Celticsprite’s Blog


Alan Stivell : (TRANSCRIPT) Facebook Interview #16: Breton/Celtic Folk-Rock legend Alan Stivell (May 30, 2010)
June 8, 2010, 3:11 pm
Filed under: Alan Stivell

The present interview is a Transcript from Roch Parisien’s Rocon Communications’s Notes as posted on Facebook by reviewer Roch Parisien from Rocon Communications . All rights reserved by the author and posted under his kind permission.

I repost Roch’s text chatting, live and interactive, for his edition of “The Facebook Interviews”, with ALAN STIVELL ,the legendary Breton/Celtic/Folk-Rock harpist, multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter, composer, and band leader, on which I am glad to have taken part of it too.

To follow Roch’s music consulting, writing, and broadcasting projects, including the Galaxie Folk/Roots Channel, sign up at the Rocon Communications page.

“Interview’s Transcription”

Alan’s new album “Emerald” marks the 40th (emerald) Anniversary of his debut 1970 release “Reflets”. He was the key catalyst in reviving the music of Brittany (a former independent Celtic kingdom and duchy long since incorporated into northwest France). Claims have been made that his albums from the early ’70s — especially the recording of his legendary 1972 concert at the Olympia in Paris — launched a thousand European performers and bands, leading the way to a Breton cultural revolution.

Alan is a restless musical soul, and beyond his deep, traditional Celtic roots and promotion of traditional Breton harp playing, has delved over the years into new age atmospherics, contemporary electronica and, of course, the folk-rock fusion that first made his name. “Emerald” touches on all of these, almost serving as a 70-minute synopsis of his career, yet without ever losing the cohesiveness of a distinct album statement. The Breton language intermingles with French and English, sometimes within the same song. Combining electronic and acoustic bagpipes with his latest electric and acoustic harp prototypes in original and eclectic arrangements, the album captures the mystery and strangeness of Breton, Irish, Welsh, and Scottish landscapes that are both ageless and timeless.

Roch Parisien’s Rocon Communications
Ok, we’re ready to start! Welcome everyone who is attending, and welcome Alan!
Alan, it’s been 40 years since you’re first album “Reflets” (“Reflections”)…four decades…to borrow an old expression, that must somewhat “blow your mind!” An anniversary like that must make you somewhat “reflective” about the past, and all the ground you’ve covered?
Sunday at 3:05pm ·

Alan Stivell
Hello! Yes 40 years…for some, a lifetime of work already!
Sunday at 3:07pm ·

Roch Parisien’s Rocon Communications
Your latest album is called “Emerald”…that is the 40th Anniversary gem, but is this the only level of meaning for the album title? Was it also meant to reflect “The Emerald Isle”? Or are there other meanings for you?
Sunday at 3:09pm ·

Alan Stivell
I would say rather “the Emerald Archipelago”, Keltica swimming so much in the green and the blue-green. It is also the colour of Ecology that I have supported for long. Also a personal need, having lived much in a town as a young boy and young man, a relaxing colour.
Sunday at 3:11pm ·

Roch Parisien’s Rocon Communications
“Brittany’s (Ar bleizi mor)”, the lead track from “Emerald”, combines English, French and Breton lyrics. This is not the first time you have done this…
And Marie José Lebreton also asks:
I had the chance couple of months ago to see you perform in my hometown near Paris and it was a magic evening that I will never forget. Thanks again for that! I just want to know how you got the idea to write Brittany in three languages, French, Breton and English and why?
Sunday at 3:12pm ·

Alan Stivell
I have often enough used this combination, combining Breton and the International languages in the same song. It is the same attitude that I have with music: break the borders. In this way, I express myself in my country’s language, giving to other people a taste of the sound and colours of Breton. And many people can also directly follow the general meaning of the song. As you know, I don’t do it systematically, as I don’t like systems of any kind!
Sunday at 3:13pm ·

Roch Parisien’s Rocon Communications
In a recent newsletter talking of “Emerald”, I stated that you were a “restless musical soul”…that beyond your deep, traditional Celtic roots and promotion of traditional Breton harp playing, you have delved over the years into new age atmospherics, contemporary electronica, world music, and, of course, the folk-rock fusion that first made your name. Is “restless” the right word? It seems difficult for you to ever “sit still” musically…you regularly change your band and configurations both for recording and performance…
Sunday at 3:16pm ·

Alan Stivell
Yes it is true. I am too curious to do any differently. And I would feel rather lazy, otherwise…
Sunday at 3:17pm ·

Roch Parisien’s Rocon Communications
I also stated that “Emerald” touches on many of these components from your past, almost serving as a 70-minute synopsis of your career, yet without ever losing the cohesiveness of a distinct album statement. Fair statement?
Sunday at 3:18pm ·

