Interview with PATRICK MORAZ

December 2000

moraz1– What kind of keyboards do you prefer – piano, organ or synthesizers – moog, mellotron?

Although my first instrument was actually the violin, I prefer the piano as my main instrument. I love harpsichord and church organ and, of course, I love all synthesizers, analog and digital, as well as all sorts of percussion instruments, in addition to my beloved Alpine Horn and trumpet. And there’s nothing like a Hammond organ and a real Moog synthesizer, or even a real Oberheim. When I played the mellotron, I had special effects tapes of all my albums made and was “playing” them through live concerts or different recordings like “on cue” analog samplers. I liked that part of playing them too, because they provided some very original punctuations in the music.

– Who did the most influence you as a player?

John Coltrane was probably my deepest influence, along with Jimi Hendrix, Elvin Jones, Bud Powell, Thelonious Monk, Mahalia Jackson, Ravi Shankar, Art Tatum, Clifford Brown, Eric Dolphy, Oscar Peterson, John Lewis, Bill Evans, Yehudi Menuhin, McCoy Tyner, THE BEATLES, Jimmy Smith, Keith Jarret, Glenn Gould, Aldo Ciccolini, Georgy Cziffra, Dinu Lipatti and Clara Haskil, with whom I worked as a child.

– Your memories on opening out for such geniuses as Thelonius Monk and John Coltrane?

Very deep, spiritual and intense memories of some of the most magical moments of my life spent in the company of such geniuses. On different planes of “Spiritual Translations”. I always felt attracted to and influenced by their music.

– Was it difficult for a Swiss man to get to the Anglo-American dominated rock scene?

Extremely difficult, especially because of regulations which had to do with Immigration laws and Musician’s Union rules, in addition to work permits and special visas. It was very difficult at first as well because of language barriers. Fortunately, music being a universal language, it was possible to build “Bridges of Silence”, magical pathways through the uncharted territories of administrative and governmental jurisdictions. Having learned the English language, and many others since, the situation improved somewhat.

– Who do you consider to be your rivals in the rock field?


– You studied Brazilian music. The same thing did Steve Hackett. What do you think of his “Till We Have Faces” album? Weren’t there a thought on doing something together?

Well, I was involved in the Brazilian music scene and had recorded some of my solo albums like the “The Story of i”, “Out In The Sun” and “Patrick Moraz/Primitivisation” there. I had my own band with sixteen percussionists and keyboards and I was very active in the recording and concerts scene. I had met Steve Hackett in Rio de Janeiro, when he came there with GENESIS. Later, there were talks about doing something with him and Steve Howe in GTR but for some reason that never came about. I eventually joined THE MOODY BLUES.

– What was the fans’ reaction on you stepping in Wakeman’s shoes?

I was not “stepping” in Rick’s shoes, although that figure of speech was used. In any case, I was extremely well received by fans and critics alike and I felt that the response to my playing and contribution to YES was positive throughout.

– Wasn’t this situation similar to the one with REFUGEE – THE NICE minus Keith Emerson?

Almost, but not quite. THE NICE had been split-up for more than three years when we formed REFUGEE. Also in REFUGEE, we were playing all original music, which I composed for the group. So I did not have to copy or replicate parts which had been recorded before me. The only reference to THE NICE was the fact that I was playing with the same rhythm section, Lee Jackson and Brian Davison, both excellent players and showmen, as well as contributors to the group. I keep an excellent memory of REFUGEE.

– What kind of music played REFUGEE and MAINHORSE?

Both groups played progressive rock and even though the majority of the music was based on my compositions, the end result was really a group effort, especially in the arrangements. Both groups MAINHORSE and REFUGEE had a different identity, however MAINHORSE had a lead guitarist which made a big difference in the overall sound. We also had much more vocal arrangements in MAINHORSE. But the essence of the music was mine, in both groups.

– Did you know Wakeman before you joined YES? What were and are your relations?

I had never met Rick before joining YES. However I had met some of the other YESmen, like Tony Kaye, Peter Banks, Jon Anderson, Chris Squire and Bill Bruford. I met Rick in the Eighties outside London and we even played on the same stage and jammed together in September 1991 and May 1992, in Florida, when we were invited to play some benefit concerts for the “Give Kids the Word” Foundation.

– How did you join YES – I mean, through management or personal contact?

