Anjael ‘Brave Lion‘ is a proud Canadian artist, born to internationally known musical parents. His father’s global music roots, and his mother’s Mid-Eastern and German classical training instilled music into his soul as early as age 5. This was when he took to the stage for the first time, with a recital of Mid-Eastern poetry ie (Mawal /Ghaezal). Anjael trained in several instruments under the guidance of his parents before settling on his love, the guitar. As he grew up, the travels of a diplomatic father introduced him to world music of various genres. Anjael hopes to share his message of true love, courage, belief in the oneness of God and equality for all through his performances. His music is geared toward the serious listener, who wishes to experience the spiritual whilst enjoying great music by a fine performer. He encourages all to stand courageously alongside those they love with pride, to follow their hearts quest. Join us as we interview Anjael as he welcomes the true of heart, the selfless and the enlightened through his music and this inspiring interview!
Enterwine: Anjael, you’ve enjoyed quite the illustrious musical career! Could you give us some insight into both your personal and musical background? What inspired you to begin writing and performing music in the first place?
Anjael: Jacqueline,It has surely been a very long career and still ongoing and it all started at the age of 5 when I entered the professional arena sitting on the lap of my late illustrious legendary parents (my mentors).Both my parents were extra ordinary humanitarians and had strict rigorous training in Mid-Eastern & Indian classical, Arabic classical sufi music & German classical music and were considered hall mark artists of their generation. My dad was involved in ambassadorial services all over S. E. Asia , Mid-East and Europe and worked for an Italian firm and spoke several languages , 9 to be precise, hailed from a crown prince’s family and had the most amazing 5 octave male voice I’ve ever heard and many of his musician friends were world renowned film score & playback singers.
They were both amazing musicians and my dad a master of the bellow organ, composer, singer , songwriter who had the uncanny knack to play and sing the same song back to you in minutes with a different key,diff chords and diff beats.
Duke Ellington was deeply impressed when he interacted with my father & his musician friends over his trip of 1963 in Jordan, India, Afghanistan and Beirut.
Due to my dads work we moved around a lot and thus would be in different cities and countries and we always had private house concerts and always guests arrived, flew in from some exotic location, great musicians world over they thronged to hear my dad specially, as he did music for the creator as our tradition and not to impress and listeners were always in a trance. I recall and have many memories and pictures of those fantastic days. After his demise my mother was my foremost tutor and I worked very hard to keep the flame alive. My parents taught me everything they knew and gave me the best of 3 different heritages, Western, Mid Eastern & Eastern.
As you can understand I, was introduced to the best of world music and in the strict traditional classical methods and after my dads death we fell into very difficult times and most severe crisis thus I did not / could not bloom into a musician overnight and had to support a poor ailing mother and eke a living .I had a very famous stint as a fighter & instructor of martial arts in S.E Asia and I eventually became the only grandmaster of a Chinese family art. I taught martial arts , fought, earned and educated myself till the time I became a Doctor as well as studied ancient scriptures and also music was always there. I was a very phenomenal sportsman but, always found myself ostracized due to my alien heritage and got the chance to be all dressed up with no where to go except play music or study books or listen to the radio or TV. I was very lonely and sad as a kid , had no friends cause I was/ am not normal ( pubs , girls, sex joints, drugs, money trips, cheap thrills) , no one to understand me or help me but, no one could see through my facade either. I always beamed 🙂
Before my dad died and when my mom died later, they both stated explicitly that, “Of all the things we could give you we gift you music. This music my mother said, was the foremost method amongst 33,00,000 Arts mentioned in the ancient scriptures of the old world as a dynamic prayer to reach and understand G-D. This same music was responsible for uniting my parents, the same music gave solace to my widowed mother and this same music kept me alive when everyone around wanted to see me fall down due to their jealousy & hatred thus , I reinforced and urged myself to continue learning from various avenues and in different instruments I could to understand & experience -”what is this divine vibration leading to G-D”.I started my life by singing,playing Indian Tabla, Armenian Dhol,eastern bamboo flute , Sakuhachi , mouth organ, Jazz clarinet, my mother gifted me a guitar on my 17th birthday which literally took off. I used to earn side income playing keyboards, I mastered Daf,Qanun,Cajon,Bouzouki Baglama,Cuban Harp and I did play drums way way back but, my drumming only took off in the last 7 years.