Alan Stivell
For such an anniversary album, I have tried to do 3 main things: remember the days of the early 70s, remember my musical life from there until now, and use some new, contemporary techniques, sounds and ideas.
Sunday at 3:22pm ·

Roch Parisien’s Rocon Communications
Sten Charbonneau asks:
You have always been the first to mix new musical genres into Breton music — folk, rock, pop, rap, symphony, new age…are there any new, yet untried musical fusions that you see yourself attempting in the future?
Sunday at 3:23pm ·

Alan Stivell
I want to experiment, for example, with the use of good midi vocals and improve the midi harp…but don’t worry, I will also go back to pure solo harp at some point!
Sunday at 3:25pm ·

Roch Parisien’s Rocon Communications
Alan, traditional vs. contemporary: in the early years, you had albums such as “Renaissance of the Celtic Harp” that renewed interest in traditional playing, then you would also go on these much “wilder” folk-rock fusions. Did members of the trad community ever sit you down and try to argue, “why are you distorting our traditional music with this rock’n’roll?”
Sunday at 3:26pm ·

Alan Stivell
In Brittany, almost anyone who accused me of this, were people who came to Breton music through my success. Most of the people from the Trad music movement were supportive — good friends who knew that I was doing this with a sincere spirit and applying a consistent background and knowledge. Many were not as “modern” in outlook as I was, but were inclined to be accepting because I was me (!) even if everything in my work was not totally their cup of tea.
Sunday at 3:31pm ·

Roch Parisien’s Rocon Communications
David Chambers asks:
My mother got me “Renaissance of the Celtic Harp” for my birthday more than 35 years ago. To this day, it remains my favorite album. It has been one of the most personal, precious gifts I can give: I gave a copy to my wife when we first met. While I have enjoyed all your other work, over the years — traditional, international, innovative — I have longed for more ancient music. Do you have any plans to record another album with ancient music like “Renaissance of the Celtic Harp”?
Sunday at 3:32pm ·

Alan Stivell
I intend that one of the last albums I ever record will be a pure solo acoustic harp album. But I believe that there are many artists who are able to play ancient music. For my personal kind of fusion music, there are not so many…
Sunday at 3:34pm ·

Roch Parisien’s Rocon Communications
Stephen C. Johnson asks:
So many CDs! Which ones to date feature “pure solo harp”?
Sunday at 3:36pm ·

Alan Stivell
My first…and perhaps the last (or about last) one in my life!
The more traditional one also include E Langonned or Telenn Geltiek.
Sunday at 3:37pm ·

Roch Parisien’s Rocon Communications
Sophie Le Métais asks:
You started playing the harp at a very young age. Who were your models, or idols at that time?
Sunday at 3:36pm ·

Alan Stivell
When I began at 9, there was Mary O’Hara, two years after Roisin Ni Shé Ni Tuama. There were very few Celtic harpists in that time (early 50s).
Sunday at 3:42pm ·

Roch Parisien’s Rocon Communications
Your lifelong bond with the Breton/Celtic harp: you began with a vintage traditional instrument, and have been extending the technical boundaries of the harp ever since. First, for the benefit of North American newcomers, just a brief description of what distinguishes the Breton harp from other such instruments. Then, take us through some of these technical innovations you have brought to the instrument over the years.
Sunday at 3:37pm ·

Alan Stivell
I don’t know if the term “vintage trad instrument” is correct, as it was the first Breton harp to be built since The Middle Ages. It was more a reconstruction (in 1952-53) of an actual medieval instrument. It is clearly a Celtic harp, but designed by my father with remembrance of different types of harps from the various Celtic countries. He did not copy any specific ancient Breton model, even if we are sure that different forms of Celtic harps were in use in Brittany. If my father’s first harp was made in an original shape, it was nothing very different from most of the Celtic nylon-strung lever harps we find a bit everywhere nowadays. It was ten years later, that my father made a first bardic metal-strung harp, a type of harp I used then mainly through three decades.

