Q&A: Mike Puskas

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Today I’m interviewing a musician about his band’s new album. And while I love music, that doesn’t mean this blog is turning into a music magazine… so why this interview? Well, Transference is releasing a new album, The Navigators, and it will be accompanied by a book, written by Transference’s coordinator and main songwriter, Mike Puskas, who I got to ask a few questions. Mike describes the band as hearkening back to the days of Pink Floyd and Tangerine Dream, combining a visual and auditory experience. “We believe,” he says, “that with the current shift and lift that’s happening in the planet as we expand our consciousness and awareness of models that simply just don’t work any more, that we wanted some music to reflect those ideas, and to get people excited about the changing face of what we call the nature of entertainment and the nature of giving back to community and to the planet as a whole.”

“I can’t really put it much more simply than that, other than, we believe that the right kind of music can definitely help heal people, and we offer a a kind of a universal wisdom in the lyrics that we write and the melodies we create. Everything is like a tapestry, it sort of comes together and it works away from the norm, so we don’t really try to prescribe to the normal way of writing and producing music.” Rather than sticking to formulaic composition incorporating standard elements like an intro, chorus, bridge and outro, Transference tends to be “more about freeform expression, and allowing our performances to be somewhat surprising in the sense that we don’t want any two performances to be alike.” What Transference aims to do in its performances, is “create something that makes people feel good about themselves.”

The band has had quite a history, featuring an eclectic group of musicians over the years. Mike explains: “We’ve had many, many different players, and many different incarnations. The most successful to date, of course, which was, you know, we had Georgia Harris, a young nineteen-year-old female singer out front last year, her father Steven Harris on keyboards and vocals, a close friend and band cohort of mine, Julian Reid, on bass and vocals, and Loughlin Harrick, who is still with us today, on drums and percussion, and myself playing the guitars. We also had a male singer, Vladislav Badov, a Russian singer-songwriter that really help to kind of emulate the more, sort of glam rock style of some of the elements in the performance. But that’s all sort of changed, because people obviously are on different pathways, and they don’t necessarily prescribe to what I call universal truth, or a search for universal truth, and people will, you know, eventually get to where they need to go in the scheme of their own lives, at their own pace. So now we’re very pleased and proud from the touring perspective, from the touring incarnation, to welcome Mary Jennings, who is a seasoned female artist from Nashville, in America, and we also have Kata Ruzsik, who is a Hungarian singer-songwriter and performer who’s based in New York,” who will join the band full time after finishing her studies. Meanwhile, Steven Harris has “moved off the keyboards and onto bass proper, and able to concentrate more on vocals. […] Myself will continue to stay on guitars, and work the musical direction more or less, and the arrangement side of things, and Loughlin will be the percussionist and drummer. […] Another important element of our entourage is Ryan Kelly. Ryan was brought in to mix the record that we produced in Melbourne, when we basically recorded The Navigators, in January of 2013.” At the moment they’re still looking for “the right kind of crazy, you know, keyboard player, that has great vocal ability, that can fill that sort of Jon Lord, you know, Rick Wright type of role that we would like to see in the band. And then on the recording side of things, because we’re Melbourne-based, in Australia, the original incarnation have agreed to stay on board as the recording group. So there’s really two incarnations, there’s Transference the recording group, the band you hear on the album The Navigators, and the singles Zarathustra and Lady Isis, Viracocha, and then there’s the touring incarnation, which is kind of an evolving line-up at this stage. But that makes it exciting.”
The NavigatorsI then asked Mike where the inspiration comes from for his writing and music. He tells about his three decades of experience in the music industry, in which he travelled the world and met a lot of interesting people. “But what any good writer draws inspiration from is the things that happen around him or her.” He then goes on to talk about his firm belief in the ancient astronaut theory, and the message he wants to get across through this new album and the accompanying book, which is “to find and stimulate clarity. I believe we’ve lost sight of our clarity, and our clarity’s been diminished. It’s been sort of dumbed down, it’s been distracted, and we’ve forgotten how to feel, and how to care for each other. If we kind of bring clarity back into the core focus of our lives, we will condition memory. And memory is everything, because then we can remember the good, the bad, the ugly, the indifferent, and from that memory we build pure truth. And as truth-seekers on the planet, that’s really our mission in this life. And certainly to be guided by the teachings from the realm of the gods and the great ancients of the past, and the civilizations that they perpetuated on the earth, over millions of years, but to find our own truth, you know, as we pass through the ages, on our journey to enlightenment, and kind of like, what is that exactly? Well, when you break it right down, it’s really to be satisfied to be exactly who we are today. So while the stories are steeped in ancient tradition, and draw parallels from great philosophers and great storytellers, and talk about creator gods, and their influence in different parts of the world, and their contribution to man’s evolution, and the general kind of, you know, shifting through the ages that built mankind over time, what we’re really, really saying is that it’s time to wake up. And we’re trying to give that a modern spin, by entering into a psychedelic realm that allows people to go on a journey, you know, experience things from a visual perspective, experience things from an auditory perspective, get right into the very, very essence of who we are as people. And that’s what I believe this style of music can really, really do.”