Both, personal contact with Jon Anderson which had been arranged by my very good friend Ray Gomez, guitarist extraordinaire, also by Chris Welch, the main journalist for the music paper “Melody Maker” and also through a request by Brian Lane, YES’s manager at that time. Then through the request by the whole group. Apparently, it was a unanimous decision and the invitation came quite instantly. The day after I played with them for the very first time, I got a call telling me I was in the band as an equal-member, and my presence was being requested immediately!
Personally, I wasn’t sure I wanted to get into YES at the time because I was doing film scores, (I was working on two movies at the same time, one with my friend Gerard Depardieu) and I was still under professional commitment with REFUGEE. Although we were on the verge of splitting-up REFUGEE, we still had some concerts to do, promoting our first and only eponymous album “Refugee”, which had entered at #28 in the “Melody Maker” British Music Charts a few weeks earlier and was still climbing.

– “Relayer” is a great piece of work. But don’t you think that you weren’t given as much space as was Rick and the album is dominated by Steve Howe’s guitar?

When we started to record “Relayer”, some of the music had already been written and rehearsed by Chris, Jon, Steve and Alan. I contributed as much as I could to the overall picture of the pieces. However, it is a fact that Steve used quite a lot of tracks for his many overdubs everywhere on the album, except when there is no guitar at all, which is a rare occasion.

moraz3– All the tracks on the album are credited to all YES members. Who do you used to compose with and who you were close with the most?

We all participated in the compositions and the final arrangements, even if most of the “songs” were originally composed somewhat more by Jon, and Steve in some instances. I liked to work with Jon and Chris, especially. Alan was always contributing some very good rhythmic ideas. I also worked quite a lot with Steve during the whole time I was in YES.

– You left YES while writing material for the upcoming “Going For The One” album. What was written before you left that ended up on the record?

We had written, together, quite a lot of the material which ended up on “Going For The One”, like “Awaken”, “Wondrous Stories” or even “Parallels” which were as much part my composition as anyone else in the band at that time. I also came up, during the two previous years prior to the recording of “Going For The One”, with a lot of ideas and contributions to the band and its sound. The fact that I was not credited as a writer of the songs, does not mean I did not compose for the group. As a member of the band, I composed as much as I could, as much as I was “allowed” to compose by the others.

– Were you forced to leave or parting company was friendly?

Unfortunately, I was forced to leave. And even though, at the time, the split “was not made to appear acrimonious”, I suffered extremely and extensively. To be “asked to leave” so suddenly put me in a lot of turmoil and disturbance. The fact is, I was never compensated for anything. I never ever got paid for any of my tour participation in the extremely successful and extensive YES Tour of 1976, which comprised about 65 concerts, many of them in front of sold-out audiences of more than 100,000 people. After all, as a member of the band, I was entitled to a 20% cut from what the band was getting.
I don’t like to dwell into negatives, however, I can tell you that I had absolutely no desire to want to leave YES, at the time, in November of 1976. We had just finished the biggest tour YES had ever done, the “Bicentennial Tour”, a huge, extremely successful tour for YES. Somehow, it had been decided that we would go and record, in my own country, Switzerland, what became the album “Going for the One”, which we had extensively composed, developed and rehearsed during the course of 1976 (and even before that). There was no reason in the world for me to want to leave the band! Also, I understood, much later, that Rick was already in town, with his own crew, when I was still in the group, and I was still part of YES.
In addition, it was an extremely complicated and difficult situation for me to be stranded, on the street, with my baby daughter who was only one-month old and her mother, without any transport or money, in the cold winter of Switzerland. Then the fight for survival to stay alive, it all became surreal.

– Shed some light, please, on your work on Howe’s solo albums.

In the very early part of 1975 already, we somehow had discussed the idea of doing, each and everyone of us, a solo album. Steve asked me if I wanted to take part in his own “Beginnings” album. I said,”Sure I would love to!” Then he gave me a tape with a few notes on it and asked me if I could arrange and orchestrate it like Vivaldi. I said I would do my best and I worked on it for about three weeks. When I came to play him the demo and show him all the work I had done with the piece, “Beginnings”, he loved it immediately and he told me that we would record it. And we did. I also played the harpsichord on some other tunes with him on the album.
I also conducted the chamber orchestra for the recording sessions. Of course, my arrangement sounded nothing like Vivaldi, but it had its own personality and uniqueness to it. Steve (I remember the moment very well) was kind of in shock and at the same time very happily surprised that I had come up with the whole arrangement like that and wanted to use it immediately, without any changes.
We recorded the whole session with Steve, on acoustic guitar. Along with my final harpsichord parts, I conducted the orchestra, while he eventually re-recorded his guitar parts at a later date. The video was taped also at a later date.

– Was it through this work that you got to know Bill Bruford?

