BACKSTAGE: TRANSCENDENCE’S ED HALE ON IRANIAN DIPLOMACY AND WHY D.I.Y. WORKS

Featuring Roger Houdaille, Ed Hale, Bill Sommer, Allan Gabay, Fernando PerdomoOriginally Published in Backstage in South Florida By Lee Zimmerman Wed., Nov. 2 2011 at 7:20 AM
Music vet and New Times scribe Lee Zimmerman offers his insights, opinions and observations about the local scene. This week: Ed Hale talks music, mobility and his attempts to save the world…

          When translated into Latin, the word Transcendence suggests an upward motion and a feeling of going beyond, freely tempered by shifting historical or cultural connotations. Fortunately, Transcendence, the group with South Florida roots manages to live up to its banner, with five ambitious albums released over the past decade, as well as the various solo outings from its individual members.Formed in Miami at the start of the millennium, the members of Transcendence are scattered across various locales, but three of its chief mainstays remain the same — singer/songwriter/guitarist/keyboard player Ed Hale, guitarist Fernando Perdomo, bassist Roger Houdaille and drummer Ricky Mazzi.


Each boast their own back story. Hale was formerly with the South Florida outfit Broken Spectacles, Perdomo helms his band Dreaming in Stereo and his own Forward Motion Records roster, Houdaille fronts the group Ex Norwegian and Mazzi is an in-demand session player. Nevertheless, they find a common bond in Transcendence, which Hale directs from his home turf in New York and Seattle, and which, along with Miami, serve as headquarters for his record label, Dying Van Gogh. “It’s a crazy way to live,” Hale says. “But it’s a blast.”  Read on…

