Q & A Index Page


Renee Blanche Night Tides

Renée Blanche



Ambient Vision's Q & A With
Renée Blanche about Night Tides

:  People who run long term websites or radio shows about ambient music must really love what they do to keep something like that running for many years. When did you discover the joys of ambient/new age music and who were some of the artists that facilitated that discovery?

RB:  Ambient/new age music entered my life when I decided I wanted to give radio announcing a shot. It was a community radio station in El Paso and the format was Jazz Pop with some new age music mixed in. David Arkenstone and Yanni are my first loves in the genre. Hearts of Space was part of the programming but I’d never really listened to it until I heard it while jogging which was never really my thing, but listening to HOS helped me feel calm and pace my breathing. I was intrigued. And so began my unexpected love affair with the genre. I’ve said many times over the years that had someone in my youth told me radio was in my future, I would have rolled my eyes at them in total disbelief. Had I been told it would be ambient/new age music, I would have doubled over in hysterical laughter.

AV:  Were you looking for something new or a new genre to listen to at the time that you discovered ambient?

RB:  I wasn’t looking for new music to listen to but I wasn’t opposed to new musical offerings.  There’s music I’m not particularly fond of, but it’s been a part of my life for as long as I can remember because of my love of the dance.

Click here for the rest of our Q & A with Renée Blanche about Night Tides


Bill Fox Galactic Travels

Bill Fox



Ambient Vision's Q & A With
Bill Fox about Galactic Travels

:  Seems like you have been involved in music in one form or another for quite some time. Tell me about some of the high points in yourmusical history that helped to mold your musical tastes into what they are today.

BF:  While I always had something musical happening, everything was of a limited scope when I lived in Ohio.  Yet, all of those experiences prepared me for what was to come so I suppose the "high points" were high from my vantage point.  They just weren't high in terms of public profile. 

I formed my first band in elementary school and sang in choirs at school and temple.  The summer after the seventh grade, I was asked to join a band at Music Arts, and Crafts camp where I met my lifelong best friend.  We played two songs at the end-of-the-summer concert.  Not a real big thing, relatively speaking, but it was a high point for me. 

 From high school through my adult years, I played saxophone in concert bands, played in duos, filled in last minute for bands, played in pit orchestras for musicals, and was exposed to radio broadcasting.  I played at a folk festival in a university's large auditorium while I was in high school.  My first musical in 1986 was "Jesus Christ Superstar" and I was the guitarist.  (As I type this, it is Easter, 2011.)  In high school, I won a contest to be a DJ for 15 minutes at WUJC (now WJCU). 

It was prerecorded but I insisted on spinning the disks (vinyl, in those days!) and running the sound board myself, not just do the announcing.  These events were only big to me but they were very formative. 

Click here for the rest of our Q & A with Bill Fox about Galactic Travels


John Koch-Northrup Relaxed Machinery

John Koch-Northrup
and Tippi

Ambient Vision's Q & A With
John Koch-Northrup about Relaxed Machinery & More

AV:  You've had quite a long history with music going all the way back to the age of 5. Tell me about your discovery of synths and electronics in relationship to your music and how you began to explore it.  

JKN:  My grandma started teaching me piano when I was five.  Although I don't really remember that far back really well, I'm assuming it was seeing her play the organ at their house that got me interested, and probably music just being "in me".  She played organ for 65 years at the same church in the small town I grew up in.  What an amazing thing.  I have many great memories of her playing.  Once she felt she'd taught me as much as she could she pushed me to another teacher - and it kind of went on like that over the years until I completely stopped taking piano lessons when I was 19.

I think I was 13 or 14 when I really got fired up about synths and electronics.  The music on the radio catching my ear was coming from Howard Jones "Human's Lib" and then Depeche Mode when "Some Great Reward" came out.  That's when I stopped borrowing my older sister's AC/DC and Ozzy cassettes and started buying a lot of records and cassettes ranging from synthpop to industrial to jazz.