I begun writing songs way back 30 years as I started by writing spiritual poetry and because of being completely lonely with no friends and tending to an ailing mother I found ways to express what I saw and heard in my mind. My pains or sorrows or joy all came out in lyrics & poems.
Every year whichever school I was in I, won the 1st prize for English poetry, essay, music and arts competition and I played and still play music as a prayer , as a method to find G-D, as a way to ventilate and as a way to be with my best friend-my guitar, drum my instrument Friend, who will never destroy me or despise me because I do something better than someone:(.and I also wanted to heal and guide as music today is so far removed from its origin instead of healing it drives us towards suicide, vulgarity and depression!
ET: What can you tell us about the music scene of Ontario, Canada? What is it like living in Ontario?
Anjael: Ha! music scene in Ontario Oh Lordie! Shall I be blunt or tactical?:-) but, let me tell you this first.
I love my country Canada , she is so beautiful & generous, so giving to all who approach her. I was not born here but neither did I have to run from somewhere. I chose to come and be of her and I despise all those who live in her lap and yet erode her .I am 100% patriotic Canadian.
Ontario , where I reside in the country side is far far away from the chaos of metro Toronto and is a blissful living in privacy of galloping pastures,cattle, dairy farms,tons of green woods, waterfalls, fresh farm vegetables,meat,produce and mostly inhabited by people who are “Canadians at heart”-Tolerant, very less discrimination,safe, rustic and free north, crazy snow which I love and our never ending shovelling 🙂 every Canadians winter dream come true LOL.
BTW – SORRY “WE DO NOT LIVE IN IGLOOS EITHER~!
Music scene hmm you have to realize I speak from my own International global background aye.
There is nothing extra ordinary going on in Ontario. The same ole shit every new day.
Yes sure there is a regular circuit of the same regular pop, rock,hip hop, smooth jazz, regular big band jazz,the modern techno , the disco dj club culture ,heavy country music the wannabes same as everywhere else everyone wants to do popular music, Hoo Hah! , drink, have a good time, dance and listen to the BEAT.
No one is motivated or interested to appreciate or support or listen to authentic performing music.
No one wants to listen to difficult music, real jazz which is a defunct institution now fast disappearing, no one wants to listen to real fusion but, they want to listen to fake fusion because the real stuff requires years and years of regimented training and I also speak the same for “Classical music & musicians & true fusion musicians and I speak for all of us in all countries as a member of a world wide performing fraternity.
ET: What life experiences and events led to the writing and recording of your full-length album “Heart Of A Lion”? What was it like working on this record with Nicholas Iden at Brixton Studio in Kitchener, Ontario?
Anjael: Wow :-), Umm You see in 2008 I had a terrible 3rd degree fire accident whilst cooking for my ex GF and nearly 85% of my right forearm was badly damaged including wrist tendons which ended my hopes for playing guitars and left me emotionally very shocked & lonely. Then in 2009 the same person decided to separate ways and she cleaned me and stole my mothers precious gift- King Edward VII ‘& Queen Alexandria Victoria’s gift to my dads family, stole all bullion savings of Gold, silver, Platinum and literally destroyed my years of life savings overnight and spread falsifying rumours poisoning the hearts of my mate to be and in those moments I fainted & fell down in the street dislocating and causing multiple hairline fractures in my left hand & my right knee cap :-)…
Thus penniless with not even a cent in the savings and with darkness and fear looming over my head with multiple attempts by goons hired by this person & her allies to kill me via various means.
