An Interview With Breath of Illusions
In the new album release from Breath of Illusions, the artist Bears all in the form of gorgeous guitar work with styles that range in terms of songwriting but always manage to tell a sort of story with each piece.
The Awakening album is packed with heart and loads of character as the artist manages to pull together these incredibly well woven pieces of music each with its own unique vibe and with a somewhat eclectic genre range that serves as an undertone to each different track.
This is a guitar-based record and although it's outstanding for musicians, for fans of anything with really great guitar performances this will serve them well.
The tonality of the instrument is a big part of what changes from song to song as well and with more rock-based pieces you have an electrified feel but with cleaner ones you get more of a twang at times which also helps paint these vivid pictures in your head.
Now, a guitar album can be a lot of different things, and some might think that this is a shredder but it's really not.
Yes, there's ridiculous guitar work all over this thing but it's not a metal guitar solo style record.
This release shows a graceful set of performances with a knack for dynamic settings and being able to portray certain kinds of emotions behind the instrument.
There are really memorable melodies all over this thing and it's packed with hooks left and right, but the main thing is that this record is brimming with a passion for the craft.
Not just the craft of guitar playing of course but the craft of songwriting actually.
The artist knows what he's doing when arranging a song and is able to build quite lush soundscapes with his approach which works wonders for the listener because you get to escape to these different places with each track.
I think that this kind of music is in a way, like a soundtrack. It's a form of escapism where you get to go to these different places with the artist and with the instrument talking, you get to see and hear colors and situations unravel.
It's really quite amazing how you can actually set moods with these kinds of pieces so well almost like classical music does.
This was built with a great attention to detail and if you are a guitar player it will immediately make you want to pick one up which I think is perfect.
Hell, I don't even play guitar and I want to pick one up after listening to this.
Obviously, I wouldn't be pulling off the kind of music I just heard but, either way you get this satiated feeling after listening to this album in full.
And make no mistake this is an album you want to hear from beginning to end, not just a few songs at a time.
With the release of such a vast record, we wanted to have a sit-down with the man behind Breath of Illusions to find out where this actually came from and what might be coming next for the artist.
Here's what happened.
Buzz Slayers: Okay, let's start with The Awakening album! This record guitar work was outstanding and everything had such a great drive! How did this album come about?
Thanks a lot! Glad you liked it! Well, The Awakening is my second album as you notice it is purely instrumental and musically speaking the focus is on the guitar and the different sensations that I want to create with it.
For this album I pushed myself to create and transmit different sensations with each song, and musically speaking the album is far more complex and interesting than my first album. I tried to create songs with catchy melodies and cool harmonies. I mixed tonal and modal harmonies.
Each of the songs has a particular meaning and intention, some of them are ballads like Memento and Breath of Illusions, other have more intense riffs and melodies with a heavier sound and more dynamic arrangement like Out Nowhere and Scenes from a Future Memory; the other three songs, The Awakening, Just Believe and Dreams of Fortune, have a more commercial sound, with cool, catchy modal and tonal harmonies, and guitar solos.
I recorded the album in 2021 based on some ideas that I had already written. I created the arrangements and the concept of the album, and then I talked with my producer in Argentina to start working on the final versions of each song. Buzz Slayers: How did this all start for you as an artist? When did you really fall in love with music?
I started playing guitar when I was 10 years old, I remember that in my room I had my father’s acoustic guitar and I started playing some songs from Soda Stereo from Argentina and Los Prisioneros from Chile. Eventually a friend of mine showed me a couple of songs from Guns and Roses, and from Metallica. That’s when I really got into music, after I heard those solos, something clicked in me, and I knew that music would have to be an important part of my life. While I was in high school, I had a band with some friends where we played some songs from Megadeth, Metallica, Iron Maiden, and Dream Theater. Also, during this period, I took some classic guitar lessons to expand my music vocabulary and to learn a different type of music.
Eventually I started studying Industrial Engineering and my music dream got paused for a while. Once I finished my career and after two years working in Accenture, I decided to quit my job and resume my music journey. I applied to Berklee College of Music and was accepted to start my music career in 2009. I formally studied music for two years in Boston and returned to Colombia. It took me almost 10 years to start working on my solo project, I played with some local bands but to be honest, the music that I was playing there didn’t fulfill me. I always felt that I could do more with my talent and my music. In 2020 once the pandemic and the quarantine started, I decided to record my first album Walking the Unknown. I composed and recorded twelve songs in my home studio in Colombia and released it in January 2021.
During 2021, I focused on promoting my album at the same time I started working on my second album, The Awakening. Buzz Slayers: What kind of things really inspire songs for you?
I try to write songs about everything that in a way is important to me or has a message to send. I’ve written songs about love, war, I even wrote a song about the Covid and what we had to deal with during the quarantine, well actually I have a song that is called quarantine it is on my first album.
Every time I write a song, whether it is an instrumental song or a song with lyrics, I try to express something, to send a message or to generate some type of sensation. I’ve written songs about love, about my dreams and goals, even to honor a cousin that committed suicide. My goal is to create music that satisfies me as a musician but also that has a meaning for the listener.
Each song of my second album has a particular meaning for me and objective in terms of the sensation and feelings that I want to transmit.
Just Believe is the happiest song of the album, its melody and harmony are quite simple and with it I want to give the message that if you believe in what you do, you can achieve great things. Memento was meant to create a nostalgic atmosphere to remember and honor my parents. Breath of Illusions is a love song that I wrote with the intention to transmit and generate in the listener that beautiful sensation that love does with us. Scenes from a Future Memory was written because I had a dream where I was playing my music in a huge stadium, I was playing a guitar riff heavily influenced by Metallica, so when I woke up, I came up with an idea that ended up being this song.
