Interview with Rip Van Hippy

Geoffry Hales talks about the new album

Author: Sequential-X
Date: Nov 26, 2002
Views: 2082


November 26, 2002 - Text: Sequential-X

Geoffry Hales akA Rip Van Hippy is a very respected figure in the psychedelic scene and outside of it. Technoheadz, trance nutters, weirdheadz, experimentalists all pay their tributes to one of the greatest minds of electronic music in our times. Rip Van Hippy hasn't been producing music in shot gun rate like many others, all this years the man has managed to release only two full albums with the third being on its way. In the interview Geoffry shares his thoughts about the new album, the psyberspace, hollywood (????), his awakening and many other things I am sure you will find interesting.


1. Is it true that you have participated in a movie (I believe that movie is "Shogun") as an actor ? Could you tell us a few words about that experience.

No sorry not true, I didn't act in "Shogun", but I did play on the soundtrack, that was a good experience working for the composer Maurice Jarre, father of John Michele Jarre, I did some work again for him on the soundtrack of "The Year of Living Dangerously". I lived in Hollywood for 14 years and worked as a musician and as an artist and designer, so I worked on quite a few films and documentaries, as well as percussion sessions for lots of different kinds of music, I did many albums with Japanese composer Osamu Kitajima, played in t bone burnettes "Alpha Band", played on the Herb Alpert album, "Just You and Me" as well as performing at Monterey and other jazz festivals.


2. Phillip Glass in the CD booklet from the "The Truman Show" score mentions
your name, could you give us some details about your connection with Phillip
Glass please ?

I've never met Phillip Glass, I am a fan of his music, the director of the film Peter Weir somehow got hold of a piece of music I'd played on for another composer Burkhart Dalliwitz, it had a big taiko drum solo that I did, and Peter Weir liked it so much he started editing the big finale of the movie using that music, eventually he bought the music and then came to Melbourne to extend it by one minute, so Burkhart Dalliwitz and I went back
to the same little studio and with the same drums and mic set up, extended the piece, anyhow, Burkhart ended up scoring half the movie, and shares the credit with Phillip Glass for the music, as he was not allowed to individually credit all the australian musicians he thanked me on the cd notes.


3. I have heard some very weird rumors for what the name Rip Van Hippy means and comes from. Could you please "lighten" up a bit this situation ?

Its quite simple, Rip Van Winkle in the fairy story falls asleep for many years and wakes up to find the world has completely changed, I travelled the hippy trail around the world in the 60's and 70's, and had such a strong faith in the counter culture, followed the hippy ethic, but they were very naive and simple times, and in the 80's and 90's I was almost embarrassed by what I had been, then in 1989, I came home to Australia, and some of the first friends I made were going to Goa every summer to party, I was given tapes of techno music, I felt like this was the music I had waited for years to hear, I WOKE UP! We all threw ourselves into putting on the first small goa style free parties, not only did I see tie dye t shirts come back into fashion, I actually experienced another summer of love, and then I realised I was proud of the hippy path I took so early, and all the travelling, all the world music, all the rock, all the jazz, all the country, everything I had learnt could be used in techno, and I felt like Rip Van Winkle who has been asleep, and wakes up to find a shiny new world, hence "Rip Van Hippy".


4. "Waking Up Is Hard To Do" and "When Bernie Was A Tree" are two albums that can be referred to as milestones in the underground psychedelic history.
What shall we expect from the new album ? Will there be a continuity from the last two, ending the trilogy, or is it going to be a completely new approach on the psychedelic sound ?

I hope you'll see continuity and progression, the digital tools I have at my disposal now have improved in a big way, I can treat samples, generate music, stretch, bend, blend, turn saxophones into violins, pianos into drums, all inside my computer, so this has brought change to what I do, I highly recommend "Metasynth".


