CEV's Q & A
Renťe Blanche from
CEV: People who run long term websites or radio shows about ambient music must really love what they do to keep something like that running for many years. When did you discover the joys of ambient/new age music and who were some of the artists that facilitated that discovery?
RB: Ambient/new age music entered my life when I decided I wanted to give radio announcing a shot. It was a community radio station in El Paso and the format was Jazz Pop with some new age music mixed in. David Arkenstone and Yanni are my first loves in the genre. Hearts of Space was part of the programming but Iíd never really listened to it until I heard it while jogging which was never really my thing, but listening to HOS helped me feel calm and pace my breathing. I was intrigued. And so began my unexpected love affair with the genre. Iíve said many times over the years that had someone in my youth told me radio was in my future, I would have rolled my eyes at them in total disbelief. Had I been told it would be ambient/new age music, I would have doubled over in hysterical laughter.
CEV: Were you looking for something new or a new genre to listen to at the time that you discovered ambient?
RB: I wasnít looking for new music to listen to but I wasnít opposed to new musical offerings. Thereís music Iím not particularly fond of, but itís been a part of my life for as long as I can remember because of my love of the dance.
CEV: What is it about ambient/new age music that draws you to it?
RB: The energy, vibration, the twists and turns that strike my curiosity, the way it moves my spirit and moves me emotionally when I sit with it and am mindful. Itís fun too, especially the electronic side of the house because the notes are manipulated in extraordinary ways which always peaks my interest.
CEV: So how did you and radio become acquainted in terms of you being a radio show host?
CEV: Was Night Tide's your first radio show? If not what came before that?
RB: Night Tides is actually the second show Iíve hosted. My first time as a radio show host happened with my first commercial radio gig. K-LITE/KLTO 94.7 FM was a light adult contemporary station, and I was invited to produce a show that combined new age music with light adult contemporary tracks. I named it ďEl Paso After Dark.Ē I donít know how well the show did and I donít recall how long it lasted because the radio station was taken off the air from having run out of money.
CEV: Do you create your own playlists for the show?
RB: Yes, yes and yes! Night Tides is my baby, my labor of love from start to finish.
CEV: When you are choosing songs for each show what are you looking for in the music that ends up being played? Are there themes that run throughout a program or a mood that you are trying to achieve?
RB: Over the years, Iíve found programming around a theme difficult. So I program to evoke a mood, create an atmosphere and form a listening experience the audience will be drawn to. I also want listeners to be as curious as I am about whatís going to happen from one song to the next in terms of tempo, style and flow. By generating curiosity, Iím hoping to engage the audience in a way theyíd rather keep the music in the forefront as opposed to using it mostly as background music.
CEV: When do you find the time to be able to listen to even a small portion of the many submissions that I'm sure you receive each week?
RB: I make the time to do it and I listen to every song unless itís obvious from the outset that itís not a Night Tides fit or itís a song that doesnít hit my Ďsweet spotíÖ that place inside of me that I canít find words to describe how the melody or non-melody feels to me.
CEV: What's the hardest part about choosing the music that will be on your show? When you are choosing songs for a program do you ever have any really hard choices about two equally good pieces of music but you don't have enough time left to include both?
Donít get me wrong, I recognize the importance of earning a living which is a conversation for a different forum. However, when money is the driving force behind creativity, thereís a risk the focus will shift from quality to quantity.
Over the years, Iíve noticed the majority of the musicians played on Night Tides release CDs sparingly. Thereís probably a bazillion reasons for that, but when there is a new release, it feels as if much was done to make it happen. With that said, Iím all for leaving the genre in the smaller niche market because the musicians/composers who identify with it seem to be doing so by choice. This should not preclude them from being paid their worth, a discussion for another time. I just hope my reply makes sense!
CEV: I know you went to the last New Age Music awards in NOLA. Tell me about what it is like to be rubbing elbows with those who create the music that you play? What was most memorable about the time you spent there? And who did you most look forward to meeting that you hadn't met before?
RB: Oh my goodness! Iíve attended this event every year since Daryl Portier and Ben Dugas made it live in 2013. Add to that, I was invited to attend and emcee concerts at the World Flute Society Convention (WFSC) in Eau Claire, Wisconsin! You talk about a kid in a candy store experience! When I get to NOLA, itís about reconnecting with the folks Iíve met over the years and meeting everybody else Iíve not met.
CEV: How long has Night Tides been on the air now?
RB: I donít know the exact number of years Night Tides has been on the air and I donít know if there is anyone at KCUR who remembers the start date. If I had to guess, itís probably been upwards of 50 years and itís always been dedicated to ambient/new age music programming. I was contacted by the first host not long ago and for some reason I didnít remember to ask him the start date. Anyway, he contacted me to tell me he was pleased with the way Iím handling the show. That meant a lot to me.
CEV: What are you most proud about when it comes to your radio show?
RB: The way the show is performed and presented is what I feel proud of, how Iím able to make the mixes work to tell a story. At least, thatís my intention, to tell a long four hour story that my voice peeks into every half hour. Iíve received enough feedback over the years about how it feels to listen to Night Tides. Iíd say Iím getting the job done.
CEV: As a final question how do you see your role in ambient/new age music and what would you like to accomplish with Night Tides in the coming years?
RB: I view my role as that of messenger and as one of the torchbearers for the genre. What Iíd like to accomplish in the coming years is continued exposure for Night Tides on a global level. When I started, Night Tides was just another public radio program. What I want is for it to be viewed as one of the major players of the genre.
CEV: Well we are certainly glad to have your voice out there bringing us such great music week after week. Wishing you much success and many more years of bringing great ambient music to the attention of all your listeners out there. Thanks for taking time out to talk to us here at CEV Music.