Transmitters of Energies; an interview with Tim Wheater
by Dan Liss
Tim Wheater was one of the founding members of the Eurythmics, one of the most influential popular bands of the 1980s, and he also studied with the legendary classical flute masters James Galway and Jean-Pierre Rampal. Recently, he released his 14th album, Heartland. His story is quite amazing, and we had an opportunity to speak with him as he was between trips to the U.S., Australia and Europe.
D.L. I notice you co-authored the lyrics to Heartland with Stuart Wilde. This doesn't seem typical of his work.
T.W. We met being on some of the same speakers tours together, and this is how we began. He takes his work quite seriously, and this is a different format for him, compared to some of his other writing. We shared a vision about what this album was to become. It is about peace, love, calling on men to lay down their swords and bring forth their gentle side.
D.L. The previous albums of yours I heard were strictly instrumental. This one makes prominent use of voices.
T.W. The opening chant instigated the whole album. From the beginning, I knew I wanted to use the colors of different voices on this album. Suddenly, everything I always wanted to say just poured out of me. All of the music was composed within five days.
D.L. Did you ever have any shyness about your own voice?
T.W. Yes. There is a strong tradition of Welsh male choirs from the coal miners in England, and I had heard them as a child; I never sang in one of those choirs, but they made a deep emotional impression on me. I feel that some of this later work surfaced from unconscious memory. But there is another story which leads to this album. In 1988, the water in Cornwall, where I live, became contaminated and I wasone of 500 people who became ill. As a result of nerve damage this illness caused, I was unable to play my instrument for two years. I had a numbness and paralysis around the mouth. During this time, I traveled to India and Australia to study indigenous cultures and forms of spiritual beliefs. During that period, I started to become aware of the power and importance of my own voice again. Modern medicine had been unable to help heal me so that I could play again. When I returned to England, Matthew Manning, a well known healer laid his hands on me, and I swear, from that day, my body started to heal.
D.L. What have you learned about the healing power of music?
T.W. It was in the mid 80s, just after I had finished recording A Calmer Panorama, that I had been invited to play at Manning's healing center. He heard me, and said that he wanted to work with me. Believe it or not, up until that point, I had not really been aware of what I had been doing; I had thought of it more from the entertainment value. After the response I received at the healing center, I began to research the subject. When some of my music began to be used in healing centers as a healing agent, I remember scratching my head, wondering what I had been creating.
D.L. Sound can effect our internal balance, the chemical balance of the body.
T.W. Many people have a repressed creativity around the use of their voice. I conduct workshops on this very subject, and within five minutes, I can transform any roomful of people into a harmonic choir; it's a very liberating, unifying experience. That unlocks something for people. The effect of the resonance on the body attunes them to the spirit within themselves. Another seminar I teach is about the art of listening. We need to learn to listen more to ourselves and the people around us. I modern life, we are bombarded with sound so we stop listening and filter sound out.
D.L. The liner notes on some of your albums indicate that the albums were recorded near ancient sacred sites in England.
T.W. I'm aware of the energies of the ancient places. This magic does exist; there are powerful sacred places in the world. Nature is a very important part of the inspiration from these places, and these energies could inspire or upset, depending on how receptive we are at different moments in out life.I feel as though I'm some sort of transmitter of these energies, of what has happened here before, in both the conscious and subconscious awareness.
D.L.You have a lot of collaborators on this album. And you've worked with such a range of people from rock to classical.
T.W. I'm inspired by people's mastery, and they were all masters. What they share in common is their desire to be excellent ad bring something out from the soul. Many of the people on Heartland were people I always wanted to work with. And each seemed inspired to give it their best; they seemed to be spurred on by the fact that the album has a positive theme. This is the most important recording I've ever made in my life. It is everything I've always wanted to do. It has positive, magical, elements. The divine light was really shining during this time.
by Dan Liss