Click here for the rest of our Q & A with John Koch-Northrup about Relaxed Machinery


Chuck van Zyl Star's End

Chuck van Zyl



Ambient Vision's Q & A With
Chuck van Zyl about Star's End and the Gatherings

STAR'S END is (with the exception of "Music from the Hearts of Space") the longest running radio program of ambient music in the world. Since 1976, STAR'S END has been providing thePhiladelphia broadcast area with music to sleep and dream to. There are many suggested uses for the program, but most people tune their radio to STAR'S END as they get into bed on Saturday night and allow the gentle aural soundscapes to influence their sleep and dreams. 

The music is presented in a non-stop drifting blend and drawn from a diversity of genres including: electronic, ambient, spacemusic, chillout, avant-garde, low-intensity noise, new age, international, spoken word and classical. 26 year veteran host Chuck van Zyl, has a low-key announcing style that gently informs listeners of show content without disturbing their sleep. Many listeners feel he is a welcome guest in their intimate listening environment. 

"STAR'S END is a unique listening experience, not just an exchange of information like most radio shows", says van Zyl. "Due to the unique presentation and the subtlety of the music, the program really affects people, often in a profound way". 


Click here for the rest of our Q & A with Chuck van Zyl about Star's End


George Cruickshank Ultima Thule

George Cruickshank




Ambient Vision's Q & A With
George Cruickshank about Ultima Thule

Ultima Thule  was the term used in ancient times to describe the regions comprising the far northern extremities ofEurope - lands lost in the mists of legend, lying far beyond the realms of the known world. In early 1989, when producer George Cruickshank was researching a name for his revolutionary new music radio programme, Ultima Thule seemed the ideal choice. The programme first went to air on 1 February of that year. 

Over seventeen years later Ultima Thule is the longest running programme of its type in Australia, and is firmly established as one of the country's foremost alternative music programmes, enthralling audiences with a unique, entrancing melange of ambient and atmospheric music from around the world and across the ages - all drawn from a private library comprising some 5000 recordings.

Each broadcast of Ultima Thule is presented as a 90 minute ambient soundscape narrative, with minimal announcer interruption.  Ultima Thule is broadcast live from the Sydney studios of 2MBS-FM and re-broadcast by 5MBS-FM inAdelaide every Sunday evening from 10.30pm - midnight


Click here for the rest of our Q & A with George Cruickshank about Ultima Thule


Ben Fleury-Steiner Gears of Sand Records

Ben Fleury-Steiner


Ambient Vision's Q & A With
Ben Fleury-Steiner of Gears of Sand Records

Gears of Sand recordings is a not-for-profit independent experimental  electronic/electro-acoustic label that specializes in deep drone musics (i.e., musics in the tradition of  OÖPHOI).  Our mission is to release the finest quality music by as many talented artists as possible.  In addition to evocative drone music, the label will also release much more experimental works on its Time Series (i.e., musics in the tradition of ZOVIET FRANCE) GOS Time Series Releases will showcase category-defying works that focus on sound collage and the merging of both electronic and electroacoustic elements.    The label will also offer Special Edition Releases from the world of ethereal ambient music (i.e., musics in the tradition of artists such as THOM  BRENNAN) . With a deep appreciation for the mysterious and always changing inertia of life itself, gears of sand recordings vis-a-vis its artists seeks to inhabit a broad and varied array of deeply personal sound spaces.     In short, we seek to release music that our listeners can FEEL as well as hear.  As a non-profit committed to releasing artists' works as first priority, those who purchase gos releases are directly facilitating the ability of the label to release the highest quality music from around the world. 

Click here for the rest of our Q & A with Ben Fleury-Steiner of Gears of Sand Records


James Johnson Atmoworks

James Johnson

John Strate-Hootman aka Vir Unis of Atmoworks

John Strate-Hootman aka Vir Unis

Ambient Vision's Q & A With
James Johnson and Vir Unis of Atmoworks Records

AV: The both of you are very well known in the ambient community as musicians, why was it that you decided to form AtmoWorks? 

JOHN :  Both James and I have a very focused interest in releasing music at our own pace and on our own terms.  It's an empowering motion as an independent artist and one that actually enhances our creativity and productivity.  We determine the flow of our music which is essential to honestly representing our life as artists. 

