Vieo Abiungo is the stunning masterwork of composer William Ryan Fritch, featuring dazzling instrumentals that are sure to enrapture the senses of all adventurous musical types. There is a sense of magic and intrigue to be found spinning throughout Vieo Abiungo second magnum opus entitled And The World Is Still Yawning. Now available from Lost Tribe Sound, the ironic aspect about …Yawning is how absolutely captivating and eye opening the compositions truly are. From the dark and dangerous sounds of the title cut all the way through the fascinating journey of sound, And The World Is Still Yawning is an inspired work of wondrous artistry. Here is an interview we conducted with William Ryan Fritch to explore the big wide world of Vieo Abiungo. Let the magic begin…
What was the name of the very first song or composition you wrote, how old were you, and what were you inspired by?
I have always been a notoriously impulsive songwriter/composer, and have usually relied on the recording process to refine and shape the rhythms and motifs that pop into my head constantly. From the time I was about thirteen I began recording any cool sound I could make, no matter how poorly thought out. However, I’d say the first project I really worked on in an obsessive way (when I was about 16) was an album of songs and instrumental pieces based loosely around Increase Mather (a puritan community leader that wrote scathing protests against the witch trials and violence against natives and warned of what such steps would set a precedence for in the colonies). It was terribly cliche in so many ways and if I was to hear my 16 year old voice it would make me crumple, but still it was the first time I started to put sounds together in a conceptually collaged, orchestrated way that felt like I had made something honest and personal, and not directly derivative of external influences.
How long has Vieo Abiungo been in existence and what made you decide to create the entity? Where did you get the name Vieo Abiungo and what does it mean?
I had started Vieo Abiungo as a collaborative project between myself and a great West African percussionist I had met in my first year of college named James Coleman. Until then I had pretty much just played and recorded by my lonesome. I had grown up in the sticks (on an orange grove in rural Central Florida) and it was nearly impossible to find musicians to collaborate or record with, so this was the first time I had felt that intoxicating rush of making music with another human being and it was a deep satisfying catharsis for me to share what had become the most significant thing in my life with someone else. We had this rhythmic lock together and sense of crescendo that made anything seem possible. We started making music for an African Dance Company in Orlando that his mother ran, and when we needed to create a name for the program I came up with the name Vieo Abiungo which means in Latin “to weave together and let go.” The name was intended to sum up what I loved most about recording and making music: the intertwining of sounds (that all have their own history and significance separate of you) into an artifact and then releasing your hold on it in hopes that it can serve someone else.
However, not long after we had really started playing out together, James had to move to New York and the project came to an abrupt halt . It wasn’t until several years later that Ryan Keane (The Label Owner at Lost Tribe Sound) approached me after hearing some early recordings and asked if I’d want to release a record through them as Vieo Abiungo. Once I knew that he was actually serious about releasing something, I recorded the first album, Blood Memory, in about two weeks in the tiny house I was living in in Los Angeles.
Are you currently in any other bands or projects outside of Vieo Abiungo?
I am in several projects and always feel rejuvenated any time I get to collaborate, especially producing or recording someone’s album as it uses a completely separate part of my brain. I consider film scoring and releasing records under my own name to be my primary focus, but for the last few years one of the most significant projects was working with the Sole and The Skyrider Band. They are some of my closest friends from way back and have been really important, influential people in my life both as an artist and otherwise. I also recently worked with the Skyrider band and singer-songwriter Jim Wurster on this apocalyptic country western album called Hired Hand that will be released later this Fall.
I have worked as a producer and collaborator with my dear friend Annie Lewandowski (Powerdove). Her musicianship is pretty magical, and we have lots of plans for collaborating together again very soon. Thankfully, over the last few years I’ve gotten to know and love many inspiring musicians and artists that I am constantly working with on little side hustles and creative exploits….it is a refreshing change from the mostly insular creative process I have making my own records.
Any strange responses or spelling when it comes to the name Vieo Abiungo?
Video Bingo is probably the most outlandish. Vimeo abungo is another frustrating one. I don’t know, it is a fairly ridiculous name for a project, and I am not too bothered by any bastardizations of it. I am kind of asking for it.
Only a truly brave and confident musician would name their innovative work And The World Is Still Yawning. Is there any story or concept behind the title?
I didn’t really think of calling it anything else, so I think lack of self-consciousness is more at work than bravery!. When I am working on song titles and album titles I think about it like creating a film score in reverse. I try to verbalize a sublimated story line or interaction that I perceive in a composition/album that will hopefully attune the listener to something that I feel is important to convey, but hopefully be abstract enough in naming that it isn’t too heavy handed.