Suffering from hunger due to lack of food trying to balance myself, which I did with precious monetary help brought in by some wonderful friends who were witness to the events -my beautiful faithful cousin Jess,my friend Elaine and others who gave me life support. It is in these times I wrote & compiled the Heart of a Lion as I had already called a lawyer friend to execute a document to voluntarily donate my organs to the sick kids hospital and end my life force at least in service of my country but, luckily that never materialized G-D had plans for me and I mustered courage to approach recording companies and Nick Iden heard of me and decided to drive 3 hrs with his GF to meet and understand my sound and recording expectations.
We had a very fruitful time as he took live samples of my acoustic guitar,vocals, notes on how I wanted to sound post recording and we drafted the whole plan and he even agreed to offer me a full 50% discount on all. I liked Nick because he is friendly, he listens, he doesn’t force your sound like some pricks do:-), he understands the need as he himself is a guitar player & music teacher.
I actually slept at his house with his cat 🙂 during the entire recording and we had food together and watched horror movies too!
The previous Brixton studio was in a 150 yrs old haunted factory Christ Carambas! and everyone joked that, I would drive the spirits crazy:-) specially Gregg and my bassist Al Reimer.
ET: You’ve performed all over the world, correct? Where have you been, exactly? Could you share some of these experiences with our readers?
Anjael: Correct, I have been and performed at many places and in many diff countries till now but, back then not as the blue face Anjael always.I have performed in Philippines Manila & Cebu island to a wonderful warm highly appreciative crowd, in Vienna city Austria,in Jogia Afghanistan , in Costa Rica to a crazy fun loving crowd,in Bangkok Thailand to spiritual listeners, in the north east of China called Ningxia, all over the Indian sub continent, in Hongkong , and a lot inside Canada.
Playing in Costa Rica was on a very tight tour but, I was hooked up with local metal musicians and we had a blast and also because they are such a fun loving bunch I felt right at home and the same happened while playing in Manila and Cebu Island – same warmth and music loving crowed urging me on. Your readers would be bored to death as my answers could get so long:-)
ET: Could you tell us why you paint your entire face blue for photos, videos, and performances?
Anjael: Haha! My first heartfelt reaction would be “Its my face 🙂 but, I will elaborate.
You see this very question is also something I am fighting against. Its a statement- The way people, society behave in an pre conditioned manner, the preconceived shallow idiotic superficial impressions of all things at face value, that a young teenager with tattoo or piercings should not be hired as they are bad workers?or a doctor cant have a ponytail it makes him a bad healer? That person is “black, white, coloured?its to drag them out of their square box minds and expand their tea spoon consciousness in fact even few of the musicians I was helping launch a career felt embarrassed that, I had a blue painted face so I let them go or one friend told me if I grew long hair he would disown me 🙂 I lost him fast!
Why the embarrassment? So what if someone is lame or blind or deaf or dumb or you know what I mean? I am bonafide stage artist a performer,I can paint my face,I can wear strange clothes to entice the spectator -its an art of performing mesmerism.
It doesn’t limit me , I get very amused knowing they feel very embarrassed , that they only wanted to judge me on my physical looks and in a box mannerism and since that’s destroyed I see the real them-they stand exposed before me the crowd. I see their faces, eyes, expressions, emotions and bewilderment and it takes a performer balls to do something extraordinary aye?:-)
Its also a very ancient spiritual music tradition somewhat akin to Indian Katha Kali or Morrocan sufi drummers or Zanzibar Ngoma ,Japanese Geisha,Chinese folk,Joseph Bruce, American Al Jolson worlds greatest entertainer!, Joel thomas zimmerman,Aron jerome,Lagbaja and Brian patrick Carrol even Bob Dylan- for me its also about preaching “screw skin color screw racism screw any form of discrimination and certainly screw the nazis:-) you came to listen to my music and my performance not how I look like a film star, or I limp or anything less than the music!
ET: Could you tell us about the new project you’re working on with Gregg Dechert (who played keys with Dave Gilmour, Uriah Heep, and Bad Company, previously)?
