Silvia Grijalba's Interview

Silvia Grijalba
El Mundo (Spanish magazine)

Mike is sure that with time and psychoanalysis he is recovered of early success. Now, he is near to 40 years old and with 'Tubular Bells II' he seems more relaxed than ever. Lovely, he enchants to any sceptical opponents, he plays with his shyness and seems disposed to talk of inside themes, of soul. He talks about art, praises the music of the country that he visits (in this opportunity, Spain), but still he has those tics that show him as an impossible egocentric, a man that being 20 years old had one of the biggest success albums in history. His Spanish girlfriend corroborates with a face everything Oldfield says. Details as no remembering any musician that he really loves show the genius don't touch the ground although he is already able talking about it.

Silvia Grijalba: You always said that success for you was too much early, that hurt you. Do you have got living with success?

Mike Oldfield: With time pass you assimilate that you receive in one time. Being 20 years old you are too young to swallow everything you recieve in one time. It happened that 'Tubular Bells' release was something really strong, it changed my life completely and then I suffered really and I had terrible crises. Now I am happier with myself and with the world. I have used the way I am living and I think I have dominated those demons.

Do you have polish the message of your music with time pass?

All I want to express with my music is my feelings. I think it's the purpose. To show images, landscapes, love, hate, fury. Take outside your inside marvellous and strong feelings that you have. It's the same that must happen when you are drawing; I don't know draw but I think this is what impressionists wanted to express. This capacity to show what you have inside is a real present, a virtue that I have the obligation to preserve. The artists have the obligation being ourselves.

You recorded your first album being only 14 years old, do you have ever known the way of being yourself or you have learned it with years?

In the beginning, when I learned playing guitar I copied songs, it was a way polishing my technic. But when you have learned you are able to show your feelings , forgeting what you have copied and beginning to get outside what you have inside, without fear to show you as you are.

What's the reason to create Tonic, the foundation destined to help people that need psychic treatment and isn't able to pay it?

Psychoanalysis helped me. I had a time I thought I was lost and I discovered it was a problem from my childhood. It was a strange feeling in my family because my mother was ever ill, she had psychic problems that began with my young brother's birth, that had Down's syndrome. I always remember her ill, without capacity to comunicate with us. I always thought that it hadn't marked me but it had because I didn't accept that I suffered for this relationship. Psychoanalist sessions discovered me that my problems as adult were from there. This is the reason I have created Tonic, because I want people receive the same help that I had, although they haven't money to pay it. As well as this I would like it serves people not being afraid of psychiatrists; in Europe they are seen as Antichrist but in America they are like hairdressers; without scruples as it should be.

Do you think music, art in generic is a good psychic therapy?

Art in generic really helps to escape of that surrounds you, you find a refuge there and you get change a little what dislikes to you, but only with art you don't solve your problems, you can't evade in this way, you need to go out from your refuge because if you don't you aren't in real world and it could be worse.

Artists like Sinead O'Connor, Michael Jackson, Suzanne Vega, Madonna or you say having a difficult childhood, do you think it's casual or a difficult past helps to be a star?

If we are in the same way it will have a reason. I think so, yes, that children with problems mature more quickly because they need it. As well as this, sometimes the creativity is near to need evade, to go out from hostile reality. These children with difficult childhoods need care themselves and suffer better pressures of music business. But always there was children that need evading, the bad way is looking to computer games that they don't make, that come imposed. Then there is no place for imagination.

When you began your career, in sventies, drugs were an element of creation process, do you think they are useful for that purpose?

There are very dangerous drugs, normally synthetic ones, that I never would defend, because then haven't use, saved killing people, but there are other substances like alcohol or marihuana that are able helping to create, to make free some mental states that are closed in another way. They are substances from nature, men have used them for their benefit and they can be able for yourself, without prejudices. Anyway I think drugs should be legalized, it may be a way destroying the most dangerous ones.

You have said that you recorded 'Tubular Bells II' because you were tired everyone copying first part. Is this the only reason?

This is the main reason. I didn't like hearing my works changed for other people, without recognizing it. I think it's like robbing and I think it's not just. I think that if someone put a new version it should be me, with my way playing instruments and my way composing and my own feelings.

But you used technology in first place, do you think that is like rebellious son with his father?

It's difficult to know but if you listen to Paul Hardcastle or those religious sounds from Enigma you can think that aren't using it in the best way. Anyway, I prefer thinking sounds are in the air, without an owner, but you are in the way to use them. Now you can go out to an records shop and find a CD with all world sounds, then it's not so difficult catch them and use them, like if they were of your own..., I think the secret is music performance, the feeling when you are playing.

Is this the reason you play all instruments?

It's one of the reasons. I have a particular way plaing instruments, digitalizing strings in personal way, I always have been a little queer in these questions because I think it's important the performance of written music, specially with someone like me with different way playing instruments. I play guitar like if I played violin or Hammond organ in a particular keys position. It's easier to make everything myself, instead explaining it to musicians.

Many of your partners in symphonic age are coming back now to record, is it a musical emptyness, coming back to hippy age ideas, or what is the reason?

I think the main reason in absence of groups that really want expressing something. Pop is tired itself and groups only think playing something easy and make fast money. In sixties and seventies groups took care of get domain of instruments, know music posibilites and they were into music. Now the bands don't record really in studios, they appear there a pair of days and let producer to make. I feel so big satisfaction playing guitar and getting new sounds discovering new posibilities of instruments that I don't understand new musicians accept forgeting it. They don't know what they are losing.

You have made collaboration with Kevin Ayers, your sister Sally or Trevor Horn in that last record, is difficult to you, knowing you have individualism fame?

Really I prefer working alone, mainly for a time reason, I lose too much telling people what I want they do. Indeed I always have an impression of being like "vampires"; each one takes ideas from another one and always there is someone that feels he is losing. With Trevor it has been different because he understood what I wanted to do and he has been like a mediator. Well, I love playing guitar with Kevin (Ayers) in a bar or with my sister, but I prefer working alone. May be in the future I would learn working with others...

Many people think you are new age muic father, what do you think of this music style?

I think it's boring. May be I don't have listened adequate themes, really I don't have listened too much new age music, but I think it's hollow music, without feelings. The only thing in common is my music is also instrumental, but I don't think these musicians owing something from me.

This ('Tubular Bells II') is your first album in WEA, after 20 years with Virgin, the company that was born with you. What's the reason to change?

I didn't feel well in Virgin. They pressured me to record a number of songs each year and I don't think quality depend of quantity. In Virgin they didn't understand this one. I had impression last years they didn't understand instrumental music and I was isolated, nobody to talk about my work. I'm more relaxed with WEA. I'm free to record when I want to say something, five, eight, or ten years... They have other artists to make money and they don't need my records.

What do you do when you aren't composing?

Very easy things; playing tennis, eating in beautiful restaurants, drinking good wine, being in bed reading, walking, and especially travelling. I know other cultures, seeing art, museums. Now I want to see the Guernica because Picasso is one of my favourite artists.

How do you compose, with a specified time or anytime?

Ideas come in rare moments (he looks at Rosa -his girlfriend-, she gives him a paper - it's music notes in a little hotel paper-). I have written this one this morning. It came to me and I am not able to repress. I need writing it in that morning. I copy four notes and I make them growing up with my way later, then I remember everything perfectly.

Mike Oldfield
Mike Oldfield