Music Interview

Rhea's Obsession

by Jett Black

Out of Canada many excellent blends of ambient, electronic, and gothic-rock acts have been evolving and recording for years. Since my visit to Toronto in late August 1998 I have encountered many wonderful Canadian acts. All of which have honestly given incredibly stunning recordings and performances. Rhea's Obseesion burns deeply through my heart and soul with a passion and intensity unmatched by all others. Mixing blends of eastern mysticism, Celtic style, and modern ambient-electronic melodies with Jim Field's talented guitar, and the exceptional vocal stylings of Sue Hutton, Rhea's Obsession (rhea@better.net) creates a penetrating collection of melodic and darkly romantic modern rock ballads which consistently leave modern music lovers both appreciative and begging for more. In speaking with Sue about recent and developing Rhea's Obsession recordings, the following curious questions were asked and answered:

What is Bravo! and how did Rhea's Obsession initially become involved with Bravo!?

BRAVO is a television channel (new-style-arts-television is their little phrase) which is a sister station to our Canadian version of MTV (Called MUCH MUSIC). Gabreil hired us to do the soundtrack to his film TABULAE ANATOMACEA SEX, which BRAVO purchased, and BRAVO then hired us on various gigs after that.

Please tell us all about your recent on stage collaborative performance with choreographer Gabreil Speigelshrift and dancer Nichole Larochelle.

Well, Gabreil is a Toronto choreographer who's mind-set is very much like ours. Cross-pollinating, non-genre-specific creative art. People refer to him as someone who does "ballet in combat boots." He's covered in lovely Celtic knotwork tattoos and dances beautifully ornate pieces. He's in several dance films aired on BRAVO. We collaborated with him on the project which was Jim's and my first piece together, so in a way he's kind of responsible for starting our band. In the piece we did with him in Toronto last week it was basically his work as choreographer and he told us generally what he was looking for musically, but the fun thing was he choreographed our parts on stage around the dancers while we were performing the music. It was great to step outside the normal "rock and roll stage" thing, and to perform in a nice theatre with people seated and REALLY paying attention.

What are a few characteristics about Gabreil which make him an especially unique and interesting individual?

I honestly don't think he's from Earth, and I always tell him that...if you met him you'd see what I mean.

How does Bravo! plan to incorporate the talents of Rhea's Obsession next?

Well, we just finished another piece for BRAVO last week. It was the soundtrack to the INSIDE OUT film festival trailer. INSIDE OUT is the international gay-lesbian film fest. Jim and I are also extras in it, so it was pretty fun all round. Being on both sides of the camera in this one. They call us up with various things, so who knows what's next.

When do you expect Rhea's Obsession to release the next album entitled: BETWEEN EARTH AND SKY?

Tune in to the web site for further info and the exact release date. We PRAY it will be released by August 1999. But in this biz, there are so many variables you just never know.

College Music Journal (CMJ) featured Rhea's Obsession along with several other very popular Darkwave bands in the March issue of CMJ NEW MUSIC MONTHLY MAGAZINE. Tell us how you believe that the "10 darkwave gems of the nineties" article represents the Darkwave bands featured by that issue.

Well, Bryan Reesman, who wrote the article, has interviewed all of us "goth" bands (I put goth in quotes, only cuz we're a bit more of a cross genre band. Lots of folks can't believe it when they come to our shows and see all the goths.) quite frequently. We first connected with him a couple of years ago when he wrote a piece on us prior to a show in Boston, Mass. He definately stays in touch with everyone, and is one of the most prominent journalists getting the "goth" scene into international press regularly. He comes to our shows and is a very supportive fan, as well as a good guy. I think he tries as hard as he can to follow what's going on. I'm sure there are lots of bands he didn't mention that are deserving of being in there too. We felt okay with what was said. It was more the perspective of the industry than the bands in that article. I think we were the only band that actually had a quote included, the rest of the quotes were from promoters and label reps. Then again, the article was in an industry rag, so it was an industry perspective.

How has CMJ had an effect upon where music by Rhea's Obsession receives recognition?

Well, we had some management types there (our CMJ performance in November), and some label types, both independent and major. Put it this way, we're happy to be putting out our own album this next time out. Between Earth and Sky is our baby. We have had a number of industry-oriented calls since the article came out. They seem to think that mag is the gospel. But we're putting this one out ourselves, though with the distribution help of Projekt and Metropolis.

Music by Rhea's Obsession has appeared where on television during the past several months?

La Femme Nikita, Psi Factor, Yamaha ads, Straight Up (CBC show), BRAVO films, etc.

Why and, perhaps more importantly, how has Rhea's Obsession become involved in this visual media aspect of marketing the band's music to the public?

Maybe 'cuz we live in a pretty big film center and are making atmospheric music, and they all talk about us. We never went after it ourselves. Believe it or not, every gig we've got someone just got our number and called us up and hired us.

How critical are you of your own progression, both artistically and spiritually, through the medium that is Rhea's Obsession?

I suppose we're trying NOT to be critical, just to make music we like and be happy while doing it. The music world is very critical as it is; we're TRYING to just make music. Spiritually, it's important for us to remember the INTENT of what we're doing. Once you lose that you're dead in the water.

What concerns do you have for music enthusiasts who may experience Rhea's Obsession first hand?

That they're open to the mood it creates.

How does your interpretation of Rhea's Obsession inter-relate with your personal and spiritual convictions?

I like to bring ritual into the music. To have a presence larger than the band and the audience there. A powerful and healing presence.

What other exposures to music and experience has influenced what we hear from Rhea's Obsession?

We're open to absolutely everything: punk rock, macedonian folk music, Sepultura (who I'm in love with right now), ambient music, David Sylvian, classical Indian music - my time spent in India and Jim's background touring with punk bands. (He's toured as bass player in support acts for Henry Rollins, Fugazi, No Means No, etc.)

How will you mark growth and outward development through Rhea's Obsession during the next season?

Well, we seem to continue getting lots of film gigs. We now have a full studio for film work here at home and there's already some gigs on the table. Plus, the release of our (new) album is pretty exciting.

When will you be touring next and where is your next tour set to begin?

Stay tuned to the web site for that info. We have to wait on our booking agent.

As the new millennium dawns, how will Rhea's Obsession be spending the remaining months of the old millennium?

Recording, recording, recording! And hopefully lying around in an inner tube somewhere for a couple of days.

How do you mark *completion* and transition from one project or phase of development in Rhea's Obsession to the next?

Well, funny thing is, everything seems so connected. Like our songs, it all flows into the next with little percussion breaks and pathways branching off into new territories. We're just exploring.

In what ways can music enthusiasts everywhere contact Rhea's Obsession ?

Visit our web site, and drop us a line:
Rhea's Obsession - http://www.spiderrecords.com/rheas