           The frequent trips to South Florida also allow other musicians to lend their talents from time to time, and in fact, no fewer than a dozen players contribute to Transcendence’s upcoming album, All Your Heroes Become Villains. The title is telling, a dissertation on the confusion and contradictions that confound today’s humanity. There are mystical and spiritual elements imbued throughout, and with its dark, dense tones and textures that enhance the symphonic sound, it becomes both majestic and grandiose. Production plays a key part in its construction, underlying the riveting themes with a progressive gaze. Hale shares billing with the band these days, but there’s no doubt this is a collective effort, and one that benefits from it robust blend.
I recently caught up with Hale who spoke to me by phone from New York as he talked at length about the band, his various world adventures and his advocacy for peace and understanding. A few days later he was in Seattle, dressed in a bathrobe, pajama bottoms and slippers on the streets of the city and marching in support of the Occupy Seattle protest. That Transcendence tag seems apt after all. Here, then, is part one of our discussion.
Hey Ed! What’s been going on since we last spoke?
What’s not going on since last we spoke? The last six to twelve months have been incredible. The short quick answer — I got married. That was big. I still can’t believe it most of the time. I converted to Islam to be able to marry my wife in a “traditional Persian Ceremony” which was beautiful, as she converted to Christianity in order to marry me in a “traditional Christian Ceremony”… so it was a wild experience. I released a solo album, Ballad On Third Avenue, and watched it climb to the Top 100 at college radio for a few months. I toured the U.S. coast to coast and shot a bunch of music videos. I signed a major distribution deal for our record label and watched it take off bolstered by the success of the solo album and Ex Norwegian’s Standby album.
You’ve gotten a lot of notice lately it seems.
Somehow we managed to turn into “a national act” at some point along the way. We did a ton of TV and radio interviews in the U.S. and Canada and got picked up by one of the largest music PR firms in the U.K. The album’s second single “New Orleans Dreams” made an impact on the charts and broke into the Top 40 in adult contemporary where it now sits at #30. That’s a brand new radio format for us. We’ve always been an alt-rock or modern rock act. Now the song is in rotation in 21 different countries around the world. I sincerely hope to see it hit number 1 by Christmas. We’ve never had a national number 1 before so that would be a blast.
It seems you’ve done a lot of international travel recently and even become something of a freelance diplomat. What’s that all about? 
I became a “Civilian Diplomat” and travelled to Colombia, Africa, and Iran where I met with former president Khatami and all the major Ayatollahs to discuss US/Iran relations and peace. I also attended a meeting with Iranian President Ahmadinejad at the United Nations to talk about the same thing. Talk about a trip! I helped build a three-story Community Center in a very poor and remote village in Colombia, and two brick houses in an even poorer village in Ghana. They were amazing experiences, all of them.
Of course right now we are also jumping out of our seats with excitement over the upcoming release of the new Transcendence album All Your Heroes Become Villains, which hits the street on November 15th. I just can’t wait for people to hear that one. We worked so hard on it…
How about giving us some background into the new album?
The last time we spoke we were discussing the new solo album Ballad On Third Avenue, which was a big shift in direction for me and the guys in Transcendence, with me putting out a softer more acoustic adult contemporary album. That was a touchstone for us. We weren’t quite sure where things were gonna go, but we were happy as hell and excited about the possibilities. As a label, we had just gotten major distribution again, which meant we were free to be able to start releasing our music again. That was a big coup. It took a lot of pavement pounding and phone calls, but we nailed it. The three of us released solo albums as a kind of “prelude” to the release of the new Transcendence album. That was the plan, but who knew? Roger’s solo project Ex Norwegian blew up and kicked some serious butt on college radio and with the critics and in the touring department. Ballad On Third Avenue, which at the time we thought was a risky venture — me going “singer/songwriter” — exploded. It was like a whole new world opened up for us. A Top 20 Most Added album at College Radio and the highest CMJ charting we’d ever had up to that point.
What has the advance reaction to the new album been so far? 
The phone’s started ringing. BillboardMediabaseMediaGuide and all these commercial radio promoters and PR firms started calling. Right now as we speak, the album’s second single “New Orleans Dreams” is spinning on radio stations in 20 countries around the world. And now it’s climbing up the Adult Alternative Album Charts. PR Firms that never used to take our calls started calling us. I signed five endorsement deals in six months; all for products that I love. I get free guitar strings for life, and I sing through the best microphones in the world.
Sounds great! What else? 
Someone leaked a few tracks from the album and then we get this call from a guy in the U.K. who said he heard the songs on his phone over the internet at 3 o’clock in the morning at a club and “just had to contact us.” It turns out it was James Parish of Prescription PR. These guys are huge in the UK. They represent Beck and the Kinks and Rufus Wainwright… they’re way big. And now they’ve added Transcendence to their roster, which is great for us, because we’ve been trying to get into the British music market for a long time. Radio and TV interviews keep coming in. We’re in glossy print mags now! It seems we’ve taken it to just a whole different level.
How do you explain this sudden success?
For me and the guys, it just goes to show that D.I.Y. works… if you work it. We’re all very happy and the album hasn’t even come out yet. But the reviews are starting to come in and they look good, and the fans seem to be really digging it so far. We’re all very aware that any success we experience with our solo projects can only help Transcendence, which is “our group project.” We’re also in the process of recording three new Ed Hale solo albums. So yeah, we are working 24 hours a day and seven days a week. But it’s fun. As hard as it is, the payoff makes it worth it.
How is the label operation going? What’s new on that end?
Running a real record label is a mammoth undertaking. It’s 24/7 and then some. To be able to operate at the level where we currently are, we can’t hire enough people fast enough. We’re trying, but we keep realizing that we need more and more people working at the label to handle the momentum. And truth be told, running a record label does get in the way of being your best as an artist. But we’re” in” now, at least a little bit more than before.