Myself, I have always loved my father harps, but I also dreamt of electric harps since the late 50s (!). When my father died, I designed totally new harps, electro-acoustic and electric harps. Most being solid-body, with bass and guitar keys, with dampers, etc. The first electric harp was made for me in the late 70s, then the first (partly) midi harp in 1987. A new one is being made as we speak!
Sunday at 3:38pm ·

Roch Parisien’s Rocon Communications
What technical innovations do you see for the harp in the future?
Sunday at 3:42pm ·

Alan Stivell
As I mentioned, I have a new harp under construction which will be totally midi. But the main innovation is to be very light and easy to carry, and I hope the best amplified harp in the World…
Sunday at 3:47pm ·

Roch Parisien’s Rocon Communications
Eliseo Mauas Pinto asks:
Greetings from Argentina! Alan, you have always been my spiritual master and it was because of you that I realized that the celtic harp should be “My Instrument”, as also happened to other friends of mine like Sylvia Woods and Loreena McKennitt. As a Galician descendant I have undertaken the same goal like my friend Emilio Cao, the spread of Galician original and trad. tunes on the harp. Have you ever considered including or recording some Galician dance tunes in your repertoire? Thank you for keeping the Celtic spirit alive!
Sunday at 3:49pm ·

Alan Stivell
Muchos gracias! I have already played a Galician dance with Carlos Nunez in “A Galician in Brittany”…
Sunday at 3:51pm ·

Roch Parisien’s Rocon Communications
Sophie Le Métais asks:
You have travelled broad and far. I recall the fact that you have been to Mexico. What are the strongest memories you took home with you? Are you hopeful for the future of the Mexican harps?
Sunday at 3:52pm ·

Alan Stivell
Seven years later, Mexico is still very warm in my memory. The incredible experiment to play in the center of a Totonak city just discovered some years before, to play for American Indians as well as hispanics, everybody dancing from the first bar (not pub bar…). I have been very interested in the Chiapas metal strung harps, but have not had the chance to try one yet.
Sunday at 3:57pm ·

Roch Parisien’s Rocon Communications
Alan, for the past month, “Emerald” has been the #1 International album on the Galaxie FolkRoots Channel, a national digital music service here in Canada. I believe it’s been quite a while since you’ve had a “hit” album in Canada or North America for that matter, so congratulations…
Sunday at 3:57pm ·

Alan Stivell
Thanks very much to all the people there for encouraging me!
Sunday at 4:00pm ·

Roch Parisien’s Rocon Communications
I believe you’ve seen my newsletters where I’ve profiled you music in the past, that talk of your early ’70s albums as being important cultural “cross-over” albums for youth at the time, even here in North America. Not only introducing Breton music traditions, but a door to folk music in general for a generation of kids growing up with rock and pop. The light bulb going on in our heads that these did not have to be mutually exclusive…
Sunday at 4:02pm ·

Alan Stivell
Yes I think that this is important not only for music but for understanding between people. As I said in a song “No future if we don’t try to”. This can begin by music. Many people should support crossover for a World where it would be possible to live…
Sunday at 4:08pm ·

Roch Parisien’s Rocon Communications
I’ve written about progressive radio stations at the time like CHOM-FM in Montreal who would play your music, and other folk-rock artists like Fairport Convention, Pentangle, and Canada’s Garolou, but mix this all in with hard rock, progressive rock, pop, jazz-fusion, singer-songwriters. Was it your sense that this was happening widely over the Western World? I feel a bit sad for generations today where the music all seems so segmented, with wide access via the Internet, but with maybe fewer opportunities for cross-pollination…
Sunday at 4:09pm ·

Alan Stivell
I really like it when radio stations show interest in many different styles of music, as I do myself. The question is wider than simply musical. As I said somewhere already in a song: “we will not live long on Earth if we are not open to others”. Be open to other cultures, try to understand them, consider each other as equal, do not accept any kind of racism. All this is expressed by the idea of crossover music. The media in general should consider their responsibility for the future when they just cover a very little part of the music.
Sunday at 4:14pm ·

Roch Parisien’s Rocon Communications
What was it about “Live – A L’Olympia” in particular that made it the right album at the right time, selling over 2 million copies?
Sunday at 4:16pm ·

Alan Stivell
I think that this album appealed to people in a convergence of aspects: it had at the same time an underground aspect (anti-“middle of the road”) and a popular aspect (original but easy to listen to, highly rhythmic)…totally fresh and new (especially in France and Brittany). Most of the Breton people went crazy for it within only a couple of weeks. It represented a shift from cultural shame to cultural pride. But, even more surprising was its success among the French audience. Before this, most French very strongly rejected even the idea of a distinct Breton music.
Sunday at 4:17pm ·

Roch Parisien’s Rocon Communications
So what aspect do you think succeeded in converting them?
Sunday at 4:22pm ·

Alan Stivell
One third of the people listening to the radio broadcast that evening heard me and discovered that the music I was playing was enjoyable and the complete opposite of what they expected of a Breton artist.
Sunday at 4:25pm ·

Roch Parisien’s Rocon Communications
Claims have been made that this now legendary recording of your 1972 concert at the Olympia in Paris launched a thousand European performers and bands, and led the way to a Breton cultural revolution. Do you feel this overstates reality somewhat, as “legends” sometimes do, or do you accept this as fact?
Sunday at 4:26pm ·

