Q&A with iconic guitarist Steve Hackett about his new acoustic album Under A Mediterranean Sky

"I feel that music crosses borders and heals divisions. Musicians can help build bridges between countries in that way. My fear is that at this time, the popular music has become increasingly superficial and in this digital world, attention span can be short. People often just listen to part of something before moving on to another song. My hope is that the call of music itself will win through, helped by the cultural diversity of today’s world."

Steve Hackett: Under A Mediterranean Sky

Iconic guitarist Steve Hackett, releases his new acoustic album Under A Mediterranean Sky on 22nd January 2021 as a Limited CD Digipak, Gatefold 2LP + CD + LP-booklet and Digital Album via InsideOut Music. Under A Mediterranean Sky is Steve Hackett's first acoustic solo album since Tribute in 2008 and takes inspiration from Steve's extensive travels around the Mediterranean with his wife Jo. Working closely with long-time musical partner Roger King, Hackett has used his time during 2020's lockdown to take us on an extraordinary musical journey around the Mediterranean, painting vivid images of stunning landscapes and celebrating the diverse cultures of the region. Famed for his rock roots with Genesis, and through his extensive solo catalogue, Hackett demonstrates the exquisite beauty of the nylon guitar at times venturing into the exotic ethnic and often supported by dazzling orchestral arrangements.

(Steve Hackett / Photo by © Michael Aarons)

Under A Mediterranean Sky features Steve Hackett playing nylon, steel string and twelve string guitars, charango and Iraqi oud. Keyboards, programming and orchestral arrangements are by Roger King. Featured musicians are John Hackett and Rob Townsend, flute (Casa del Fauno); Malik Mansurov, tar and Arsen Petrosyan, duduk & Rob Townsend, Sax (The Dervish And The Djin); Christine Townsend, violin & viola (The Memory of Myth and Andalusian Heart); Franck Avril, oboe (Aldalusian Heart). All tracks were produced by Steve Hackett and Roger King with all tracks recorded and mixed by Roger King at Siren.

Interview by Michael Limnios

Special Thanks: Steve Hackett, Yasemin Kaymaz (Head of PR) & Sharon Chevin  (The Publicity Connection)

How has the World/Ethnic Folk music(s) influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?

With each new music and instrument from around the world I’m introduced to, I develop a new understanding of the culture of each place, from the tar of Azerbaijan to the duduk of Armenia, from the oud of The Arabian and Sahara deserts to the darbuka of Morocco and from the Oriental harp of the Far East to the Sitar of India. I’m fascinated by the way these instruments can weave their magic into my music. I play most years for a week with world jazz rock band Djabe from Hungary, and many great ideas come from that union.

How do you think that you have grown as artist since you first started? Where does your creative drive come from?

I always had the creative drive, since I first mastered the harmonica at about the age of four. My Dad was a multi-instrumentalist, and Mum had a lot of drive. They both encouraged my music. I’ve always been fascinated by all genres of music and how they both contrast and connect. The more I’ve travelled, particularly in recent years, the broader my musical pallet has become. I believe that every musical form should be embraced.

"With each new music and instrument from around the world I’m introduced to, I develop a new understanding of the culture of each place, from the tar of Azerbaijan to the duduk of Armenia, from the oud of The Arabian and Sahara deserts to the darbuka of Morocco and from the Oriental harp of the Far East to the Sitar of India. I’m fascinated by the way these instruments can weave their magic into my music. I play most years for a week with world jazz rock band Djabe from Hungary, and many great ideas come from that union." (Photo: Steve Hackett)

What touched you from the Mediterranean Sea/sky and cultures? How do you want your album to affect people?

I’m intrigued by the diversity of cultures around the Mediterranean, from the exotic Sahara and Middle East, to the beautiful, verdant European countries. I feel it’s a journey of discovery through this magical part of the world, and a way to travel in the mind at a time when it’s very hard to go anywhere.

What are some of the most important lessons you have learned from your experiences in life and the music paths?

I’ve learned that, whilst we all need to learn from others and work together in various ways in teams, it’s equally important not to let anyone control you. Following one’s own musical inspiration is incredibly important.

What is the impact of music on the socio-cultural implications? What are your hopes and fears for the future of music?

I feel that music crosses borders and heals divisions. Musicians can help build bridges between countries in that way. My fear is that at this time, the popular music has become increasingly superficial and in this digital world, attention span can be short. People often just listen to part of something before moving on to another song. My hope is that the call of music itself will win through, helped by the cultural diversity of today’s world.

If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?

That boundaries between genres become less rigid and that more people join the wider universe of musical opportunity.

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