Out of Babylon By Ianna Day
I was born in Indiana in the Spring of 1971. My family was from Southeast Ohio. My mother's family played a lot of bluegrass. On special occasions, the family would all get together at my Grandma's house. They'd sing country, bluegrass, and gospel music. They played fiddles, guitars, bass, banjo, mandolin, and other stringed instruments. They were a fun-loving bunch, always laughing and joking. They had a song for every occasion. If one of us kids came in crying, they'd start up a sentimental, melodramatic, 'Make the World Go Away'. It was impossible to hang on to sadness for long with that bunch. On my dad's side of the family, a more somber mood prevailed, but there was music there, too, with my aunt playing piano, my dad and his brother playing guitar. They were more solitary. My mother played piano, although she did not play much music with her family. She had gotten away from it, too busy to practice, once she had children. She tried to practice when I was a child, but as soon as I could reach the keyboard, I would bang on the keyboard right along with her whenever she tried to play, so she taught me to play. I learned to read music before I learned to read words, and by the age of 5, was composing songs. My first song was a tribute to Charles Schulz's cartoon character 'Snoopy' whom I adored. My musical training in grade school focused mostly on classical from sheet music. Besides piano, I had a decent voice and was active in choir, taking part in solo and ensemble contests. When I was 12 or 13, I tried to get a band together with a couple friends. One played saxophone and the other played guitar. I made us a logo and wrote a lot of lyrics. We called ourselves the WKC - the White Knights of Christ. We were a Christian rock band. We couldn't find a drummer and never performed anywhere outside of my parent's house. We didn't have much time to evolve, because my family moved to Northern Wisconsin. We moved on Valentine's Day of my Freshman year of high school. As we drove north, the snow became deeper and the distance between my old friends (and antagonists) grew. The braces on my teeth were gone, and I had ditched my scoliosis brace in the chaos of the move, to my mother's dismay. I was looking forward to a chance at a new life, one in which I would be popular and sought after. The time and energy it took to make new friends and get to know my teachers was a distraction from music. When I finally did put together a three movement composition in my junior year, my jazz band teacher discouraged me, telling me he thought it was monotonous. In the tumultuous year that followed, I ran away from home. I lost the sheet music along the way and have never been able to recreate it; however, you can hear echoes of it in my current compositions along with the bluegrass roots of my family. I was caught by the West Side Chicago police when I ran away. Although I was dismayed at the time of having my plans derailed, I look back on their intervention as a life saver. I was returned to my parents who arranged for me to finish high school in 6 months so I could leave home to start college early. I went to college at St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota where I signed up for a computer science major and a music minor. It was my dream to combine computers and music. I am finally doing that, after all these years, although along the way, life happened. I transferred to the University of Minnesota, changed my major, got married, built a house, graduated, started my own business, got divorced, moved to Connecticut, bought my own house just outside of Woodstock, New York, fell in love with a musician and started making music, again. Not quite 17 years after I was caught in Chicago, I am now releasing my first CD. I hope to have many more adventurous journeys around the sun riding the big rock we all share. I just hope we can all learn to get along. One of my favorite things to do musically is marry styles. This to me illustrates how different styles can work together to make a new, interesting sound. I love to work a tune up to a frenzy of electronic effects, then drop them all away to reveal bluegrass roots. You can hear such transitions in Rock of Gamelan, Lonely Monster, and Lean Not. You will often hear Middle Eastern instruments and influenced mixed with the sound of bluegrass layered over a slammin' African beat. Maybe we should call this Electropopcangrass or popgrass for short. :-) If our instruments can be so complimentary, maybe we someday will learn to be, too. Thank you for your interest. Sincerely, Diana.