Alan Stivell
I will not say that music and singing on this album and these early 70s albums were perfect, but I can say that the audience reaction was so hot that day and in the days following that it has proved to be, thanks to them, an historical moment with much influence on the Breton life (musical but also psychological). Elsewhere, I believe that it had some influence, but not more than many other artists in the world.
Sunday at 4:28pm ·

Roch Parisien’s Rocon Communications
Looking internally within Brittany itself…did your early albums make their impact mostly on their own musical merit, or was the aspect of boosting confidence and self-esteem equally important? Because your albums became popular internationally, did this create a belief that local music traditions might have larger value and could make wider inroads?
Sunday at 4:28pm ·
Alan Stivell
It is true that the majority of the Breton people was rejecting their own culture and identity in January 1972, but in March 1972, they were proud of being Breton, proud of their Culture! Yes, the success in the temple of Popular music in Paris was a real psychological choc, confirmed later by my success especially in Britain, Ireland and…Canada.
Sunday at 4:30pm ·

Roch Parisien’s Rocon Communications
Sten Charbonneau asks:
What advice would you give to young musicians today, playing in Bagadoù, Festoù-noz bands or pop groups, in order to link them back to Breton tradition, which many of them desperately ignore?
Sunday at 4:31pm ·

Alan Stivell
I think that many musicians do very good things n very complementary. My position is to give much importance to the originality of the Breton and Celtic swing, the anticipations, the special intervals. It is strange that even now, many musicians in Brittany know much about the principles of let’s say Blues, Jazz, etc, but are unable to say what is specifically Breton (and Celtic, almost impossible)
Sunday at 4:40pm ·

Roch Parisien’s Rocon Communications
Alan, you don’t strike me as an artist who gets caught up in his own press and publicity. Do you ever find it a burden to wear these many mantles that are thrust upon you? Resurrector of the Celtic harp; defender of Breton culture; a leading forerunner of Folk-Rock fusion, etc.? Have you, or do you, ever wish you could be just the guy down the pub playing music with friends, without all the cultural labels and baggage?
Sunday at 4:42pm ·

Alan Stivell
Sometime I feel that playing music is more important than anything else. But I am perhaps a case study: It’s possible I never would have taken the stage (professionally) if not to promote my country and the sister countries.
Sunday at 4:43pm ·

Roch Parisien’s Rocon Communications
How important to your early sound and success was the twin guitarist attack of Gabriel Yacoub and Dan Ar Bras?
At the same time, Christophe Le Pabic asks:
Any chance to see you working again with Dan Ar Bras in the future?
Sunday at 4:45pm ·

Alan Stivell
The personality and artistry of Gabriel, Dan, Ren Werneer, Michel Santangelli was very lucky for me and helped very much. I thank them again. It is difficult to say if the same breakout would have happened if my backing band had been Irish or Scottish…perhaps the same, perhaps not. Again, my meeting with Dan Ar Braz was especially important. I must add that sometimes, I was disappointed that they did not accompany me further along my path. I have played with Dan occasionally in the recent past. It could happen again in the future. I hope so.
Sunday at 4:46pm ·

Roch Parisien’s Rocon Communications
Lets’ do some more visitor questions!
Ray Price asks:
Alan, you are a real ‘Citizen of the World.’ Where do you call home now, Breizh, Paris or where?
Sunday at 4:47pm ·

Alan Stivell
Breizh was my home, Breizh is my home, Breizh will be my home, but the world is our home…
Sunday at 4:49pm ·

Roch Parisien’s Rocon Communications
Gilles Wunsch asks:
Alan, I would like to know the reason you play electronic pipes on “Emerald”…from the MacCrimmons and piobaireachd to a “reedless set of pipes”, is that defensible? 😉
Sunday at 4:49pm ·

Alan Stivell
I use a pure traditional set of pipes on the album, and I also use also an electronic one. Just like I use the purest sound of my father’s Celtic harp and use also distortions. As with human beings and their interactions, I like to demonstrate that oppositions can co-exist! What I do on electronic pipes cannot be done on acoustic pipes (and the reverse). For example, it is not possible for two musicians to improvise at the same time as I can do by myself using two different sounds.
Sunday at 4:54pm ·

Roch Parisien’s Rocon Communications
Didier Peron comments:
Alan, you may remember me, I’m the drummer of Brieg Guerveno’s band. I don’t know if you feel that you are the “master” for a lot of musicians in Britanny. We all dream to meet you (that was done for me at Youank 2009). You have made a turn for the music in our région. There is the blues, the jazz, others and rock celtic that you started. Do you feel that?
Sunday at 4:54pm ·