I knew Bill somewhat before he had even left YES, in 1968. He left in early 1972. But it is more through Chris’s solo album that I got to know Bill better. We actually played together for the first time in early 1976. Eventually, we met again in 1983, when we were living in the same village. We talked about doing an acoustic “piano and drums” duet.
That’s how MORAZ-BRUDORD came about with the two albums: “Music for Piano & Drums” and “Flags”. We eventually toured the States and Canada in Summer 1983 and in 1984 we played England, Europe, Canada and USA. Then in 1985 we played Japan, Europe, Canada and the States again. Our last concert ever as MORAZ-BRUDORD took place at the Town Hall in New York City on September 30th 1985. The performance was sold-out.

– All of your solo works seem to have a certain concept. Could you depict some themes?

The “Story Of i” is an allegory about Life and Beyond. It takes place in an environment which implies the notion of virtuality. However, if the games are artificially monitored and use technologies which go beyond what is understood nowadays as “digital” and “virtual”, the emotions are very real, and the feelings are definitely human.
My third album, entitled simply “Patrick Moraz” (a wish of the record company, at the time), uses the concept of “Primitivism and Civilization”. The Harmony of the primitives, the struggle for survival, the arrival of the machine world, the impact of the robotization on the human world, the aliens’ arrival and help to save the human race, the hope and the potential co-existence of those worlds, on planet Earth. Originally entitled “Primitivization”, a neologism I created at the time, the entire album was conceived as a ballet and features acoustic trans-cultural percussion as well as acoustic keyboards and electronic synthesizers, vocoders and the human voice.

– What is main theme of “i”? I think you’re hooked on the existentialists’ works, aren’t you?

The inspiration for “The Story Of i” came to me during the course of an elevator ride in a newly-built hotel in America. The idea implanted itself in a flash. It immediately became clear that it was an allegory about life itself. What came to me was a way to present an abstract and spiritual train of thought under the guise of a concrete story, a kind of “sci-fi” story with plenty of symbolic narratives and figurative twists, with its own rites, games and rules as well as endless interactive situations. Always with a hopeful goal, however, with eternal light in sight. A sort of modern times search for the ever-elusive Holy Grail. For a first “concept” album, the task was formidable and proved even more so as time passed. However, as the original idea was firmly rooted, the development of the whole work grew virtually at an exponential rate. All the elements came into place at the right time, even if over a period of a few months.
I should have said “almost at the right time”… A few timing problems and conflicting schedules presented themselves towards the end of the recording and at mixing time. Even, the emblem came to me like an “apparition”, during one of the most spiritual visionary encounters I have ever had.
In regards to approaching the recording of “Story Of i”, like any of my other recordings, first and foremost there were always a different “feeling”, and different emotions. All the senses are alert. Even some sense of humor is indispensable! Being able to go to the “depth of my thoughts”. Different states of consciousness, different levels of awareness, also various mechanisms of creativity, spontaneity, improvisation and “composing in real time”, cognitive memory, playing (or not) with other musicians, interacting with other people, psycho-acoustics, instruments, technology, geographical location, atmospheric conditions, and so forth.
By “composing in real time” I mean that “The Story Of i” was composed, arranged, orchestrated, recorded and produced over a period of more than four months, whereas “Future Memories. Live on TV, Vol.1” was instantly composed, and performed as a “One Man Show”, recorded, filmed on video, mixed and produced in one day.

– Don’t you think that the story has something in common with the subject of THE EAGLES’ “Hotel California” – especially having noticed that both albums appeared in 1976?

Oh, I thought “Hotel California” was released in 1978! What’s for sure is that “The Story Of i” was recorded mainly in 1975, and some of the compositions were created as early as 1973 and 1974.

– Most of your solo works are unavailable on CD. Do you plan to have them re-issued?

I would like that very much. They would have to be re-mastered digitally though, if not re-mixed, that would be ideal. I would like to have all my albums under the same “roof”. In any case, I own all my works, they are all copyrighted in my name, so it’s just a matter of time (and money, of course) to have them re-issued and released.

– As I know you joined THE MOODY BLUES in the summer of 1978. So why did it take so long – almost three years – before “Long Distance Voyager” was out?

I joined THE MOODY BLUES in the latter part of 1978. We only started the tour in November of that year. Then in 1979, we only toured in part of the early summer. We then prepared for some recording in the late summer of 1979, especially with Ray Thomas and Graeme Edge. Since I was living in Brazil at that time and recording two solo albums, “Coexistence” and “Future Memories”, both recorded in Switzerland, and also composing for two movies and TV shows (“Le Chemin Perdu”, directed by my sister Patricia Moraz), there was no time for me to start recording with the Moodies prior to February of 1980. When we started recording, with some breaks in between, the album took almost a year to be finally produced and ready to go.

moraz2– Once you left MOODIES they played without keyboards. Did they want to sound like this and ask you to go or it’s a result of your departure?