Dreams of Fortune and The Awakening are songs that are heavily influenced by Satriani, Eric Johnson and Andy James ideas. Their harmonies have tonal and modal components, with multiple modulations but simple and catchy melodies. Finally, Out Nowhere is a song that its main idea was written when I was in Berklee and with the intention to create music for a movie or a video game. Buzz Slayers: This album has some great styles combinations on it! Can you give us some of your biggest influences musically?
Musically speaking I think my main influences are Dream Theater, Pink Floyd, Metallica, Iron Maiden and Megadeth. I grew up listening to these bands and the way they composed their songs and played their instruments really opened my musical spectrum and taste towards this type of music.
The guitar and the riffs that I played are very important in my composition process, I think most of my songs, even the ones with lyrics, started with a guitar riff or have a guitar solo to enhance and increase the intention of the arrangement.
I use a lot of open chords with a lot of tension, I mix modal and tonal harmonies, most of my songs have key changes and modulate quite often, and some of my songs are written with the guitar tuned one or half-step below to get a heavier sound. All these ideas come from these band, and from the way they interpret and create music Buzz Slayers: What are you doing when you're NOT working on music?
Being a songwriter and a musician is not a full-time job. Beside my music career I have a full-time job in Mastercard. I studied Industrial Engineering and have a master’s degree in engineering. I am Senior Managing Consultant and Subject Matter Expert in Crypto and Digital Assets for Latin-American and the Caribbean. I have more than fifteen years of experience in consulting and have worked in companies such as Accenture, EY and now in Mastercard.
For me it is amazing to be able to combine my music with being a successful executive in a multinational company, with the impact and importance of Mastercard.
I also love dogs and cats, in fact I have a shelter outside of Bogotá where with a friend we rescue street dogs and cats, to give them in adoption and to find them a good home and family that would take care of them. Buzz Slayers: Who's in your headphones right now?
My band is always on my playlist, I got to say that I am my biggest fan! But beside Breath of Illusions, I have some playlist that I am always listening to. I am a huge fan of Dream Theater, Metallica, Iron Maiden and Megadeth so these bands are a must. Also, since I have started to write the songs for my third album, I am also listening to a lot of instrumental music and guitar virtuosos such as Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Guthrie Govan, and Eric Johnson. Buzz Slayers: Are you doing any live performances right now?
This is something that I am working on right, even though currently I haven’t had any live shows. I am assembling my new band, with new musicians and we have started working on putting together my songs and creating a sound as similar as possible to the sound that I have on the album. My hope is to have at least 10 gigs this year in Bogotá and to have a solid and consistent lineup with my band. We are going to go back and play in different venues and bars in Colombia and in other cities in Latin-American. Buzz Slayers: Did you record yourself or hit a big studio for this?
The recording process was cool and unique. Some parts of the album were recorded in my home studio in Colombia and other parts were recorded in Buenos Aires, Argentina. After I recorded and released my first album, I had a conversation with Joaquin Rosson, the engineer that mixed it and mastered it, and he told me that if I wanted to record a new album, he could help me producing it and taking my music to the next level. It’s worth mentioning that I produced and recorded my first album in my home studio in Colombia, so it has some opportunities for improvement in terms of its sound. I recorded the initial versions of the songs in my studio. I recorded the rhythm and lead guitars, and for the drums and bass I used samples from Band-in-a-Box. Once I had these demos, I sent them to Joaquin in Argentina, he then sent me back his comments and suggestions. This back and forth took almost a year, if I am not mistaken, I started the recording sessions in March of 2021 and the last session was in December 2021. Once we had the guitars, lead and rhythm, and the arrangement done, we talked with Federico and Ramiro, who are professional musicians from Argentina, and worked with them to record the drums, piano, keyboard, and bass of the songs. With the bass, pianos and drums recorded, I made a couple of adjustments on my guitars, adjusting a little bit the intentions of my solos and riffs. Finally, once all this was done Joaquin mixed and mastered the album.
I decided to release a single every month, starting from February until September, and on December 22, 2022, I released the entire album. Buzz Slayers: What can your fans expect from you in the near future?
I have different plans and ideas for the band which I have organized in three main areas: live concerts, social media, and new music.
First, I need to assemble my band, with a formal line-up and musicians. The idea is to learn and rehearse the songs that I have and start playing them live, ideally in Bogotá and then in other cities in Colombia, Latin America, and the US. I would like to add to the band a female singer to complement my voice and maybe a third guitar would be added too.
Also, I still need to work on my social media presence being more active in Instagram and Facebook, and by relaunching my YouTube channel. I want to start building some content where I talk about music, my guitar collection, music theory and my band; like what Rick Beato, Darrell Braun and David Bennett do. Finally, I will start working on my third album. My idea is to compose at least 12 songs, some of them will have lyrics, others will be instrumental, and it will be a combination between metal, rock, and acoustic music. The cover of this album will be a wolf and a falcon which as you might have guessed, are also tattoos that I have. Buzz Slayers: Before we go, what would you like to say to fans of the music?
To the fans of music, and particularly the fans of my music, first I would like to say thank you!! For me it is an honor to have anyone listening to my music! And hopefully I have been able to communicate something with my songs.
The truth is that music nowadays is more focused on the commercial aspect instead of the artistic aspects and concepts. I do believe that rock and metal as a musical genre are still very present and they have huge potential to regain the importance that they had in the 70s, 80s and even in the 90s. And it is thanks to rock fans that this is going to happen…
So, to our fans, just keep rocking every time you can, support your local artists, find and look for new music and musicians, but above all have fun with the music you like.
Music is more than notes and chords, music is a feeling … is what connects us to the purest aspects of us as earthy beings.