Other than that, we’ve got some incredible releases coming out over the next six months, which is very exciting. Besides the new Transcendence and Ex Norwegian albums, Roger already has another album recorded and ready to hit the streets. So does Transcendence. We’re also soon releasing a Jimmy Campbell Tribute album with some really big names on it and we’re in negotiations with that classic band Flash, plus a few others like Arlan Feilis (of Natural Causes), who I just adore. Being able to help other artists that you love achieve their dreams and goals, that’s the mission. But as artists we’re also aware of how much we as artists still need to do every day. So we’ll see. If we can get it to the point where we can merge with a larger indie label and pool our resources together, that’s the direction we’re headed in now.
Media and PR Requests
Janelle Rogers
GREEN LIGHT GO
1511 Jarvis, Ste 6
Ferndale, MI 48220
Office 877.208.6194 x1
Cell 248.761.9370
janelle@glgpub.com
www.glgpub.com

Please follow and like us:
error

NEVER BEFORE SEEN FOOTAGE FOUND OF ED HALE SINGING “NEW ORLEANS DREAMS” IN THE RECORDING STUDIO


This never before seen footage brought to us via Fernando Perdomo, lead guitarist for Ed Hale and The Transcendence, and singer/guitarist of the band Dreaming In Stereo. Perdomo engineered and produced Hale’s Ballad On third Avenue album in his Cave Studios. He also played many of the instruments on the album and sang background vocals. What we see here is Hale adding a second lead vocal to the song after singer/songwriter Matthew Sabatella had already laid down his background harmony vocals. Hale had already recorded his main lead vocal on the song and thought the song was finished.
Co-producer and bassist for the album, Roger Houdaille (also in Transcendence and founder/singer/guitarist of the band Ex Norwegian), listened to the completed rough mix of the song and felt that Hale’s vocals “could be better” and urged Ed to give it “one more try.” Needless to say, Hale wasn’t jumping up and down to do so and argued passionately against having to “sing the whole effing song over again!” Especially because the background vocals were already on the tape — which meant that he would not only have to attempt to “sing a better lead”, but he would also have to try to perfectly match all the background vocals that were already on the song or they wouldn’t be in sync. “I can honestly say that I felt one hundred and ten percent sure that the vocals we had already tracked sounded great!” says Hale. “But Roger kept making these ugly faces and saying that they were way out of tune. I just couldn’t hear it. But I trusted Rog. I mean, he’s not a sadist or anything. He had to have a point. Eventually they talked me into it. And yeah, now, obviously, I’m very glad I listened to him.”

Please follow and like us:
error

ED HALE DREAMS BIG FOR NEW ORLEANS ON LATEST MUSIC VIDEO

Shooting wrapped up this weekend in New York City for the newest music video for singer/songwriter Ed Hale’s song “New Orleans Dreams” which is scheduled to be released as a single to commercial radio stations in the US, the UK, and seventeen countries in Europe on August 15th. This will be the third proper single from Hale’s latest album Ballad On Third Avenue, the most successful album to date of Hale’s solo career. The song follows in the footsteps of the album’s first hit single “Beautiful Losers (Ballad On Third Avenue)” which tore up college radio charts in late 2009, followed by “I Walk Alone” which broke the singer into a brand new radio format known as Triple A on over one-hundred stations nationwide throughout 2010.
Hale and crew were sure the next single from his new album was going to be the opening track “Scene in San Francisco”, an obvious choice and a standard throughout Hale’s tour dates over the last eighteen months. The band has not performed “New Orleans Dreams” live in concert even once so far. But that was before the BP Oil Spill and the spring floods that hit the South earlier this year; scenes that captivated America and broke hearts all over the world. It was then that the singer’s record label (Dying Van Gogh Records) decided to switch gears and release the poignant and politically-flirtatious ballad “New Orleans Dreams” instead. A clear stand-out on the album as a whole, “New Orleans Dreams” is an acoustic guitar and harmony driven ballad that calls to mind Simon and Garfunkel, Kings of Convenience, and Belle and Sebastian; the only problem being that the song clocks in at just over six minutes long — not exactly the made for radio airplay 3’30″ that is expected in today’s highly structured attention deficit music market. One of the biggest radio promotions company in the US approached the singer’s label and offered to take the song to a yet another new radio format, Adult Contemporary, for the singer who has primarily been associated with the Alt Rock genre, if the label could provide a shorter radio remix that is. That task was handled by producer/engineer extraordinaire Zach Ziskin of Funny Monkey Enterprises, a longtime colleague of the Transcendence camp. Fans will soon be able to hear the new shorter polished and primped radio remix of the song on radio all over the US and Europe when it hits come August.

