Warhorse is my alias and also the ‘band name’ I use for music I make at home as a hobby. My home music differs from my real CDs in style and subject matter and is more a private outlet, while my released CDs, under my real name, are available for the general public to purchase.
I started making music at home back in Ottawa in July 1989 using my brother’s Fostex 4-track analogue mixer at his suggestion. My early stuff was rather primitive (often instrumentals or raps) and I improved over the years making more elaborate songs and concept albums. All totalled I’ve recorded over 40 hours of music at home.
Originally I was using the alias Asterix – I actually thought the symbol * was called that, didn’t realise it’s an asterisk. I did quite a bit for a couple years until my brother took his equipment away with him when he moved to Edmonton in summer 1991. I spent part of the summer of 1992 in Edmonton and recorded music using his gear again in what I refer to as the ‘Edmonton Sessions’. Finally in the summer of 1993, my brother gave me the 4-track and thus Asterix was rebooted using my own gear (I refer to this as the “Second Incarnation” of Asterix). I made good use of it over the next 3 years until it broke while in the middle of work on a “side project” called Alter-Ego in the summer of 1996. Finally in late summer of 1997 I got myself a new Fostex machine and was able to complete that project.
By fall 1996 I starting using the alias Warhorse (not just for music) which is derived from the meanings of my first and middle names. I figured it was about time to use a name that didn’t share itself with a French comic book, though I would later learn that a band called Warhorse already existed in the early 70s. Anyway, the music I made from 1997 onward was under this new name. The name change coincided with the newer Fostex 4-track recorder I started to record with. Following the completion of the Alter-Ego project, I generated six albums of Warhorse material over the next year prior to my departure for Japan in late summer 1998. I did one more Warhorse project when I returned to Ottawa for the summer of 1999.
While in Japan in 2000 I bought a Yamaha Digital MD 8 track and used it for subsequent albums once living back in Ottawa full time. But my output in the new millennium was dramatically less compared to the 90s as home life gave me less time for this hobby. Moreover I started focusing my musical energy on doing real CDs in a real studio. Nowadays I use software programs like Finale and Cubase for my compositions rather than doing multi-track live recordings.
Three of four home albums I made between 2002-2011, were effectively demos for my real CDs (Illumination, Inspiration, and Rise Again). The other one, Circle Nine, the 9th Warhorse album was a proper Warhorse project, though it did also spawn the songs Illumination and Unity that were remade for my début CD.
In 2012 I finally got back to composing and recording music as Warhorse. I wanted to get back to doing more authentic Warhorse albums since it frees me up to do styles of music that would not fit on my official CDs – which thus far have been in the ‘inspirational’ vein. But again, it turns out one of the songs I wrote in Warhorse-mode was good enough to get put on the list for Rise Again.
Musically speaking, Warhorse is a cross between progressive rock and synth-pop and anything else in-between. So if I had to pick a genre label it would probably be “Neo-Prog”. Not because I was specifically influenced by Neo-Prog bands of the 80s, unless you include Asia as such, but because I have been equally inspired by British new wave/pop/electronic bands of the 80s, like Duran Duran, Depeche Mode, Tears For Fears, and Norwegian group A-ha, as I have been by 70s prog rock groups like Yes and Genesis. Neo-Prog bands of the 80s basically tried to carry the spirit of 70s prog into the musical sounds of 80s and it occurs to me that I sort of do that to some degree, though again Warhorse music is broader than any one category.
Thematically the subject matter is more secular – about relationships, emotions, political commentary etc. Oddly, I seem to write more about relationships now that I’m not in one.
The way I compose is also different. With my official ‘inspirational’ style CDs, I usually come up with the melody and words first and the music comes later, and often is left to more capable musicians to create the orchestrations. With Warhorse, I create the music first and then work out the vocals and lyric.
So basically Warhorse is a parallel music outlet to my official CDs releases. Not everyone that likes one will like the other.