Alan Stivell
I remember we met at Yaouank. Thanks…
Sunday at 4:57pm ·

Roch Parisien’s Rocon Communications
On a lighter note, Sophie Le Métais asks:
Alan, what colour was your 2CV? What is your bedtime book of the moment? And what is your favourite Breton football team? (Or do you prefer rugby? Gouren??)
Sunday at 4:57pm ·

Alan Stivell
Funny question I want to answer though: My 2CV was Emerald green!
My bedtime book is now “Ma première femme” by Yann Queffelec.
My favourite team is the Breton Football team, who plays once each two or 3 years.
Sunday at 4:58pm ·

Roch Parisien’s Rocon Communications
Marie José Lebreton asks:
I would like to know what he thinks about the Eurovision Song Contest? Last year Norway wan with a song that was very traditional folk and the singer was playing violin. Does he think that it was a good choice?
Sunday at 4:59pm ·

Alan Stivell
I don’t follow the Eurovision. But it’s good when a country dares to present something a little original, and not just “common denominator” commercial!
Sunday at 5:02pm ·

Roch Parisien’s Rocon Communications
Carlo Asciutti asks:
Hi Alan, What’s the most lyrical moment you remember of your collaboration with Baged Bleimor. After all you were only a teenager at the time and getting your first experience with a band.
Sunday at 5:03pm ·

Alan Stivell
First, when I came back with some of the pipers, very proud from the College of Piping in Scotland playing in the streets of Kemper; afterwards, of course, when we were declared Champions (not as modest as expected…)
Sunday at 5:05pm ·

Roch Parisien’s Rocon Communications
Let’s briefly discuss a couple of your “anthems”…
“Tri Martolod”, one of the most beautiful traditional Breton songs, always made me (and many other English language fans) wish we understood the Breton language! I was pleased to find, once I looked up a translation, that there was a Canadian reference!
Sunday at 5:08pm ·

Alan Stivell
Yes, the three sailors are going to fish around New Found Land…
Sunday at 5:09pm ·

Roch Parisien’s Rocon Communications
“Suite Sudarmoricaine,” an anthem defending use of the Breton language, strikes me as your most direct political statement via music, as well as of your hardest edged folk-rockers…
Sunday at 5:10pm ·

Alan Stivell
You are speaking of the version on Back 2 Breizh.
It is true that I also love hard rock. Perhaps I am not able to play it as much I would like!
Sunday at 5:11pm ·

Roch Parisien’s Rocon Communications
Sophie Le Métais asks:
I think I would really like to see how you would integrate the harp in a hard rock project! I suppose a midi harp would offer a lot of possibilities!! Do you believe this midi harp to be more versatile than the now more common electro harp? Is this midi harp developed with Camac harps?

Alan Stivell
Not my newest one. I made the first experiments in 1987. My last harp was made by Camac from my design. The new harp by somebody else. Of course, the midi opens up other fields of experimentation.
Sunday at 5:50pm ·

Roch Parisien’s Rocon Communications
Alan, what do you consider to be some your most personal favorite or most meaningful compositions or albums? Or do you tend to be most consumed by, and interested in, your latest project at any given time?
Sunday at 5:12pm ·

Alan Stivell
It is too difficult to say. Each means something special, within a particular timeframe. Each could have been more realized, given more time.
Sunday at 5:13pm ·

Roch Parisien’s Rocon Communications
The ’80s seemed a more muted decade for you? Fewer recordings than any other period…and fewer compositions, perhaps, that most would consider among your classics…?
Sunday at 5:14pm ·

Alan Stivell
Actually, when I recorded albums from 1976 to 1991, I knew that I was making albums which would be more difficult to promote. But I like albums such as Legend, Harpes du Nouvel Age and The Mist of Avalon as much (or as little?) as the more “classic” ones.
Sunday at 5:15pm ·

Roch Parisien’s Rocon Communications
The ’90s seemed to quite a resurgence. Many recordings. Huge diversity, range and experimentation (without losing sight of the roots). Many collaborations. In general, you seemed to regain your position as a cultural touchstone..?
Sunday at 5:16pm ·

Alan Stivell
It is true that I felt the early 90s infuse me with new breath. And the feeling I got from the audience, younger and warmer, as early as 1992, helped me to believe in a “New Celtic Wave”.
Sunday at 5:18pm ·

Roch Parisien’s Rocon Communications
What have been some of your favorite collaborations over the years, and does that help to re-energize you?
Sunday at 5:18pm ·