Please follow and like us:
error

ED HALE RELEASES NEW SINGLE “NEW ORLEANS DREAMS” TO HELP RAISE MONEY FOR DISASTER VICTIMS

The latest single to be released from Ed Hale’s Ballad On Third Avenue album is entitled “New Orleans Dreams” – track 8 on the singer’s most recent album. This will be the fourth single released from the “Ballad…” album, which is still going strong with critics, music blogs, radio, fans and sales. Dying Van Gogh Records has agreed to donate a portion of the proceeds from all digital downloads of the single to the American Red Cross to help efforts to yet again aid and assist disaster victims in that region.
Fans can listen to and then purchase the song directly from a widget created by SoundCloud here.
 
Hale said of the decision that he got the idea after seeing footage on TV of the latest flooding and tornadoes to hit the South, including New Orleans. “That song is not obviously the perfect song choice to release as a single to radio, for obvious reasons. It’s over six minutes long to begin with…” Hale said. “Not exactly tailor-made as a ‘hit song’ for pop radio… But after seeing what’s been happening down South, I just felt like it was the right choice for where we are right now. We wrote the song based on what I’d seen down in Biloxi, Mississippi doing reconstruction work with my church and the Red Cross. And this was Hurricane Katrina we’re talking about. Years later, things were just as bad as they were right after the hurricane hit. It was very sad, very hard to see how little was being done by the government. So that’s where that song came from. But the people we helped, you know, the looks on their faces after they saw their houses rebuilt… man that was why we were down there. It was priceless. Then came the BP Oil Spill, right? And then this new series of floods and tornadoes… it’s like when will it ever end?! So the song still works. It’s still appropriate even though the country has elected a new president and everything appears to have changed…. for some  of us maybe, but not for everyone. Not for the people of New Orleans.”
The title track “Ballad On Third Avenue (Beautiful Losers)” was the first song to gain major traction at radio, helping bolster the album into the CMJ Top 150 on college radio where it stayed for several months. The second single, “I Walk Alone” was a shortened and remixed version of the album version. Worked by producer/engineer Zach Ziskin, the song was Hale’s first foray into the Triple A radio format (Adult Alternative) where it gained airplay on over one-hundred stations throughout the United States. “Scene in San Francisco”, the opening track on the new album was released to online radio stations only and may still be promoted to terrestrial radio stations after “New Orleans Dreams.”
Of this latest venture, Hale commented “Man I hope that every living breathing person on earth buys the song or downloads it from iTunes so we can raise a truckload of money for the people down there. It’s ninety-nine cents, yeah, but collectively we could make a huge difference.”

Please follow and like us:
error

NEW ED HALE MUSIC VIDEO “BEAUTIFUL LOSERS” RELEASED

New music video from the latest Ed Hale album Ballad On Third Avenue. The song “Beautiful Losers” is actually the title track and song #5 on the Transcendence singer’s newest solo album, and is entitled “Ballad On Third Avenue (Beautiful Losers)” for those wishing to download the track from iTunes. The music video was shot by photographer Flavia Molinari and edited by Roger Houdaille of the indie-rock band Ex Norwegian.

Please follow and like us:
error

TRANSCENDENCE MUSIC VIDEO — SOMEBODY KILLED THE DJ

We shot the video for the song “Somebody Killed the DJ” while riding scooters around Rome, Italy. I attended language school and took classes for six hours a day. One of my mates from school Stefan from Germany and I would ride around and film ourselves doing goofy stuff after class. The nights were mad revelries of drink and song in local bars, restaurants, and the occasional hotel room. Our only responsibility was to show up for class the next day. The video reflects those reckless months well without revealing anything too incriminating. This music video certainly has nothing to do with the idea behind the song itself. But rather was more a mere way to give it an image of some sort, to splatter paint upon it. For information about the song, refer to the music or songs section. The song’s message is actually quite powerful on its own. The video should be seen as a separate work from the song and its message.

Please follow and like us:
error