Music is a transcendent force. A harbour for expression and reflection, a collage of sound and texture, a conduit for further thinking – it wields the power to resonate and can sometimes even shift a person’s outlook. We continue to be intrigued, astonished and drawn into these worlds in which the artist creates, none more so than of London-living musician Johanna Glaza. Through symbolic imagery and progressive song structure, Glaza summons a wonderment between truth and fantasy – inspired by dreams and mythology, her emotive compositions exhilarate and mystify self-introspection and the science of the wider world.
Visioning folk music as pioneer, Glaza’s forthcoming debut album Wind Sculptures considers electronic influences alongside nuances in arrangement and adventurous intonation. To celebrate the impending release of the record, Johanna Glaza has shared with us a few thoughts on each track’s conception, through a series of past recollections and artistic reference points.
Writing a song is like watching a dream to me. It’s a very subconscious flow of images which I myself might not understand at the time. But when I find the right image I feel a huge relief. I’ve noticed there’s a lot of water in my album. In this song my protagonist time travels and learns to breathe under the water. Neuroscientists say it doesn’t matter if we really see things or just imagine them – our brain responds the same way. It really inspired me to use imagination as a tool to explore things. It’s not the most obvious influence, but the story telling was inspired by Joni Mitchell’s Blue.
This song has a string of various surreal dreams that come one after the other. Musically it was inspired by Roy Harper’s Stormcock where songs are not claustrophobic verse-chorus cages but feel like an endless journey. In one dream “trees are falling down and the house is running off to the fields”- the moment you realize you going to lose your safety zone, in the other there’s a bleeding wolf on the snow…Premonitions of things to come.
It’s the heart of the album. It’s so personal. At the time of writing the lyrics I heard Laura Nyro’s New York Tendaberry, its structures made me dizzy, drunk. That was exactly the feeling I was looking for, for this song of loss and grief, walking upon the ocean instead of the solid ground when everything is uncertain, “a snake of a question”. When we were recording the song with Ed Deegan it was all done in one take, a very memorable moment in the studio.
~In the Shadow of Your Perfect Mind~
I wrote it after seeing a random picture of a ballet dancer in the newspaper while riding on the bus. The perfectness of his movement and presence made me think about how the perfection of other people can intimidate us and took it further to explore the state of awe of someone else’s spirit, their power over us.
Often we are bitten and eaten by our own desires if they master us. In this song I compared them to angry pit bulls chasing after me, biting on my heels.
Some time ago I saw Tim Lott’s column where his 8-year-old daughter wrote – “My dad never had toys or smartphones…But I don’t feel sorry for him. It was a million years ago…” I really loved how child’s time perspective is so different. And so I wrote this song about my own story which was a million million years ago, when the snow was still hip deep and the dinosaurs were leaving imprints upon our hearts…
It’s the shortest song of the album. I don’t remember how or when I’ve written it. It’s actually about meditating. I don’t like this word, it has been used and overused, so instead I’m saying – I’m learning how to breathe.
~All Those Dreams~
Sleeping and dreaming is a very important bit of my life. I borrow a lot from a weird language of dreams. I don’t remember what influenced it, but it was most probably some piece by Ravel or Henryk Gorecki.
Once I heard an old Icelandic story about a woman who was drowning and as she was going down to the bottom of the sea, she decided to make home there and became a goddess. When people made her angry with their evil deeds, she kept the fish at the bottom so that they would starve. I was mesmerised by the images and logic of this story so I decided to make it my own and to continue it. In my song she lives in the Arctic, and someone is walking upon a frozen sea in search of her. Leonard Cohen was watching over my shoulder when I was writing this song.
~Don’t Fall Don’t Break~
The last song of the album is giving a perfect advice to Space Mermaid – don’t fall, don’t break. I wrote a piano riff and instrumental when I couldn’t sing. It was inspired by Arvo Part’s and Lubomyr Melnyk’s piano pieces.
Johanna Glaza’s debut album, Wind Sculptures will be released on 29th September 2017.