Alan Stivell
Kate Bush, Youssou N’Dour, Paddy Molonay, Jim Kerr, etc.
Yes these give me energy!
Sunday at 5:20pm ·

Roch Parisien’s Rocon Communications
The fan Forum on the Alan-Stivell.com web site allows for an unprecedented level of access and interaction with your followers. Have you always found it important to interact with your audience as much as possible?
Sunday at 5:20pm ·

Alan Stivell
This is very important to me. I need it. I love to speak with the people who are so kind to take some interest in my music. At times, I must admit I could lack time for making music (!)
Sunday at 5:22pm ·

Roch Parisien’s Rocon Communications
What’s the latest news with the remastering program for your catalogue that began some years ago…have you taken this as far as it can go in terms of releases to which you own the rights?
Sunday at 5:23pm ·

Alan Stivell
I intend to release all the albums, other than Olympia and Renaissance, to which I do not own the rights.
Sunday at 5:32pm ·

Roch Parisien’s Rocon Communications
Do you still feel the need to practice and rehearse as much as you did before, or can you get by with less? Are there any of the many instruments you play that you believe you should be practicing more to stay at the top level?

Alan Stivell
I have had to give priority to other things that practising. It is certainly a pity. But everybody must make their choices. I consider the right feeling, and taking a very original approach and interpretation to be more important than any form of virtuosity.
Sunday at 5:34pm ·

Roch Parisien’s Rocon Communications
Where will you be touring Emerald over the summer?

Alan Stivell
5 concerts and festivals in Brittany, 2 in Eastern France, 1 in Spain, 1 in Italy, and some …holidays!
[See http://www.alan-stivell.com for more full details]
Sunday at 5:39pm ·

Roch Parisien’s Rocon Communications
Do you already have a vision for your next album?

Alan Stivell
It’s a bit early to speak of it but it should be….a Live Paris Olympia 2012! (and maybe even Dublin and Montreal “Olympias”…)
Sunday at 5:41pm ·

Roch Parisien’s Rocon Communications
Alan, that is amazing news! We can’t wait…
Last question: Where is the best place online for the faithful to go to exchange currency for Alan Stivell recordings?

Alan Stivell
I must say that I don’t know the precise answer! Virtual titles and albums can be found through Harmonia Mundi, for CD albums, better to ask on my forum where very clever “fans” know all this better than me…
Sunday at 5:45pm ·

Roch Parisien’s Rocon Communications
Stephen C. Johnson asks:
Alan, in your response to my earlier question you touched on the sobering fact that there will come a day when you have produced a last CD. This is not something that we want to hear, or that we want to ever see come to pass, however, “this too shall pass” is a spiritual saying that that applies equally to everything and all of us. What is your hope for the future of this world after you have left this plane? …and where will you be, and what will be doing?!?

Alan Stivell
I hope to be still part of the Universal spirit, as I will express again one day in a live recording of Celtic Symphony / Tir nanOg that I project for the end of the decade.
Sunday at 5:53pm ·

Roch Parisien’s Rocon Communications
Thank you Alan for being so generous with your time, and thanks to everyone who lurked and participated! I’ve set up a message thread at the top of the page where you can leave feedback if you attended or read the interview. Good evening to all!

And thanks to Valérie Mauge from Futur Acoustic for her assistance in making this interview possible!
Sunday at 5:56pm ·

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Alan Stivell : The Inner Keltia Interview Part Three
February 13, 2010, 4:01 am
Filed under: Alan Stivell

Alan Stivell : The Inner Keltia Interview (dated Nov ’83)

J. – Do you think it’s a case of the grass always looks greener on the other side of the fence etc.? That people always prefer something that’s more exotic than what’s at home? They fail to realise the worth in their own Culture?

A. – Yes, but also we were educated to feel ashamed of our own Culture, and to imitate another, this conditioning is at work in France. Even back to the Roman times, the French were ashamed to be Gauls, and they always tried to claim to be, andimitate, the Romans; and this inferiority complex has been behind French history. Of course the French have been very much against the Bretons , because the Bretons have been reminding them that they were a Keltic people.

J. – A probletn we face in Scotland is that a lot of our early history is written from a Classical viewpoint and some people feel we need to re-write a true account of history from our Keltic viewpoint. Do you think that is important, or do you think that’s too much in the past?

A. – I think it is important for us to recover everything from the past, everything we may have lost. I think most everyday Scots or Bretons are still more influenced by Homer and other Classical authors than by the Tuatha De Danann for example. I think people nowadays who want to be more free within the Keltic Nations have to re-educate themselves as to all the things that have been imposed on them in all the different fields.

