Progressive Rock & Progressive Metal - Logo
. with The Canadian musician STEVE COCHRANE
.                                   by Sergio Motta, Rio de Janeiro - Brazil

Sergio Motta - Composing progressive rock music is necessary to have talent, and also
inspiration of course. So, where do you take your inspiration from?

Steve Cochrane: Inspiration comes from many sources. In terms of artists before me whose works have become part of my musical vocabulary, there are several. The Canadian rock trio Rush, for instance, were a major influence in my early days when I was learning to play guitar. Later, I began listening to British progressive acts, such as Genesis, Yes, Renaissance, Mike Oldfield and Steve Hackett. There were the artists from whom I learned the art of longer epic compositions, which I would later delve into. 
There have also been non-musical inspirations which helped me to shape my views and articulate what it was I wanted to communicate through my music. The works of novelist-philosopher Ayn Rand focussed my attention on what purpose art has in our lives. I saw that music can serve as a projection of our ideals, giving us the emotional state of having reached our goals, thereby fuelling our day-to-day struggles in life. It can be likened to a beacon that shows us where we are heading and it was this quality more than anything that I wanted to put into my music. 
With all that I had learned, I began taking a more structured, long-term approach to the way I compose, seeking a balance between intellectual and emotional aspects and aiming for thematic cohesiveness.
Your music is taken for a high grade one. What’s the main care you take upon composing
your songs?
Steve Cochrane: Cohesiveness without repetition in long form; that’s something I always strive for, along with a sense of grandeur. One of two things can happen in a lengthy piece of music. It can go from section to section without a sense of direction or any apparent connection between the beginning and the end. Or it can repeat the same things over and over to the point where it becomes monotonous.
In my longer pieces, I’ve chosen an approach that involves the use of only a few themes, but offers countless variations. For exemple, my seven-part suite ‘’Songs for Spring’’ begins with an arpeggio in 9/8 time, played gently with a chime-like sound, which serves as a backdrop for the introduction of other themes. Later in the suite, the same arpeggio is played aggressively on guitar. The effect is quite intense, as other instruments serve to emphasize the rather technical rhythm. At the end of the suite, there is a vibrant variation of the arpeggio in 4/4 time, where the other themes resolve around it in a celebratory fashion.
Another exemple in the same suite would be parts two and four, which share the same chord progression and lyric structure, but with vastly different imagery, dynamics and rhythm.
There are the kinds of things I like doing most with composition. It makes it enjoyable and interesting for me, as well as for the attentive listener. Some have commented to me that after a few listens, they begin to recognize the relationship of one part to another and how it all makes perfect sense and flows together in a piece that is twenty-seven minutes long. For me, that is very rewarding..
Some musicians have confessed to be afraid of non-acceptance of their works by the
listeners. By the way, do you have this kind of apprehension too?
Steve Cochrane: Certainly, I have on occasion and I think it’s perfectly natural. Like any other artist, I pour my heart and soul into what I do. For a listener to reject it for whatever reason or for a critic to say harsh things about it, that’s like an attack on the soul. I think every artist experiences this to some degree. Those with integrity learn to deal with it without compromising their artistic values. They resist the temptation to shape their music in such a way that would allay their fears of non-acceptance. They realize there is a far greater reward in creating something which is uniquely their own and speaks from the soul. 
I’m reminded of a quote from Edmond Rostand’s play ‘’Cyrano de Bergerac’’, in which the hero, when advised to have a successful dramatist rewrite his poetry, answers ‘’when I have made a line that sings itself so that I love the sound of it, I pay myself a hundred times’’. That sentiment has long been a part of my philosophy and I try to remain true to it.
Some culturally developed countries use to help their artists by giving them some 
financial support or something like that. As Canada is a culturally developed country,
I’d then like to know if Canadian artists also receive any support by the government.
Does it happen in your country?
Steve Cochrane: Yes, our government at all levels do support the arts by way of grants to various projects. There is a lot of bureaucracy involved and I’m certainly not the best person to explain the process. I should stress that I have never been the recipient of such grants and quite frankly, I don’t intend to be.
With my music, I attempt to project a world where man is self-reliant, heroic individual; where his achievements are a result of his own efforts and of those he freely chooses to co-operate with. To rely on government grants for my survival would go against these values and I doubt that I would then be capable of creating the kind of music I do with any kind of conviction. This may be difficult for people in poorer countries to relate to, but I choose to compete in a free market, even though I consider myself an artist first and foremost. I think the listener should be the ultimate judge of whether or not I deserve to make a living from my art.

Sergio Motta
is a friend and partiner from the Progressive Rock And Progressive Metal Site

The Purest of Designs -  (1998) 
To See It Made Real - 
Heroes Awaken - (1991)

Contacts / Info / Bookings
Spirit Compass Music
40 Grandville Ave. 1403
Hamilton, ON I8E 1J7


Steve Cochrane 
Home Page

Born in Nova Scotia in 1961 and now living near Toronto, Steve Cochrane's early listening experiences came from AM radio, then later from the FM band in its explosive infancy. At the age of 15, he picked up a guitar and got serious about becoming a musician himself. He was soon practicing six hours a day, learning by ear from favourite records. A major influence at the time was Rush, whose albums he could play along with from beginning to end.

Involvement with a handful of local bands soon followed, the most notable being Endpieces, an all-original progressive rock band which gained some local celebrity status. Steve's abilities as a composer blossomed within Endpieces as his listening tastes and influences expanded to include British progressive rock acts such as Genesis, Mike Oldfield and Renaissance. Steve Hackett, in his work with Genesis and as a solo artist, became the new guitar mentor.

During this time, another notable development had occurred. Steve discovered the works of novelist/philosopher Ayn Rand, who's writing projected a rational world and Man as a heroic being. Steve was inspired by this vision and sought to create music that belonged in such a world.

In 1983, Endpieces disbanded and Steve, contemplating his future and bolstered by a growing confidence in his artistic abilities, decided to go it alone as a composer/recording artist. He then invested in some basic recording equipment and began working on what he hoped would be his first album. Five years later, struggling for the resources to complete a guitar and vocal-laden project with huge production requirements and with no record label interest, Steve saw the benefits of the emerging MIDI technology and decided to put the current project on hold. Heroes Awaken was born and in 1991, released. Although it is dominated by keyboard synthesizers, electric guitar is included on two tracks and MIDI guitar, which Steve delved into along the way, appears throughout.

With a debut release under his belt, Steve was getting back to the guitar and hoping to incorporate it more into a follow-up album. Much of what was written at this time was originated on guitar or with the thought of featuring guitar as a lead instrument. Technology was now bringing digital multitrack to home studios and Steve invested in a computer-based system. The result was the 1995 release, To See It made Real.

Finally, the time had come to take care of unfinished business. Steve looked back at the project he had put on the shelf before Heroes Awaken. With the resources now at his disposal to record at home, he spent the next year and a half relearning, re-recording and fine-tuning the arrangements. One new adventurous piece, The Promise of the Music, was written as a retrospective on the artist's idealistic youth. Fifteen years after its inception, The Purest of Designs (originally titled Preamble) has been released, as Steve Cochrane ponders new directions for a fourth album.

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