Silent Skies / Englund and Shankar discuss their marriage made in Heaven

11 December 2020

Silent Skies, the collaboration between Tom S. Englund and Vikram Shankar, release their album ‘Satellites’ today (11 December 2020).

As you can read about here, this is a marriage made in Heaven, as the two artists combine talents that sees Englund’s distinctive vocals and Shankar’s quicksilver fingers weave a tapestry of sound that, at times, is a delicate as gossamer but at others as dark and strong as a mighty tempest.

It was Shankar’s engrossingly sensitive piano interpretation of Evergrey’s ‘Distance’ on YouTube which first brought him to the attention of Englund.

Tom told us: “I heard an instant musicality coming from him. He can take one chord and add one melody note and immediately you understand he has this deep musical knowledge.”

The pair swapped a number of emails, which led to the idea of producing music via a sonic landscape rooted in a cinematic score.

Shankar says that Evergrey’s music was an influence on him. He told us: “They had a huge impact on the way my playing developed.

“Their musical and emotional language remains a critical component to the way I write and play music. Tom’s singing in particular has been very influential – my favourite way to play melodically is to emulate and channel the emotional impact of the human voice, and his has an impact unlike any other.

“I think part of the magic of Silent Skies is that we come from fairly different backgrounds and do not have identical musical personalities, but we have certain shared musical, aesthetic and emotional values that make the art we make together really click.

“There were countless times while working together where we both know exactly where we needed to go.”

The album includes their version of the Eurythmics’ 1983 hit ‘Here Comes The Rain Again’.

Englund told us: “That song influenced my writing. It speaks my language in terms of melody.

“So to bring that back into my life and also discover that it had a major part of my musical upbringing was great. And we made it our own. I’m really happy with the version.

For their own compositions, Englund said: “I think when you write from the heart and do not care about anything else but liking music, then what comes out comes out. We did not have any image set or felt that we wanted to present ourselves in a certain way.

“Recording on a grand piano you want to have the sound of wood snapping and crackling and the sound of feet being put down. I think it makes it really organic and honest.

“It makes you feel like you’re in the room. But then when you add all of these atmospheric elements, it becomes something I haven’t heard before.”

The album’s lyrics are often marked by self-reflection and contemplation. Englund said: “I was not in a place in my life where I wanted to be. They [the lyrics] reflect a transition period… it is all those thoughts fragmented and also well thought out ideas of what I wanted to do and needed to do. But also in retrospect of where I am now.”

One of the exciting parts is that this may not be the end of the partnership.

Englund tells us: “I think we have two more albums worth already.

“For me personally I feel Silent Skies shows a different side of myself. It is tilting the camera another way into another perspective.

“And I think this music fills a gap that is not there, that combination of score music with vocals.”

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