Sunday, 2 October 2011

Terra Nine interview

Terra Nine is Mike Westcot from Auckland, New Zealand. Mike has combined the sound of the electric voila with electronica. The result ranges from orchestral ambience to more beat driven techno and has taken the Terra Nine show worldwide.

1. My first knowledge of an electric violin was in the early 90’s with Ed Alleyene-Johnson’s “Purple Electric Violin Concerto”. Although, if I had read my album covers more closely I would have realised that John Cale used an electric viola on the Velvet Undergrounds “Venus in Furs” and they have been around for longer than that. When did you first come across the instrument and what attracts you to the viola rather than the violin?

My first exposure to the idea of an electric violin was as a 12 y.o., seeing Jimmy Page use a violin bow to play his electric guitar....making these awesome sounds as a result - after that, my violin classical practice time was not quite the same - degenerating as it did from then on (once I’d finished my scales) into a cacaphony of harmonic notes...

Later on I bought my first electric fiddle - a Barcus Berry Vioelectra - a lovely shiny jet black 5-string model, but I found that the strings were too close together and I didn't like the sound of the violin E-string - preferring the more mellow tones of the bottom C-string up to the A-string. So I did some mods to the fingerboard using a file and came up with a 4-string ‘viola’’s worked well ever since…

String-based musical influences for me as an impressionable teenager included Robert Fripp and David Cross in King Crimson, L Shankar and Jean Luc Ponty in the Mahavishnu Orchestra, John Cale in The Velvet Underground and Adrian Belew in early Talking Heads ….all of whom did amazing violin work, or played guitar using violin-like styles....

2. Stream of Consciousness is the sixth release by Terra Nina along with many tracks featured on compilation albums. How would you say the music has evolved since the last release in 2007?

The latest album features the inspired vocals of Aviatrix, aka Kerensa Stephens on a number of the tracks and is stylistically more uptempo and song oriented - with influences including breaks, drum n bass dub and a little bit of dubstep. Cath and Al Dragojevic also feature on this new release, perf,orming live bass, didge and percussion, while Damian Verna (Red Eye Express) and Ben Heppel (Stickleback) contribute the rhythm section in the drum n bass track So Human.
This release also features remixes by OTT and Pete Ardron of Orchid Star (and Glow) fame, both of which make this album less chilled and more ‘danceable’

3. Terra Nine as a project also includes a band comprising vocals, didgeridoo, harp and bass guitar. When selecting the band members did you have people in mind or where you more interested in the instruments required?

Both really - all the member of Terra Nine were chosen for their musical excellence and instrumentation, as well as the fact that we are on the same page musically and are all good friends.

4. For those who have not heard your music and are interested where would you recommend they start?

Start with the latest album and work back…;-) you can find links to everything at:
and at:

5. You’ve taken the live show worldwide before. Which of the countries you’ve played in have you enjoyed the most? Are there any live dates currently?

I have loved playing everywhere really - Germany, Spain, France, Hungary, Slovakia, Australia, NZ and the UK - my festival faves so far would be Hadra and Ambiosonic in France, Al Andalus in Spain, Full Moon in Germany, Bakony in Hungary, Rainbow Serpent in Australia, Canaan Downs in NZ and Waveform in the UK.

The NZ and Australian festivals are always special to me because they are close to home and all my friends are there…

So far, confirmed Terra Nine gigs include Rainbow Serpent 2010 next January in Australia and Waveform 2010 plus Festival of Life next September in the UK… plus there will be a slew of other shows in Europe and the UK…Locally, here in NZ, I may be playing at Splore in February…but it is not as yet confirmed.

6. New Zealand seems to have an abundance of reggae artists. Many of which are exploring electro-acoustic fusions. Are there any less well known artists you would recommend?

Yup …Ecophonic for one, plus Ddub are another good band, although my faves are Pitch Black and Salmonella Dub and thety are pretty well known…

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