J. – Do you feel that if you try to put over that Keltic viewpoint of your own history and especially if you do it in connection with Spirituality and Religion? That there is a definite filter system in T.V. , press and radio? Does that obtain in Brittany as well?

A. – It is not only any kind of alternative view, it is any kind of Breton Culture which is rejected because of French Control. Although we have a little more freedom these days , I was banned for about two years on all major T.V. or radio channels in Brittany after songs on the ‘Dublin’ album which were more political.

J. – So do you think things are getting worse in Brittany or do you think they are improving slowly?

A. – Improving slowly, but we are afraid that now we have a very tenuous hold. Five years ago we came very close to succeeding, in setting people on fire, in giving something very strong to this Breton Culture with all the young people learning the language etc. But now in ten years the situation has changed, for although we have a little more freedom, our Breton language has gone down, it is now only a language of second status, as Gaelic in Scotland or Eire.

J. – What about using the médium of fijjns positively to promote our Keltic Art and Imagination?

A. – We have an opportunity to go forward now if instead of the superficial mix of S.F. , Romance and Keltic themes on certain films, we could create films employing real Keltic spirituality, if they could portray a lot deeper beliefs. To find someone to make such a film, to create such a film is one of my dreams. For example, on my new album just released in Brittany (Terre des Vivants), it features a theme from Keltic Mythology on the 2nd side, the music of which I would like to be the basis for a film. I’m sure that it would be a very strong film, because the descriptions we find of the Keltic Otherworlds are more fantastic than anything we find in films at present.

Even’Excalibur’only took the usual images of the Middle Ages, but if we were to take the images straight from the Mythology of Tir na Nog for example, it would be a very powerful image for everybody, not just Keltic People, but for everybody in the Western World and even for some people in the Eastern World. I think these symbolical ways of description are important, because I think I myself have gone into this way of experiencing the Keltic Universe. Not by being ‘educated’ in it, but by feeling my way into it personally, I have constructed a parallel World as compared to how the ancient Kelts described it.



Alan Stivell : The Inner Keltia Interview Part Two
February 13, 2010, 2:54 am
Filed under: Alan Stivell

The Inner Keltia Interview Part 2 (dated Nov ’83)

J. – Do you believe then that Keltic Mythology, Keltic Spirituality, has a relevance for young people today?

A. – Relevant, yes, very much so. In Brittany recently we had perhaps one of the biggest revolutions in Europe for more than 50/5 of the young people to go to Breton dances, music etc. and now it is going into even deeper things.

J. – So do you think that a Philosophy and Spirituality actually gives a strength to a Culture?

A. – I think it is not only a question of strength, Keltic Spirituality will help us shake off the Catholic Church, which has repressed the people for a very long time. Although there are positive elements in Christianity, there is a lot in the Church we should reject. People need to be more personally conscious. I think the evils in the world are bringing more people to think about their own inner life.

EDWARD (O’Donnelly) (staff member)- What we’ve been speaking about is evident in Scotland, many people are moved for example by the music of Run Rig, but if you were to try to speak to them they would be incredibly suspicious about the cultural or spiritual foundation for that emotion, We have a long way to go before we can influence the vast majority of the people with the spirituality of the Keltic countries.

A. – I think it is good to let people try and feel what is in the music, there are sometimes many things in the music.

J. – You said you thought there was value in Keltic Spirituality. If we are going to reject aspects of the Christian Church, have you anything coherent to replace that by?

A. – I would like a kind of Druidism; at present this does not quite exist in Brittany yet, although there are people trying to create it. I think soon it will fuse, between the different forras of Druidism in Brittany, and when it has fused right, I will join with it.

J. – I think a lot of the Druidical Organisations in Scotland, England and Wales are too old fashioned. They deal too much with old texts and not enough with modern life.

A. – Yes, and at the same time they are influenced by aristocratic and bourgois ideáis, although the ancient Kelts had their Classes, origin-ally they had a much better arrangement of things. But those people today who wish an aristocratic society focus on that form of Druidism which was class-based. I think that the Kelts now can go back to the attitude where everyone in a society is potentially equal, or at least show consideration for each other.

J. – So it’s almost Keltic Spirituality for the People at the grass roots level?

A. – Yes, yes. We should not take the last few centuries of the ancient Keltic Civilization as a kind of model. I think we should re-evaluate it for today, in the last stages there was an Indo-European Patriarchy which was a bad evolution. I think we should try and get back to a more balanced approach.

E. – Do you think there is enough within the remnants of the Keltic Tradition to put a coherent system together, or do we have to look more generally to the Western Esoteric Tradition?

