Rob Reed of Magenta

Hi Rob, how are you? Im so pleased to have this opportunity to "speak" with you!!

1. After your stint with (among others) Cyan, Fyreworks....tell us the story about Magenta!! How did that come about?
Please elaborate!

Cyan was the 1st prog band I formed....I was still in school. We recorded a demo at a local record studio. My brother Steve was the singer.

Most of the tracks from the 1st Cyan Cd were written on the school piano.We just wanted to be Genesis.


I Then went into POP music..played in various pop bands for about 6 years and forgot all about the Cyan material. Then out of the blue I had a letter from a French fan who had got hold of a copy of the demo from NIck Barret of Pendragon. I had sent him a copy to get a opinion of the stuff. I was a huge Pendragon fan at the time.

The French wanted to know if there was any material available on CD. I then decided to revisit the material and write enough for a CD. I was approached by a dutch label called SI Music who liked what they heard and we went on to make 3 more Cyan CDs.

Along side this I was still embroiled in the POP music market and getting very disillusioned trying to get the BIG record deal.....The band we had was called Trippa and Christina was the singer......

We reached breaking point with the band and almost gave up music......To get back my love of music I made the 1st Magenta CD......

I had no idea what people would make of it and didnt care.....I just wanted it to be Prog with a capital P......

At the time loads of the "Prog" bands where starting to deny that they were prog at all, so that they could try to get to a bigger audience.....I wanted to do the opposite as I knew that there must be loads of people like me who wanted some classic prog!

So the 1st Cd was just 4 songs, each 25 mins and a concept album...loads of widdle and moogs.......But surprisingly people really got into it...especially as it had a female singer.....who unbeknown to her sounded like Annie Haslem.....

Magenta was also only meant to be a studio project , but as the response to the Cd grew we were approached to play it live...this we did for the 1st time at Baja festival in Mexico....the band has just grown from there.

I would be lying if I said it was all plain sailing. Its so difficult to keep any band together for any time. There are always different personality traits in individual members. Its a bit like a marriage, sometimes you fall out. It can be very frustrating and a thankless task, but I know it always turn out to be for the better.

2. Being one of the new/newer (in prog circuits) keyboard wizzards, you must have some "idols", fellow keyboard players, whom you think are frontrunners/ creators of initial progmusic!?? Please tell!!

My keyboard idols were all the usuall suspects Tony Banks,Rick Wakeman and Rick Wright...Though the person who inspired me most was It Bites keyboard player John Beck...He was so cool and had all the great sounds and played like a demon......His arrangements are amazing.

3. Ive read somewhere, that you like Mike Oldfield! Was/ is he, an inspirational source to your trade and/or musical interest? If yes...please tell why!!

Mike Oldfield is my biggest inspiration.....I heard Tubular Bells on a cheap Geoff Love Orchestra Plays "The Exorcist" theme LP.

I just loved it and nagged my parents to buy the cassette of the original for Christmas. I was only 7 at the time and had a strange look from the shop keeper.

I played the tape to death.I wore it out and learnt to play it all on the piano.I then bought all the other Lps at the time.Ommadawn and Hergest Ridge....

I just loved the sound and melodies, and the fact that he played all the instruments himself.

I then bought a small cassette multi track just started to develop playing all these instruments myself.I just love Mike Oldfields guitar style and his has so much emotion...... something I try to bring to what I do.

4. Mike Oldfield originally did most of his recording/playing himself! Is that something, you yourself have contemplated other than the Cyan "Remastered" release? Or is it you feel, all respect for Oldfield and other multi-instrumentists, that the music when several musicians participate/collaborate are more diverse?!

All of the 1st Cyan Cd was me and and a lot of Magenta is me.....but also love the excitement of hearing what great players bring to the table.....

I just have a idea in my head of what it all should sound like.... writting by committee is a very,very slow process and can be frustrating....I like to work fast.

5. What are the future plans, when talking Rob Reed and/or Magenta?
Are there new sideprojects you care to mention?

I have a few things that I am looking into doing. The problem is finding the time to do all that you want .You have to prioritize what is important....

The problem is also these days you have to be equally as good at business as music. The Prog scene is very much a DIY thing. Altough you can still sign your Cds over to the few record companies that deal with prog. Though it is difficult to stomach spending 2 years (unpaid) making a CD.....spending thousands on your own equipment .....and the signing over your album and getting £1 for every £10 CD you sell........It doesnt seem right. I think that is why so many of the bands and setting up their own labels and distribution, or in some cases bypassing that all together and just selling direct from their web sites......The whole music business is changing day to day, trying to repond to what the web and illegal downloading brings.....its a bit of a nightmare.....but very little we can do about it at the moment.

There is also a LOT of music out there at the moment.....everybody can now make a album very cheaply and stick it out for sale. How much of it is actually any good is debatable.

But it means that 10 years ago there where only say 15 prog bands doing business..know there are hundreds all trying to sell to a very small market.

So hopefully the future will see another Magenta Cd ....but when?? That is a difficult one to answer. I just put so much into the last Cd and I dont want to repeat myself.

I also want it to be better. So at the moment I am just writing some ideas and getting in my head what direction I want to go in.

6. Do you find that cover-art is important? If yes...please tell why! Also, do you have a personal favourite cover/ cover artist!?