I don’t know about that! Since I was not part of the group anymore, I cannot comment very much on that. However, I understand that, to replace me, they added two keyboard players, another drummer in addition to the existing one, two or three vocalists and even a whole symphony orchestra to play the mellotron parts?

– You played with Alphonse Mouzon, Andy Newmark and some other great jazz drummers. Do you consider Bill Bruford the best, having recorded with him two albums?

Bill was a good, disciplined drummer. Somewhat stiff, though. Whereas other drummers I have played and recorded with like Alphonse Mouzon, Richie Morales, John and Chad Wackerman as well as genius drummers Jacob Armen and Ronnie Ciago for example, to name but a few, were not only disciplined, but very loose too and can play just about anything. All these guys have much more jazz, swing, funk, rock and power in them. In “Flags”, the second album we did together, under the name MORAZ-BRUFORD, Bill recorded most of his drums to a click-track, overdubbing his parts to my original compositions.

– You took part in the “Steinway To Heaven” album recorded by the greatest rock piano players. Did you meet the rest of them while recording? Why did you choose Chopin’s “Military Polonaise”?

I didn’t meet the other players while recording my piece, which was recorded on January 19th, 1996 at “Mad Hatter” studio in Los Angeles. However, I know most of the players personally, we are friends and I have played and jammed with most of them, with Brian Auger, Keith Emerson, Rick Wakeman, Jordan Ruddess and even David Bryan.
I chose to play that Chopin’s Polonaise in A major because it was a piece that my father, who used to work for Paderewski a long, long time ago, was always talking to me about in the stories he remembered about the great Polish pianist. Also, It was a piece which was not going to be played by anyone else on that album after checking with the record company.

– You did compose the soundtracks for quite a many films. What of them – I mean, both films and your works – you think is the best?

Yes, I did compose many scores for films, documentaries and even commercials. I really enjoyed doing them. However, it’s very different, although the ‘compositional’ process might be the same. Let me explain. For a movie, or for any “soundtrack”, the end result is always “functional”. The composer has to create functional emotions, on cue and on budget. There is the difference. When a musician/composer writes for an album which has, a priori, no “function” other than the pure expression of the soul as an Artform, the inspiration comes, most probably more from “within” or “inside”, as opposed to “outside” forms of inspiration such as suggestions from a script or a scenario. In a “non-functional” situation, there might be an imaginery scenario. In a functional one, even if the scenario is imaginery, the “scenes” are real and the music score has to fit that “reality”. Of course, there is always the possibility to compose the music before the film is shot, which I did many times, in the early days, especially in Europe. I worked with film directors like Alain Tanner, (“La Salamandre”, “Le Milieu du Monde”) and Claude Goretta (“The Invitation” that received Grand Prix du Jury at Cannes Festival), and many others.
In any case, although I haven’t done any new movie scores since 1991, I think it can be very exciting, especially with the new technologies, and I certainly want to write more film scores. That’s going to happen sooner or later.

moraz4– Was “Wild Orchid” the most successful commercially – or was it “Predator”? Did you meet Arnold Schwarzenegger or Mickey Rourke while working on the soundtracks?

In regards to “Predator” and “Wild Orchid”, I only did some “temporary cues”. Not the final scores.
I met with Arnold Schwarzenegger, yes, and went on location to Mexico where they were filming the jungle scenes, in May 1986. Some pictures were taken of us together, on the set, for promotional purposes. I think “Predator” was more successful than “Wild Orchid”.
As far as the latter is concerned, I had met with Mickey Rourke prior to that movie and I met with the producers and director.

– Are there plans to work with major artists/bands in the future or you’d prefer to concentrate on your own works?

You mean, am I going to join N’SYNC, the BACKSTREET BOYS, the Britney Spears or the Shania Twain backing-band, or am I going to work with Madonna on her next album, or am I going to co-write and perform some songs with David Bowie, Phil Collins, Sting or Peter Gabriel, and even go on tour with U2? Well, we never know, nothing is impossible. However, for the moment, I am concentrating on my own projects and some new works commissioned for some symphony orchestras and choirs. In the very near future, in addition to “Resonance“, I am going to release soon another solo piano CD entitled “E.S.P.” (for “Etudes, Sonatas & Preludes”), and another electro-ethnic studio CD which I am just finishing as we speak, “A Way To Freedom”, so to follow further information, please, check

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