Anjael: Yes umm me and Gregg are friends for a long time nearly 13 years and we have done some work on and off including my album and few shows but, then me and Gregg had a very in-depth discussion as musically he was feeling very empty unable to find right musicians or calibre to play live what he wanted to achieve which was, a spontaneous free form jazz but,with very best musical capabilities and not just a baby playing a toy type musician. He invited me and I accepted his request to further the project which we now call Re-Action – a spontaneous reaction to each others action expressed via medium of music and sometimes antics. We tried couple of musicians but, they really sucked so now it is a duet and I will be auditioning a sharp bass player soon. With this project me and Gregg are very able to showcase our skills as well as create music and bring to the global platform. We will also be recording the 1st RE-ACTION album titled “RE-ACTIVE” sometime very soon.
ET: Could you walk us through your writing and recording process? Is there a particular way you go about producing a song in studio?
Anjael: Well I always as a rule prefer to write in privacy and check out the scores by myself on guitars, drums and then script basic charts for musicians but, recording studio I become a demon as Gregg or anyone else who has ever worked with me will tell you. My long honed years as a session guy has me go into the studio and record 15 complete songs in one day provided I have the right musicians with me.
I always prefer to record in a direct live manner and come back to correct any leads or vocal errors but, I hate the track by track recording it loses the whole energy of the music.
The best thing I do is , we record the click track with me playing rhythm guitar and singing with a live bass and drums and then lay on top of it whatever fx or specials we need.
I do not allow anyone to go into the studio without tight perfect rehearsals and ready to record and im very darn finicky when it comes to my vocal sound or instrument sounds, chords as I can see actual colours around notes and vibrations and I hear over tones and under tones as a kid.
ET: Your fans and viewers have described you as having a very unique and distinct drumming style; could you tell us more about that?
Anjael: Hmm well first and foremost I am not dying to be like other major drummers which is always the disease of idolizing and they all sound the same while the original drummers who they copy have their own distinct signature by being original to begin with.
Second my drumming style and how and what I drum is based on strict traditional classical methods of the ancient world and I am for the moment the only such Western drummer in vogue -I am the only exponent of the Afro-Egyptian & underground slave movement called Panthera (Capoiera) drumming to my knowledge and to describe would be hmmm imagine drumming similar to the fast furios Puerto Rican or Afro-Cuban Conga playing of . I am also representing a 3000 yrs old school called Cinkari Melam and I fuse them all with the other radically different Sufi style of Sama’un trance drumming.
I am trying my best to show case it all and make videos but, I am weak financially and have to do this all by myself and still hopeful to pass it on to someone deserving before I croak.
ET: What is the central theme or message of your music that you hope is conveyed to your listeners?
Anjael: One ness of G-D! Anti racism , Anti discrimination , judge only on deeds alone and nothing else.
Enjoy, appreciate and get into deeper , higher realms of understanding pure music, to support, encourage and stand by like musicians and original artists who are fighting norms to help humanity transcend. To unite the separated hearts & minds and to heal and soothe the pains and aches.
To make the planet a wonderful experience for the lesser children of GOD as well as animals.
ET: What do the remaining months of 2014 hold in store for Anjael? Do you have any upcoming performances dates booked, or plans to release a new full-length album in the near future?
Anjael: Due to my daily battle with pains I have to turn down many wonderful offers and hardly a night goes by when I do not take my pain medications or it will tell on me for sure. I therefore pick and choose my performances and I also have a 5 days a week full time clinical practice and constantly helping friends thus I have less dates booked for now.
Oct 24th 2014 I am privileged to be performing with Gregg Dechert at the prestigious Eric Stach Avant Garde music festival in London, Ont which has been a major hub for some of the best players from New York to Japan for 4 months a year. In Nov I am performing for a cultural concert in Tokyo city,Japan and in Dec I am scheduled for a S.E. Asian tour.
I have all plans set in motion to actually record two albums-one dedicated totally to my genre classical flamenco guitar and the other a Fusion style Drum album.
Thank you and God Bless!