Interview - ANYONE
March 4th, 2022
Translated from Portuguese
Riz Story has been busy composing for different artists and even movie soundtracks. Therefore, his project Anyone has been somewhat on standby . Now, IN HUMANITY comes at a time troubled by the existence of a virus that is referred to throughout his developed concept , although it is far from the current pandemic. Basically, it's more of a soundtrack, but for a film that doesn't exist yet. Check it all out with the highly praised Riz Story.
Hi, Riz! First of all, thanks for your availability. Despite your long career, the releases are not abundant. Why is this?
ANYONE wasn’t my focus for years and years. I was always creating music, but much of it was for film soundtracks and producing/writing for other artists. For example, my debut film “A Winter Rose” was a music driven film and I wrote 24 songs for it. Those songs were greatly varied in genre ranging from Rap to motion picture ballads, alternative, country, new age, pop etc. and so it was a very interesting project to me because it forced me to greatly expand my musical vocabulary. So, I’ve been very active musically and I’ve been writing and producing for people ranging from Paula Abdul to scoring feature films. But the ANYONE music was there, mostly fully completed, I just didn’t want to release it independently in todays market. I’d been fine tuning the music from these last 2 ANYONE albums for years, as well as creating new material. Also, I’ve been deeply involved with ocean conservation and trying to save the world’s disappearing coral reefs. This has taken up most of my time and remains my primary focus. I couldn't care less about fame, fortune or society in general. I live to make music, swim with dolphins and be alone... I love to be alone, in the ocean, far away from humanity.
To this new album, In Humanity, you took the option of playing all the instruments. Why?
It just came about quite naturally. I’ve always enjoyed exploring new instruments, they are all so wonderfully different and alluring to me. If I lived long enough I would eventually learn every last instrument. I go through phases with them. There was a time when I played my cello 5 hours a day, then gradually I’d drift to another instrument. Right now I’m immersed in the drums and electronica and improvising at the piano. Also, I enjoy being alone.
And Herbie Hancock said that he never seen this before – one musician playing all instruments with such virtuosity. What a compliment!
A good friend of mine has known Herbie for decades and had been a personal assistant to him. Unbeknownst to me she sent him “The Pale Blue Dot”. Out of the blue I received a phone call from them. I was quite surprised and elated that the legendary Herbie Hancock was on the phone as I am a true fan, especially his Avant Garde period after his time with Miles Davis. First he wanted to verify that I had actually played all the instruments. Then he said that he’d never heard one guy play all the instruments at the level he was hearing. Needless to say, I was astonished and surprised, especially in light of the company he keeps. I really couldn’t believe it. But then he really broke it down like only he could, being such a master. First he analyzed the complex time signatures and pointed out the use of random hanging 16th notes to stagger the time, which he’d never heard done before. I told him that I called it ‘fractional time’ and frankly, I was blown away at his incredible ear and the fact that he’d never heard it done. Then he commented on each instrument separately. It was actually a key moment in my life, such validation coming from such an authoritative figure. It also inspired me to push myself further and I immediately created an 18-minute piece that is extremely ambitious for the next ANYONE album.
To the vocal duties, you get Jon Davison, with whom you already worked on this project. How did things work between both of you in this new release?
Jon Davison and I worked together for the first time in the early 90’s in the very first incarnation of what would become ANYONE. He and I were drawn together by our deep love of the most artistic music. YES was my favorite band, and had always been and he was into anything eclectic. I still recall the phone call in the late 90’s I think it was, when he told me that YES had become his favorite band and I laughed and said, SEE, I told you! Next thing I know he’s singing in a YES tribute band. Imagine our shock when he becomes the lead singer! An interesting story about the “In Humanity” album is that Jon Anderson and I had begun collaborating and it appeared for a time that the album would feature him and I as a new entity. To my great sadness he pulled out when he realized that I was working with Jon Davison, which is very understandable given the tension between the 2 camps. It’s heartbreaking on a purely artistic level because the small amount we created together was truly magical. For example, his vocals on the song “In Humanity” were so inspired. I felt it was his best work in years, harkening back to his work on “Awaken” and other masterworks. It’s sad to me that no one will ever hear it.
The album is a very long opus – is it a conceptual album? If yes, what is the main theme of the album?
Yes, it is a conceptual album. It is a film soundtrack, written specifically for that purpose. The film/novel is set in the future when mankind has rendered the earth uninhabitable, forcing a small group of elites to search outer space for a new home. There are many themes contained in the film and novel but the main theme is collapse. And all of it brought about by humanity. So many things are in full collapse at the moment, the environment, democracy, morality etc. And there’s so much needless suffering that humanity forces on itself. Is it an evolutionary glitch? Is this tendency to destroy everything mankind touches a phase or an emergent characteristic? These are the themes that ‘In Humanity’ explores. I do feel that this project is almost like my final assessment of humanity, at the total result of our legacy as a species. I regret that my final characterization of our species brings to mind scientific terms such as parasite, virus, cancer. And yet somehow, I still feel as if it’s worth saving.
What did you have in mind when you were writing these songs?
I wrote this album with the film in mind. The moods had to reflect the film I see in my mind’s eye, and on the pages of the screenplay. While some of the songs may have originally been sparked by improvisations or undeveloped themes, they were all brought to maturity and completion with a specific scene from the film in mind. Once I completed the screenplay I proceeded to complete the music that I planned to use to support the film. The album was completed quite a while ago but I never planned to release it until the film came out. So this music is truly a motion picture soundtrack album made with the themes of the film as the central purpose.
Has the pandemic something to do with it?
People ask me if the film and album are inspired by the pandemic. The answer is ‘no’. Perhaps this is because of my frequent reference to ‘the virus’. The main character of the film is a the most brilliant scientist of all time, and he concludes that mankind is akin to a virus, a theme that was first popularized in the film ‘The Matrix’. The film touches on pandemics but it wasn’t inspired by covid.
How was the recording process under all those weird circumstances?
Like everyone else on the planet I found myself holed up awaiting the end of the pandemic. Naturally I gravitated toward my recording studio and passed endless days working on ‘In Humanity’. But the pandemic encompassed only the final stages of the album, most of the material was quite developed long before covid.
Were all these songs composed in recent years, or did they come throughout the time of your career?
I’d been developing this music for years, the earliest songs dating back 10 years. So, the circumstances of the recording have varied greatly and changed as I worked on the music. This music has stood the test of time to a large degree, because it’s material that developed gradually and was refined over such a large span of time. In fact, the song ‘Don’t Swallow Tomorrow’ originally appeared on the live album ‘Live Acid’ which was release in 1999.
Thanks a lot, Riz. Do you want to send any messages to your fans?
Thanks to all of you who have taken the time to let me know that you’re enjoying the music. I was quite reluctant to release this music but your feedback has assured me that I did the right thing.