Your catalog features so many different guitarists. What do you like about the sound of the guitar and do you play guitar? LP:
No, I don't play any instrument. Zero. Of course, when I was a teenager, I fantasized about playing instruments, especially while I was listening to music. I didn't fantasize about any particular instrument, frankly, but about all instruments. When I was seventeen or eighteen, like many teenagers, I guess, I'd be listening to tunes and imitating Jimi Hendrix
or John Bonham, or Keith Emerson or Jack Bruce
, or another one of my heroes, playing air instruments!
Once I read an interview with Frank Zappa
where he was asked, "What type of music do you listen to now? What have you been listening to recently?" His reply was that he didn't listen to music by other people because he had his own.
I am completely opposite. I don't have my own music, which is why I listen to so much music. I am all the time listening to music. The time that musicians spend doing a soundcheck or a rehearsal, then playing the show, and touring...I'm listening to so much different music, all the time, in different situations and settings. Ironic as it sounds, the thing that many of the busiest musicians do not have much time for is listening to music!
I don't play an instrument, and I actually think that's a big advantage for me; being a non-musician gives me much more time to listen and enjoy a variety of music. Musicians have to work their craft: They either compose their own music or learn music by others; they have to tour, which means regular soundchecks and rehearsals, playing live shows, travel, and preparations. That essentially means these musicians are always playing the same music. But me, I can invest that same amount of time to listening. If I was a musician, I would undoubtedly have far less time to digest new music, investigate new or emerging talents, and propel the label.
While my label features a few all-time legends of guitar, it's only their partial discographies. That said, I am very proud to have names of the incomparable Allan Holdsworth and the amazing John Etheridge
among MoonJune's releases. AAJ:
Would you please share some impressions of Allan Holdsworth? LP:
Allan Holdsworth was a big part of my life between 2002 and 2017. He was beyond being a unique person. He was genuinely a self-tortured genius. We had a truly special relationship that was unfortunately spoiled in the last twelve months of his life by some negative forces and people who didn't understand what Allan was about at all. Many would claim they knew him, but I was the one who actually knew him very well. I was part of his life for fifteen years. I was often his best friend, his counselor, shoulder to cry on, personal financier, moral supporter, and I worked very hard to provide him with a lot of work. I never saw Allan as a "guitar hero" or "guitar god," maybe for no other reason than the fact that I am not musician. On the contrary, I always saw Allan simply as a human being, a beautiful person who wrestled with so many personal problems and demons.
Ultimately, his internal struggle proved to be his downfall. For more than a decade before his ultimate demise, "consumption" had displaced any real desire for production, I believe. I was heartbroken by what transpired in the months immediately preceding his death, and heartbroken when I heard of his death. We hadn't spoken for almost eight months, and he reached out to me one day before his passing. I planned to visit him secretly to clarify misunderstandings and obstructions which were, unfortunately, created by others. AAJ:
Indonesia has proven to be fertile ground for MoonJune, with such artists as Dewa Budjana
, Dwiki Dharmawan
. How did you find yourself and this music in Indonesia? LP:
This is a long story, but a quite interesting one, so I'll tell you. I was a big fan of Deep Purple; they're still one of my all-time favorite bands. While I was living in Italy, a friend of a friend of mine wrote a book about Deep Purple. I was also learning about Deep Purple through books and magazines (This was in the 1970's and early '80's). In one of the chapters in the book by my Italian writer friend, he revealed that in 1975 Deep Purple played one show in Jakarta, Indonesia, after their Japanese tourinformation which I also later found in other music magazines. This was their "Mark 4" lineup, with Tommy Bolin
and Glenn Hughes
, after Ritchie Blackmore quit the band. This made Deep Purple the first major western band to ever play in Indonesia. They played at a stadium with a 75,000-seat capacity, but the concert drew more than 100,000 people! Unfortunately, as it turned out, there were also some major problems: a few fans in attendance actually died, and there were some issues with the local authorities because the promoter had provided girls for the musicians. It was all about "rock 'n' roll"don't forget that this was 1976, you know? An Indonesian band called God Bless opened for Deep Purple. I was very curious about Indonesian bands, because in those days I knew of a couple of Asian bands, especially one Vietnamese band based in France called Taï Phong, a progressive '70s rock band. And I already knew some Japanese jazz and fusion artists, like Hiroshima, Ryo Kawasaki, Terumasa Hino, and Casiopea. And I am a curious person by nature, so I wanted to know more. But of course, those days weren't like today, and getting information from distant countries was challenging.
A few years later, I went into a record shop in Rome and bought maybe twenty LPs. One of the things I found was a cassette of an Indonesian progressive jazz fusion band from the '70's, called Guruh Gypsy. I talked to a clerk working in the store and told him the story about Deep Purple (which, as it turned out, he already knew). I had no expectations when purchasing that cassette tape. I didn't know the music. I guess the record store employee didn't know the music on that cassette, either. But when I got home the next day, that music simply blew my mind! Their music was exceptional.