Music is a philosophical tool for Timothy Trieste. A guitarist and songwriter for the past 40 years, his music probes the big questions: What is reality? What is life’s purpose? What’s the significance of our relationships?
“I don’t think I’ve ever written a song that hasn’t had searching or some kind of philosophical element to it,” says Ottawa-based Trieste, whose views are shaped by reading such diverse topics as existential philosophy and quantum physics.
Using themed albums, Trieste’s lyrics give listeners profound ideas to ponder, while coaxing them to reflect through his contemporary soundscapes. He calls it “music for the heart and mind.”
“Music isn’t just something to tap your foot to, it’s something to think to,” he says.
During his concerts, Trieste uses short narratives and videos to add context and dimension to the songs.
“My songs are meant to have the lyrics communicated,” he says.
His lyrics present contemplative, soul-searching stories. Some trip through the subconscious landscape that shapes our behaviour.
Trieste’s goal is making a connection with the audience. “If people come up and want to talk about it I know that the connection happened. I’ve just made them feel and think at the same time, and I think that’s real positive.”
Trieste has formed different groups during his years in the music business. However, he writes consistently strong melodic lines, and says creating and producing quality music takes a long time, as does coming up with lyrics designed to be listened to.
Under the record label Sound of the Muse Records, he and co-producer Bruce Valeriani built two recording studios, one in Ottawa and another in Toronto. Here they produce and mix recordings for themselves and other artists. They also provide training and mentorship for other artists, particularly younger upcoming musicians and singers.
Ancient cultures believed that artistic skills are a gift from the divine and not necessarily the artist alone but a channelling from a higher realm. Trieste agrees with that notion.
“I named the record label Sound of the Muse Records and I truly believe that. There is something called the muse and it does come to you,” he says.
“I’m a big believer that there is something outside of me that comes. It’s an energy and it puts a series of chords together and a melody will literally pop in my mind.”
Currently Trieste writes for and plays in two groups: Sleepwalk Plaza, with more of a rock vibe, and The Life of Pearls, which has a piano-centric jazzy flow to its sound.
The vocalist for both groups is Shann Bailey. Trieste and Bailey met 20 years ago and have collaborated ever since. Bailey is also a keyboardist, vocal coach, and lead singer for the Shann Bailey Trio.
Her vocals are ethereal, wistful, and perfectly suited for Trieste’s brand of music and lyrics. “She makes my songs sound better,” he says.
Last year Trieste was commissioned by the Tulip Festival and the Canadian Tulip Legacy to write a song commemorating the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Netherlands after the Second World War. The result was “A Flower in the Fray,” a song he co-wrote with Bailey.
Although he is aware of how difficult it is for Canadian musicians to get gigs in live venues, Trieste encourages the development of a market for adult contemporary music and hopes to take his shows on the road and play in smaller, more intimate settings.
The Life of Pearls will play songs from their debut album (June release) at the Nepean Sailing Club on April 17 at 7:30 p.m. Details are on their website: www.thelifeofpearls.ca
For information about Trieste and his bands, go to www.soundofthemuse.com.
To see “A Flower In The Fray” by The Life of Pearls, go to www.youtube.com/watch?v=88HT7Gwr5YM