And The World is Still Yawning was created during a time when I was working on several documentaries that dealt with ecological disasters and the grievous oversights of complex societies. It was easy to feel angry and ineffectual (the two most often come hand in hand….) when hearing the exploits of others with dissimilar values and interests, especially when the ill-effects of their actions are so clearly detrimental to a greater purpose or population. Working on these films, and researching these sad, complicated tragedies made the devastation seem so palpable and all-consuming when I was in my studio. However, when I would go outside, there was not even a hiccup in the flow of daily life. The title originally came from thinking of the world “yawning” in a two fold way: one that people are largely unresponsive and unaffected by such man made disasters and another viewing the natural world as an ancient, sleeping giant just waking up from our disturbances. The title is not necessarily meant to assume such a pessimistic stance though, I don’t want to make music that is only digging in the mire of negativity, thinking that that is the only place to unearth something profound. On this album I tried to make and entitle compositions that could evoke the ugliness that is revealed from our being creatures of want, celebrate the power and volatility of the natural world, and hold onto the hope that human kind can thrive being in humble symbiosis to it’s environment.
What is a Drowsy Salted Morning?
The song is meant to convey the sweaty, eye crusted realization that you have just woken up from a dream, and feeling the bittersweet dizziness of waking up in a world that is unwieldy and not influenced by your sensory experiences.
Who did the fantastic artwork for the new album and how much input did you have on it?
Ryan Keane is an amazing artist, label owner, critical listener and friend. He did the art and had only thematic verbal input from me. I told him that I wanted something that had cataclysmic events and powerful forces of nature as subtle textural backdrops for some very localized and beautifully oblivious imagery. What he came up with blew my mind. He is ridiculously talented.
Have you ever performed live or plan to do so in the future? If so, what were the performances like?
I have performed live and definitely plan on playing out more in the future under the right circumstances. I love recording, and that is where I feel most at home, but I definitely get a thrill and rush from performing and want to explore more elegant ways of representing my music in a live setting. I most recently have been performing with a viola de gamba, large bass drum, various percussion and an mpc for various resonant percussion sounds. I’ve run a gamut of different setups; some using a bunch of looping mechanisms and a menagerie of instruments….some just with a classical guitar and some small percussive knick knacks. I think I do better with a simpler setup.
How does the new album compare to your previous effort Blood Memory?
This album was the next step for me in finding recording techniques that hopefully mask that I am just one musician overdubbing himself in his warehouse (now an old chicken barn). The first record had lots of enthusiasm, energy, and I felt like I had a lot of ground to cover, whereas with this record I felt only an urge to dig deeply in a small circumference.
How did your cooperation with Lost Tribe Sound come about?
Ryan came to see one of my shows in Phoenix, Arizona and we really enjoyed each other’s company. He reached out to me shortly thereafter and encouraged me to release something through him. We have a very good creative chemistry, that is mostly fueled by both of us being quite relentless and obsessive about what we do.
How many movies have you scored and are any of those recordings available?
To date, I have done about 40 films. most of them being documentaries. Some of the films have done very well in some really great festivals (Cannes, SXSW, United Nations), but at this point none of my scores are available as soundtracks. However, when my website is launched at the beginning of October there will be a bunch of film music streaming and clips from various films available.
What band or artist would someone be very surprised to find in your collection of music?
Well if someone looked through my LPs they’d be quite surprised by the variety of 70’s soft rock. Neil Diamond and John Denver are definitely some artists that I don’t go around bragging that I listen to.
What do you think when you hear various remixes of your work? Are there any that really stand out to you?
Having done remixes for other artists, I know how time expensive they can be, so I am flattered that any artist would take on the task of remixing one of my tracks. I tend to really enjoy remixes that accentuate subtly underpinned elements of my tracks and put them in the limelight. One that really stand out to me are ManyFingers remix of my track Fugue, Little Shapes’ (Luigi Marino) remix for the song Treading Water was really beautiful and well composed (http://soundcloud.com/losttribesound/vieo-abiungo-treading-water-1), and Upward Arrows remix of Insincerity was particularly haunting.
What’s up next for Vieo Abiungo?
I have a few film projects I am in the middle of at the moment, but in about a month and a half Lost Tribe Sound is doing a limited release of a pretty exciting collaboration project between Film maker Pete Monro and myself entitled “The Thunder May Have Ruined The Moment.” This is definitely some of the best music I have ever made, and Pete’s film work is really spellbinding. As for the next step for this Vieo Abiungo project, I really want to incorporate more vocals into the sound of this project and I have been writing lot’s of compositions for choral voices and percussion. I am hungry to incorporate more interesting rhythms, more space and more surprises.
Any final words of wisdom?
Try and build a greater place through love.
(Interview by Kenneth Morton)
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