5. You seem to have a lot of respect for tribes that deny "civilisation" meaning that many samples you use on your music are percussion loops from African tribes or Indian shamans singing and so forth. Adding to that the fact that the "whites" are sharing the Australian land with the native Australian people, the Aboriginals, I would like to hear your opinion about this situation ?

I do have an interest in all things tribal, I collect tribal instruments, and art, its another passion, however the reality on the ground here is not good, we have a very right wing government at the moment, and a lot of the good things that were happening in land rights and reconciliation have stopped moving forward, the aboriginal culture is 50,000 years old, and is Australia's one unique treasure, eventually all Australians will realise that, I'm not however one to romanticise tribal life, I'm a city boy who wouldn't last a week in a true tribal society, however the one universal tribal ethic we all need to learn is to love and respect the earth as our mother.


6. We seem to be moving to a completely new digital age but it seems that in
the same way we use the analogue speakers to hear the digital sound of computers we are forced to use an analogue interface to get us "hooked" in the digital environment. Do you believe that we will ever be only a bunch of
numbers and gain immortality until someone accidentally or on purpose erases our file or our learning algorithm ?

ABSOLUTELY!!! We will circle the multiverse in our billions, in massive ship habitats, piloted and led by our astonishing thinking machine gods, zipping back in time to visit Woodstock and see Hendrix, bring it on!!!!


7. In the "Walking Up Is Hard To Do" booklet there is mention to Ollie Olsen
about "sharing" the knowledge, please tell us a few words about this remarkable man and how he influenced you.

Yes Ollie is an astonishing musician, and a great musicoligist, who has a lot of knowledge on the history and theories of electronic music, I was sharing an apartment with him at the time he was making the first Third Eye CD, and after a year of watching him master Cubase, I got my own midi studio, and with his help and enthusiastic support I began to make my own music, he pushed me to experiment constantly, and gave lots of helpful advice on my first CD, it was a life changing turn of events and I will always be graceful to Ollie for the inspiration, there have been other important people along my musical path, but none more important than Ollie, and no chance more empowering than my midi studio!!


8. In my opinion you are one of the best musicians (I am not using the term
producer because I believe that is limiting for your talent with all respect of course) in the electronic music scene. Both your albums have really caught me emotionally and mentally. The thing though that I really love about your music is the fact that it beats time, it is "timeless". I have been listening your albums for so much time now and so many times but I still "need" to hear them. How can someone achieve such a state of quality, is it just talent or hard work and attention to detail are needed too ?

Ooh! here, massage this, it's my ego!!!! Well, hard to reply, in music I just follow my nose and see where it leads, as I said before, I have a lot of different influences, and I try and let them all in, sometimes in the same track, basically I do the music for myself, and it blows my mind when I meet people who have connected so strongly with it, it inspires me to try harder.


9. On a lighter side, it would be really nice if you could give us an estimation regarding the forthcoming date release of the new album (if you could give us the name too, it would be great). I surely think many readers are "dying" to hear.

The music is finished and mastered, I'm just having a creative block on the artwork for the cover, it will be released early in 03, and I've been tossing various titles around, "I Can't Believe Its Not Music" or "The Whole World's Hip, And That's Not Cool" are the top contenders so far.


10. Have you seen a movie or read a book recently that you could recommend to our readers ?

I' m an avid science fiction buff as you can tell from my other answer, I like the work of Iain M. Banks, and William Gibson and all the other psyber punk writers, at the moment I'm reading China Meivilles, "Perdido Street Station".


11. Final question, would you be interested in working in a movie score. Do you have such plans for the future ?

Yes I would love to do a movie score myself, as it is I do quite a lot of music for commercials (got to pay for the studio gear) but I would love to score something longer than 45 seconds.


12. Please close this interview with a statement, a wish or anything else that
pops up in mind.

I wish to come back to Greece!!

At this point I would like to thank Andrew Till for making it all happen and of course Geoffry for devoting time in answering the questions in great style... Thank you both guys, max respect :)


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