems to make everything look like some kind of screencast, it’s easy to forget that, behind many things, there is a real life…
Paul: All it can take is a word spoken in a certain way. Sometimes it's just coming into a situation and understanding it perfectly as an outsider would view it. It's such a hard question to answer in full, I guess the short answer would be "everything" but that's a major cop out. 

How often and where do you reherse? Sonic: We have weekly sessions (usually once a week). While personal music study/exercise is being done every single day.

How have you developed since you started with the music?

Sonic: When I started to learn music, long time ago, I had no idea I could reach levels at which I am nowadays and now I am still here studying and practicing to get even further with my music knowledge and expertise. I love music, so, I don’t want to stop learning. About quantifying "how much" I have developed, I can’t, but I know it’s a lot...

Paul: Like I said above, hopefully I'm a better lyricist now, haha! My styles have shifted over the years, I believe I've become a more rounded singer. Working in Obsidian Key has been eye opening and has been pushing me forward in ways I didn't know I was capable of. 

Do you have other interests of work outside the band?

Sonic: I like sport, technology, movies and reading. 
Paul: I have always been a voracious reader, I also enjoy doing yoga and I absolutely love cooking (Is there room in the world for a Prog Rock celebrity chef, do you think?).

Are you looking for a booking agency, and what are your thoughts around that? Sonic: We are always open to all opportunities, however, Obsidian Key is a duo at the moment, so, I guess we first need to find musicians to complete the line up and, maybe, then look for a booking agency.

Are you looking for a label, and what are your thoughts around that? Sonic: What really matter for an artist nowadays are real fans, you know, people who really like your music, who listen to and buy it. The Internet is way more efficient at reaching the right audience to present your music than many labels are. Now if the potential label is capable of such a task and it’s also capable of distributing our music worldwide then, yes, we may be interested, but if the potential label is still using an 80s/90s market approach then no, we have already a market and it’s working fine for us.

What made you decide to make this music?

Sonic: Honestly? Just passion for Prog Rock in general (I love it and always did).
Paul: When I first heard the tracks from LOUD being recorded, I was blown away by how much they spoke to me. It awoke my old passion for the 70's prog bands I loved, opened my eyes to Prog since then and ultimately I think it was a project that was the perfect thing for me to find at this point in my life. To be invited to join as a full time member was a very easy decision to make!

What are your songs about? Sonic: Obsidian Key songs are about us (the people), how we see the world and society changing around us, life, questions and possible answers. There is no intention of being necessarily rebellious or whatever, it’s just about everything we are.

Who does the composing and writes the lyrics?

Sonic: On the first album I did pretty much everything alone, on the new album (we started to work on recently), we have more separate roles, I write the music and Paul writes most of the lyrics. However Paul and I work together in the process of finding the ideas and the typical research we do on whatever we discuss in our lyrics.
Paul: By the time I am writing full sets of lyrics for a song, there will have been many hours of discussion about the songs concept. My favourite lyricists can explain very complex ideas in very digestible ways, so a lot of work goes into making things interesting and not just the "I love her, she loves me, so we started a family" school of lyrical structure. Not to say there isn't room for simple themes, but they are always to be approached from new angles if at all possible.

Do you start with the music or the lyrics? Sonic: Hard to say, usually I start from an idea. It’s more like an inspiration about writing something on a particular matter, then I start to “talk” about it with riffs and song sections, then, with Paul, we start to put everything together and see if it is going in the right direction for us or not.

Do you compose in a certain inviroment? Sonic: Yes, I do have my own studio where I usually work from and it is a kinda quiet environment.

What language do you sing in?

Sonic: Obsidian Key lyrics are generally in English.
Paul: With the occasional bit of Latin and Italian thrown in on the debut record, just to make life easy for me!

When did you start to sell merchandise, and what do you have for sale? Sonic: We started to sell merchandise from the beginning because I also like visual arts, we sell our music, obviously, in digital and CD format and lots of merchandise because, nowadays, people have very different tastes and needs so many prefer to buy merch for their laptop instead of the classic t-shirt and such.

Where can people buy your merchandise? Sonic: Our official merchandise website is on Redbubble and the URL to our shop is http://www.redbubble.com/people/obsidiankey/shop. We chose it because their quality is outstanding, really good material for t-shirts and merch as well as very good service. However, nowadays you need to have multiple on-line stores, because people like to buy from their favourite shop like amazon, zazzle and so on, so, we also have merch in there.

What do you think about people downloading music instead of buying records now a days? Sonic: What can I say, downloading music for free is not a good thing, it doesn’t matter how people try to put it, but, in reality, there is not free music listening if you think about it. Doesn’t matter which kind of Napster people will invent, the truth is that music is an art that, to be enjoyed, requires people to pay the most expensive price, their time, because music is an art that fills time. So, it’s hard to say that there are people enjoying music for free. If and when masses will start to realise this, they will probably change their habits in favour of supporting quality music that requires investment to be written, arranged, recorded, mixed and mastered.