JAMES: From the very beginning of Atmoworks, both John & myself we're aware of the limitations and frustrations associated with releasing works through traditional labels and means and felt restricted by the current paradigm of "the way things are done" in terms of marketing, promotion and releasing of our works. We wanted a more fluid and direct outlet for our creativity and saw that there was nothing available that met our criteria. 

Click here for the rest of our Q & A with James Johnson and Vir Unis of Atmoworks Records


Forest Musical Starstreams




Ambient Vision's Q A With
Forest of Waveform Records

AV:  When was it that "exotic electronica" as you lovingly call it on Musical Starstreams, made enough of an impression on you that you personally began to listen to this type of music? Who were some of the first artists to find their way into your own collection of electronic music?

Forest: Well the first program was broadcast back in Dec of 1981 and I still have the playlist from it and we have it posted on the Starstreams site. From then until the mid 90's it was more European electronic pioneers like Eno, Schulze, Jarre and Japan's Kitaro, along with the more new agey type titles from Windham Hill and people like Deuter with Celestial Harmonies. Later as things evolved Private Music came around with Patrick O'Hearn and others and then finally in the early 90's the program began to become primarily electronica artists from the UK and Europe like Banco de Gaia, the early laid back things from Moby from the USA and some of the UK's Beyond label artists. Ambient, spacemusic, dub, downtempo, trip hop, acid jazz...artists from all these categories. After taking a closer look at what we were playing then, the "exotic electronica" tag seemed to be pretty descriptive. And of course we were getting our Waveform label off the ground in late 93 as well.

Click here for the rest of our Q & A with Forest of Waveform Records


Lloyd Barde Backroads Music

Lloyd Barde





Ambient Vision's Q & A With
Lloyd Barde of Backroads Music

AV:  Recently, you restructured and revamped (revitalized?) Backroads Music. What did you do and how has it helped? I recall reading on a news group that you were trying to preserve your "beloved business." It seems that you have done so. What's next for Lloyd Barde and Backroads?

LB:  The change that occurred three years ago was a veritable leap of faith, but the outcome has been surprisingly not much different at all than the prior "version". I announced "closing the warehouse" -- which was literal -- and gave up 1000 feet of space, lowering the overhead by "twenty feet" and considerable dollars. The office I now work in is the same office I have occupied for the past 15 years, in the same building that has been the Backroads location since 1985. The leap of faith was the uncertainty that I would choose to continue after scaling down. And while I had designs on growing with active partners and a new model of outreach and tech capabilities, the fact is that I got smaller in some respects, but grew the music selection listings and the ability to present the music in an easier and more efficient, user-friendly fashion. Our budget does not allow for frequent large catalog mailings, but we gladly send printed catalogs and/or email newsletters to anyone who asks. And our catalog is now downloadable on our web site where over 1000 reviews can easily be found. In addition there are Owner's Picks that are updated monthly and appear on the Ambient Visions site, Best of the Year listings and much more.


Click here for the rest of our Q & A with Lloyd Barde of Backroads Music


Mike Griffin Hypnos Records

Mike Griffin
Owner of Hypnos Records

Ambient Vision's Q A With
Mike Griffin Of Hypnos

AV:  Tell me a little about yourself just prior to making the decision to form Hypnos Recordings.

MG:  I had been recording some very minimal ambient music of my own for a couple of years, and wanted to release my own CD, which became Sudden Dark. Before Hypnos even really got started, the concept expanded from a vehicle to release a CD or two of my own music, into something like what it is today. The decision to form Hypnos wasn't really a decision to form an aggressive, fast-growing, adventurous label. If I had known what it would become, I might have been afraid to take the first steps.

AV:  Was there something specific that really pushed you over the edge and gave you the impetus to form Hypnos?

MG:  In the beginning, the decision to start Hypnos seemed secondary and almost incidental to my desire to start releasing my own music. The big revelation for me was finding an artistic direction that I wanted to pursue through music or sound. So at first, the great majority of my energy and focus was on my own personal music, and a lesser focus was on the idea of this label. Gradually that ratio has become reversed!

Click here for the rest of our Q & A with Mike Griffin


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