Celebrate Knoxville Local Listens

Sept. 28, 2014. Celebrate Knoxville Local Listens spins Rory McMillan’s new album, Sutherland Ave. Hymns, available in the local section at The Disc Exchange, Chapman Highway, Knoxville.

Rory McMillan, Sutherland Ave. Hymns, 2014

Produced by Bobby Maze, Jamie & Erik Swanson, Gwen & Erin Schablik

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CK: What is the significance of Sutherland Avenue for you?

RM: I lived for a couple of years on Sutherland Ave. and was there during all of the writing and recording of this album. I moved to my current residence in South Knoxville this year before work was begun on post-production (mixing/mastering) by a studio which was located in Athens, Georgia. I had written and recorded many songs over the years at different homes, but it was at this tiny place on Sutherland that I began to really lock into a routine of creating music on a very regular and consistent basis. It didn’t hurt that there was hardly any room in the house for anything other than a bed and all of my instruments! It was also there at that house that I purchased my first synthesizer, (a microKORG) which has really been integral in defining the sound I’ve developed.

CK: Are you playing mandolin on “Sunday Afternoon” and is that a new instrument for you?

RM: I am playing ukulele on the songs “Sunday Afternoon” and “The Last Burning Embers”. I will forever be a guitarist at heart, but I do like to tinker sometimes with other string instruments besides guitar, including ukulele, banjo, and mandolin.

CK: What is your intended market for these songs? The reason I am asking is some of them sound like tracks for independent film, especially “Coffee’s Brewing,” which I like a lot.

RM: It would certainly be a dream come true if one day any of my music were to be used in film or television. I think the songs hopefully do a good job of each capturing their own moods and feelings. I don’t think it would be too much of a stretch to match the mood of a song with the mood of characters and storylines… This being said, I don’t think the “Soundtrack” genre is the only intended purpose for the music. I think anyone who appreciates New Age Music, Meditation Music, or Relaxation Music should hopefully find some joy in these songs. I guess I’d just be flattered to hear that someone put the album on while they cleaned their house, did their homework, went jogging, or as they prepared for bed. I see a therapist, and she actually plays the album on repeat in the waiting room of her office. I joke with her that maybe that’s the market I’m after- the whole “waiting room” scene!

CK: Why did you call the album “hymns,”?

RM: I guess the use of the word “Hymns” can be a little confusing. It is not a religious album by any means. I guess, for me, music comes from another place- I look at music as a miraculous gift that humankind has been blessed with, one that has many healing and soothing powers. I want my songs to be vehicles for an escape, little journeys that take the listener outside of himself or herself. Regardless of all of the differences between people on earth who could possibly hear the music, I want the music to be a universally accessible way that anyone could listen and feel uplifted and connected to another sort of realm. An atheist may take a more scientific approach to all of this, but hopefully they too would feel transported to some sort of enjoyable mental space as well.

CK: “Ghost Riding The Whip” has an old-school hip-hop feel to it. My favorite song on the album! What’s the story behind that?

RM: I am really glad to hear that you like “Ghost-Riding The Whip”. That is my roommate’s favorite one too. It has received mixed reactions, mostly because it is one of two songs on the album that sound so very different in style from the bulk of the songs- much more upbeat and contemporary sounding. It is definitely inspired by old-school hip-hop and funk. I grew up appreciating many kinds of music, including hip-hop. I even used to write and perform raps when I was a teenager. That song is the only one on the album that has any sort of vocals whatsoever- the beatboxing. I do not think I’ll ever be the next Bobby McFerrin, but it sure was fun recording those parts… Everything sort of fell together magically on that one!

For more information, visit www.thesweetsoundsofrory.com.