How do you think the music industry have changed because of this? Sonic: This has changed the music industry dramatically. I have seen the music industry changing from the end of the 80s and start of 90s when labels were some sort of bad Gods who had the power to decide what would have been the next big “thing” (with some rare exception) to nowadays where they are desperately trying to make some business with everything that may work included talent shows or whatever is going to be the next trick.
Paul: As we sang on LOUD, "All empires are set to end".

What do you think of my work? Sonic: I think you’re doing a great job, and I really enjoyed reading some of your previous interviews with amazing artists like Symphony X.

How do you think and know that this interview will help you in the music business? Sonic: All interviews are always helpful for a band (especially the ones on the internet) to reach more people who may be interested in listening to our music.

Do you have any role models or idols?

Sonic: Plenty I would say... All the people that wake up every day and do their best to get a better world are all my role models and idols, even the ones I don’t know and, obviously, there are Michael Schenker and Steve Vai who are undoubtedly the greatest guitar heroes ever. Ahahaha ok this will upset someone, sorry for that, every guitar hero is the best!
Paul: So many great singers, performers and lyricists out there. I find a new one every second day! Iron Maiden were the band that made me realise I love heavy music, let's go with them. I also have a big love for King Crimson, singers like Roger Daltrey and Meat Loaf, there are just to many to list. If we expand beyond music this list will take days!

Why do you think that they exist?

Sonic: They exist because we want them to exist. Moreover, my youth wouldn’t have been as cool as it did without music of YES, the Scorpions, Rush, Jethro Tull, Genesis, Steve Vai, Michael Schenker, Lemmy, Metallica and all the others! As well as our life would be much different if there wouldn’t have been many that worked hard to improve it...
Paul: To me, our heroes exist to inspire us to become the greatest versions of ourselves that we are capable of being. 

Is it easier to find inspiration from older bands, or bands that are more active today?

Sonic: I think it’s the same, I mean, if you like what you hear then it will get you, doesn’t matter the genre or when it has been made. I also think that nowadays there is a tendency to overstate the business side of music over the artistic side to the point of frustration. Which I think is something that happened less with music of the past. I personally find music with this approach less inspiring.
Paul: Seeing a great young local band on fire is still an inspiration and a driving force to get better, it's not just the greats on my MP3 player that keep me going!

What have been your biggest obstacles?

Sonic: I consider myself a guy who’s having fun, so it’s hard to answer this question… I mean I love what I do, so, I enjoy doing it, but I think, the biggest obstacle has been to manage to transform the fun of making music into a profession without losing the enthusiasm.
Paul: I think, putting up with Sonic if he hasn't had enough sleep! Haha, but seriously, my biggest obstacle will always be myself, as long as you don't let yourself obstruct your progress then you will have a much easier time of it. Not saying it'll be easy from them, but you can be your own worst enemy in lots of ways that might not be immediately obvious to you.

What advice would you give other bands or artists? Sonic: Well, I never got into Bill Board and such LOL (and with the kind of music I play I think it will never happen anyway). So, I don’t think I am in the position to give advice to most of the artists out there, but, for people like me, who loves music, my advice is: “Others’ opinions are just opinions, don’t let them stop you from reaching your goals. Don’t see the world in black and white, there are plenty of tints and colours in the middle, so, keep having fun and following your dreams. Sometimes it will require to compromise, yes, but, in my opinion, being able, like me, to live your dreams and have them filling your life is the greatest gift you can get."
Paul: As long as you love it, keep going! 

How do you get psyched for a gig?

Sonic: I have played a lot of gigs, it's always thrilling because you need to deliver your best each time, but, when the music starts, there is no more time to think about this.
Paul: I love playing live so much, just walking into a venue is usually enough to get me psyched!

Do you have any new material? Sonic: Yes, we just started to work on the next album and renewed the studio so bigger and better sound on the way!

What are your web sites?

Official web site: https://www.obsidiankey.com

Official Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Obsidian.Key.Music

Official MySpace page: https://myspace.com/obsidiankey

Official Twitter: https://twitter.com/obsidiankey

Official Google+: https://plus.google.com/+Obsidiankey

Official YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/obsidiankeymusic

How can people reach you?

Sonic: Via the usual suspects LOL, website, Facebook page, twitter, we manage everything by ourselves and some help from some webmasters and the messages, we read them all :)
Paul: Don't forget that "LOUD!" and the singles are on Spotify now, if you're reading this and haven't heard Obsidian Key then there are easy ways to change that. Thanks to everyone who listens and speaks to us directly, your comments make the work even more enjoyable and worthwhile.

What are your plans for the future? Sonic: Is it a cliche if I say I wanna Rock??? LOL, Well, I really hope we’ll have a full line up in the future and start performing Obsidian Key music live, so that is the plan.
Paul: I want to continue improving as a musician, and eventually play live, yes :)

Do you have something to add? Sonic: Yes, thank you very much for your time and effort to have a metal and rock music related blog, thanks also to everyone who has read this interview and all the best!

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