The idea for having a book accompany the album, Mike says, “came from the label, came from Susanna Lepianka, who is the CEO and owner of DyNaMik Records, in Ireland.” (At this point I should probably take a moment to say thank you to Susanna for helping realize this interview!) “And it was through many, many different discussions we had on Skype, you know, to keep each other up to date, as to how we can essentially break through the old model and find a new pathway that makes what we’re doing more engaging to the audience. I think bands have lost their reasoning as to why they’re doing what they’re doing. They seem to still feel that it’s all about making a name, and achieving some level of stardom, and great public recognition, when really, music is a true language. And if you present your language with real truth, and with a pure essence of selfless intent, and remove the agenda of profit, then I believe you can touch a broad spectrum of people throughout the world, and from different creeds, and from different religions, and races, and whatever, because music is the one language that transcends all boundaries. So in order to understand that better, Susanna asked me to write down the very basis, the breakdown of each song, in written form, and where it came from, and what the lyrics interpret to as, so that I could tell a story that would be cohesive and somewhat identifiable, without becoming preachy or pompous.”

The book that comes with The Navigators, Mike goes on to say, “basically helps people to draw their own conclusions as to what it is they’re listening to. We ask people to respectfully and humbly go on the journey. If you can, don’t listen to this record on an iPad or an iPhone or in iTunes, or whatever, but rather, you know, take the CD, put it in a proper CD player, if you remember what that is, and put on a proper set of headphones. Lay back in a comfortable chair, remove the distractions from your life for a brief period, and go on the journey. […] And I guarantee that you’ll feel a general sense of real uplift once you complete the record. And if you’ve got the book there, to accompany you on that journey, then it makes the experience even more worthwhile, and even more enjoyable. So I’m really looking forward to getting feedback from the audience and from the purchasers.”

I also asked Mike what writers could learn from musicians and vice versa, two which he replies: “We’re essentially the same. We’re storytellers. And we base our stories on experience and factual position, or sometimes fiction, depending on what stimulates us as an individual, within the collective consciousness of community. So I think it’s important for musicians to be truth-seekers, and to speak their truth, and not necessarily feel that they have to be conditioned, and shackled into a certain way of thinking or presentation of their craft. I think it’s really important that we need to stand for what we truly believe in, and forget all the media conditioning, and forget all the distraction that happens of people living on their smartphones. […] Music helps us to reawaken the senses. As I said, it’s a language. So it’s essentially a conversation piece. It’s also a very, very visual form of self-expression. It allows people to chew into a very, very interesting vibrational energy that sound creates. And I believe that sound ultimately is a great tool for healing. You know, I also believe that sacred music, or music that has true substance, and comes from a place of real conscious purity, purity of heart, I believe it’s the first tool of self-correction. So we can use music as a way of transcending our mortal boundary, descending into different types of realms, of space and time and consciousness, that allows us to grow as people.”

Asked whether artists have a responsibility to educate people, to look after the world we live in, Mike is very clear: “Absolutely! I think we have a real obligation to be good role models and to be able to present our truth in a way that is palatable and identifiable.” In music, he observes “an obvious return to organic sounds, acoustic sounds, pure Americana, roots and folk music. And it’s starting to really explode across the world. And the reasoning here is that people are getting sick of quantised machine music, and they don’t want music that’s made by machines, and they’re looking for something that feels more organic and natural.” People have actually commented on Transference, saying “how fresh and new we really sound. When in reality, it’s just not fresh or new at all, it’s just that the conditioning by society has dumbed down the ears of the listener, and that he or she is not used to hearing such music today. And this is a sort of reawakening of the senses. And that is a true and exciting prospect in my book, and something to really, really work, and to nurture, and develop, you know, in what you’re doing. Now, as we are articulating specifically from a psychedelic perspective, which is a style of music, again, unheard by many for a long period of time, and so some are hearing it again as a reminder of what they knew and loved back in the past, whereas others are hearing it for the first time, and reacting to it accordingly. The positivity that one feels when something resonates within a discovery of real truth, is spiritually and emotionally uplifting. And this is the very core of our intent: to raise awareness by combining a palatable visual, an auditory expression in our music that empowers people and audiences to feel good about themselves and get on with life, knowing that they have their place, and that they’re doing a good job, and that things are going to be okay in the end.”