I think that cover art is important...but less valued by the buyer....especially in the Ipod age where you load the Cd on the Ipod and never every see the cover again. Its a shame as it all adds to the impression that music is valueless. Unfortunately there is no going back. I love Roger Dean, especially the Drama cover.

7. Which is more important to you, the music or the lyrics? When composing music, how do you proceed? Creating a theme/idea on guitar or keyboards? Appendix question: Are you selftaught or classical trained?

I have to admit that I dont usually listen to lyrics. I just love melodies. I think thats why I loved Mike Oldfields music. There were no lyrics on the early Cds.

That said,if you have a teribble lyric you cant avaid it and it can spoil the mood.

With magenta the music comes 1st, then a rough concept of what the Cd is going to be about..then the lyrics.

I do love it when I get the finished lyrics to a new track from my brother Steve Reed. Up until then I have just be listening to me singing utter rubbish badly, just to outline the melody.

8. I guess you have many proud moments/memories as a musician?! That perfect concert, that magic moment? Which springs immediately to mind?
Please elaborate!

The 1st gig we did in Mexico at the Baja festival.We didnt know how people would react to the music.We hadnt done any proper gigs and we were doing our 1st gig thousands of miles away in front of 1000 prog fans.I remember playing the 1st song,which was 25 mins long...we only knew 4 songs...each 25 mins each.... We ploughed through the 1st song and it ended and there was silence for about a couple seconds...then a huge roar and standing ovation. I was gobsmacked...

9. I have found that prog keyboard players either hate or love the Mellotron!! What is your thoughts on that particular instrument?

After all, the Mellotron has become an icon in progmusic circuits!

I love the sound of the mellotron...its just one of the classic ingredients of prog. Being a keyboard player I love the sound of the hammond more. It the closest thing a keyboard player has to a guitar for rocking out.

10. In an imaginative live concert, with Magenta topping the bill, whom (artist or band) would you mostly love to see on that poster? Feel free to name several.

Tricky one that. As all the bands I lovet to share the bill with, I would prefer to just relax and watch them....... There are a few bands I think would compliment what we are doing and make a great evening of quality music....such as Pendragon. Nick really values melody over everything else.

I was a huge Pendragon fan when I was at school and must have played their 1st Cd the Jewel to death.

11. When talking music in general. What do you yourself, listen to? If I were to visit you at home, what kind of music would I hear?

You wouldnt hear much at all.....I listen to most music in the car......I usually try to rest away from music at home...... I love any band that has strong melodies.....ELO were a huge favorite and ABBA.... Prog bands...I dont usually listen to any new bands at all...though I love the latest It Bites Cd...It is amazing...Great songs,great production and playing....a pleasant suprise.

12. Looking in the rear mirror of your career, I personally very much liked the Fyreworks album!!

I hear hints and allegations to the sound of Genesis & small Yes/ VDGG nods!! But overall it is to my ears.

Fyreworks brilliantly doing their own thing and adding some folkrock themes here and there. And I liked the surprise ending..after minutes of silence...fireworks (crackers) break stereo!!

So what is the question I hear you say!? So here goes: Is this an album that you appreciate still?

Do you listen to your "older" works and go: "Yeah, this is great!" ?? Favourite track/s?

The Fyreworks was great fun.and really done as a band...Danny Chang the guitarist was the main man behind the band....he wanted to recreate the feel of a classic 70's cd...using old instruments,etc....he asked me to produce it and co write it. We had some great players on it. Again we didnt have any rules or expectations when we made it we just enjoyed ourselves.We actually wrote a second Cd, which I have demos for somewhere.Its just a nightmare to get everybody back together.

Also we did one gig in Holland .Which rehearsed for 2 days and went and done the gig...IT was a bit rough,but one of the best gigs I have done.

Hopefully one day we will record the 2nd Cd.... I second that!!

13. Ive always hated the term: Neo Prog! What´s your thought on that topic?
I recently interviewed your fellow keyboard musician Martin Orford and he said:
"Its a totally fake term invented by Americans about 15 years after it all happened. I dont trust genre classifications made up by people who werent there, therefore I dont recognize the term Neo prog!!"

Prog....what is me its just a sound. When you use mellotron and organ, bass pedals etc..its gonna sound like a classic Prog70's Cd.

People get so hung up on with if its prog or not ,etc....I am more worried with if its any good or not!...are the songs any good.....thats the hard bit.

You can have all the gear, play like a demon...make it all sooooo complicated...but in the end is there a song in that people can connect with....that is what I strive for.

14. Do you, like many other keyboards players, have a secret wish to write music for movies, soundtracks??

The superb track "Nosferatu" on Cyan: potential in that direction!

I do lots of Tv and film music to allow me to indulge my passion for prog. I love soundtrack music...its the modern classical music. John Williams is a genius.

I would like to do more of it, but its hard to get into properly.

15. Im just throwing names here, which in your opinion, were the true originators of the progressive genre:
Pink Floyd, King Crimson, Genesis?? Please elaborate and or add some names!!

Its hard to see where it all started....but without the Beatles and George Martin...there would be no Prog as we know it....
I think King Crimson are over looked for what they did on the 1st couple of Cds..It really influenced Genesis and Yes...

16. Thanx so very much Rob Reed for your time and effort, to answer these questions!
As always I ask, do you have some final words...for the readers and progfans out there??

I would like to thank everybody who buys our Cds and comes to our gigs.You make it all the hard work worth while....

Take care,


Caerllysi Music.


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