On the Bus with Ronan Harris: Classical to Futurepop and Everything in Between

Christine Connallon By

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The band's most recent release Transnational (Virtual Label, 2013) has received critical as well as popular acclaim and served as a personal journey for Harris. "With this one, I decided to step back a little bit . Musically, this album has many different interpretations. Transnational, I could twist it into an interpretation of an homage...it incorporates a style of music that inspired me and it contains sounds from old songs or references to old songs, like personal things that no one would notice except me, like little things I throw into every album, these little things that I'll only hear, I'll only see. I do that for my amusement. I write this music for myself and then share it with others so with the songs, there were moments in it that reflect my musical tastes, all of my pioneering electronic moments. Teleconnect Part 1 is when the New Romantic period kicked in and I was living in Ireland. Ireland and England were all sort of the same paradigm as music is concerned. There were all these bands like Depeche Mode kickin' it in that 1980-1982 kind of period, a revolution of music. Some saw it as artificial. I didn't care. That's what New Romanticism was in the art world at the beginning of the 20th Century. A lot of people didn't grasp this but it was supposed to be the artificial creation of the romantic look. I loved that era but I remember like three albums being heavily influential—one from Kraftwerk, one from Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark and one from Yazoo. I remember these three, I wanted to combine them into that song so I went off and got the original (types) of instruments and used the original instruments for that song. I have a nice collection of old analog synths and stuff and I put that effort in."

As a light drizzle falls outside, the tour bus has received a ticket. Harris, unflapped, texts the tour manager. They always say you can gauge someone's character by how they react under stress. Harris remains upbeat.

This CD contains tracks that can be consumed like fine wine, over time. Harris explained,"There are songs...I don't want you to enjoy everything right now. You'll hear it another time and it's going to resonate with you in a way that you need it. You'll be driving home one night and you'll be concentrating on the road but you'll hear the music and that's probably the best way to hear it, because your mind will be clear, you will not be focusing on it. You can't look at a radio and hear music. It just doesn't work. It needs to filter into your subconscious so when you're actively doing something, the music will actually hit you and it will filter it's way inside you and do something great. I told a lot of people, go and listen to this song on headphones. I said, this is the first track (Teleconnect Part 2) I finished for the album and it's the one that floors me every single time cause as soon as I start singing, I can feel every ounce of emotion that was in me at the time."

Harris' eclectic taste pertains to the music he performs as well, speaking of a project he did in November of 2012. "I did a classical version of eight songs performed with a full orchestra in Germany, in a beautifully old music hall in Leipzig where they will only have classical concerts, even the avante garde, post classical concerts are being held there. And this was the sum total of every dream in my life. There I was, I worked with the arranger on all of the pieces. I have a love of classical music and opera, the romantic period more than anything. Then we were able to discuss phrases and how each piece should feel, what sort of tempo, what sort of tone it should have and how it should be played. We built this whole thing up and then did this incredible show and I was so overwhelmed. It was like someone drove a truck through me of emotion." There are plans to expand upon this concept and to record it as well, though in an old deco music hall, not a studio, for added authenticity and acoustics. The current tour, which began in Florida and is days from ending, is going extremely well, with the necessity for rush orders to the merchandise production company when they nearly ran out of merch at the shows. "People were buying up 6, 7 shirts at a go," Harris recounted. "We've had bigger audiences than we ever had and it really comes down to what people feel like they need in their lives at the time. We've seen bigger audiences, more people just clamoring to buy merch."

A knock on the door brings a visit from Mike Dierickx, a Belgian DJ, best known for his song "Universal Nation" and his wife Caroline. The two pals, who met when Dierickx, a fan of VNV Nation, emailed Harris and was surprised to receive a response immediately, as Harris was a fan of his work as well.


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