A. – I think there are different fields of influence we can draw from. Firstly Keltic, then Indo-European, other Nations, and finally Cosmic. Classical music is not close to Keltic as it has its ethnic roots in central Europe, similarly with Rock ‘n’ Roll, blending them with Keltic is good as experiments, but not as the mainstream of Keltic music. We should stay with our Music and accept influences from many other forms of music.

J. – The overall picture you are giving there is that you should retain a centredness. Almost a rootedness in your own tradition and work and accept things from outside.

A. – Yes, I think we should accept, and digest influences from elsp-where. For all through history cultures have been exchanging, it in the only way for them to grow, to evolve.

J. – I think to assimilate what you take in (to transform it) throtiRh your own Culture. I know you have done several tours of the States in these last few years. How important or useful do you think peopl in America are in helping Keltic Culture to survive?

A. – I think in a big way the Americans will help our Keltic Culture to survive for now we are weak in Europe, our young people look to the American Music Scene, whilst if they only knew that many of the Americans are looking to our Music for inspiration, they are very fond of Keltic themes. We are educated to turn to things outside, especially we were educated to follow things from Paris, as we are now from New York. I think sometime we must turn back to our own.



Alan Stivell : The Inner Keltia Interview – Part One
February 13, 2010, 2:17 am
Filed under: Alan Stivell
I had the chance to get an approach to this magnificent magazine through Wendy Newton from Green Linnet Records who kindly send me some volumes as a present by the 80’s. Thus I got acquainted of the outstanding work of J.A.Johnston (also known by his druidic name Kaledon Naddair ) who was it’s editor and reviewer.Besides several articles each volume contained amazing interviews like this one published on Inner Keltia 5 issued on Nov ’83 , and I thought worthy to post. If you wish to purchase more of Kaledon books and works please feel free to visit the official website of Keltia Publications.For someone who has done more for Keltic Muaic than anyone else in the world Alan Stivell remains a very warm and amiable gentleman, with not the slightest trace of any ego-mania problems. After patiently waiting whilst I attempted (in vain) to eviot some gremlins from a borrowed tape recorder, the interview got under way in Alan’s dressingroom (after his Edinburgh Gig and whilst Rían Rig were power-ing away on stage above us).
For some deep dialogue read on:-JOHN – Some people felt that on your album “Terre des Vivants” there were some apocalyptic overtones. Is this reflected in Brittany at present? Do you think that there will be some very dramatic changes in Brittany, or will they be very slow and gradual?

ALAN – Yes, I think we are in a very dramatic period, I think the people in Brittany will have to give out a very strong cry, a shout for survival, if we are going to pass through this era. We were disparing one or two years ago, we felt we had to put as much energy as possible into the struggle, without knowing the result. I felt that although it was not the end of Keltic Civilization it was a time for ‘shouting’ (affirming your right to be). And now we must ‘explode’, to pass through into the New Age.

J. – Do yon think it’s a case of either we will pour enough energy into Keltic Culture and take it through that transition point or, if ve don’t put enough energy into it, it will die?

A. – Whilst committin’g ourselves, I think we must choose to save those things which bind us together, I mean those Keltic traits that we hold in common, that make us stronger. I think we need to take our distinctiveness, and show it to the other Nations of the World. We need to search out what is in common to the Keltic Peoples and push it through, on to the next century.

J. – Obviously Society is changing becoming more modern, more technological. Do you think our Keltic Culture will have to transform itself at the same time, to become more modern, more sophisticated, to pass through to the “New Age”?

A. – The Keltic Peoples haven’t spoken for a long while, but now in this crucial time we are beginning to speak. I think that is good. We have experienced the worst of the old technology, and now there is a new technology developing, a non-polluting technology connected with the Sun, Wind and Waves. I think the Keltic Soul is more with this type of technology. I think the Kelts have something to say in this field.

J. – Some people would say that linking up Keltic Nations is an ideological dream. Do you think it is actually feasable to link them as independent Nations?

A. – I don’t see any other way of surviving as Kelts, if we haven’t the right to our own Political Federation. I think it is Eutopic, but possible.

J. – In attempting to set this up some people place a lot of emphasis on the political approach, others on language, others on Art, Music and Poetry. What is your personal view?

A. – What I consider is that people are choosing their way too much, some political militants think that music is only something to bring people to Political meetings. What I think is that all of these things should be worked in common, there should be more conciousness between how we use political action and more intemporal inner philosophy.

J. – I think this is something quite noticeable in the Breton people, which is sadly lacking in the Scottish People, and that is, you personally and other people in Brittany seem to be able to blend a Spirituality with a practical grass roots politics.

A, – I think this is very new, even in Brittany people are not very involved with Spiritual things, maybe they were too much under the French rationalistic view. I think, now with the new generation, a more Spiritual view is growing.