To conclude the interview, Mike reads an excerpt from the book about Echoes, a Pink Floyd song covered on The Navigators.

Echoes and our unique rendition of it is a tribute and homage to Pink Floyd and also echoes many of the sentiments presented in the Navigators story. For us it is the bridge and the pathway set down by the musicality of the Floyd that allows us to tell this incredible story. As the lyrics unwind we plainly hear that the song echoes events in the distant past that are now becoming all too clear once again as our evolution continues. Things that once were, things that we can look back on and things that we can refer to help us determine what takes place in our future and in the new age, the new and more healed version of our world. We also feel that there are some interesting correlations to the story of Moses in the lyric. But in this case and in context to the Navigators, perhaps led by Osiris and Isis, led by Viracocha, led by Kubla Khan, Led by Shiva and Mother Durga, led by Zarathustra and the list goes on. Remember the great books of historical evolution were only guides based on interpretation of what the people saw at the time the events took place and in different corners of the globe.

Overhead the albatross hangs motionless upon the air
And deep beneath the rolling waves
In labyrinths of coral caves
The echo of a distant time
Comes willowing across the sand
And everything is green and submarine

It points to when Moses led the Hebrew slaves out of bondage from Egypt and after wandering for 40 days in the desert they came upon and settled in Canaan (the promised land of milk and honey) But before that was a time when nature winged overhead and the ocean hid its secrets under deep water while time past on the earth and in a perfect garden (Eden) everything was at peace and in balance.

Strangers passing in the street
By chance two separate glances meet
And I am you and what I see is me
And do I take you by the hand
And lead you through the promised land
And help me understand the best I can

We now have come full circle and together we join as one in one level of expanded consciousness to help each other cross over to the new age of Aquarius and we the Lightworkers and Star Elders of the earth are there to help those only beginning their journey to better understand the shift and lift taking place in their lives. I find it very interesting in the opening lyric of the song

Overhead the albatross hangs motionless upon the air
And deep beneath the rolling waves
In labyrinths of coral caves

Here we seem to point towards a classic Christian adage of what will take place above the earth will also be mirrored on earth below. The term Anunnaki means for those who from the Heavens came. How incredibly in tune with the vibration of the planet in 1963 were David Gilmour and Richard Wright when it comes to the lyrics penned for Echoes. Just like the original our version comes in (4) equal parts to create a fusion of interesting soundscapes that lead the listener on a cathartic journey towards enlightenment. To conclude the storyboard is a journey and a journey through the ages led by the procession of planets, perceived in the Equinoxes by the people, directed through the solstices as to how to mark the calendar for propagation and all to better understand the solar system and the way our Universe rotates on its elliptical orbit around the procession of planets through the ages to sustain life.

And I am you and what I see is me

I find the lyric above to perhaps be the most telling of all that sums up what The Navigators are all about. Here we see the mirror, the transition of looking back at the past and through it to see the future. But in its purity the metaphor of the window we look through is an exact mirror of itself. We are all one in this mirror image and although we have been conditioned by media, shackled by the monetary system and the banking cartels, held ransom to technology and all the other distractions now imposed on us on our social networking networks, Echoes speaks of a time when we recognised each other in ourselves. A true embodiment of our emotional density and love for the environment and each other. It was a time when the window could be looked through both ways whereas today we tend to look through the window one way…. Outward! Never inward to ourselves, never admitting that blame is proportionate to those casting it and taking responsibility for our actions no matter how painful or humiliating it could be. No instead we choose to lie and it becomes second nature and so our truth is diminished and we are lost in the vortex of conformity searching for a way to rise above our misgivings and into the light. Instead we look outward to where the grass is greener, to where jealousy grows, to where envy flourishes and to where we covet one another’s better place in the world and this lowers our vibration to the point of becoming mindless zombies going with the flow and punching the clock every day because we are told that is the only way forward. So Echoes speaks of a time when there was greater peace, better understanding, clarity and above all balance. For in those days and for the day’s to come everyone is entitled to lead a clean, balanced and better life. Free of financial hardships, full of emotional security, our selfless actions will give back to the community and resonate at the highest level of the human condition and manifest in the opening of our “third eye” as we look deep within ourselves to find our true spiritual centre and the healing we try so desperately to reach every day.

cover03“And that, my friends, is what Transference is all about. Thank you.”

The book and album will be released soon, so keep an eye out for that!


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