by T. Ray Verteramo
“We are tired of the fact that talented musicians struggle to be heard among the tons of throw-away muzak that dominates the market. We are tired of prejudice. We are tired of genres. That´s why we are bringing together the most creative minds of our generation and our planet together. Post-prejudice. Post-genre. Post-greed. Our mission is to re-open the infinity of art to the world.”
This is the mission statement of the new Vmbrella Record label.
Only an artist in that position can understand the needs of the musician. Tom “Fountainhead” Geldschlager is certainly among that tremendous company, but just one of a small handful that is taking action.
“It’s about giving ourselves the safe harbor in the music industry that we always wanted, but never had,” he said.
The Berlin-born, fretless virtuoso explains, “Vmbrella is…all the people who are involved in this point are in the same situation. We have all been in the trenches of the music business for many years and we have done so many things with so many different people. We’ve been in bands, each of us have made a shit-ton of albums that no one has ever heard because none of them ever came out. So, all of us having projects coming up in the very near future want to nurture those projects and get them out to as many people as possible. Having diverse talents that we can all get together, where we can all help each other out and utilize our talents together, and because we all hang out and do projects together, anyway, it made total sense, ‘Why don’t we just make it official and start our own label’?”
And so it was done.
The plan was simple enough: Let the founders reap what they sow. Then once a rhythm was established, if other bands wish to sign up, they would deliberate and take action from there.
But, no. Good honey attracts many bees and apparently, their honey was sweeter than they expected. “This is the thing that has totally taken us by surprise,” he admitted.
“We all thought we were going to release our own projects, first and foremost, and then step two, would be to re-release some of our stuff that we’ve done to a bigger audience. But, once we announced the label, tons of people — really really talented and cool people — have been reaching out to us. So at this point, we have been working day and night building the infrastructure of the label to be able make it work.”
How exactly they plan to make it work, while still producing their own product and projects, is under wraps. Fountainhead lightly jabs, “Let’s just say we are in the process of working that out. If we reveal all our secrets of world domination now, then it might happen.”
Yet, ironically, in a way, “world domination” is exactly what fell into place. The former Obscura guitar artist, along with the reputable talents of Vishal J. Singh of India, Andrey Sazonov of Russia, Fatum Black of the Ukraine, Jimmy Pitts of the United States, and Matheus Manente of Brazil managed to cover all corners of the world with a single vision, without leaving their keyboards, each of them bringing a bountiful dossier to the table. Their own work, along with credits they share together, already provides the new-born venture a rich, comprehensive library for the sound-hound to sniff out, with enough variety to draw in the curious.
At this time, one of the other founders, Mr. Jimmy Pitts, an established keyboard talent who has collaborated with other German guitar prodigies and carries a sackload of his own impressive solo credentials, is currently working with Mr. Geldschlager on an extremely Extreme Metal project. Its captain, Noyan Tokgozoglu of Baltimore “had a Skype lesson with me. Then, he contributed to Pitts-Minnemann Project crowdfunding campaign, then he bought a guitar solo by me for his own project…Turns out he has an album almost ready, just really good with crazy stuff. And then he got Jimmy involved then you reached out to me, ‘Do you want to play more on it?’ And I’m like, yeah sure why not? I think at this point only Jim and I have yet to deliver our parts.”
The project is called Nyn and “it’s a really more intricate form of Death Metal. It’s super heavy that has 9-string guitars. It’s kind of like Meshuggah meets Dillinger Escape Plan meets…I don’t know. I don’t know any of these…um…I’m just a hippie guy!” *laughs*
And still so much more to come, even just from Fountainhead, alone, who had just released his latest solo effort, Reverse Engineering to enthusiastic reception. Though, not strictly a jackhammer-to-the-skull Metal fix, Engineering lays some heavy energetic cobblestones at the spirit’s feet, giving the mind and ear a memorable journey.
But, the project, like the artist, was not about creating Metal, alone. “Music basically is about energy,” he explained. “Like realizing and manifesting different vibrations. And one of the things that always bugs me about a lot of Metal out there is that it so one-sided, so it’s just is over-focusing on one certain energy. It’s like having just one color on the palette. We’re making everything black. And there’s so many different variations and subtleties and colors and sounds and energies.”
“I’ve always liked very intense Energies I’ve always been drawn to people who have very high energy levels. And my music taste reflects that. I like things really intense and intricate. And when I first got into metal, I was like oh man that is opening a totally new Horizon for me because there is that wild, intense energy that I have.”
With this, the question of whether or not a spiritual being can survive in balance with Metal was raised, to which Fountainhead illustrated that possibility with medium’s raw physicality enabling the ability to create a stronger connection between the listener and the art “in the physical and the metaphysical way, setting things in vibration. It’s a very basic thing, creating frequencies. It’s not just the noise coming through the amplifiers, it’s what it does to people.”
In the Metal community, more often than not, it has actually saved lives – a phenomenon even beyond a Hindi-enthusiast’s comprehension. “Oh you are opening a can of worms there,” he exclaimed. “I think that’s a very interesting and intricate question, because a) I’ve been there and b) it’s happened to me that people would say these things about me, ‘Oh how your music has saved my life,’ and ‘Your music has changed my life,’ and ‘Your music has touched me in a way I have never been touched or ever again.’ It is super intense. And I keep wondering about it.
I think about this a lot: What is it that makes people have this very emotional connection through music that is very much, more often than not, not emotional?
The music that I spend my time doing is very emotional. But, for example, can there be a less emotional form of music then Technical Death Metal? It’s in the name; it’s not emotional. But still, people have very, very intense emotional reactions to it…it just goes hand-in-hand that this form of music seems to be an escape pod to a better place.”
As for his own connection with his medium, “Honestly I have a love/hate relationship with Death Metal. I go back and forth with that stuff because as much as I love the Metal community and being able to connect to people, Metalheads and Metal musicians are basically the same thing. Ninety percent of the people who listen to metal play an instrument, at least, you know, as a hobby. And so what happens is you are being cast into a certain role very easily. Like, people, because they’ve been listening to your music, they’re very quick to make assumptions. Either they are ready to vilify you or set you up on a podium as this god-like creature.
Then when people find out you’re just a regular guy their perception of you changes to the point where they can’t even enjoy the music anymore.”
So, how does one stay healthy in the industry?
“Stay out of the industry.”